A “Device-ive” Decision

by Beth · 10 comments

in Money & Spending

I finally bought something this week that I’ve been deliberating about for a long time–several years, in fact.  Ever since the Amazon Kindle came out, I’ve been gazing at it from afar with a lusty eye.  The thought of having books at my fingertips is very, very tempting for me, especially because I can’t get English-language ones easily.  The same goes for television shows and movies, which I normally watch online with half-success, half-frustration at how long it can take for an episode to buffer on my outdated laptop.

So I’ve considering the Kindle, as well as other e-book readers.  At first, the price for one was out of my budget.  Then, when they started to become more affordable, they weren’t necessarily available outside the U.S., which gave me another reason to stall.  My husband, who is way more tech-savvy, kept telling me that something better would come along.   And it did, in the sense that there are a lot more options today for instant media gratification.  The international version of the Kindle appeared, and the ipad, and other wired phones and devices with the ability to download media.

I was still gazing at the Kindle, but I started thinking how much better it would be to have a device that could play tv shows and movies as well.  I’m also a big music lover, and I like to listen to both albums and audio books on my mp3 player (which I’ve had for so long that it doesn’t support the newer file types).  So it seemed a better use of my money to buy something that could do it all.  I never really latched on to the ipad, mainly because of the price and the size.  I wasn’t particularly swayed by the thought of an app phone, since I hate talking on the phone and didn’t want to add a hefty monthly mobile bill to our budget.

So I looked, and I waited, and I looked some more (and drooled a little).  And this week I finally bought it—a refurbished second-generation ipod touch.  I’m still contemplating the cost of adding a wireless package with a minimal monthly fee, just so that I’m not dependant on being somewhere I have access.  And I’m telling myself that I have to be strict about how much I spend on what I download—but as we spend very little on entertainment as it is, I’m not too worried about going crazy with the thing.

While this is all a big deal for me, I can’t help wondering if “normal” people deliberate quite so much about spending 139€.  I mean, honestly, we’re not that broke.  I spend that much at the grocery store on a regular basis.  But there’s something about taking a chunk of money and using it just for me, for something purely selfish and unessential and…fun.  I have a hard time doing that without feeling guilty.

I think taking the time to make the right decision about a purchase is important, particularly when it’s something outside of the normal budget.  But I also think it’s not such a bad thing to just have fun with money sometimes, too.  I mean, we work hard enough for it, don’t we?

What about you?  How easy is it for you to make a big purchase decision?  Do you have an easier time buying something if it’s strictly useful than if it’s all for fun?

{ 10 comments }

1 Kristen | gezellig-girl.com September 15, 2010

By a strange coincidence, my husband and I debated almost non-stop for an entire weekend over whether or not to each buy ourselves an iPod Touch. I really dug in my heels and said “no, no, no — we do not need these, it’s frivolous, we have other things we should think about…” but eventually he won me over (partially because we were visiting my mom where the sales tax is cheaper than NYC).

And honestly, for a device I thought I didn’t want, I absolutely love it. I use it with the free wifi at the library or a bookstore to check in with my email; I use it as an organizer/to-do list; I jot down notes with it; I bought an amazing meditation app that helps me get to sleep at night… I could go on for ages.

The funny thing is, even if I had known how useful I would find it, I think I still would have said “no, I don’t need it” at first.

2 Laura September 15, 2010

It takes me forever these days to come to a decision on whether to buy something or not, and like you we are not THAT broke! For every good reason I can come up with, I can also come up with a reason not to buy something, so end up in a stalemate and don’t buy anything.

I’ve been resisting the electronic things like an iPod Touch and/or a Kindle, but my kids tell me I am very out of it and won’t know how I got along without it once I get one. That argument still hasn’t won me over though.

3 Emma September 15, 2010

It takes me forever to decide to spend money on myself for almost anything. I’ve been drooling over an IPAD since they came out, but I just won’t spend that much. It would help me to have all my tech manuals in one small device (I’m a programmer), but I just can’t break down and spend that kind of money.

My Ipod nano is a refurbished as well and it took me months to finally decide to get it. Technology changes so quickly that I just can’t see spending the big bucks on things.

4 The Skinny On September 16, 2010

I agree the price of an ipad is steep, (especially with added 3g costs) however besides being a glorified e-book reader and mp3 player, you can still get work done on it. (calender, email, browsing, etc) For some people it can be a cheap replacement for a laptop. If I consider something as more of a necessity that could induce being more productive and less as a fun extra gadget or toy, it makes justifying the purchase a tad easier for me. :)

Best,

-Chris

5 1hot&tiredmama September 17, 2010

My husband got me a 1st generation iTouch about 3 1/2 years ago and I LOVE it. I do not think I would have ever purchased it for myself, but now I don’t think I could live without it. I have all my music on it (I’m a bit addicted) and my husband had my vehicle wired so I can plug my iTouch into the stereo in my car and listen while I drive.

