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Avoid Technology's Traps: How to put the need for the latest gadgets into perspective


Q: It's really expensive keeping up with technology these days. My kids say that my cellphone and laptop are lame compared with the new smart phones and mini netbooks available today. I can't afford to keep upgrading every year or so. Any suggestions?

A: It wasn't long ago that all you needed to keep up with technology was a TV, VCR and good stereo; and you only replaced these when they were beyond repair. While technology continues to change, it doesn't mean you have to empty your bank account every time a new product is released.

To put this into perspective, think of keeping up with technology in the same way as you would replace or upgrade your car. Every year cars are introduced with new features: more luxury, convenience, safety and fuel economy.

As wonderful as many of these features are, most people plan to keep their existing personal vehicles for a number of years before they upgrade to a newer model.

While smart phones and mini netbooks are a lot cheaper than new cars, it's important to determine if you really need the latest and greatest gadgets or are just feeling pressured to keep up with new technology. Ask yourself the following questions before you retire any of your existing devices to the electronic graveyard:

  • Do your current electronic devices work well or are they beginning to have problems?
  • How often do you use the item(s) you are looking to upgrade?
  • Are there features that you need that your device doesn't currently have?
  • Are there any financial penalties and/or costs associated with cancelling existing monthly communications plans?
  • Do you have the funds on hand to buy the item in question or will you resort to using credit?

Upgrading to a high-definition flat-screen TV or smartphone may seem like a great idea, especially when the items are on sale. However, the savings can quickly disappear if you have to upgrade your communication or cable package to take advantage of the new features or pay for the items on credit.

If your electronic devices are working fine and meet your needs, resist the temptation to upgrade. Technology will continue to change and what's hot today will be dated next year.

While your kids may consider your technology out of date, having money in the bank is always in and that's the bottom line.

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