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Large Purchase Decisions

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Large Purchase Decisions

Happy Monday! Last week, my laptop died. It had been glitching and behaving “funny” for a few months now. I knew at some point I’d have to bite the bullet and get a new one, but I’ve kept putting it off. I hate spending a ton of money on something I already own, regardless of the item (e.g., bed, couch set, computer, etc.). If it works, even if it’s ugly or outdated or slow, I tend to just stick it out since I’d prefer to put my money toward debt, or save it, or any number of a dozen or so other things I’d rather do than drop a couple thousand to replace the item I already own.

But if it breaks – if it no longer works – wellllll, then that’s a different story.

Online Work

Since the pandemic hit, the vast majority of my work is online. I used to have lots of in-person meetings, but in March 2020 when we first started “stay at home” orders, everything went to Zoom and most things have stayed that way. The convenience and ease of jumping on a Zoom call instead of hiking across campus have been really nice. It’s allowed me to work a lot more from home. I work full-time but I’m only at the office about 1-2 days/week, the rest of my work is entirely remote. So you might say that a good computer is a pretty imperative tool for my job.

My personal computer is a 13-inch monitor laptop. That’s pretty small for a sole computer for someone who works full-time online. I had/have a really nice, huge-screen computer at work but it’s a desktop so it’s not portable and it belongs to the university (not to me personally).

My laptop is 6 years old which, in the tech world, is already pretty old. But I didn’t care. I planned to use it forever! Unfortunately, that’s not how things have gone.

Going Downhill

It all started when I ran out of storage space. I had 8 GB memory. I actually ran out of space maybe a year or so ago. But no biggie. I’m an Apple user (I know it’s more costly than PC, but worth its weight in gold, IMO). I have access to the Cloud and I pay for extra storage. I started working predominantly from the cloud with anything not sensitive. For sensitive/confidential work data, we have a university subscription to Box and, same thing, I worked from the Box cloud. I actually think it’s better because I’m not constantly backing things up on a flash drive. I can access my documents from any computer, anywhere. Running out of storage didn’t slow me down at all.

Then several months ago, I noticed some of the keys sticking. It was annoying, as anytime I’d type the letter “O”, it would stick and I’d have 2-3 O’s in a row. Took some extra editing time, but that’s not worth buying a new computer over.

Next, I noticed some of my applications slowed. I’m not a tech expert, but I believe there are some incompatibilities with my laptop and newer/more advanced applications. It slowed down my efficiency a bit, but still not worth shelling out the $ for a new computer.

Finally, I started having more major glitches. I’d try to turn my computer on and nothing would happen (even though it was fully charged and no obvious issues). It would take some time and finagling, but eventually I’d get it turned on. This happened maybe a handful of times. And then one day last week, it wouldn’t turn back on. No matter what I did.

The Decision Was Made

Given that I absolutely must have a computer, it was a pretty easy decision to make. I decided to buy a desktop, as they tend to be less expensive than laptops. I paid extra to increase my memory and storage. Added on a keyboard and mouse (just the basic ones, nothing fancy). But even so, the total bill was right at $2,000. Ouch. I know I could’ve bought a PC for cheaper, but again, I’m Team Apple through and through.

All my devices (phone, work computer, personal computer) sync up and I can share documents between them through Apple’s Air Drop. That level of convenience is important to me. So an iMac it is. Also, I looked up my receipt from my old laptop out of curiosity and it was nearly double that price (oooof!), so although no one wants to drop $2k on a random day when they weren’t expecting it, it was still more cost-effective than another MacBook would’ve been. I do have a iPad if I need a portable note-taking device, but I’m pretty happy with the decision to have a large-screened desktop at home. 24 inches, baby!

I took the money from my student loan savings account (if you recall, I’ve been saving money to put toward my student loans instead of paying directly toward the loans). I wasn’t thrilled with that option, but I thought that was better than taking from my emergency fund.

