Author Topic: Can I afford a laptop?  (Read 25966 times)

Connie

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Can I afford a laptop?
« on: November 18, 2012, 03:19:41 PM »
I've been struggling with a desire to buy a new laptop for months. My old personal laptop is from Aug 2006 and unusable at the moment (dies within 10 min of turning it on, about 6 keys missing, battery doesn't hold a charge). The most frugal option would be to see if I can revive it by reformatting and buying a new battery (~$40 possibly). I've completely stopped using it and have been using the laptop provided to me by work. I don't like this because it makes me uncomfortable to check personal things on a work laptop, so I would like a new personal laptop.


I feel like I've accomplished a lot by paying off student loan debt and haven't made any big purchases since I started working in February. I spent a lot of time on my computer and would like to have a nice experience. I really want a $1600 laptop! But then this MMM voice pops into my head saying in ten years that money could give me hundreds per year forever, and why should I make my computer experience nicer when that just means I'll waste more time on my computer instead of outside or working on my hobbies.

I'd appreciate any argument that can keep me from lusting after a new laptop. I realize that I could also spend $300 on a cheap netbook, but that doesn't seem as attractive as the expensive option. Please help!
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 02:53:30 PM by Connie »

Jamesqf

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 03:59:03 PM »
Don't get a $1600 laptop (unless maybe you are going to use it for e.g. serious development work,and can deduct the cost as a business expense).  Look at the used/refurbished market, and get what was a $1600 laptop two or three years ago.  I've had good experiences with the Lenovo Thinkpads - my most used machine (of four at my desk now) is still the T61 that I bought in '08.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 07:28:58 PM by Jamesqf »

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 04:19:34 PM »
Your financials seem relatively good.  You make good money and your living situation is just what it should be until you can get some serious money in investments.  While you *could* afford a $1600 laptop on face, you should think about spending less.  Now, if you're a big time mac user like me, consider looking at the Apple refurb store:

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

You can get a MacBook Air starting at around $750, or a Macbook Pro starting at $1K.  It's still an expensive laptop relatively speaking, but it's a serious savings from retail.  Other options are CraigsList or maybe eBay if you can swoop in at the last second (or buy a system with a damaged screen and replace it yourself).

What are you considering buying?

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 04:20:40 PM »
Another option to consider is whether you can sell off anything that roughly offsets the cost of what you're buying so that there's no net compromise to your savings or investments.

KGZotU

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 05:10:35 PM »
$1,600 will buy you a high-end gaming laptop. If you want anything else besides portable gaming, look lower.

If you buy a $1,600 laptop and leave that giant screen covered with bloat-ware, it'll be an eyesore and slow. If you buy a solid $600 laptop and uninstall the bloatware, it'll run well and look nice.

And don't imagine $1,600 will buy you durability, either. That money will buy you cutting-edge parts, but how long they last will depend on build-quality which is not apparent at purchase. Jamesqf mentioned Lenovo. That's IBM's old personal computing division; the new owners maintained the old quality, which was excellent.

Just think about what mix of portability, performance, durability, and aesthetics you want. Super-expensive laptops usually maximize one of those traits at the expense of the others!

Done by Forty

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 05:10:43 PM »
You can afford it, but I echo the other posts urging you to spend less than $1600 on a laptop.  I think MMM's post on hedonic adaptation would apply here. 

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/22/what-is-hedonic-adaptation-and-how-can-it-turn-you-into-a-sukka/

The $1600 laptop feels better than the $500 laptop or a used $350 laptop, but only for a short while.  Then, as with everything, you get pulled back to the mean because material purchases just aren't able to provide lasting satisfaction.

All that said, you can afford pretty much any laptop you want.  You deserve some congratulations for your management of monthly expenses.  Great work there.  You're inspiring me to spend less on gas, food, phone, etc.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 05:14:53 PM by Done by Forty »

Honest Abe

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 05:14:45 PM »
You can definitely afford a $1000 or less laptop. You can have a "nice" experience on a macbook air/refurb like the previous poster mentioned.

