How Cracking the Konami Code Gave Me a Huge Financial Advantage in Life

Here’s the Story of How a Childhood Obsession Became One of My Greatest Advantages in Life

When I was 12 years old I discovered something called the Konami Code that would lead to me having almost super-human control over my money.

Ironically the source of this power over my money, the catalyst behind my immunity to consumerism, lay in one of the most consumer seducing industries in today’s society – video games.

Shop Till You Drop
The story begins during the biggest buying event of the year, the SuperBowl of consumerism that kicks off each year in the early hours of the Friday after Thanksgiving.  If you’ve ever dragged yourself out of bed to the cold, dark anticipation of Black Friday, you’re intimately familiar with the long lines and crazed shoppers jockeying for prime shopping positions and a chance to be one of the first to spend their money.

Possessed by door buster deals and whisperings of phenomenally low prices, we’re lured out of our warm beds and kept in a trance for hours in front of stores across the country, held hostage by the promise of enormous savings on killer stuff.

Nintendo Power!
One of the staples of this pre-dawn spending orgy are deals on the newest video game consoles, savings that turn normally reasonable humans into raving shopaholic zombies. It was on one of these mornings over 20 years ago that my best-friend’s dad brought home a Nintendo Action Pack and started a series of events that would change my life forever.

Matt’s dad brought home one of the first simultaneous play games for the Nintendo, and it quickly became our digital crack.  Our obsession with the game was fueled by a secret code, called the Konami Code, that gave us a huge advantage of 30 extra lives and allowed us to play the game for hours on end.

At the age of 12 I’d never had any big goals in life but once I’d fallen under the spell of the Konami Code I found my mission, to buy my own Nintendo so I could play at will.

Money, Money, Money …
I’d never needed money before but my parent’s position was unflinching, the only way I’d have my own Nintendo was to earn the $150 on my own.  I became a man (or kid) on a mission, doing anything I could to earn extra money.  After months and months of spending every spare minute conjuring up ways to make more money I finally reached my goal.

As we left the driveway to buy my coveted game console, I had no idea that an important part of my life was about to change forever.  Five minutes after walking into the store, I emerged with $150 still in my pocket and a new power over my money.  Of course, at the time I didn’t realize the significance of what had happened.

One Conflicted Kid
As I stood in line with the biggest wad of cash I’d ever seen in one hand and a brand new Nintendo in the other, I was a very conflicted kid.  I’d never faced a decision like this before; my emotions were screaming to buy it but another part of my brain was amazingly calm and confident.

It was like those old cowboy movies where the crooks are in control but one day a new sheriff comes to town.  The “I want it” gang had been running my brain’s decisions and was shaking in its boots at the appearance of a straight shooting sheriff who knew the real value of a dollar.

You Gonna Buy It or What?
The closer I got to the front of the line, the more frantic the “buy it now” gang became.  It was as if they could sense the new guy was going to win but they didn’t want to let go. As I stepped to the front of the line it was decision time and my internal battle reached its peak. “You gonna buy it or what kid”, the impatient clerk snapped.

I didn’t say a word, just set the box on the counter and walked right out the front door….

Looking back, it’s ironic that what started as quest for a consumer icon is what actually taught me the real value of a dollar and made me practically immune to consumer spending. Thanks to Nintendo and the Konami code I now have control over my spending that gives me a huge advantage when it comes to personal finance.

But that’s not where it ends…

Grandpa Knows Best
We called my dad’s dad Grandpop and one thing I’ll never forget about him was how he loved to talk about his investments.  In particular his involvement with a local fast-growing company that he thought had a bright future.  Every time we’d go visit my grandparents on their farm in Arkansas Grandpop would have a new tale about Sam Walton and the ongoing developments at Wal-Mart.

I never knew how much money Grandpop had invested in Wal-Mart stock but his confidence in the company and his excitement over its future and investing in general were contagious.  I was so intrigued by the idea of investing money and having it grow that I decided to use the $150 I had saved up to buy stock in Wal-Mart.

School Buses and Stock Quotes
Back then, Wal-Mart traded for just under $5 a share so I was soon the proud owner of 30 shares of Wal-Mart stock. I remember checking the WMT stock quote in the newspaper every morning on the way out the door and figuring out in my head what it was worth as I waited for the bus.

Several months after my initial investment Grandpop called us up one night full of excitement, “did you hear, Wal-Mart’s splitting, two for 1”!  Overnight my 30 shares had become 60! Following the split, every birthday and Christmas all I asked for were shares of Wal-Mart stock.  Forget about game and toys, I wanted an appreciating asset!

Appreciate it did. Two years later the stock split again and then continued to grow right along with me.

Mutual Fund Matching
Once I entered high school and got a job, my extra money was slated for investing. By then, I’d learned about the concept of diversifying your investments so instead of buying more Wal-Mart stock I decided to put the money in a mutual fund.

Wanting to encourage my savings, the Bank of Mom and Dad, offered to match every dollar I put into the mutual fund. Who could pass up such a phenomenal offer! 

I took every advantage I could of their incentives. ( Compared to my current 401k match of 3%, that 100% match was absolutely incredible)

Taking Some Profits
The year I started college my shares doubled 2 for 1 again.  At $60 each, my shares were worth over 12,000 and I decided it was time to take some profits.  I sold some shares and used the money to buy my fiancé an engagement ring.  One of my good buddies who had to finance an engagement ring on a Hales card with 21% interest couldn’t believe I had walked in and paid in cash.

The year we graduated was a monumental one for us.  Not only did we get our degrees, we also started our first jobs, got married, and bought a house!  Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it again.  The Wal-Mart money sure did come in handy that year, we sold the rest of the shares and:

– Funded my IRA
– Spent some on the honeymoon
– Used the rest for a down payment on a house

It’s crazy to think that was all financially possible because one afternoon when I was 12 I walked out of the store with $150 in my pocket and a new power over my money.