Capitalism rewards companies that can get you to buy their stuff. And the more money they can get you to spend, the better. The innovations that this incentive system has created are amazing, but it pays to step back every once in a while and think about the process. The companies that sell you smartphones, for instance, really need you to keep buying new ones. Apple and Samsung shareholders depend on it. One way to do this is planned obsolescence. The sealed battery in your phone stops holding charge, so you go out and buy a new $700 phone. The phone’s processing is slowed down over time making you need to buy a new one to feel faster.
Another way is by creating a perceived, but probably illusory, need. The newest phone has a better camera, I better get it. It has more pixels per square inch, I better get it. It has facial recognition unlocking, I better get it. The truth is, for the vast majority of people, a smartphone from 2016 can do a perfectly good job and if the battery is failing, it can be replaced for far less than the cost of a new phone. This is true for a lot of IT hardware that individuals and small businesses purchase.
having a healthy skepticism about the companies trying to sell you stuff can save you a lot of money when purchasing your IT equipment. While there are laptops that cost $1,500 and weigh 2.7 lbs., for about $600 you can get an almost equally fast laptop that weighs about 3.7 lbs. Is that one pound difference worth $900 in terms of your use? Probably not. And if you want to save even more money, you can buy a refurbished system. As the saying go, a car loses 10% of it’s value the second you drive it off the lot. This is equally true with tech equipment. You can buy a refurbished computer that’s a year old for less than half the cost of a comparable new system.
In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that there are two types of people. Maximizers try to make the best possible choice when confronted with options and satisficers try to make a choice that is good enough. By accepting good enough, satisficing can save you time and aggravation. When it comes to technology, satisficing can also save you money.