Author Topic: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets  (Read 8019 times)

Myrmida

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How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« on: August 10, 2013, 05:49:23 PM »
My spouse loooooves gadgets.  If you are familiar with the web-site Kickstarter, then you know where most of his spending money ends up.  I don't really mind, except he has gone over budget for a couple of months now.  I also wonder what effect his technophilic habits have on our electric bill, but I haven't attacked our utility bills yet, so that's a side-issue.  He could just be bored (he's a stay-at-home-dad) and ends up on-line shopping during our son's naptime.

Have any of you had to overcome a love of shiny, new gadgets?  What persuaded you to reduce your gadget spending?  Did you find a less expensive interest to replace it?  Do any of you still struggle with a love of gadgets?

He's a wonderful man, so this is just a minor issue, but I appreciate any advice you have.  Thanks.

Donovan

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 06:41:01 PM »
I used to have an issue with this to an extent (pre-FI dreams), and the best advice that I have from experience is to force myself to wait at least 3 days or so before I can buy anything like that. During that time, I have to really think about why I would need the neat new shiny thing.

I've been fighting this recently because my brother just upgraded his computer with an SSD, which I have always wanted to do.  He also bought a new bike recently.  I had to step back and convince myself that yes, my old beater bike is fine and no, I do not need to go paying a few hundred dollars for a new hard drive just so I can have a 10 second boot time :p

I also canceled all of the emails that I would receive from places like Newegg, Amazon, Kickstarter, and Guitar Center so that I would not be tempted by their constant deals on neat shiny things that I don't need.  Not knowing about a thing tends to help with not buying it :)

MichaelR

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2013, 06:55:21 PM »
Do any of you still struggle with a love of gadgets?

I certainly do. And the companies are very good at manipulating us by making older gadgets slow and unable to use modern software, or simply better.

I have improved over the years and I am keeping things like computers and phones for longer, but it is not easy to give up.

I am sure the same applies to clothes for some people and cars for others. At some point the pleasure in being frugal has to out way the short-lived pleasure of the purchase in order to overcome this impulse.

kudy

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 07:16:31 PM »
I just wrote an blog post about resisting the urge to replace my phone earlier today. This is probably the one place where I am weakest, I really am trying hard to beat this tendency out of myself, but I still get a high from buying new tech stuff. Need a support group.

cats

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2013, 08:21:12 PM »
I was not into gadgest per se, but I used to buy a lot of yarn online, which I guess is my equivalent of a gadget :)  I find the best approach is to simply unsubscribe from as many newsletters/email lists as you can, and then if you do see something you want/like, impose a 24, 48, 72 hour waiting period.  I did this b/c I wanted to stop buying yarn online completely, and it did pretty much work. 

Another trick I used (with clothes) is the 1 in, 1 out approach.  I can't see why you couldn't do this with gadgets--want a new one, you have to sell or give away an old one.  Seeing how much they lose value might also make him reevaluate whether or not buying in the first place is really a good idea.

gooki

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, 01:04:07 AM »
How I deal with it.

A fixed weekly allowance for all my personal spending, so I have to choose between eating out, new, clothes or more gadgets.

A one in one out policy. Which I seem to break often, but it's the ideal I'm working towards.

eljay

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 02:36:05 AM »
Along with the other suggestions one thing that has helped in our household is "virtually owning" something - save pictures on computer/Pinterest/Evernote where you can go back and look at it, then share or discuss item.

This helps as often items on Kickstarter are genuinely cool and innovative but you can appreciate that without buying it.


davisgang90

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, 06:32:52 AM »
How I deal with it.

A fixed weekly allowance for all my personal spending, so I have to choose between eating out, new, clothes or more gadgets.

A one in one out policy. Which I seem to break often, but it's the ideal I'm working towards.
This is my policy as well.  Trying to get SO on the bandwagon...

KingMe

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2013, 08:08:05 AM »
I plead guilty. I have a few practices that make me feel better about this unnecessary spending.

First, I try to focus on purchasing things that will actually reduce spending in other areas. So, for instance, I've been researching how to best set us up with over the air TV so we could cancel pay TV.

I also use camelcamelcamel.com to see when things are at abnormally low prices and to set target prices. I'm waiting for something to be 45% off the regular price. I use this website to track all sorts of things, recently buying 4 14-oz boxes of Cheerios for $7.32.

Third, I read as much as I can to make sure that the device actually does what I think it does and has all the connections needed to integrate it with my other stuff. Nothing gets purchased on a whim.

