Technology plays a big part of our lives. It makes it convenient to find information and access entertainment. So it is understandable that we would want to have phones, TVs, and computers. People have told me that gadgets are really cheap in Taiwan, but I’m not in the market for anything so it doesn’t matter to me. Yet there are so many choices no matter where we are so how should we go about choosing?
Except for two years in college when my parents thought it was absolutely necessary to have a smart phone I have always had to pay for my own plan and phone. I have always chosen prepaid which meant purchasing an unsubsidized phone. This has lead me to shun the newest phones with prices over $500 in favor of getting someone’s old phone from Craigslist because they want an upgrade. I have found myself usually two generations behind the current phone model. For years I had a dumb phone and then moved up to an S2 when the S4 came out, then an S3 for a while and then an S4. I get them for around $75-$150 so I’m not even worried if it breaks. More recently I got a brand new Amazon Fire phone because they were practically giving it away at $125 which included a year of Amazon Prime. I still have that and am using it in Taiwan. Just last month I purchased a refurbished Galaxy Note II (4.5 generations behind) to use on Freedompop because you need a special phone for their plan, but that was only $90. I’ve probably had a dozen phones in as many years, but the total depreciation of them has been less than $1000, so my cost hasn’t been too high.
So now you are thinking, yes, Android phones are cheap, but I want an iPhone. Well, maybe it is my wife who is reading because she likes having an iPhone too. She was on her parents’ plan before we got married and got to upgrade iPhones starting with 4. She had a 5 which we sold and used the same idea of getting an older generation phone to switch to a 5C. As luck would have it she currently uses a 6 because of a crazy Discover Card promotion that gave 10% back on Apple Pay purchases which required an iPhone 6. Even so, I got that one used!
I love PCs and have built two desktops. In college, I owned a laptop which survived the entire time, although I had to tinker with it a couple times. Computers are a technology which is constantly getting better and cheaper so I would recommend getting a mid-grade one for $500-$700 and by the time you replace it your new one will be better than a $1500 one today.
So now you are thinking, I’m an iPhone AND a Mac person. Well your money must be burning a hole in your pocket. Despite the cost, I sold out for a Macbook too in the past year. When we got married we shared a MacBook and a desktop, but eventually I sold the desktop and we were sharing the MacBook. However, I started programming more frequently and the Mac was comfortable for my data science courses so I got my own. To get the best deal you can usually find one on eBay for at least $100 less than the Apple store price. However, I also like buying used Macbooks that are around 2 years old. It is cheaper and still works great. Then you can use it for a few years and preventatively replace it with another used one. This way you don’t have to be the one it breaks on. Either way, I believe Macbooks can live for nearly ten years. My current Macbook was $1000 even though it retails for $1699 because it has a dent in the body, but it is unnoticeable when I’m using it. The picture at the top of the article is the money-saving dent.
I think you can skip the TV and I have never owned one. However, if you need one, get one you are satisfied with on sale and use it until it dies. My parents got a 55″ 4K one in the week before Black Friday for $800. I don’t think you need 3D or curved, but whatever you choose, make sure you are satisfied so you are not tempted to upgrade before your dies.
Technology is great, but you don’t want its costs to drive your finances. You can buy used and older generation devices for a lot cheaper. You don’t have to give up your Apple products to save money, but guard against constantly upgrading when they come up with new products.