Technological Upgrades... Vs Being Happy With What You Have

 photo IMG_0011_zps6a561474.jpgI think this post can be summed up in three sentences.
Marketers are brilliant strategists.
Depression and lack of appreciating what you have makes you the perfect target for marketers.
People who appreciate what they have end up saving the most money.

And now, let me elaborate.

When you see an advertisement for some product marketers want you to buy, what are the advertisements like? Usually they're rosy colored depictions of gorgeous smiling people, often having the time of their lives, and using their products.
Subliminal (or not so subliminal) messaging going on here. Your life isn't perfect now (whose is?), but if you buy our product, your life will be perfect, you'll be happy and in love and rich. We all know this isn't true (at least I hope so), but some part of us deep down buys it, and we become convinced that if only, if only... our lives would be better.

But if you feel content with your life, and not lacking- why would you want to buy their products? There'd be no need to chase after that elusive perfect life if your life is already perfect.
Malcontent is exactly what they want, because it is the only way to convince you that spending money on their product is what will make you happy.

There's someone in my life who loves technology. Don't get me wrong, I also like technology. It makes my life easier in so many ways, and even can help save money. But I have one big issue with technology.
It "depreciates" quickly.
Well, not even depreciates, per se (though yes, technology does tend to break and wear out faster than other items- they're made to not last), but there are constant upgrades. Constant.

I remember when the smartphones first came out. I remember how excited people first were to have their iphone or android, and thought they were the coolest things ever! People were convinced to spend lots of money on this super cool new gadget that would make their life better! Because it was just super awesome!

And then... there was an upgrade. And now there was a new phone that was even better! So now these same people that were so excited about their phones when they first got them, start complaining about all the bad things about the phone, how they need this new phone to make their life better, because with the expensive piece of technology that they just bought a few months ago, their life simply isn't good enough.
So they spend hundreds or thousands on this upgrade... putting their old one in the closet, or in the garbage and are happy with their new phone for a few months.
Until the next upgrade comes out.
And now they are sure that the phone that they were so positive would make their lives perfect is now contributing to the fact that they're not happy, but... if they only spent a few hundred more on the latest version of the phone, they'll be truly happy.

And it goes on and on and on and on and people don't realize how they're being manipulated.

Did you know that cell phone companies (and similar) purposely don't put all their features in their latest phones- they purposely leave out some features that they could potentially put in... but they don't want to, because they're saving those features for their upgrades? They do whatever possible to get you to buy as many phones from them as possible, paying more and more for each upgrade...

People go so into debt because of chasing after the latest technological upgrades- always needing to get the latest and greatest product, just because it came out and "everyone has it" can cause a significant hole in your wallet.

The antidote?

To learn to appreciate what you have, and see the value in it. I purposely do NOT follow the latest tech trends, and have absolutely no interest in knowing what the latest gadgets that come out are, because all that would do would possibly make me feel dissatisfied with something that I'm currently super satisfied with.

That doesn't mean that there never is a reason to upgrade tech things.

But my rule is- if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you're currently happy with what you have, no need to look out for what is better, bigger/smaller, faster- because there will always be something better, bigger/smaller. and faster that you can spend all your money on.
If it is broken/not working, and you'd think that it was problematic even if there was no technological upgrade that someone is trying to sell to you, then go ahead- upgrade to meet your needs.

But if the needs are artificially being created by companies trying to convince you that your life will be flawed unless you buy the latest gizmos and gadgets they're selling, but if you do buy it, your life will be great- realize that what this company is really selling you is a pipe dream. Physical things- beyond basic needs in life- is not what brings happiness. In fact, richer people with more material possessions than they can count can often be super depressed.
True happiness comes from within, and appreciating what you already have can make you feel truly rich.

P.S. Though I am writing about cell phones in particular, this applies equally to computers, tablets, cars, and every other thing imaginable- even houses and spouses... Chasing after the latest upgrades in life instead of focusing on all the wonderful things that you have will make you depressed. But counting your blessings, on the other hand, is sure to make you feel truly blessed.

Are you the type of person who likes technological upgrades? Or are you more like me? If you like techie upgrades, how do you reconcile that vis a vis frugality? If you're more like me, and have a tech lover in your life, do you ever butt heads about that? Or have you managed to win tech lovers over to your way of thinking?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I am all for running things into the ground before you replace them! Since I wrote that article >4 years ago, the only item mentioned that we've replaced is the computer. I had a desktop Mac that was 10 years old and no longer able to run some of the current Internet stuff, and then it developed a power-supply problem. My partner, who works from home as a software engineer, had a laptop Mac that was only 3 years old but made with an inferior solder that wears out quickly--as he learned when he researched the disastrous malfunctions that began suddenly, within days of the desktop computer going wrong! We replaced both computers with one desktop Mac and hope to make do with that for a few years, so that when he buys a new laptop it will be a better, faster computer than the desktop--previously we had always "staggered" computer purchases so that we had one newish computer at a time. It's also helpful for him to have a PC for his work, but he gets these from his parents when they upgrade or from Goodwill.

    Meanwhile, I don't have any kind of cell phone at all, and he has a non-smart flip phone. I have an iPad that is 3 years old and still going strong. He has an iPod touch that he got for free when a friend upgraded. We feel very content with our level of technology.

    I do feel that if I'm going to buy a tech device brand new, I should buy near the best of what's currently available, because that way it will last longer, probably be a better value for the money, and give me a longer period free of the hassle of switching devices.

  2. Great post!! I admit to loving gadgets and technology, but I am not a slave to it, and we only buy what we can afford and need, and make room for in our budget. An example would be cell phones. We have found (we have 5 kids) that we want our kids to have a cell phone around the time that they are nearing high school age. It becomes a necessary convenience for us as parents because of varying schedules, changing practice and class times, etc. So that's when we opt for the phone for the child. Three of ours have reached that age. We purchase the most inexpensive phone initially, with the basic talk/text plan - no internet. Because getting a phone is about our convenience, not the child's entertainment. As they get older, they may replace the phone at their own expense, if they want an upgrade. For myself, I do enjoy my smart-phone, because I am on the go A LOT and it has it's conveniences. However, I have opted to NOT have the latest and greatest. I just recently purchased a new phone after my old one was over 2 years old and was having issues. I opted for an "on sale" version, which happened to be two "generations/upgrades" back from the current marketed version. I saved a TON of money, kept the purchase within our budget AND I'm thrilled with my new phone because it's better than what I had and I don't even know what is different about this one versus the newest version. So buying something several years after it is released is a great way to save on cost. Also, we do not do a contract plan, but have shopped around for a monthly pay-as-you-go plan that is equally as good and does not have hidden costs and upcharges.

  3. My husband loves tech. He used to be a sales person, so he was used to keeping up to date with new breakthroughs and indulging in them. The customization of android and linux helped the last couple years to prolong the life of his equipment. Christmas was good to him though and he was completely spoiled by his parents. He's pretty up to date now.

  4. I disagree with almost everything here. What you're saying doesn't bother me nearly as much as the picture you paint of gullible, consumerist idiots who buy everything just because someone told them to. I have a lot of techie friends, and I can promise you that none of them do any of this. They don't adopt the latest-and-greatest because their old thingy doesn't work anymore, or because they're unhappy with it. They're not unhappy with their lives. They like new tech, it brings them great joy to fiddle with and customize it, and they can afford it. And furthermore, I don't know of anybody who only has their new phone for "a few months" and is unhappy with it. Unless they dropped it in the toilet.

    For most people, I think a key component of why people buy things has to do with experience: you don't buy a piece of technology because some ad pronounces it the "best ever". Someone has one, you bump into them, they show you, you fiddle with it, see how intuitively it works, see yourself using one, and you get one. This is why I got a Nikon--my brother had a Nikon that I used when I was considering buying a DSLR--when I put down 1200 euros on my camera. This is why I finally got a smartphone last year--because I'd been fiddling with my husband's phone for ages. This is the reason I got Bluetooth headphones--because I'd seen how my husband rips through the headphone cords in months, when he gets up from the desk and forgets he's "attached". This is why my husband bought an iPad--he got to fiddle around with his BIL's when he was looking for a car, and was taken in by the portable Internet experience.

  5. I buy state of the art, but ONLY after using the old one for as long as possible. Just bought a new subaru for my husband, but my car is a 2001 and still works great.
    I had a very old smart phone, used it until it would no longer do what I needed for work, then I bought a nice new Sony. My computer was 14 years old, used it until it wouldn't work for my job, then bought a new one on sale Christmas 2013. Didn't buy a flat screen tv until the old one quit.
    Notice a theme?

  6. I think we all need to be mindful of our wastefulness. The world isn't built to cater for our every whim. There simply are not enough resources on this planet for us to live disposable lives at infinitum nor can we continue to accumulate toxic wastes in landfill without considering their impact on the planet and us. Selling us the bigger and better dreams and making things obsolete are two of the biggest cons of modern living. My thought on people who obsess about the latest gadgets is they need to get a life outside themselves.

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