I try to focus on the goal, not the pleasure of buying a thing. I re-think my assumptions about what I need and sometimes ask for advice to determine whether there is a cheaper and better way. For example, I thought that I needed an expensive stereo receiver upgrade to be able to do something in particular, but an expert in an online forum recently told me how I could use my existing equipment in a way that accomplished my goal. Win!

Argyle

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2013, 11:26:23 AM »
To me the real question would be whether he wants to reduce his gadget spending.

I also know the routine that can characterize being at home taking care of a small child.  Different people find different perk-me-ups, some of them good, some of them troublesome.  It may be that he needs a reason to save money that's stronger and more appealing than the need to have a little gadget-buying escape during the day.  And he also no doubt needs some different escapes during the day.  Going over budget suggests that something's out of balance.  Often it's not a matter of willpower as much as it is of finding a better way to meet the needs that aren't being met.  Then the overbuying disappears of its own accord.

Myrmida

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2013, 08:36:11 AM »
Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.  I thought there might be a few people with a (current or former) gadget habit on this forum, given that I've seen a few people on the forum mention that they are from tech fields.  My spouse was also in a high tech field before he quite 1.5 years ago to stay home with our son.  I think the gadgets help address that part of him that misses his work.  Staying home with a small child is pretty draining and I'm sure he isn't the only one to find an escape in on-line shopping.  I think if he had the opportunity to do some creative software work, he might not need/want gadgets anymore, but I'm not sure how to make that happen.  I mentioned some of your ideas to him.  He did like the concept of 1 in, 1 out, but isn't sure he would actually live up to it.    He may just have to find his own way of addressing his need for high-tech stuff without overspending.  It's all part of the journey.

Thanks again for your insights and good luck to you all on your own mustachian journeys!

dragoncar

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2013, 12:27:15 PM »
It's experience that a lot of "gadget aficionados" like gizmos because they feel they're somehow setting themselves apart from everyone else by having them.

"The make more of them every day."

Any gadget that's still being made is likely mass produced and could just as easily be found in your neighbor's house.

More interesting are some of the gizmos you find in thrift stores. I found a 1950's coffee percolator at a Salvation Army Thrift Store a while ago. I didn't buy it but did take photos - there's nothing like it made today and it would make a real conversation piece on the counter.

Yes, although I think this is true of most consumerism, and gadgets are just a subset.  I used to be like this.... Buy the cooled $200 lighter ( I don't even smoke), etc.... I guess on some level I had visions of people coming over and oohing and ahhing at my amazing possessions.  Thing is, that didnt happen often (I don't even like inviting people to my place) and even when it did it wasn't particularly satisfying. 

How did I stop?  Probably a combination of getting more zen with age and I also just stopped visiting those sites.  If I browse the tech product sites then I still get the desire to buy.  If I don't, I hardly miss it.  Same with deal sites like slickdeals, groupon, etc.  I just don't expose myself to potential wants and I have realized that I'm no less happy for it.

I'd suggest trying to go a month without browsing the sites.  Then reassess and determine if he feels deprived or otherwise less happy because of it.

There are some few gadgets that are worth buying.  I have a smartphone that I use constantly.  Some gadgets are really art, which could be worth the price if you literally admire it every day.  But like any other collection you have to consider if you have too much.  If you have tooany gadgets that you don't have time to reasonably cherish each one every day then it seems like that's enough.

Or consider a one-in-one-out policy like for hoarding.  Sell one gadget for each bought.  It might not be cost effective, but it makes you really think about how much you want something and slows down the trigger finger.

Anyways sorry for the ramble.

livetogive

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2013, 02:33:55 PM »
I buy WAYYYY more gadgets than the average person, much less mustachian.  I also sell WAYYY more gadgets than the same.

The tech gadget market is very inefficient relative to most things, so there are ways to churn through lots of gadgets with minimal additional investment.  For example, pre MMM days I upgraded an iPhone 4s to a 5 on contract for about $75 plus a lot of my time.  Owned a Nexus 7 tablet for about $50 and I could've made it $10 if I was smarter about it.

- Set a modest budget that can accumulate.  Take it from going out or other areas
- Start with one in, one out. 
- Force the person to seriously research the market before buying. I'm talking hours.  If they're doing it because they love the hobby then the research won't seem like work.  I love tech and mobility, so I don't mind reading about it for hours on end.
- Buy used, sell yourself (not a service like gazelle)
- Add value when you can (jailbreak, root, unlock, etc.)
- Very closely follow the release schedule of new tech.

