Let’s face it, at some point or another, you’re going to have to buy something new.
Even the most frugal minimalist who takes really good care of her belongings is no match for the inevitable obsolescence that is packaged in everything we own. Eventually, our stuff will fall apart and if we decide to replace it, there are some things we’ll need to keep in mind.
I replaced my ancient (and literally falling apart), iPhone 5S a couple of weeks ago. Boy, that was a long time coming.
For the last year, I’ve had to keep my phone in a three-piece, full-screen case just to keep the screen from falling off. I really should have replaced it sooner, but I’m frugal to a fault sometimes.
Because I just can’t justify spending full price on anything (especially electronics), I did what any economy-ruining millennial would – I started searching on eBay.
Here are my top tips on what to do when it’s time to buy something ‘new’. (Also, I’m so sorry that rhymes, I couldn’t help myself).
The first thing you should know about me is that I research everything. Whether it’s a new product I want or a haircut I’m considering, I become downright obsessive about researching every possible thing about it that I can. So, when it came time to replace my phone, I opened up the internet and went on a deep dive.
Based on the way I use my phone, I knew I needed to prioritize the quality of the camera, the overall build quality of the phone and the size of the screen.
What does doing research actually look like?
- Researching as many options for your purchase as you can (in my case iPhone vs. Pixel).
- Getting info from a variety of sources like reviews, product websites, friends and family testimonials is crucial.
- Imagine that you’re Sherlock Holmes and you’re building a case – the case for why you’re going to buy ‘X’ thing.
Doing pre-purchase research is one way you can make sure you’re making the right decision before you put your hard-earned money on the table.
2) Shop Around
This step might look like it’s part of the research phase, but, in my mind, it’s separate. By the end of the research phase, you will have narrowed down the item you would like to purchase to a specific model or brand. Shopping around is where you find the best bang for your buck.
I prefer to shop second-hand so eBay is my primary price comparison tool. It’s amazing how much variation there can be between two seemingly identical items. Everything from the condition of the item to the description, to the photos that the seller posted influences how much the item is actually worth (versus how much it’s selling for).
The phone I purchased could have easily sold for $50-$75 more than I paid for it. But, it didn’t because the seller didn’t put a huge amount of effort into staging the photos or giving an overly detailed description. And the seller’s lack of effort was my gain. I’m kind of a tech nerd, so I could tell the phone was a good deal for the price, condition, and accessories that came with it. Sometimes, you really can find that diamond in the rough.
3) Wait a Little Longer
Now, you’ve picked the item you want to buy, and you’ve figured out how much you’re willing to pay for it (and how much it’s worth). Time to pull the trigger, right? Wrong. I always find it useful to sleep on a big (or small) purchase, especially a tech purchase. I originally thought I wanted a used iPhone 6S. But, I realized, after thinking on it for an extra day or so, that I could get much better value for my money (for what I wanted), if I bought a Google Pixel XL.
If I had pulled the trigger that same day, I probably would have been happy with the purchase. But, I would hate to think I missed out on better value because I was too eager. The early bird may get the worm, but at least the turtle doesn’t get a stomach ache.
4) Be Prepared to Walk Away
The saying goes ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, and, it rings true when you’re buying something. It’s especially true if you’re buying something online.
In the process of buying my phone, I bid on probably close to ten phones. They each met different requirements for what I was looking for but had different accessories included to sweeten the deal.
Try not to get too invested in any one item, especially when you’re buying in an online forum like eBay. The most important thing to remember is that there will always be another version of the same item for sale. If you miss out on an item because it goes above your budget, or because of a last-minute counter bid – don’t settle for something else if it doesn’t meet your requirements.
Fear of missing out on a ‘perfect’ item is real. But, it’s not worth compromising what you’re actually looking for and ending up with buyer’s remorse.
The bottom line is when you’ve done the research, picked an item and set your budget, you can afford to walk away until the time is right. If you don’t get the first thing you want – there will be another one!
It would be nice to think that being a minimalist means we never have to buy anything, ever. But, that’s not how it works. We literally need to consume things to survive. Consumption on a basic level (like clothing, food, and shelter), is obviously different than what I’m talking about here. But, when we ‘need’ to purchase things that may not be considered necessities (depending on who you talk to), I think it’s worthwhile to approach that purchase with a little mindfulness. That’s the best way I can think of to make sure we actually end up with ‘stuff’ that we’ll use in our daily lives.
Have you ever ended up with buyer’s remorse? Do you approach buying things differently now? I’d love to know your tips for a happy shopping experience. Share them in the comments below!
I’m taking a little break over the holidays, but I’ll still be active on Instagram and Twitter! I might be posting some super special bonus episodes of Tiny Bites, so be sure to subscribe in Apple Podcasts or Google Play Music. Did you miss last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about the act of saying ‘no’? You can listen to it here.
I hope everyone has a happy holiday!
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions