Much to my wife’s dismay, I’m a huge impulse shopper when it comes to gadgets. I love everything and anything that plugs in, lights up, or makes funny noises. It’s part of being a big kid and a geek.
So, how can I stop impulse buying? In an ongoing series I’ve been writing here on LockerGnome, I’m slowly coming to the realization that less is more when it comes to owning those geeky products we can’t stop hearing about on tech blogs. Finding that one or two gadgets that cover the majority of our needs instead of twenty that overlap each other in form and function can be a great thing for many reasons.
Being a geek doesn’t necessarily mean having a sizable bank account. With a little self control and some patience, it could.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned to help me put a stop to my gadget impulse shopping spree. In particular, these five buying habits should be avoided whenever possible.
Buying a Temporary Solution to a Long-term Problem
I have spent more money putting bandages on long-term problems than I care to admit. Buying hardware that I rarely see a return on the investment from, expensive software for a single project, or simply just grabbing something that fixes a problem I wouldn’t even have if I had just held off for a little longer are all common habits of gadget-loving geeks.
The worst investment is one with no significant short or long-term gains. I’ve bought $300 software for a single project that didn’t even pay that much on a hope and a prayer that I might need it again down the line. With nothing on the horizon, that’s a risky investment at best. At worst, you’ve blown $300 on something you’ll only use once.
Going Cheap and Being Burned
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in pinching pennies that we end up spending more to get the right hardware or software the second time around than we would have if we had just done our research beforehand. Buying one program because it’s cheaper doesn’t always translate into a good value, and it’s these circumstances that end up being the ones penniless geeks regret the most.
You get what you pay for in almost every case. I’m generally a believer in buying one step down from top of the line in any category. Computers especially fall under this rule.
Ignoring Consumer Reviews
Have you ever bought something only to discover that the reviews other owners have been submitting are actually quite accurate? I had that problem when purchasing a Sony Bloggie only to discover that the clicking noise I heard during recording was a common problem frequently reported by reviewers on a number of consumer report sites.
If only I spent more time reading user reviews, I’d probably be a wealthier person today.
Buying Big Items on Impulse
Impulse items are supposed to dwell in the checkout lanes at your super market. A candy bar or a universal remote counts as an impulse item. Buying an iPad on impulse could leave a much bigger dent in your wallet and may (or may not) satisfy your needs as a user.
Give yourself a paycheck on any buying decision over $100. If the gadget or gizmo costs any more than that, wait until your next payday to buy it. If you still want/need it then, you’re probably on the right track.
Buying something because of how you feel about the brand that makes it is like voting for a candidate based entirely on their party affiliation. Sure, you stand a good chance of being happy with the choice based on previous experiences, but not all Apple / Microsoft / Asus / Samsung / Insert Brand Here products are slam dunks. Sony makes some excellent products, but it also makes some really terrible ones. Apple has also missed the mark. Does anyone remember .Mac?
Use your brain to make buying decisions — not your heart. Take the time to read reviews and think about what you will actually get out of whatever it is you’re buying. Only then will you tackle your impulse buying habits.
Sale Is On by Vera Kratochvil