My advice to you is this: save AS MUCH as possible to put towards a house while you live at home. I lived at home while your age and ended up buying $1600 laptops in order to make myself feel good. (because when you live at home as an adult it makes you feel like more of adult to buy sexy things like that) However my doing so caused me to have to rent for longer (i lived at home for as long as I could handle.) and it took me MUCH long to save my downpayment while paying rent.

You did a great job paying down your student loans... now get on that house downpayment!!!!

Just my two cents.

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 06:58:37 PM »
I would really love the new 13" MBP Retina. I know that it is totally an unnecessary luxury, but the build feels so nice, and the display is beautiful. When I look at lower res displays it's uncomfortable to read text (/firstworldproblems).

Could I actually count this as a business expense? For the past few years and up until early this year, I did freelance internet marketing using my personal laptop. I've been thinking about picking up the work again as a second job, maybe ~4 hours on the weekends for an extra few hundred a month.

I think the question is less about what you can afford and more about what you can live with.  I also find the retina displays nice-- but they're unquestionably a luxury and not explicitly necessary.  It's also worth noting that you're currently using a non-retina display and you've been okay with that configuration.

I'm not telling you to buy or not buy what you want, I am just trying to play devil's advocate.  Were I in your situation I would forgo the retina display as an unnecessary add-on (and to continue to condition yourself not to need the newest, shiniest, sexiest, most expensive toy). Ultimately, you need to decide what works for you and I'm not judging you either way.

You can deduct the expense under certain circumstances, but they predominantly would require that you use the system primarily for your employer or self-employed business.  This link may help:

http://www.ehow.com/info_7750361_can-write-laptop-off-taxes.html

jwystup

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 07:17:47 PM »
Just wanted to add, I just got a battery for my dead-before-I-cook-whatever-was-on-that-recipe laptop on ebay for $20. Bought one a while ago for my boyfriend's laptop a couple years ago for around the same, so you might be able to find one around that much, which is much better than $1600!

Kudos on the student loans, gives me hope for mine!

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2012, 07:24:20 PM »
$1600 will buy you a pretty high end laptop. Macbooks are pretty but they do absolutely nothing for you, at hundreds more than a similarly speced laptop. If you're still in debt, this is not the time for luxury purchases.

Personally I've found that despite being more and more connected to technology over the last few years, the amount of computing power and storage I use has really gone down. With free streaming music on Pandora and Spotify. video for cheap/free on Hulu, Youtube and Netflix and free backup through dropbox, you really don't need much storage. Computing power has really come quite a long ways even relative to the demands of the users. Your middle-of-the road processor/setup these days can handle just about every task short of extreme calculations, high-end video rendering or really fancy computer games. If you're like 95% of the computer users out there, you'll just use your computer to check email, Facebook, browse the web, write a couple documents, store a few pictures, watch Youtube, and look at funny pictures of cats. Basically EVERY new laptop out there can do all of this just as well and fast as a high-end laptop.

http://shop.beta.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/betaweb/BetaPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:item.detail?GroupID=457&Code=08626FU&category_id=#.UKmXyuNi65g

Boom $650 for something shiny and new and does everything you need it to. How long does it take you to earn $1000?

Jamesqf

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2012, 07:40:34 PM »
Could I actually count this as a business expense? For the past few years and up until early this year, I did freelance internet marketing using my personal laptop. I've been thinking about picking up the work again as a second job, maybe ~4 hours on the weekends for an extra few hundred a month.

Depends.  The basic rule (and I'm assuming you're in the US, it may of course be different elsewhere) is that you have to turn a profit after you deduct all your expenses.  That's considered over several years, otherwise the IRS figures you're trying to deduct expenses for your hobby.  But go to the IRS site and download their business expense guide.  Don't remember the name offhand, but it's mentioned in the instructions for IRS Schedule C (which is what you file to report business income/loss).

Since you're doing internet marketing, I would think most use of the computer would count as business-related.  It's market research, right?

Also be aware that if you make a significant amount of income from this, you'll have to pay social security taxes on it (file Form 1040-SSE) and maybe quarterly estimated tax payments.

jawisco

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2012, 08:40:51 PM »
I think you can likely deduct it if you continue to do freelance business.

