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Now that the holidays are over if you didn’t get everything you’d hoped for you might find yourself doing a bit of shopping.
I’ve actually done quite a bit of shopping lately. Even so, I haven’t spent a lot of money, mainly because I’ve been shopping my house. Say what?
Let me explain, see earlier this year (it is still technically 2014 right?) I started adopting more of a minimalist lifestyle, cleaning out my apartment and downsizing. Though I’m far from extreme minimalism, having less stuff has had a huge impact on my mindset and stress level.
While I continue to look for things to get rid of  I also hold onto a lot of things that can be useful down the line or repurposed in some way. This particularly applies to something I’ve spent more than a few bucks on.
Some of these things I haven’t used in years or don’t use nearly enough. I’ve found that most of these items revolved around technology.
The Cost of Changing Technology
Now unless you have been living under a rock you know that technology has grown in leaps and bounds. Remember the first iPod? The first smartphone?
While I have occasionally been guilty of buying the next new thing without getting rid of the old piece of technology that worked perfectly fine. Most times I had to be talked into it. In many ways I hold onto old technology for as long as it works, I still use a tube TV that I’ve had since 2000. It is blue and yellow and well known amongst my friends.
Having been living my life as a broke student working multiple jobs, I’ve never been super into getting the newest thing.
What I’m getting at is that there has been a definite culture shift in our generation to replace an item before something needs to be replaced. Or even replacing something that is broken or breaking before attempting to fix it.
Don’t Just Automatically Upgrade Your Technology, Shop Your House
Since these items are so easily accessible in most places, just hop in your car and go to the mall. We’ve often taken the easy way out which just happens to usually be the more expensive way out. So what do I mean by shopping my house?
For example, recently Weight Watchers came out with a new activity monitor and it was on sale for just $24.99 down from $59.99 (as these things always are). It had lots of cool new features like sleep monitoring (oooo ahhhh).
I was just about to pull the trigger and buy the thing until I realized that I had just canceled my subscription to my last WW activity monitor. I canceled because I always forgot to wear it and it has become pretty much useless to me.
Seeing as the new activity monitor was also meant to be worn daily, I didn’t see myself being any more successful with the new one. Sure it’d be shiny and new and I’d be excited about it and probably be really good about wearing it. However, that excitement and being good wearing it would likely only last a couple of weeks.
Ultimately, the really the reason I had even considered it was because I finally got the ok from my physical therapist to start running again and wanted to track my running.
Evaluate Why You are Considering Buying the Shiny New Thing
What I really needed was a digital stopwatch, not an everyday activity monitor. So I started being on the lookout for a cheap digital watch with a stopwatch. That is until I remembered that somewhere I had a polar heart monitor strap and watch I just had to find it.
After checking a few drawers I located both the watch and strap. The only problem is that the watch didn’t seem to work and I assumed the strap also didn’t work. Thinking it had been a good two years since I had used it, I took a guess that the batteries were likely just dead. I had to go to three different places to get the right watch batteries. Once in, the watch and strap worked perfectly.
The cost of a new Polar heart rate monitor? $50+.
The cost of the activity monitor I didn’t need? $25-60.
By shopping my house and investing a little money I had exactly what I needed for my running and spent significantly less money.
Before You Just Replace a Broken Item, Check the Price to Fix It
This is not the first time I’ve shopped my house and invested a little money in keeping a pricier item working a little while longer.
Last year I invested $250 into my laptop. I have a Macbook that I got in 2008 and it had started slowing down. It got to the point that I had basically avoided using it.
Additionally, the battery was bulging and though I’m no expert, I didn’t think it should be. Not having the money to replace the entire laptop I took it to the Genius Bar to get some advice. The guy was kind enough to give me a new battery for free. He also explained that I should increase the memory it was only 2GB which I could also do myself. He also suggested replacing the hard drive.
Spending $250 Saved Me $1200
The cost to get the memory and change it out myself and replacing the hard drive came to about $250. Bonus, because my computer was so old they no longer made the same kind of hard drive, so it was an automatic upgrade.
All in all, I invested a fraction of what a new computer would have cost. My computer has been working great ever since.
The Genius did mention that the life of my laptop would likely be extended by about three years. Which means I’ve still got two years (hopefully longer) to save up for a new laptop. Spending $1450 ($1200 initially + $250 repairs) to have a laptop last for a good 8 years is a pretty good deal. It comes out to less than $200 a year.
Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top
Next time you think about upgrading or replacing, take a second look at what you have in your home. Your old items could become something shiny and new again to you without the hefty price tag. Try to shop your house on the regular.
Remember a much smaller investment to fix something you already own can not only make the item like new but also save you from paying for something brand new.
 Naturally, the stuff you are ready to get rid of requires looking for since it is stored away somewhere not being used.  If you have ever checked out The Minimalist or read their book(s) they have a great rule of thumb. The rule is that if you can get the item again in twenty minutes for less than $20 it is probably safe to throw out. I find it to be an incredibly handy rule of thumb (pun intended).  Yes it was my parents that talked me into buying a smartphone when I was in my second year of law school (the year was 2010). My flip phone had been working just fine.