Being a technology enthusiast often comes with an impulse to buy the latest and greatest hardware as soon as it becomes available. You might hear about it on a podcast, or read about it on a blog. The end result is pretty much the same. You spend more time broke and less time really enjoying the gadgets you have.
I’ve been there. Going from phone to phone, buying a tablet one month and a new computer the next. I spent more time regretting what I did and less time enjoying what I had purchased. Despite a misconception that tech bloggers get everything they use for free, I spent my own money on just about everything I use. What little I have received for free often finds itself in my closet or donated back to the community. How many printers can one person possibly need anyway?
There are a few questions I learned to ask prior to making any gadget purchase. These questions have kept me out of trouble more often than not, and I finally find myself enjoying what I do have a lot more than I used to. Why? Because I know everything I have fulfills a purpose well enough not to need replacement in the foreseeable future.
What Does It Do?
Does the gadget you’re about to buy do something that you need to have done? Does it do that thing in a way nothing else you currently have does?
What does it do, really? A good gadget will do more than one thing for its user. A smartphone, for example, is best suited if it runs the right apps and takes good-quality photos and/or video. It’s not enough these days that your phone just take calls, unless that’s exactly what you need. I’ve bought phones before because they had bigger screens or a faster processor only to be disappointed by a lackluster camera of poor operating system support.
Likewise, a good computer will do more than just “check email” or “play games.” It’s short-sighted to buy something that fulfills short-term needs when another month of saving will enable you to buy something that will last longer and fulfill all of your needs.
How Long Will It Last?
A good gadget will last you a year. The best gadget will last you three or more years. I realize we live in an age where things are doubling in power and/or sex appeal every 18 months. Unfortunately, it’s this very situation that encourages hardware makers to hold off on releasing a product that covers all the bases in order to release one a year later that does.
Have you ever bought something that was replaced by a new model weeks or months later? Take a moment to research when the gadget you’re considering buying came out, and how often that manufacturer updates the hardware. You can even use a site like Decide.com to help you estimate when a new model will be available.
Is This Something You Really Need?
It’s easy to convince yourself that you need something. You may have an idea in mind for how you might put this gadget to good use, but you haven’t really thought it through past the point of making the purchase. Take a step back before buying anything and consider what you want to accomplish and whether or not you really need that specific gadget to accomplish it.
I’ve gone through it before, myself. Buying a server before I really have a solid plan of execution for how I’m going to put it to work for me resulted in a net loss. Sure, I have a fun system to try things out on, but I haven’t really made the investment back in productivity. I just didn’t need it even though I had convinced myself I did.
It’s always a good idea to give purchases a day or two of thought before jumping into. Impulse buying is the number one cause of disappointment among geeks. Don’t fall into the trap.
What about you? What questions do you ask yourself before buying a gadget?
Dollar Wallpaper by Petr Kratochvil