I would second the recommendation to buy a good business class laptop.  I currently use a Lenovo T400 with a solid state drive and microsoft 7 that really kicks ass and is durable to boot.  You can purchase a nice used one of these on ebay for around $300.  Sometimes they are still under warranty....

I think you can afford a $1600 laptop, but why spend that kind of money?  Buy a good used computer for a fair price, and you are risking nothing by giving it a try (you could always re-sell for similiar price).

TomTX

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2012, 08:56:22 PM »
$1,600?!?!

It's pointless, unless you "need" to do high-end gaming or video editing.

Comparing it against a $300 netbook is a strawman. You pay more for the small form factor.

I bought a perfectly good sub-$400 laptop in 2009 and it still works just fine. I even do light gaming on it (you can play WoW, don't try raiding) - 15" screen, dual-core processor, came with 2GB of RAM, friend gave me another 2GB. All the ports you need. The only real drawback is that it has Windows Vista..... Did I buy it on sale? Sure! Not the once-a-year-Black-Friday sales (this week!)

You can get some killer Black Friday deals on laptops, and $400 spent well will be a MUCH better experience than your current broken laptop.

desrever

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2012, 12:02:52 AM »
We have a Chromebook (one of the new Samsung $250 ones) and five apple laptops at home (all but one provided by our employers). The Chromebook and the Macbook Air are interchangeable for me. I guess the metal of the Air feels a little nicer to the skin, but at the margin, I think I prefer the feeling of an extra grand in my pocket.

Having said that, the retina display on the 15" MBP is in fact one of the nicest things to happen to computing in the last decade. But it's not quite as transformative as I thought, because apparently I find myself using the smaller/lighter computers more often unless I really need to log into the workplace. In a couple years the high dpi displays will be ubiquitous, so there's no rush for you really. Consider the Chromebook.

Ozstache

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 05:09:28 AM »
Another vote for a $400 laptop, or a year old second hand one for half that price. Don't waste your money on a better one unless it has a greater income potential than it's extra cost.

CB

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2012, 09:03:07 AM »

I would really love the new 13" MBP Retina. I know that it is totally an unnecessary luxury, but the build feels so nice, and the display is beautiful. When I look at lower res displays it's uncomfortable to read text (/firstworldproblems).

I have a 15" Retina provided by work.  I feel the display is really not worth the premium.  Yes, it's gorgeous, but there are also lots of little but annoying quirks.  It's also noticeably heavier/bulkier than the 13" Air I used to have.  If you want a really nice OS X laptop for general purposes, I'd get a factory refurb 13" Air.  You can avoid* paying the local tax Apple collects by buying via eBay (seller "refurbished_outlet" appears to be selling true factory refurbs) instead of directly from Apple.

*"avoid" = "on your own honor to pass along the appropriate sales tax to your state tax authority"

TLV

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2012, 11:45:50 AM »
My wife is still using the laptop she bought for college 6 years ago (for ~$1k at the time). The battery is long since dead, of course, but since she only uses it at home these days she just keeps it plugged in, like a desktop.

We've considered replacing it occasionally, but don't really see the need for us. Still, looking at the ads that come in the mail, the cheapest laptop at best buy (~$300) has specs that blow the old laptop out of the water in every category. You don't need an expensive laptop for personal use.

capital

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2012, 12:23:00 PM »
I use my computer several hours a day, so spending a few hundred extra (as a one-time expense every several years) to get something nearly perfect is worth it to me. MacBooks have occasional annoyances, but they are thoughtful and refined designs overall, and OS X is a great operating system. When you consider the amount of hours you use your computer, the cost amortizes to a few cents an hour. Especially with no other pressing expenses, it's a worthwhile place to put money to me. Compared to an automobile or housing, it's simply not that much money for something that makes a significant difference in quality of life to a heavy computer user.

If you're buying a full-price high-end Apple notebook, it's good to do it at the beginning of their lifecycle, as Apple rarely cuts prices throughout the product lifecycle. Otherwise, buy a refurbished model; Apple refurbs are very good deals.

