Your question is rather direct, but I think there is some underlying issues that are worth addressing.
- How to save and purchase ~$500 worth items.
- How to evaluate if a purchase is appropriate.
- Console and computer gaming, and commendation of the latter.
How to save and purchase ~$500 worth items
This one is the easy one, since we confront it often enough.
Never, ever, ever buy anything on credit. The only exception might be your first house, but that's it.
Simply redirect the money you would spend in non necessities ('Pleasure and entertainment') to your big purchase fund (the PS4, in this case). When you get the target amount, simply purchase it.
When you get your salary use it to pay for the monthly actual necessities (rent, groceries, etc) and go through the list. The money flow should be like this:
- Necessities: Rent, groceries, heating, electricity.
- Debt: Prioritising according to interest rate. This is the pitfall of many US citizens; credit card debt is the worst among financial demons, and shall be exorcised first.
- Emergency fund: A certain multiple of your 'Necessities' expenses. e.g. 3-6 months worth of 'Necessities' spending. The lower they are, the better, as you will need less idle cash to be and feel financially safe.
- Pleasure and entertainment: Dining out, fancy beverages, clubbing, vehicles, cinema, clothing (unless your garments are torn apart by a tiger or you start looking like a time traveller. Then you really have to replace them), lattes, video game systems and a long etcetera.
- Investment: The money surplus that you hold when your next pay check arrives should be wisely invested. Preferably, on an index fund with low (TER) Total Expense Ratio and good diversification. If in the US, 401(k) plans seem to offer tax related advantages.
How to evaluate if a purchase is appropriate
It seems that you may be reluctant to spend a rather chunky amount of money on a single item. Let me try to assuage you.
'Expensive' is not defined by price alone, but by utility. To compare the price of items you should take into account their utility.
Let's compare your prized PS4 to a soda can.
Is a soda can expensive? It quenches your thirst and fills you with sugar. Tap water will take your thirst away, without damaging your health, and for a fraction of the price. So, yes, soda is ridiculously expensive, whenever water is available.
Is a game console expensive? Sure. But it all boils down to how much do you end up using it. If you are sure you will end up playing for years to come, then it's probably good value for your money.
An example of wrongly spent money on entertainment: My friends and I went to the cinema to see a movie without checking the reviews beforehand.
It was so awful that it hurt, even with the discount price we got. Ultimately, we all ended up remembering that time and laughing about how wrong it went. So it was somehow, well spent, since I got a nice memory from that evening.
A purchase is appropriate if you get your money's worth of utility/pleasure.
Console and computer gaming, and commendation of the latter
There are few arguments for buying a console instead of upgrading your current computer (if needed) except for playing console exclusives. It seems unlikely that a handful of exclusive games can justify purchasing a non upgradeable platform unless you can actually get many hours from said games.
Previous arguments to prefer consoles instead of computers are that they work out of the box, capability to easily connect to the tv, controller support... have been superseded by now. Besides, pc games can usually be acquired for a lower price through frequent sales.
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