Curse of the money-saving gadget


JD has written a great personal account on his “Get Rich Slowly” blog about the curse of money-saving gadgets – the innovative pieces of high-tech gear that are bought, used a few times, and then promptly put in the corner to gather dust, or be listed on eBay.

One of our friends has a Starbucks habit. He used to stop every morning for a venti five-shot white-chocolate mocha. Last summer he spent $300 on a fancy espresso machine. He also bought a few accessories and some expensive coffee beans. He had taken the latte factor concept to heart. “I’m spending so much on Starbucks,” he told us, “that this will pay for itself in no time.”

For a couple of weeks he put the machine to good use. He made himself a five-shot white-chocolate mocha every morning. But then he began returning to Starbucks more-and-more often. “I don’t have the time,” he complained. “It takes so long to make a drink in the morning. I’d rather pay somebody else to do it.” Now his fancy espresso machine sits unused, gathering dust.

I know the feeling. I did a similar thing, and now the reason I make real coffee at home during the week is because I work at home!

JD concludes that gadgets don’t change your life. You do. “The change has to come from within”. That sparkly new gadget can be a time and money-saver, but if you don’t have or make the time and effort to use it, so it becomes indispensible for the purpose it was designed for, you’ll probably end up with a low-tech alternative, or pay someone else to do something because it saves you time.

For me, the trouble is that many gadgets sound sexy. I believe they could fit into my lifestyle, that they might help save money, but I have no way of knowing without taking one for a test drive. One trick I’ve discovered, though, is to borrow an appealing gadget from a friend for a week.

Great idea, though you might get withdrawal symptoms if you find yourself buying less stuff.

What stuff have you bought that turned out to be an expensive mistake?

Andy Merrett
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