A downside of the Macbooks Retina & Air is that they are much harder to upgrade than older Macbooks. My 2009-model Macbook (bought refurb in 2010) runs just like a brand-new machine during day-to-day use because I've upgraded the memory a couple of times as memory has gotten cheaper through the years, as well as putting in an SSD. However, Apple products do have very good resale value, compared to any other consumer electronics-- it looks like the computer I spent $900 on 3 years ago is still worth $500 or so, according to eBay.

Another thrifty option that'd still keep you using nice Apple products would be to buy a refurbished Macbook Pro or Air, waiting a couple years until the Retina display trickles down, then reselling the Pro/Air for around 2/3 of the purchase price and buying the cheaper future Retina product.

If you use Windows and are fine with it, though, a Thinkpad is a better deal.

Another note: does your employer have a 401(k) match? You should max that out as a priority over paying down your student loans-- if there is a 50% match, that's a 50% ROI opposed as to paying 3% on your student loans. If there is a match, you should put every possible cent in income remaining this year into your 401(k) to max the match.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 12:32:02 PM by ehgee »

KGZotU

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2012, 06:54:59 PM »
It sounds like you didn't really want us to convince you not to buy the laptop.

Can you afford a laptop? What fool will look at your finances and tell you the answer is "no"? You asked the wrong question if you wanted to be told no.

You want a face-punch?
  • If you make decisions throughout your life consistent with buying a $1,600 laptop, you will add years to your financial dependence.
  • If you make decisions throughout your life inconsistent with buying a $1,600 laptop, you will have many more free years to enjoy your life.

You have an opportunity, right now, to make a decision inconsistent with buying a $1,600 laptop.

James

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2012, 07:38:21 PM »
You have $2000 in savings against $8400 in debt.  You cannot afford a luxury purchase like a $1600 laptop.


I suggest you do one of two things.  Spend as little as possible to get a serviceable computer for your needs or maintain your current laptop to get by.  If you feel the $1600 laptop is worth waiting for, simply pay off your debt and save up for the laptop.  The added pressure of a goal might enable you to search our new sources of revenue, forgo any unnecessary expenses, and get those loans paid off faster than seems possible.  Once you have actually saved up the necessary funds (on top of whatever emergency funds you see fit), you can make the purchase and be happy about it.  I might still suggest looking for a refurbished one or trying to economize to some extent, but other than that I would at least say you can strictly afford it.  But if you need to upgrade now, do so for as little as possible.  spend a few hundred and get something to last until you have paid off your debt and saved up for something else.  Either way, you will have some time to dwell on your desire for the retina display, and make a decision when the time comes.

Able was I ERE

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2012, 08:14:08 PM »
Don't get a $1600 laptop (unless maybe you are going to use it for e.g. serious development work,and can deduct the cost as a business expense).  Look at the used/refurbished market, and get what was a $1600 laptop two or three years ago.

My two cents: A $400 laptop (new or old) has ample computing power for any software development work I've done recently.  (If you need more computational power, you need desktop instead.)   The higher screen resolution is a nice luxury, but not a necessity for software development.

velocistar237

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2012, 07:10:17 AM »
My wife recently got an Acer Aspire One 11.6" netbook. They have one or two versions with processors that are more powerful than the typical netbook. It has a full-size keyboard, and it's small and lightweight. I imagine you could turn a netbook like that into a hackintosh, or just install Ubuntu, if you don't like Windows 7. It was about $350 new.

Is there any reason you would need a bigger screen or more computing power?

mustache brony

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2012, 11:52:41 AM »
I feel your pain Connie. Iím 27 and my laptop from X-mass 2007 died on my 2 months ago (September). Iíve been laptopless ever since and hereís some advice:

1) What do you need the laptop for? It might be possible to fix your laptop, but if itís currently outdated for your uses (e.g. video gaming) then itís not worth fixing.

2) In the event of gaming, do you want a dedicated video card? A dedicated video card is going to run you a few hundred dollars extra usually. If you use your laptop to visit friends and then game there, it might be worth it to pick up a computer with a dedicated video card. If you intend to play games mostly at home, you may want a desktop for gaming and a cheaper laptop.

