With the economy looking glum and the job market even less stellar, buying and upgrading new tech devices has been put on the backburner. Instead, most of us have had to tighten our belts and eschew splurging, focusing on the essentials. Of course, the fact we love technology means we'll always have some in our lives, but here's how we've learned to be more careful and considerate of our tech spending habits...
This year, even though we've wanted to splurge on tech, it wasn't an option. With mortgage payments and other debts, we had to prioritize, so as a rule we've adopted some stricter and prudent spending habits. We try to make our tech as long as possible before replacing it, and when we do replace it, we look to make the replacement a long term one: quality over quantity.
1. Yearly Plans: This year, we actually haven't spent any money on tech (!). Our last big purchase was a MacBook Pro at the end of 2010. Since then, we haven't bought any tech and don't plan on getting anything. The main reason is that most of the products that we're interested in will get major revamps in a short while, so there's no need to buy yesterday's tech. While this can be said about many things, it's important to make a yearly plan and stick to it (barring any tech emergencies).
2. Pay Cash for all Purchases: We've said it before and we'll say it again, paying cash for tech is the only way to go. It ensures that we pay the exact price that that was advertised for a device, without paying any interest, which can make any discounts disappear into thin air if you're not careful.
3. Avoid Tech that Needs Yearly Refreshes: Some devices, like the iPhone and iPad, are refreshed almost every year, which is a boon to the company, but bad for consumers' bank accounts. While some people think they cannot live without the latest phones and tablets, we like to keep devices for a minimum of two years before replacing them. Most of our devices are kept for longer. Our cell phone is 4 years old and our desktop PC is a geriatric 5 years old (yet still useful).
4. Boost Specs of Devices to the Max: While it might make sense to buy a model that's less expensive and has less specs to fit your budget, in order to get the most out of the life cycle of a product, we believe in purchasing the best you can afford. This will help extend the lifetime use of your device, especially if you practice some component upgrade DIY (for a laptop, boost the RAM to the max, change out the hard drive to a larger capacity, consider an solid state hard drive).
5. Managing Your Desires within a Budget: If you check your past purchases and come up with an alarming amount, then it's time to start a tech budget. Allocate a portion of your salary towards tech purchases and use this money for this purpose only. Stick to it and don't splurge.