Anatomy of a frugal purchase

Anatomy of frugal purchaseUnexpected expenses

The other day my computer hard drive decided to “give up the ghost”.  Ugh… even as a seasoned IT guy, I always dread when I have computer problems.

They’re just too disruptive to my “work flow”.  However, this needed to be handled promptly.

Sometimes I can be a bit cynical about “upgrade paths”.  I think the computer industry in general shoots for “planned obsolescence” when possible.

After I knew this was going to be an ongoing problem, I started several searches:

Replacement hard drive (do it myself)
Outsourced replacement
New PC laptop replacement
New Power Mac replacement

At the high end of these options I located a used Mac replacement for $700.

At the low end was $100 solid state drive at a home office supply store.  I would need to install it myself.

Long story short, I went with the low cost option and did the replacement, file back up and migration myself.

It felt good to complete an IT project that had several moving parts.  Similarly, it also felt good to not have this hanging over my head any longer.  (The laptop was giving hints of failure for a while now)

Everything fits together

With the installation of new music software for my Sonos speakers, I realized that having stable desktop software for my audio system was a nice thing.

However, my speaker reach and distribution was a bit weak and could use some expansion.

Planning potential modular purchases can save you time and money in the long run.

That’s one of the reasons I originally went with the Sonos system.   First, the speakers have a small footprint but amazing and rich sound.

Anyway, over a period of about 2 years, I had purchase 4 individual Play 1 speakers, their smallest individual bookshelf speaker, and also added a Playbar for my TV.

After a while,  I figured out I could combine 2 of the small speakers with my Playbar and create a nice home theater surround sound system.  That worked out nicely, however, it left me with only 2 individual speakers for the remainder of the apartment.

The way my mind works, is that I could now afford to plow some of the savings from my computer repair, into another individual speaker.

The newest model of Sonos Play 1 speakers have Alexa by Amazon, built into them.  Nice feature, but do I really need it?  I already have 3 Echo devices scattered around my house, with ample coverage.  Plus, I also have 3 Google smart speakers, also scattered around.

Since the older model of the Sonos Play 1 doesn’t include Alexa but is about $50 cheaper, I decided to go with that one.  Doing my “back of the envelope” calculations, I calculated my savings as follows:

At one point, I was willing to spend $700 for a new computer.
My “do it yourself” repair cost me $100 for the hardware and about $100 for my time.
I spent $150 on a new speaker to complete my home entertainment system, that I can now fully control from my revived laptop.

I’m still about $350 to the positive because I was able to eek out another year or two from my main computer.

One of the reasons I point this out is that I think someone can “learn” to be frugal.   I also think one can practice discipline as it relates to “delayed” gratification.

However, when you’re frugality is firing on all cylinders, almost every single purchase you make will be evaluated and considered for real cost, short term costs and carrying costs.   It’s a lot of “dots” to connect in your head, especially when done on the “fly” but it gets easier and more fun, like a puzzle,  when you get practiced at the art.


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