3) Iím of two minds for used laptops. On the one hand they reduce waste and are mustachan, on the other hand itís kinda like wearing someone elseís pants. If you plan to get one, make sure you get a refurbished one from a credible source.

4) Anyway you slice it (gaming/not gaming, or laptop and desktop) you can get by for less than 1,600. Define your needs, and find exactly that. Iíd start checking newegg once you know what your needs are, and the will to buy. Wait until after the holidays to buy, unless you see a sale (the labor day sale was good for laptops but Iím still trying to get the part I need cheap on ebay).

Feel free to PM me about this, Iím happy to talk about the desire for a new laptop all day.

Daley

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2012, 08:12:44 AM »
One might consider a couple of the Chromebooks hitting the market, like the Samsung A15 for $250 or the Acer C7 for $200. These are going to be no-nonsense machines, primarily... so do keep that in mind. What makes these devices intriguing, however, is the Samsung A15 despite being an ARM-based machine, is quite speedy and the firmware left unlocked allowing for loading a full Linux distro on the thing.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=samsung_chrome_a15

And the Acer C7, despite feeling a bit cheap (these are not going to be the most robust built machines with the beefiest batteries), is a Celeron based machine with a physical hard drive, so if you need an x86 platform and aren't afraid of loading a Linux distro on these things... great machines for the money if you want to buy something new.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/11/acer-c7-the-200-chromebook-with-less-than-4-hours-of-battery-life/

I'd still recommend a refurb Thinkpad T61 as well over either option as James mentioned earlier, but sometimes the idea of a refurb seems to scare people.

jrhampt

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2012, 09:22:46 AM »
I also vote: yes, you can afford it; no, you don't need a $1600 laptop.  The extra $1200 will feel much better in your investment account in a couple of months.

Jamesqf

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2012, 11:29:38 AM »
Don't get a $1600 laptop (unless maybe you are going to use it for e.g. serious development work,and can deduct the cost as a business expense).  Look at the used/refurbished market, and get what was a $1600 laptop two or three years ago.

My two cents: A $400 laptop (new or old) has ample computing power for any software development work I've done recently.  (If you need more computational power, you need desktop instead.)   The higher screen resolution is a nice luxury, but not a necessity for software development.

Well, I wouldn't go quite that far.  IMHO, if you like your eyesight, 1600x1200 (or 1920x1200) is really minimum.  When I'm at home, even though I'm working on the laptop, it's in a dock, displaying on a 21" monitor.  (And with full-sized keyboard & mouse.)

(PS: Another benefit of laptop as main work machine, if you have to evacuate in a hurry, as I did earlier this year, you just pop it out of the dock & go - and in a couple of hours, I was holed up at my friends' place, and able to work.)

Daley

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2012, 11:58:02 AM »
(PS: Another benefit of laptop as main work machine, if you have to evacuate in a hurry, as I did earlier this year, you just pop it out of the dock & go - and in a couple of hours, I was holed up at my friends' place, and able to work.)

I do similar with a desktop in tornado season and a beater netbook.

unpolloloco

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2012, 09:44:33 PM »
How about meet halfway?  Wait a few months until the 13" MBP retina comes into the Apple refurb store?  Should be able to get it for $1300.  Or check out the MB air retinas.  Alternatively, check out the thinkpads and latitudes in the Lenovo and Dell outlet stores.  Some interesting ones there.

dahlink

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2012, 10:58:29 PM »
Hello,
  I love macs too.  I understand the desire.  However, I do hate the premium price.  The refurbstore is a great option.  Also, a authorized online store that does not charge sales tax is an option to such as macconnection.com

  However, with the mustachian hat on...can your FI afford it is another question.  The answer might be no...at least for macs.  They do usually last longer and get old slower than window pc's in my opinion.  Next year when the new MBP comes out will you be able to resist the erge to buy it as well?  Is this a true business expense that will generate more revenue that paying off the debt and moving to savings and investing?