Here's an example for a typical person with a cadillac (ATT or Verizon) plan and an iPhone 4s who wants to upgrade to the 5s in September and is eligible for an upgrade:

- buy a low priced, used carrier compatible smartphone with a decent secondary market.  You don't want to go too old because you want the prices to be fluid with lots of buyers and sellers for price discovery.  Let's say you buy a 16gb Nexus 4 for $300 shipped and know the new Nexus 4 won't be announced until a few months after you're done with the scheme.
- Have carrier switch to the Nexus 4
- Sell the iphone 4s (Market for locked is around $350, unlocked as much as $450 if you're willing to ship international)
- wait for the 5s.  Buy it for $200.
- Sell your Nexus 4 a month later for ~$300 less $30 in ebay fees.


Gadget account
  ($300)  Nexus 4
   $350    Sell iphone
/---New "surprise" iPhone Announcement (which you already knew was coming)---/
  ($200)  Buy iphone
   $270    Sell Nexus 4
Net: $120 less applicable sales taxes

And schemes like the above are how I churn gadgets with a very small monthly budget for it. 

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2013, 05:15:03 PM »
You wrote "I don't really mind, except he has gone over budget for a couple of months now."

Whose budget -- yours or his? Does he mind? Do you mind, because you said you don't really mind.

If you don't mind, why make an issue? If he's the wonderful man you say and this is the minor issue you say, focus on the major wonderful things you have between you.

If you do mind, you could be more honest and open with yourself about how you feel. If you want to act, the main issue seems what are the consequences to going over budget -- to you, to him, and to yourselves, and do you agree on those consequences. If you don't agree, you have to work on those issues.

Once you agree, the principle I live by and recommend is that "you have to say no to a lot of good things to have a great life," as I wrote up here -- http://joshuaspodek.com/a-model-to-prioritize-things. If you value the gadgets more than what you give up for them, keep getting the gadgets. Otherwise, know your priorities and don't see it as giving up gadgets but as keeping the more valuable stuff you budgeted for.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 07:06:29 PM »
I've been getting lots of packages lately. Just got an iPhone 4s yesterday. Should be getting some Galaxy S3s in later this week. Already have some lying around. Can't wait until I can justify an iPhone 5 (maybe when the 5s comes out?) and the Galaxy S4 (universal remote built-in sounds cool).

I'm trying to buy low and sell high. I have a special budget in EEBA, whenever I buy something phone related (be it an actual phone, a replacement screen, some empty boxes, whatever) I deduct from the balance. When I sell one, I add it back. I'm still in the negative, but also just recently started doing this (I have a bit of a surplus I'm planning on selling off). It's important to keep track of EVERY single purchase. Sure, you paid $180 for a phone and sold it for $300; but what about the phone you paid $320 for, bought a box for $6, charger for $3, sold for $330 but had to pay $7 in postage?

Ideally my "phone" account will go back to a positive balance, then I can buy whatever phones I want completely guilt-free (as long as I keep selling the majority back for a profit, thus keeping the account in the black). For me this would be a win-win-win; I'd always have a new(er) phone for "free", I'd be doing something enjoyable in my free time (I love doing the research, and the repairing), and I'd make a little extra cash.

And perhaps buying gadgets is his way of staying current with technology. If I were working in the computing field, it'd be easy to stay current (work would provide me with a brand-new laptop and phone every year or so, I'd get to play with the newest hardware and software when testing out new products before deployment, etc.). But staying at home with kids, it's kinda hard to justify buying a rack full of networking equipment and a new phone every 6-12 months (believe me, waiting every six months was already torture...we really want every new phone on launch date, just so we can tinker with it).

I guess as far as actual advice, I'd try the whole buy-low sell-high thing. Find what the prices on Craigslist and eBay are, then keep an eye for good deals. Keep track of every single purchase; not only will this help keep you from going overboard (wow, no idea I spent THAT much!), it'll help you know when you're doing pretty good. Also, having a misc budget is really helpful (call it an allowance if you want, though I don't like the connotation). I get $50/mo, you could set it to $50/wk, $500/mo, whatever. But whatever it is, there's no strings attached. You/he can spend your misc money as you wish, be it a Big Mac, new shoes, yet another iPhone gizmo thingie, gift for the deadbeat BIL, whatever. If the money came out of the misc category, there will be no nagging allowed (but if he goes over his budget, then let the nagging commence!).

