Step 4: Cutting Costs

UnShopping: Phone, Tablet, Laptop

Gotta love when a 700-word post makes a process sound quick and simple! It hasn’t been. But, hopefully a summary helps share the steps I take to NOT buy more than I need.

Because I tend to shop in spurts, my laptop and smartphone both became old around the same time. In the meantime, I’d begun envying those light, fast tablets the hordes demonstrate while I’m out and about. And so, aware that my devices were near death, I began the hunt.

Step 1. Check out the freebies. Are there any resources for free stuff? Family members or friends giving things away? Programs for kids that homeschool or have disabilities? Options for single parents, or adults with disabilities? Yep, nope, yep, yep, yep, and yep. Wow! Alas, when I tried the disability tech office, they offered the loan of a machine so old, clunky, heavy, and interfering that it retails at $200 USD…except at that nice price comes with, oh, a power cord, warranty, and tech support.

Step 2. Decline the freebie currently on offer. We’ve been gifted with some phenomenal resources that have proven very helpful and effective, so deals are always worth an exploration. Sometimes, though, it’s better to actually spend $200 USD—or even more—if we end up with a system that meets our actual need, honours a disability (if any is present), comes with the degree of support we need, and is warrantied.

Step 3. Reach out. Okay, retail was a nightmare. My fault, I think, as I decided to take up shopping five days after Christmas! Though deliciously quiet, local shops were completely out of stock on the lower cost items, and inventory lists hadn’t yet been updated. However, conversations with an excellent store rep—as well as with personal acquaintances I happened to run into while there—were deeply helpful. Each provided ideas and information, as well as the opportunity to brainstorm, ask questions, and think aloud. All of this is worth a lot for the way I process. It was clarifying. New ideas came.

Step 4. Consider. All decked out with new info, I retreated back into myself…and into Google.

  • Given how our lives have changed since I purchased these two items, are both still necessary?
  • Given our current strategy of living semi-rurally to save oodles of cash every month, how lightweight do I need my mobile tech to go?
  • Is it necessary that my phone fits in one hand?
  • Setting aside dreams of others, and the urgings of advertisers, what is my own, actual tech dream?
  • When I find myself being seduced by “the latest and greatest”, can I remember that today’s “mediocre” tech is already leaps and bounds beyond those purchased in 2010?
  • Is it true that a tablet cannot function as a laptop and a phone? Why not?
  • Can I rig any one device to serve the purposes of two or three?
  • How much am I willing to pay in insurance, or in insurance deductible if an item is stolen?
  • How much cheaper is the in-store care policy on a cheap model over that for a costly one?

The dream started shaping up to an Android or Windows OS, LTE-enabled, 2-in-1 detachable laptop/tablet, 11″-13″ screen, up to 2 lbs. I was feeling pretty attached to the Asus line, because in my experience they make good, hardy stuff that lasts. However, their $500 CAD item was unavailable, and the next one up took a massive leap in price.

Venturer’s version offers an amazing price-point with excellent consumer reviews. For my needs, Microsoft’s Surface 3 may also do the trick. From my preferred retailers at their sweet prices, neither are available to my region at the moment.

Step 5: Wait. Rather than take the leap to a product not quite wanted, I’ll wait for the next batch to become available. (When I take a few extra days or weeks to get my preferred product, I’m highly likely to feel truly satisfied with it long term.) In the meantime, can I make my current stuff meet the basic need? What if I steal my kid’s tablet, with detachable keyboard and wireless mouse, and pair the noise-cancelling earbuds while he’s at school?

Wait, did I just score myself a free system?

And so it is that I ended up spending $0, at least for now. Playing with the above system will help me explore what works for my situation and what doesn’t. This will further help me nail down which product will be the one to take me through another six years, at what’s looking to be $100 per.

Given how much such devices enhance my life—including saving me money and bringing in more—that sounds just about perfect to me.

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