4 Ways to Prevent Your Tech Obsession From Sucking Away Your Money

Joel Lee 06-11-2015

Is your financial situation making you anxious? For many of us, by the time we reach month’s end, we’re left perplexed — where the heck did all of our money go? Your obsession with technology may be the culprit.


Reckless spending can lead to thousands of wasted dollars every year, and unless you’re careful to rein in those bad habits, you might find yourself spiraling into debt How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More — even if you have an above-average income.

Here are a few ways to control your obsession with technology and gadgets, and not spend more money than you should. Are you a slave to technology? Look out for these.

1. DON’T Be the First to Own the Latest Product

Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the Surface Book laptop Microsoft Unveils Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, New Lumia Phones... [Tech News Digest] Microsoft unveils Windows 10 devices, Twitter has its Moments, Facebook does a Doodle, Bob Dylan meets IBM's Watson, and Universal posts a trailer for Jaws 19. Read More and people are still going crazy over it with many lining up to buy one. Not long before that, Apple announced the iPhone 6s iPhone 6s Review and Giveaway Spoiler alert: if you like iPhones, you’re probably going to love the iPhone 6s. But are you really surprised? Read More and sold over 13 million units within the first month.

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These people are called early adopters, and of all the reasons not to be an early adopter 5 Reasons Why Being An Early Adopter Is A Bad Idea Are you the type of person who pre-orders the newest tech gadgets as soon as they’re available? Then you’re an early adopter. Is there a downside? Let's find out. Read More , price is at the top of the list.


Technology advances more rapidly than any other field today, and that means that new products become obsolete overnight. What happens when something is made obsolete? Its value drops, and therefore its price drops. Retailers are also forced to clear existing stock to make room for newer models, and they do that by offering steep discounts.


The above chart shows the price history of the 16 GB iPhone 6, which debuted in September 2014 at $815. Today, just one year later, you can get it for $615. In this particular case, the price of being an early adopter was $200.

This happens with a lot of new gadgets, especially the ones that fall way short of their hype. It’s not uncommon for $200 gadgets to end up being sold for $100 or $50 within a year or two. Worst case scenario, you drop a lot of cash on something that quickly becomes worthless.


So ask yourself, is it really necessary to upgrade your phone every time a new Nexus, Moto, or iPhone model comes out? Can you wait a year or two before jumping on the Surface Book bandwagon? Isn’t your last-generation device still good enough?

Pro Tip: Even if you wanted to upgrade your device every year, you can save $100-200 by lagging behind by one product cycle i.e. buy an iPhone 6 when the iPhone 6s is released, etc.

2. DON’T Pay For Features You Don’t Use

Buying technology that’s beyond your needs is one of the biggest money sinks of this generation. Do you need that $2,000 pre-assembled computer, or should you build your own computer Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? How much does it cost to build your own PC these days? Compared to pre-built models, are the savings worth the effort? We investigate. Read More that’s “good enough” for $500?

Admittedly, there are so many features across so many products that it can be overwhelming to know what’s “good enough” for you if you aren’t an avid tech geek. That’s why we have all these buying tips for USB flash drives USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB flash drives might seem mundane and straightforward, but there are a few tips and quirks that you should know before you buy your next one. Read More , microSD cards 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a MicroSD Card Buying MicroSD cards may seem simple, but here are a few critical mistakes to avoid if you don't want to regret your purchase. Read More , modern LCD monitors 4 Myths About LCD Monitors That Are Outdated and False LCD monitors have improved a lot over the years, but these myths and misconceptions just won't die. Read More , and new hard drives 5 Simple Ways to Save Money on New Hard Drives We’ve already covered all the things you need to consider to buy the right hard drive. Now it's about saving as much money as you can. Read More .



For example, when buying your first DSLR camera 5 Money-Saving Tips You Should Know Before Buying a DSLR Here are some helpful tips for making photography a more financially-manageable activity. Read More , it makes no sense to buy an expensive high-end model with features so advanced that you won’t even know how to use them for years to come. A $500 DSLR camera can serve a beginner just as well as a $1,500 one.

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For example, let’s say you want to buy the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition at $399 for its 21-megapixel camera. Do you need that level of detail, though? If you’re just going to upload to Facebook or Instagram, then you probably don’t, and you’d be just fine with the Motorola Moto G‘s 13-megapixel camera for $219.


Pro Tip: Buy as good as you need and no better. Technology prices drop quickly enough that you should buy features as you need them to prevent wasting money on features you’ll never use.

3. DON’T Rely Too Much on Mobile Data

Smartphone addiction is real. Don’t believe me? Consult the smartphone addiction checklist Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? At one time, landlines and payphones were all we had--and we survived just fine, thank you very much. But now, it’s almost laughable if you don’t own an iPhone or Android, and for some of... Read More and see if you qualify as an addict, because there’s a good chance that you do — and the number of folks who are addicted to smartphones is growing year over year.

You could do what my colleague Ben did and measure your weekly smartphone usage Addiction, Quantified: How I Measured My Smartphone Usage For A Week For one week, I installed apps and set up counters to measure my smartphone usage. What did I find out about my own smartphone addiction? Read More to see how addicted you are. If you have enough self-control to do all of your smartphone activity while on Wi-Fi, then you don’t have too much to worry about.