  If you need a new computer perhaps you should find a deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Here is a cheap laptop that I was considering to buy and then sell my macbook air to get money back:  http://bit.ly/USc0xI  It's decent but only 250.  Also, it's more capable that a chromebook.  I decided to wait and see what other deals are coming on Cyber Monday.

Really, when I think about it...laptop prices as low as 250 will allow you to replace your laptop with a newer one with better hardware each year around the holiday season for about 5 more years instead of buying a MBP.  I guess if you are going to use the mac for substancial business revenue that only osx applications can provide, or are the best at, the MBP might be okay to buy as a mustachian.  If not than it is a definitely a no in my humble opinion.  Ironically, this is coming from a guy that currently owns a 2011 iMac and a 2011 Macbook Air.  I bought them before MMM discovery but I do still love them lol.

James

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2012, 10:44:21 AM »
Really, when I think about it...laptop prices as low as 250 will allow you to replace your laptop with a newer one with better hardware each year around the holiday season for about 5 more years instead of buying a MBP.


But don't forget to consider the waste generated by those laptops.  A macbook made out of aluminum is more recyclable and has a longer lifespan.  Doesn't mean it's more mustachian, just something to take into consideration along with the myriad of other issues you brought up...  :)

jpo

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #30 on: November 27, 2012, 10:41:56 AM »
I second the Lenovo Thinkpads, I have used several at different jobs.

Not the sexiest looking, but in my anecdotal experience they are rock solid machines with decent specs.

grantmeaname

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2012, 12:38:48 PM »
Has anybody else noticed that people tend not to come back when their first post is "give me permission to buy an expensive luxury" and we don't?

jrhampt

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #32 on: November 28, 2012, 06:53:52 AM »
I will just say that last spring I blew 2k of my bonus on a luxury purchase and regretted it.  A few months later I resold it for the original price and bought some muni bonds instead.  I am much happier with my muni bonds giving me money every month.

madgeylou

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #33 on: November 28, 2012, 11:30:44 AM »
I don't care so much about other things. CPU speed, hard drive space, RAM are all things I'm willing to compromise on. The problem is that while there are older/used/refurbished Macbooks, there aren't any that are 13" retina.

do you need a new laptop right now? maybe you can wait until this year's model is last year's model, and there are refurbished ones available...

James

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #34 on: November 28, 2012, 06:25:56 PM »
I don't know. I fully understand that it's a luxury, but doesn't everyone have things they are willing to spend a little extra on? I'm sure there are many things that other people aiming for FI spend money on that I would personally feel is unnecessary.

I do feel a bit embarrassed. I sound just like the people saying they can't give up their financed car and $500/month payments.


Don't feel embarrassed, posting the question is exactly the right thing to do, though you could probably know what the answer was going to be if you hung out here for a while first...  :)


The very fact that you are questioning the purchase before making it is a great sign of responsibility and discipline.  And no matter what you decide on this, make sure you pay attention to how it goes, how you feel about the purchase over time, and learn from it whatever your experience is.  Trying to make quality decisions that maximize your happiness and ability to do well, along with minimizing consumption, doesn't mean the right choice is always obvious.  And not everyone is going to go the full mustachian route.  But don't expect us to help you justify a none mustachian decision.  I make none mustachian decisions myself in some areas, but I would expect a punch in the face if I asked about it here.  Part of the greatness of this forum is to hold up a better standard and help each other reach toward that goal, and I wouldn't want this forum to get soft and encourage people who are not FI to spend $1600 on a laptop.  You can still use the advice here in either modifying your choice or in making the rest of your life more mustachian to make up for this splurge if you make it.

gooeydruid

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2012, 06:54:36 PM »
Don't get a $1600 laptop (unless maybe you are going to use it for e.g. serious development work,and can deduct the cost as a business expense).  Look at the used/refurbished market, and get what was a $1600 laptop two or three years ago.  I've had good experiences with the Lenovo Thinkpads - my most used machine (of four at my desk now) is still the T61 that I bought in '08.