How do you decide?

When my computer died, that was it. I obviously had to buy another computer. Decision made.

But how do you decide whether or when to make big purchases? Especially if it’s not something you need. We’ve got a couple other big purchases that are in the back of our minds. One is a bed – my husband and I both brought beds into our marriage. Both of our beds were from, ahem, prior marriages. They’re comfortable and work fine (no sagging or broken springs or issues), but it just seems….weird…to hang onto these beds. One is ours and one is in our guest room for company. The guest room one I’m okay with, but at some point it’d be nice to get a different bed for our room.

The other is a living room furniture set. Our current set is ten years old and has been through countless moves (4? 5?). The couch leather is very worn and the recliner leather has torn, causing a large hole in one of the arms. It’s all still comfy and, as stated earlier, I have such a hard time spending money on a new version of something that we already own. Yes, the couch is dated, but it still functions as a couch. It still works fine. I don’t want to spend the $2,000+ to get a new living room furniture set

Nothing on the horizon

To be clear, I have no intention of buying either of these things (bed and living room furniture) anytime soon. I really want to focus on GETTING OUT OF DEBT, once and for all!!! But I’m curious how others make these large financial purchasing decisions. When do you decide to bite the bullet and make the big purchase? And when do you just live with what you’ve got?

How many of you work fully (or mostly) remote? Was that always the case, or did things change as a result of the pandemic?

P.s. if you’re reading this now, I actually found a pretty good review of a couple of laptops at Costco – I ended up getting my replacement after I saw this article, but am adding it here in case you are in a similar situation and want a reference.  You can find it here.


10 Comments

  • Reply Emily N. |

    My computer (2013 Macbook Air) and phone (iPhone 7) are both getting older and slower, so I’ve saved enough to replace them both whenever I’m ready. It drives my husband nuts that I haven’t upgraded, but they both still work, so I’m not in a rush. He keeps telling me that a new phone would have a better camera for taking pictures of our pets, which is tempting, but I still haven’t taken then plunge. I’m sort of hoping to get my computer to the 10 year point, but we’ll see…

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! This is me, too! I do the same thing with cars, also! Had my last car for just shy of 10 years! I like to hang onto things and make-do rather than running out and buying newer, fancier versions of the same stuff I already own.

    • Reply Kate |

      I only recently gave up my iPhone SE (first generation) because it completely stopped holding a charge. At one point my younger coworker asked me “Is that like … an iPhone 1?” Lol. I just liked the small size!

  • Reply Walnut |

    I’m surprised the university requires you (or even lets you) use a personal device. I assume this is the norm? Were there options to purchase through the university at a discount?

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh yes, in fact if you want to bring home a work computer it is quite the process to gain approval. Given that my university-purchased device is a desktop, I never went through the process of trying to gain approval to bring it home. We have a VPN through work that I can use remotely from home.
      I know the university has discount program but its not that good TBH. I just looked up discounts on computers and there’s an offer for 10% off Dell and another discount off Lenovo. Nothing for Apple.

  • Reply Blissfully in the shadows |

    Hi!

    I have been working from home since 2018. I use a computer, iPad and a separate monitor provided by my work. My personal computer keyboard had buttons that started not working early summer. They were the major buttons so s, e, d and o. Now, I use an external keyboard provided by work.

    Before I came up with that free option, I took it to a fix it shop where I paid like $150 to figure it out. Next time I won’t pay at all and will just research a free option as it was on the opposite side of town and gas was pretty high then. I think I didn’t want to feel like I had driven all that way for nothing.

  • Reply Kristina |

    Just to clarify: 8 gb of memory is not storage, it’s your memory/RAM. It’s what allows you to run multiple programs at once. The bigger the space, the more simultaneous programs. The processing speed of the CPU is what dictates how fast your computer reacts (i.e. starting a new program).

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you for the clarification! That makes sense then why running multiple programs was becoming a challenge!

So, what do you think ?