Myrmida

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 01:45:33 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.  In terms of the budget he is exceeding, it is his personal allowance budget.  We each get a certain amount each month to spend on whatever we want.  We're fairly new to budgeting, but it has made a huge difference in our lives.  A year ago we were running a deficit (I think - honestly, we were not paying a lot of attention to finances, but we seemed to be losing money every month).  We shaped up, got on a budget, and now we're living on 55% of our net income.  Considering how much progress we've made, his gadget habit is a minor thing.  In the grand scheme, it means a couple months of extra work before reaching financial independence.  What kinds of consequences do people have for going over budget?  We've never really had any, possibly because we're still new to budgeting at all. 

I don't think I would be able to do the buy low-sell high strategy because I'm not on top of technology, but I'll print out what was mentioned and give it to him for consideration.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 03:57:31 PM »
I don't think I would be able to do the buy low-sell high strategy because I'm not on top of technology, but I'll print out what was mentioned and give it to him for consideration.

Even if you can't sell the phone for more than you bought it; if you can buy at the low-end at the time of purchase, and sell at the high-end at the time of sale, then that'll help. Bought a Galaxy S about two years ago for under $150, recently sold it for over $100. If you happen to live near a military base, you can probably detect patterns; a group gets deployed, they sell a bunch of their gadgets, oversaturate the market, and prices go down. Bit later, you notice that listings for phones are ending sooner, and prices are creeping up; yup, a group just arrived and lots of them want a new(ish) phone.

SnackDog

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2013, 05:04:43 PM »
We moved to a country that taxes the bejesus out of imported electronics.  They cost 2-3x what they do in the US. Problem solved - no point in even browsing the stuff for sale here.  We buy what we need when we are back home, which is infrequent and limited to what we can safely smuggle back in country without a hassle at Customs.

theSchmett

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Re: How to Save if Your SO looooves Gadgets
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2013, 05:22:11 AM »
I used to be someone who drooled over gadgets... ok fine I'm typing this post on a bluetooth keyboard connected to an iPad. That I charge up with a device that stores 6000mah of power in it in case I'm away from a plug.

I've developed a sincere distaste for planned obsolescence and the marketing of More Power.

Working computers in my house? A $200 netbook I bought in 2009, and an iMac from 2006 (first Intel model) that I bought off a friend for $200 and 2 cases of beer.  I REALLY want a new compy but I just can't justify it based on I can do everything I want to do, except play Sim City, which I have no time for anyway. The computer that gets the most use?  the iPad with the keyboard, total cost $370, awesomeness is infinite. iPad2 refurb and a $50 keyboard on sale from zagg.com - that they replaced with a $100 keyboard when that one broke during hour one. Sweet.

So here are my strategies in curbing my interest:

1) Want cool stuff?  Do it, don't buy it. Find new functions for the existing gear, small software hacks that don't cost any/much money and keep you busy for awhile learning new skills.
Install Linux (free, Ubuntu and many others) on the old computer and the compy will run faster and feel new. Screw around with $70 worth of RaspberryPi for months. Totally cutting edge stuff, and totally free/cheap! Load a new ROM onto your Android phone! The wonderful thing about computers is they are multipurpose devices, and free software can totally change their nature.

2) Make cost a goal. I want to build a hackintosh.  For years now. But until I figure out how to do it for under $300 I'm not going to do it, unless I actually NEED a computer. This price limit leads to a lot online research and shopping but very little purchasing. It helps to have a very low price in mind.

3) Work  on solving problems with gadgets, not just surfing kickstarter (fun!) and buying a Ouya or an Ubuntu Edge.  For example, we had a 13 day blackout during hurricane sandy.  I saw it coming, and bought a small (too small but thats another story) generator. Gadget purchase made, and totally worth it! I also bought an battery powered phone charger, on sale from zagg for 50% off. The RaspberryPi purchase was an attempt to do a streaming media home theater pc (mild - moderate success) to support my cable cutting.

4) Related to #3 - make the gadget a money saver. Did your SO buy an Ouya (video game console - wish I had!)? Cut out cable from the monthly expenses and use the Ouya to stream Netflix and Hulu (it should do that). Have SO figure out how to avoid a monthly home phone bill if you have one using... gadgets! I've done all this and save around $600 a year on tv and phone service.

5) Sell off the old stuff before its too old. Actually, I am terrible at this because I use things well past their expiration date. I just sold an original iphone a few weeks ago, in great shape, for $45. The 4 old computers taking up space? Should've sold them when I retired them and put the money into a gadget fund.  Now I have to part them out, an time consuming but kind of  fun process.

Anyway that's how I roll. I still spend some money, but its relatively purposeful and the $600 saved on cable doesn't nearly get spent in a year.

theSchmett