NinjaPiggy Hacks: Buying a Laptop

Welcome to the first post in the NinjaPiggy Hacks series. Before we dive in, I'd like to lay out the purpose of NinjaPiggy's Hacks. I'll be looking at real world examples on how to save money. However, NinjaPiggy's Hacks are about far more than showing you how to snag great deals.

I'll show you how saving money isn't about depriving yourself of nice things. I'll teach you how living with intention means getting more of what you want. 

In part one of the NinjaPiggy Hacks series, I’ll examine a purchase I made that is very instrumental to running NinjaPiggy. I’ll walk you through my decision to buy a laptop.  

Over the summer, I went a couple months without a single NinjaPiggy blog post. I could bore you with a list of excuses, but I’ll only focus on one. (Sorry to all you "no excuses" people out there). Up until recently, I did not own a laptop. I’ve been operating off my trusty desktop computer since college (about 10 years), and I’ve never been willing to pull the trigger on the purchase of a laptop. Desktops aren’t mobile and so I was restricted to doing all my NinjaPiggy work from my home office. In the summertime, it is difficult for me to sit inside, in a hot office, and work on the computer, when I’ve already been at a computer all day at work.

Knowing I couldn’t continue to use the same excuse, I knew I eventually had to get a laptop. The ability to write from anywhere means more flexibility, and more flexibility means more time to spend on NinjaPiggy.

Cost, was the one and only prohibiting factor in me buying a laptop. Prior to starting NinjaPiggy, I couldn’t justify the purchase of a laptop because my cell phone/ desktop combo gave me all I needed. The thought of dropping around $1,000 on a laptop did not appeal to me when there were so many other things I would rather do with my money.

Once I made the determination to buy a laptop, I started to shop around. First up was the age-old, Mac vs. PC question. I’m neither an Apple lover nor a hater, so a Mac wasn’t going to be a deal breaker either way. Laptops come in a wide range of prices, and I initially thought I'd spend around $1,000.

To help decide what laptop would be best for me, I evaluated how I would use the laptop. I determined I would primarily use the laptop for writing and publishing blog posts, web-surfing and maybe watching an occasional movie/ tv show when traveling.

By narrowing down what I needed from a laptop, I switched my search to focus on laptops that could do what I needed. Doing so, dramatically lowered what I needed to pay. Sure, other laptops had way better specs, but I had pretty simple needs.

As I started searching lower priced laptops, I found Chromebooks could do everything I needed a laptop to do. Chromebooks run Google Chrome OS and the apps and documents (GMail, Google Docs, Chrome browser, etc.) live in the cloud. Chromebooks are meant to be used when connected to the internet. 

There are a wide array of Chromebooks available, and I settled on the Acer Chromebook 14 for $300. I spent $700 less than I initially was expecting, and my experience wasn’t dampened by “settling” for a lesser laptop. I’ve been very pleased with the Chromebook. Even though it may not be perfect, it does everything I need it for, making it perfect for me.

Now when I walk into a Starbucks, I wonder how many people working away on their $1,000+ MacBooks could accomplish everything they need on a Chromebook. I know plenty of people that work in jobs where a Chromebook wouldn't be sufficient, so I'm not trying to say everyone that is spending more than $500 on a laptop is wasting their money. I just hope the people buying premium laptops are using the premium features they paid extra for.

If you're a tech enthusiast and a nice laptop is a priority for you, then buy a nice laptop. If you are getting a laptop for casual web browsing, consider a less expensive laptop, allowing you to put the rest of the money to your priority areas.

Moral of the Story

I hope you realize this story is not solely about how to save money when buying a laptop. The principles expressed here can be applied to any purchase decision. Let's look at the key takeaways of the story.

I’m generally a fan of paying more for quality, but it can be easy to get carried away. When making purchasing decisions, take a hard look at why you are buying what you are buying. If you do decide to pay up for quality, make sure you will actually use the features for which you paid extra. I was able to get a quality laptop at a good price that does everything I need it to do. Yes, it lacks features, but the features it lacks are unnecessary to me.

When you live life with intentionality, you get more out of life. Spending $300 instead of $1,000 on a laptop means having $700 more to spend on another area of my life I am passionate about.  

Have you paid up for premium features you never ended up using? Do you have any upcoming purchases where you can apply these principles?