SLIDER

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE AN UPGRADE


Fall and winter signal the release of a whole new crop of must-have tech gadgets. Product launches precipitate a sense of urgency, compelling consumers to preorder right then and there. Is it absolutely necessary to have the latest and greatest? Here are a few questions to ask before jumping in.

Do you have realistic expectations for the upgrade? A shiny new health-tracking smart watch won't make you skinny in a week. The latest tablet won't turn you into an illustrator overnight. Smart devices are exceptionally intuitive multi-taskers but at the end of the day, it's you that actually gets things done. The will and drive to succeed rests fully on your shoulders. A purchase should not be your main source of motivation to achieve a goal. These are merely tools that help along the way.


One mistake that I caution people not to make is upgrading too soon. You may end up getting something that is costly and much too similar to what you already have. Companies are refreshing their product line at a faster rate. If you find yourself drooling at a store's window display on launch day, be careful not to let emotions dictate your purchase. There should be a compelling enough reason for the switch. Does your current gadget fail you too often? Are there features and benefits unique to the newer model that can significantly improve your experience? It's all about differentiating real-life needs from unbridled wants.

Are you choosing to upgrade because of features that are unnecessary? Buying should be about fulfilling your individual needs and not about frivolously acquiring overpowered gadgets, with functions that you may never use. Take a moment to think about it. Do you really need to drive a race car to pick up some milk at the grocery store? If all you need is a device for checking email and browsing the web, there's no need to buy the juiced-up custom-configured overpriced version. People worry about getting an underpowered tool which is a rarity these days. The competitive nature of the tech industry has led to the proliferation of software and hardware that cater to professionals' needs. Almost every single flagship phone in the market is able to take professional-looking photos and videos. These mobile devices are configured with processors that rival desktop computer versions. Future-proofing is a good idea, but overspending on unnecessary features will only leave you with empty pockets. If longevity is your concern, pay attention to the brand and its reputation for quality. You can save hundreds by purchasing a device from a reputable seller that doesn't have the unnecessary bells and whistles.

Do you have a budget robust enough to pay for the acquisition and maintenance? The cost of having a brand new device can have an immediate impact on your paycheck. It can hurt you down the road as well. If you break it, how much will it be to fix? Always be mindful of how it will affect your bank account and credit. Because phone pricing has skyrocketed in recent years, a single purchase can have a dramatic effect on your budget. A single gadget can cost you eight months worth of food. This harsh reality is masked by shrewd marketing techniques. Retailers entice buyers with flashy demos and affordably priced monthly payment plans. These require a credit check that can affect your FICO score for a certain amount of time. If you are planning on taking out a house or car loan, it might affect your chances of getting approved. Don't shrug off financial responsibilities just for the sake of treating yourself. Make sure your upgrade doesn't affect your ability to pay for more urgent necessities.

These questions are meant to save you from making rash decisions that could hurt your finances. Tech companies invent contraptions that blow our minds and expand our capabilities. Our job is to sort through these freshly built machines and choose what works for our daily needs.

Photos by: Roidon Kutsaev & Ash Edmonds

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