T61!!!
I'm still rocking my T61. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Upgraded the RAM, popped in an SSD, easily just as good as the $300 laptops Best Buy and Walmart sell on Black Friday. Shoot, I bet in 3 years my T61 will still be in better shape than those junkers.

Don't lay out a ton of cash on a laptop. Batteries die, keyboards lose keys, they take a beating, etc. Buy a cheap laptop and if you need power, build a desktop or buy a gamer's used desktop on Craigslist.

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #36 on: November 28, 2012, 07:10:58 PM »
I don't know. I fully understand that it's a luxury, but doesn't everyone have things they are willing to spend a little extra on? I'm sure there are many things that other people aiming for FI spend money on that I would personally feel is unnecessary.

I do feel a bit embarrassed. I sound just like the people saying they can't give up their financed car and $500/month payments.

Connie, I too am a Mac user and I can completely agree that there's really no comparison between a Mac and a cheap Windows laptop.  I won't use a Windows laptop for my full time job, and I won't use one for my consulting.  I make a small but decent amount of money every month on an iOS app in the store, which can only be written and maintained in OS X, which necessitates Mac ownership.  Most of my consulting more right now also centers on iOS mobile app development. Even if I wasn't an iOS developer, though, I would still only use a mac, because I feel that I am able to be much more productive using Mac softwares, including a number that are Mac only (XCode, Rubitrack for fitness tracking, and a small number of others).  I also buy a Mac and use it until it is unable to serve its purpose any longer (ie, until a version of XCode is released that no longer supports the highest version of the OS I can run), then I sell it at a premium because Macs have fantastic resale value relative to the cheap PC market.  I just sold a 4 year old Macbook Air (original purchase price ~1200) for $600.

All of the above said, I still think the retina display is an unnecessary luxury.  Screens have been at 90-100 DPI for literally decades.  If you need a 150+ DPI screen *that bad* but want to satisfy your mustachian tendencies, I am with the previous poster who suggested you wait until next year when the retina devices will start to come up as refurbs.  Apple isn't going to let any refurb retina laptops get in to the channel during the Christmas rush, but it's a fair bet that they will end up there in the early part of next year.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 07:17:05 PM by iamlindoro »

KGZotU

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #37 on: November 28, 2012, 08:12:26 PM »
I think we're getting into a really good question: which luxuries are worth it? I've got a spreadsheet with projected income and itemized expenses that helps me project my net worth over the next five years. I don't budget, but I do track, and my measured spending becomes my projected spending. It helps me see that a nice laptop might constitute one one-hundredth of my projected savings over five years. If I make a similar splurge every few months, I'll eat away a significant portion of my savings.

Keep in mind that your purchase would be a lifestyle choice, not a one time expense. If you purchase, you're realizing a kind of committment to high end laptops; it will be a luxury that's worth it to you several more times over the course of your life.

And there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with that unless you would actually prefer independence from that expense, but don't have the foresight to realize it.

Our gig is to correct (and err on the side of overcorrecting) for human consumptive bias. It's a rewarding way to live.

grantmeaname

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #38 on: November 28, 2012, 08:41:45 PM »
I also buy a Mac and use it until it is unable to serve its purpose any longer (ie, until a version of XCode is released that no longer supports the highest version of the OS I can run), then I sell it at a premium because Macs have fantastic resale value relative to the cheap PC market.  I just sold a 4 year old Macbook Air (original purchase price ~1200) for $600.
Your memory may be a tad selective... any four year old macbook air had to start at at least $1800. The resale value is less terrible than most other brands' laptops, but it doesn't even make up for the premium in purchase price, much less save you money in the long run.

Quote
If you need a 150+ DPI screen *that bad* but want to satisfy your mustachian tendencies, I am with the previous poster who suggested you wait until next year when the retina devices will start to come up as refurbs.
Or better still, wait another year after that and get one off craigslist. If the macbook air is any indication, new models will have dropped in price by about 50%, and so the original model will be discounted by about two-thirds the starting MSRP. Waiting longer is better, of course--I got a $300 original Macbook Air off craigslist, and it retailed for $3200.

