These days, gadgets are high up on people’s wish lists. Thanks to gadgets, a good number of American consumers have racked up a lot of credit card debt. This is an alarming development, but fortunately, there are ways to resist the temptation to buy, buy, and buy more stuff. Here are our suggestions for taming and controlling the gadget-greedy monster in ourselves.
1. Schedule your gadget purchases and follow it strictly. Say you have a weakness for mobile phones. Set a schedule of buying mobile phones that cost over $50 around once every few years. If you’ve managed to stick to that schedule, take it up a notch and see if you can stretch the use of your phone out a bit longer. Should your phone break down before then, replace it with a cheaper version. There are basic Nokia phones up for grabs on eBay. Who knows? You could get lucky and get one for dirt cheap!
- Let’s look at the recommended shelf life for some phones: you can use a smartphone for about three years, and a sturdy laptop for about five to seven years. Take good care of your gadgets and don’t hesitate to upgrade parts as needed in order to keep your gadgets in good working condition. Doing so will allow you to stick to your gadget purchase schedule.
- When you make any phone purchases, do so with careful thought. Think about using a cash back credit card if you are sure you can pay off your balance in full monthly. You can earn rewards and even receive cash back if you use these cards wisely.
2. Curb your impulse to buy anything you see! The problem with being materialistic is that this attitude and behavior can be pretty consuming. Don’t give in to it. Not all new products being released by tech companies are worth buying. There are duds out there, and you should steer clear of them. Here are some guidelines on how to say “no” to shiny toys that aren’t worth your time and money:
- Does it have all the features you need? If not, don’t even think about it.
- Streamline your preferences. Can’t decide between the Android or the iPhone? Think about whether you prefer Open Source slickness or the seamlessness and integration of the iOS. If you’re an Apple fan and you would rather have a phone that is compatible, then it makes no sense to consider the Android phone. If you’re an Open Source/Google fan, stick to Android and don’t bother thinking about the iPhone 4 or the iPad. Putting on virtual blinders when it comes to gadgets can make your life simpler.
- Think about the benefits vs. the cost. You may think that you are saving money if you simply got an iPod Shuffle and a Blackberry. But what if an iPhone would make your life simpler, and in the long run, actually cost you less because you won’t need to upgrade your iPod Shuffle to another device (e.g. an iPod Touch or an iPhone)? Weigh your choices well.
3. Have a brand blacklist. List down the brands that your knees go weak for. These are the brands that you’ll stay away from when you’re window shopping or surfing online. Only pass by these brands’ online stores and sites when you have a reason to reward yourself, or when it’s time to actually upgrade one of your gadgets according to your purchase schedule.
To ward off possible disasters when you’re out window shopping, leave your credit card at home and instead, opt to carry cash or use a debit rewards card or a reloadable prepaid debit card. That way, you can easily put a cap on your spending.
4. Don’t buy substandard items. With the rise of direct supplier websites, people now have open access to iPhone knockoffs and other China-made tech goodies. While it may be tempting to own an iPhone lookalike at half the price, pass it up. An iPhone may last you five years and beyond, but the knockoffs may barely get through a year.
5. Reward yourself properly. Let’s say you want a Macbook and already have the money for it, but are thinking twice because it costs more than a perfectly serviceable Dell laptop. Why would you buy a Dell when you have the money for a Macbook? Skimping on the purchases that matter would actually work against you. In the long run, you may eventually get the itch to go and buy the Mac as well, which you wanted in the first place, and will end up paying a whole lot more: for the brand you settled for, and also for that Mac you always wanted.
If you fear that you don’t have the cash for a quality gadget purchase, then save for it! Think about saving your money in an account like the Sallie Mae Savings Account, whose rates are generally higher than average.
Curbing your gadget spending need not be a big challenge. Since gadgets have become necessities in our modern world, there is no avoiding their presence in our lives and in our budgets anymore. But with the right strategy, even the worst gadget addicts can avoid going overboard.
This guest post is brought to you by , a general personal finance blog.