Overcoming The Desire To Shop

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Overcoming The Desire To Shop

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ChooseFI Favorite: top rewards card for beginners

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card​

Looking for the best credit card to start earning travel rewards points? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our pick. With a 50,000 point signup bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months), the $95 annual fee waived the first year, and ultra-flexible points (transfers to 13 airlines & hotels!), this is our top choice!

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 urge doesn’t come up too often. Here’s 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 afterwards as well. So, should I just take the plunge?

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. We 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 since we have a toddler!

Jeez, it sounds like I just talked myself into the purchase. Beyond the reasons listed above, 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 that is worth the higher price tag. 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.

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.

I’ve been thinking about getting a pair of these for a while now and I’ve been trying to find the best way to do it. One of the many credit cards I have offers gift cards to retailers at reduced prices. For a $50 Zappos gift card, I can pay $45. Right now I’ve got about $125 in rewards, so in a few months I’ll be up to $135 and able to purchase $150 in gift cards. That amounts to a 10% discount which is as good as I could come up with. I also checked Gift Card Granny and the normal discount is about 1.5 to 2% so the credit card rewards look to be the best bet.

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! I 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.

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!

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!

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.

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 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! 

Want to read more from FI-nancial Planner? Check out the rest of his articles here.

Overcoming The Desire To Shop

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7 thoughts on “Overcoming The Desire To Shop

  1. Shoes: go to a doctor to find out what’s wrong. They’ll probably refer you to a physical therapist, and they’re worth it. Dansko is another brand with solid footbed support. Check Craigslist, set up Amazon price alerts via CamelCamelCamel, etc. You’ll find that even for shoes, prices vary widely. Try them on locally, shop smartly online.

    Camera: my BIL recently bought a Sony A55 DSLR on eBay for about $200 (kit lens will probably set you back another $30 or $50). It’s lacking in some modern camera features (like creating an adhoc WiFi network to easily retrieve your photos) but it does have GPS and takes really good pictures. I have one, and my FIL did too. It’s a great entry DSLR camera – I think it’s more intuitive than Canon and Nikon.

    Computer: list out your use cases. What do you use it for? Do you NEED a new battery or can you just use it plugged in, and the iPad is portable for when you aren’t near an outlet? Our windows laptop is maybe 10 years old. It’s not fast, the battery doesn’t really work, it’s a heavy beast…but we don’t “need” to replace it right now as other devices have filled the gap.

    No advice in the property given the info you provided. 🙂

    It’s really hard to squash the shopping bug. We try to take our time with large purchases and then spread them out. Once you’ve decided on something, we’ve found the linger we wait, the cheaper it gets (even shoes when next year’s new shoes come out!). Good luck!!

    • Thanks for all these great points!

      I ended up going to my annual physical and talked to the doctor about my foot. She said I should see an orthopedist about it, but pretty much since that visit my ankle has stopped hurting! I will see if the pain comes back and then go to an orthopedist at that time.

      For the property, yep we decided to move forward with that purchase as you can tell…

  2. What’s your cost limit on a new DSLR? The very basic ones can be had for a few hundred or you could also go for an older used model on eBay or Facebook marketplace. I had an old Canon xTi that I had bought in 2006 and finally caved in 2016 on a new refurbished Canon directly from them since there’s a warranty with it. Keep an eye on SlickDeals for the best bargains.

    • Thanks for the recommendation on Slickdeals. I go on that website every now and then, need to get integrated into my morning routine!

      I ended up going with a Nikon D5600, I spent a lot of time debating the merits of that second tier model vs the baseline 3xxx models. I was split between the Canon Rebel SL2, Rebel T7i and the Nikon D5600. The Nikon split the difference cost wise.

  3. I upgraded from and iPhone 5 to the iPhone 7 when it came out. If I could go back in time I would have bought the 6 and stayed there for the headphone jack alone, which has been a problem for me. We have the dreaded open office setup with very short (1ft) glass panels between cubes, so most of us who actually want to get work done must wear headphones at all times. Couple that with any after work runs and you’re looking at needing two or more pairs of expensive wireless headphones because you can’t charge them quick enough between work and run. They do give you one converter for headphones, and one pair of the wired headphones with the new jack, but you cannot charge the phone and use them at the same time. What they also don’t tell you is that the ability to use the buttons on the cord to change volume, songs, pause, etc, randomly stops working with the new input. Most of the time you can just unplug and plug them back in, but it happens often enough to be very annoying (plus there was NEVER a problem with the standard headphone jack…EVER). My co-worker is a gadget junkie and has had both the 7 and 8. He has had a lot of issues with the interaction of the phone and his car via Bluetooth, and frequently laments ever giving up his 6. Basically, the grass isn’t always greener on the other iPhone. Good luck with making the decision that is best for you.

    • Wow that is really insightful. I did not know about the issues with the new jack and the headphone control buttons. Maybe the best option is to spring for the $30 battery replacement if it gets your phone to “like new” condition. I’m not totally sold on that fix either. Any thoughts on that one?

      As for the wireless headphones, I got some off of Amazon for about $30 and they work great. You could probably get two of those and be in a good spot for work and the gym.

  4. Shoes- Sierra Trading Post. Excellent service, watch, wait and pounce. I have seen Birkenstocks there. Also I second the advice to find out what is going on. Do not skimp on your feet.
    Technology- drop Apple, they charge a huge premium for what you actually get. You can get a far more powerful computer and phone if you get another brand. Get a Linux operating system if you are worried about hacking. I am using Ubuntu. I am not a techie, just married to one, and have no trouble with modern Ubuntu. If your house is not paid off and your retirement not funded skip the fancy gadgets and wait. Some of us old folks do just fine with less. Apple and frugal just don’t come together for me. That said you want a decent phone and make, not something that will fall apart and cannot be repaired. Samsung is fully repairable and a good brand. Dell makes solid computers. As someone who worked in cell phone repair all phone can be water damaged, do not pay extra for the illusion of protection. Also my aversion to Apple was developed when in the repair business. Those things break like no other. We made almost all our money off Apple. They had in our market 50% market share and 90% of repairs. If their employees tell customers repairs are possible that they do not do themselves they get fired. If you ever do get water damage and there is something essential on your phone, take it to a top notch independent repair shop. The odds are always iffy, but we got information off an amazing number of times. The phone will still break early at that point and no the rice will not fix that. A chemical reaction starts with the moisture that will continue and slowly wreck the phone. If you drop it in something very acidic like soda it is toast.
    Property- Real Estate is cyclical and few people pay cash. Interest rates are at historic lows. Be patient, watch for rates to rise and watch for prices to drop. On a happier note rents are not interest rate sensitive. Good things will come to those who wait.

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