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2012, 08:54:00 PM »
I also buy a Mac and use it until it is unable to serve its purpose any longer (ie, until a version of XCode is released that no longer supports the highest version of the OS I can run), then I sell it at a premium because Macs have fantastic resale value relative to the cheap PC market.  I just sold a 4 year old Macbook Air (original purchase price ~1200) for $600.
Your memory may be a tad selective... any four year old macbook air had to start at at least $1800. The resale value is less terrible than most other brands' laptops, but it doesn't even make up for the premium in purchase price, much less save you money in the long run.

Nope, was purchased refurb with a large corporate discount.  The purchase price was accurate.

grantmeaname

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #40 on: November 28, 2012, 08:58:57 PM »
Okay, I thought you were referring to MSRP. Nice discount for a young used laptop, then!

iamlindoro

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #41 on: November 28, 2012, 09:01:04 PM »
Hey, I'm a Mac user, but I still like a good discount!  :)

grantmeaname

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #42 on: November 28, 2012, 09:10:18 PM »
Me too. I would probably get kicked out of the Mac user club on account of the Ubuntu, though.

JamesAt15

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #43 on: November 28, 2012, 10:37:10 PM »
I suspect you're just as likely to get kicked out of the Ubuntu club for having a Mac. ;)

Jamesqf

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #44 on: November 28, 2012, 11:07:45 PM »
T61!!!
I'm still rocking my T61. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Upgraded the RAM, popped in an SSD, easily just as good as the $300 laptops Best Buy and Walmart sell on Black Friday. Shoot, I bet in 3 years my T61 will still be in better shape than those junkers.

Pardon the digression, but I've been thinking about an SSD myself.  And some way to get a quiet(er) fan.  Any suggestions?

grantmeaname

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #45 on: November 29, 2012, 05:59:44 AM »
Figure out how little space you can possibly survive with. I'm on an 80GB SSD, but today the tiers are usually multiples of 60 or 64GB. 60/64GB SSDs occasionally drop under $60, and 120/128GB SSDs are usually just over 100. As long as you don't get a no-name Korean brand, and stick with Corsair/OCZ/Intel/Kingston/etc., there's not really a wrong answer.

Have you cleaned the fan and heatsink recently? Could they be getting dusty?

capital

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #46 on: November 29, 2012, 08:41:25 AM »
T61!!!
I'm still rocking my T61. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Upgraded the RAM, popped in an SSD, easily just as good as the $300 laptops Best Buy and Walmart sell on Black Friday. Shoot, I bet in 3 years my T61 will still be in better shape than those junkers.

Pardon the digression, but I've been thinking about an SSD myself.  And some way to get a quiet(er) fan.  Any suggestions?
Do you use the optical drive? I didn't on my Mac, so I replaced it with a 60GB SSD, which I have my OS & Applications on, with big files kept on the 500GB hard drive. I get most of the SSD speed, still have tons of storage, and the price was around $100.

It looks like you can do that on your Thinkpad, too, by design even:
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Ultrabay_Slim_SATA_HDD_Adapter
Perhaps with some risk of hackiness with the clone adapters.

Jamesqf

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #47 on: November 29, 2012, 11:19:44 AM »
Size & cost aren't all that critical - it's a deductible business expense, and I'm only using about half of the original 100 GB disk.  (Any really large data/outputs can get moved off on to one of the compute machines, which are like 500 GB-1 TB things.)  It's more the time & hassle.  And might reduce power draw/heat, so less fan noise.

Had the T61 apart for cleaning a few months ago, but the current noise doesn't seem like dirty fan (louder air hiss).  It's more of a buzzing. 

Captain and Mrs Slow

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #48 on: November 30, 2012, 02:01:52 PM »
Here's a super frugal idea, if, and this is a big if, you're techy enough. Note the last couple of comments are mine.

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/03/08/the-frugal-laptop/

Also I bought a brand new, top of the line laptop from Amazon.co.uk for under 700Ä or perhaps a 1000 dollars, so surely you can get a better deal.

JamesAt15

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Re: Can I afford a laptop?
« Reply #49 on: January 17, 2013, 06:05:28 PM »
Refurb 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros apparently now available, btw.