But if your addiction is so strong that you feel like you need a massive mobile data plan just so you can be mobile-connected all the time, then the problem is worse than you think. And the truth is, no matter the reasons why you’re mobile-addicted Don't Let Your Smartphone Take Over Your Life Back at the end of 2012, just in time for New Year’s Resolutions, I wrote an article all about smartphone addiction. We created technology to serve us, yet so many of us - myself included... Read More , it’s probably costing you a lot of money.

For example, in my area, data overage charges are $10 per 1 GB (for Verizon) and $15 per 1 GB (for AT&T). If you’re so out of control that you’re consistently exceeding data caps, that’s all going to add up.


But more importantly, data plans in general are too expensive. The smallest Verizon plan is $30 (for 1 GB) and the largest is $100 (for 18 GB) — quite a pittance for the price. Similarly, AT&T charges between $20 (for 0.3 GB) and $375 (for 50 GB). That’s highway robbery.

You can save hundreds every month just by switching to using one of the cheapest mobile phone plans in the US The 10 Cheapest Mobile Phone Plans in the US Right Now [Cheat Sheet Included] There are plenty of cheap mobile phone plans available if you know where to look. Read More . Services like FreedomPop and Scratch Wireless provide free plans while services like Republic Wireless (which I use myself) offer unlimited data over Wi-Fi.

Pro Tip: The key is to break your smartphone addiction The 5 Best Apps to Help You Fight Your Smartphone Addiction Are you addicted to your smartphone? These mobile apps will help you salvage your personal life and regain your productivity. Read More and start reducing your mobile data usage Saving Mobile Data: 5 Clever Ways To Reduce Data Usage If you’re on a limited mobile data plan, you may find opening your bill to be harrowing experience. Is there an overage charge? How much? And why was there so much data used? While the... Read More . If you can learn to do all of your smartphone activity over Wi-Fi only, you will save a lot of money.

4. DON’T Refuse to Cut the Cable Cord

Cord-cutting is one of the best ways to slash your household expenses How to Slash Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps Tired of seeing all of your income go towards bills and expenses? You aren't alone. We show you some of the best ways to slash your household expenses. Read More , especially if you have a massive cable bill in the hundreds of dollars. Not to mention, there are plenty of other benefits to cutting the cord 4 Real Benefits of Cutting Your Cable Cord In the end, I decided to cut the cable. Abstaining from cable television has a number of advantages. Read More that aren’t related to money.

But think about it. If you drop your $150 cable package and replace it with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Now, you’ll save over $100 per month. Even if you throw in a few live TV subscriptions Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More like Sling TV, it still comes out cheaper.

In my opinion, the only legitimate reason to stay cable-subscribed today is sports.


All of that being said, the key skill here is being able to identify the subscriptions you can live without — and actually living without them. What good is subscribing to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Now if you only have a few hours of weekly leisure time? Pick one and save an extra $20 every month.

Similarly, sever ties with all of your luxury subscription services Top 5 Online Subscriptions You Can Give As Gifts With the ever increasing digitization of society, online subscriptions have become a valid form of gift-giving and they're often more fulfilling than a physical gift of same worth. Read More that are simply there for convenience. I’m talking about things like Blue Apron, Manpacks, Naturebox, and Barkbox. Convenience is nice but costly.

And while we’re on the subject of Internet services, don’t ever rent a modem 5 Questions to Ask When Purchasing a New Cable Modem With just a bit of research, you can buy your own cable modem and save hundreds of dollars over a few years. Read More . Rental fees are outrageous, and the only valid reason to rent is if your ISP forces you to do so.

Pro Tip: Cut the cord and save your money. Replace costly cable subscriptions with on-demand streaming services for big savings. Not sure where to start? Read our guide to cutting out cable Cut That Cord! How to Ditch Cable If you've read about the cord-cutting phenomenon but aren't sure where to start, this is a guide to cutting the cord and ditching cable TV for good... Read More .

How Costly Is Your Tech Obsession?

It takes a lot of effort to overcome an obsession with technology, but it can be done. Plenty of people — maybe even some of you readers — can testify that it is possible to break the chains of smartphone addiction and to defeat the early adopter’s compulsion.

But smart decisions like these are necessary if you want to learn good personal finance Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More .

How much money are you “wasting” on newfangled tech? If you’ve already started cutting back, how much are you saving now? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

Image Credits: Modern gadgets by Pressmaster via Shutterstock, DSLR Closeup by lightpoet via Shutterstock, Man Using Smartphone by Kostenko Maxim via Shutterstock, Mobile Data Chart by Charts and BG via Shutterstock, Netflix Mobile by nevodka via Shutterstock

Related topics: Buying Tips, Hulu, Mobile Plan, Netflix, Save Money.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Anonymous
    November 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Relatively speaking, collecting or owning tech isn't THAT expensive. I used to spend $60/week on comic books that I could probably read in under an hour, but a grown up with a decent job and a hobby that involves something that has an engine can pretty easily spend thousands a year just on upkeep.