Also, some of the apps are quite useful and/or educational. I use a budgeting app (Spend) to help me track daily purchases and know how much of my budget I’ve already spent for the month and how much I have left. There are also lots of educational apps for preschoolers (which I have) – memory games, ABCs, etc. Most of the apps I have are free downloads so that’s even better. Plus, where there’s WiFi (including in my home), I can check my e-mail, etc.

My husband just got the iPad and we love it as well. He purchased it as a replacement for his laptop (which was stolen). He didn’t really need software per se while he’s traveling, but he definitely needs access to e-mail and the internet. We do not have a wireless package, but there are plenty of places here with WiFi. He has more perks than a smart phone, but without of the full price of a laptop.

Oh, and yes, we fret over each and every purchase we make and ALWAYS pay cash!

6 Beth September 17, 2010

A budget app is a great idea–I’ll have to look into that. I have to say, after only a few days, I am really happy with my purchase. It does everything I wanted it to do and more, so I definitely made the right decision.

7 Sylvia Hoffmann September 20, 2010

I guess it all comes down to your definition of frivolous. I have a netflix account. I don’t need it. However, it is my only convient source of entertainment. I don’t have a TV, and I am over an hour from civilization, so to speak. SO, my computer is my source of information and entertainment. I upgraded to DSL a few months back. Dial up was working okay for what I needed, but now with DSL everything is easier, saves me time waiting for downloads, and gaas for those extra side trips to the store/library.
I feel DSL is a must for me, as well as Netflix. They keep me sane. I don’t NEED them to survive, but that really isn’t the only reason to have things.

8 Christoph September 23, 2010

For me personally, I always go through a mental checklist on these things:

A) Will it help me reach my goals faster?
B) Will it help me make more money?
C) Can I see myself not using it after buying it?

If I want to learn a language and play Pimsleur language learning cds, then it made sense to buy a cheapo $30 mp3 player. A more expensive iPod wasn’t warranted in that situation.

I want to make cheap international calls while not at home. Well, I just got the Samsung Galaxy S smart phone, which I can play mp3s on, make cheap international calls (through the Internet), and play videos on. Looks like I may not need the mp3 player any more. ;-) I can see an iPod being too bulky for me to carry around when I already have a cell phone, a wallet, keys, spare change, and a passport. This phone really makes sense to me. An iPhone would solve the same problem, but I happen to prefer the Google phone.

Anyway, the point is that the above criteria may help when deciding whether to buy something or not. Buying purely because of “want” doesn’t necessarily improve your life (though it certainly can). Buying after a well-reasoned thought process has a better chance of that. Of course you need to weigh all the relative importances involved.

Main thing though is making sure that you reach your goals faster. Buying the new faster computer instead of the training DVDs that would allow me to make more money just doesn’t make sense to me.

…maybe that helped. ;-)

Cheers,
Christoph

9 Karen604 September 23, 2010

For Christmas 08 we bought iTouch units for the kids. It was really fun because they were flabbergasted, my 14 YO daughter did not speak for a full 10 minutes because of her surprise. They knew I was getting one because I returned the e-reader hubby gave me as an anniversary gift earlier.
It is the best purchase I have ever made. I have notes and contact info as well as all of my music and podcasts with me. I have downloaded some books to it. It has recipes I need when I go out of town. I keep a copy of my current crochet pattern in PDF on it as well. I use it every day, all day long. I need to charge it each night.
We have wifi at home so I always have my mail, twitter and facebook at hand. I like the way it loads better than my phone.
For audio it is great. Reading is harder but not impossible. I like newspapers better than books on it. I do wish it handled flash.
I fear the day it crashes and dies permanently. I know that will be a very sad day.

10 Annie September 24, 2010

I have debated over several devices, some less and more expensive than the price you quoted.

Instead of the Kindle, I decided to simply read all of my books on my laptop. I carry it with me everywhere anyway, and if I need something smaller I can just put them on my faithful Lifedrive. Instead of buying an MP3 player or a portable media player, my Lifedrive and laptop serves these purposes. I have all of my data, my music, and can play videos as well on these devices and more. Since I already had and used these two devices (the Lifedrive and the laptop) it just made sense for me. I did upgrade the battery on the laptop, but that was a necessity regardless as much as I use it.

I debate most of my purchases, especially the ones $10 or over, and if I can use what I already have, I do.

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