Opinion: Buy products based on needs, not price

Riley Katz

Being in college means making your money last, whether you have a job or not.

The living-lean lifestyle can be great practice for the real world because it allows you to learn to save for a rainy day and spend money on what counts. Where the lean living lifestyle begins to fail many people is in not adequately addressing daily needs and demands, leading some to buy cheap products that do not work for what they need.

In my experience, compromising and buying a cheap product only leads to larger expenses down the road. For example, last semester I was in desperate need of a computer. My 2008 MacBook finally bit the bullet after a ten-year marathon of use. It was expensive when I got it, but the investment was worth it.

After it died, I was desperate for a computer. Instead of sitting down and doing my research to figure out what met my needs as a commuter mass communication student who needed something powerful enough to edit video, I dashed to my local Walmart and grabbed the cheapest laptop I could find—a Samsung Chromebook for $149.

At first it was great. I forgot what having a battery that lasted longer than an hour was like, and the light Chrome OS operating system made things feel snappy.

After about a week, the cracks set in — literally. The plastic encasing was cheap and cracked in my backpack, and the design of the product created an issue where the keyboard smashed into the screen every time I closed it up, creating permanent pressure spots on the screen. On top of that, the two gigabytes of RAM meant that video editing was never a possibility.

I literally got what I paid for — a cheap computer that was riddled with problems and came nowhere close to actually meeting my needs. The laptop held me back constantly. Once the reality that the Chromebook would never suffice dawned on me, I sat down and took a hard look at what I needed out of a computer. I saved up for a new MacBook that I use daily.

I never feel limited by my new MacBook. Sure, it cost significantly more than the Chromebook I settled for, but now I have a device that meets my needs and helps me excel. Saving up my money and waiting for a better product was worth it, even if it meant living even leaner for a while.

Of course, that’s not to say to put yourself in debt just to get a laptop or a phone or any other device because it costs the most. By all means, be honest with yourself about what you can afford. I simply urge you to think about your needs first, then think about the price later. Then find a compromise where your needs and price meet in the middle. Your wallet will thank you in the long run.