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Overcoming The Desire To Shop

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.

I’m not sure if it’s just this time of the year when I’ve been stuck indoors for months or what, but I’m feeling awfully spendy nowadays. Fortunately, this spend urge doesn’t come up too often. Here are a few items I’ve been looking at for a few months and considering purchasing.

In late January, I bought myself an expensive toy. Now that some time has passed, I am just as happy with my purchase. So I think that this purchase was a good one. For most of the other things I’m considering, I think I’ll be happy a month or two afterward as well. So, should I just take the plunge?

When to Spend: New Phone

As ridiculous as you may think it, we are still tied to one of the major cell phone providers. In our case, I don’t think it’s that ridiculous, here’s why. We are a part of a family plan! We are on my wife’s family’s plan, where there are about 8 phones. And split data among the family and are now off the two-year cycle of the new phones so our monthly cost is $30-40 per month for both of us. With that said, my wife is really suffering through with a 3.5-year-old iPhone 6. I’m not sure whether it’s the apps my wife uses, a bad battery or just other forms of planned obsolescence, but her phone is S.L.O.W. I’ve got a 2.5-year-old iPhone 6S and it might as well be brand new compared to hers.


I’ve heard about the $29 new battery deal from Apple which could fix some problems. But there’s a lot of new technology in the newer phones which is drawing us towards a newer model. The difference in the fingerprint recognition on the home button, a much better camera with the ability to do Live Photos (my wife takes all the pictures, naturally), plus more storage capacity. And the additional RAM are some of the main differences important to us. Speed, storage and camera quality. That pretty much sums up the differences between phone iterations nowadays doesn’t it? Finally, the water resistance of the new iPhones lurk in the back of my mind as a game changer. Especially since we have a toddler!

The Smart Way

Jeez, it sounds like I just talked myself into the purchase. We’re also planning a vacation for this summer and we’ll need a good camera for the trip. OK, that’s decided; how can we do it in a smart way? 

We don’t need the iPhone X, obviously. In looking at the iPhone 8 versus the 7, I don’t see much difference. I have a refurbished iPad myself, and there are refurbished iPhone 7’s on Apple’s website. Refurbished devices get a new case, screen, and battery, plus are double-checked by Apple for quality–AND marked down by 10%! Sure, we won’t get the 24 months of interest-free financing. But I think the price discount plus the opportunity to walk from our provider at the drop of the hat if something better comes along make the outright purchase of a refurbished phone the best option here.

When to Spend: New Shoes

I have pain in my right foot when I wear most shoes. It’s been a while now, but I still can’t bring myself to go to a doctor about it. I’m hoping the pain will go away eventually and I’m trying to stretch to see if that helps any. It hurts when I wear sneakers, dress shoes, boots, everything except for a pair of Birkenstocks. I bought my slip-on Birkenstocks at Marshalls, so I got a screaming deal on them a few years ago. However, I can’t wear these babies to work, and they’re not that comfortable to go on long walks in, given their form factor. Therefore, I’m looking at a new pair, like this. If you clicked through that link, you can see these shoes range from $145 to $655 depending on the size and maybe if they include a bar of gold?! My size ends up being $170.

When to Spend: New Computer

Right before we got married, my wife purchased a Macbook Pro, saying it was her last opportunity to buy herself something nice before I could stop her! Really don’t think I crimp her style that much, but maybe she has a point. That old laptop has lasted quite a while, but it has started to slow down significantly. I have upgraded the RAM, but the latest issue is the battery. I don’t know that replacing the battery for $200 is our best option since the rest of the computer is still old and new laptops (not Macs, obviously) cost slightly more than just that battery replacement.

The argument against buying a new laptop is that my wife gets a work computer, I have an iPad, and we have a desktop computer. Do we really need another one? At this point, I have just been poking around online a little bit and will probably abandon this idea pretty soon.

When to Spend: New Camera (A Gift)

My wife has asked for a new camera for her birthday, the DSLR type. I don’t know much about cameras, but the old camera we have only connects to one of our computers and the memory card isn’t a standard one. This one purchase I’m on the fence about and I hope the new phone purchase makes this idea irrelevant. 

If I were to make the purchase, do any of you readers have recommendations? We would want an entry-level camera for beginners, and therefore don’t want to spend a ton of money on it. However, I think this may be one of those areas where you get what you pay for. Please let me know your recommendations!

When to Spend: New Property

As I’ve said before, we want to move out of the Washington, DC area when we reach FI, hopefully to a property where we can start a homestead type operation similar to the Frugal Woods. Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for properties. If something came up that looked perfect, I would be hard-pressed to not jump on it. 

Well, recently a property that meets most of our criteria came up. In a few weeks, if it’s still on the market, I plan to take the three-hour trip over and check it out while visiting family. It is roughly 27 acres, with 4 acres cleared and tillable. That would be a perfect amount of land to build a house plus have a massive garden. The remaining 23 acres would be enough to hunt on, albeit a bit smaller than I would like, especially if my wife and daughter miraculously decide to get interested in hunting too!

Location, Location, Location

Without having seen the property and solely based on maps, I can only come up with a few negatives. It is one mile due east of the county dump, and in our part of the country, the wind comes from the west most of the year. I’m not sure whether any smell from the dump will carry that far, but that is something I can investigate in an in-person visit, maybe by asking neighbors. The other downside of the property is the timing. We’re not ready to move down there any time soon. If we are looking at moving down there in eight years and could earn 9% on our investments, we could pay double the price for this property, assuming our money would double using the Rule of 72. With that said, the carry costs would be zero, since right now the property taxes are $21! Not to mention the possibility of renting out the tillable land to a local farmer, although I don’t expect much net income, likely in the $300-400 range.

Bottom Line

Well, there you have it. Some of the more expensive purchases that are on my mind. With my accounting background, I see some of these as more of capital expenditure type purchases. Especially since they will last much longer than new clothes, a night out or random knick-knacks. As you can probably tell, I research purchases exhaustively and usually wait months before making a purchase. So impulsivity isn’t a problem for me. My problem is realizing I have done enough research and to take the plunge! Please feel free to try to talk me into or out of any of these or offer any suggestions for saving money! 

Overcoming The Desire To Shop

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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