Why It’s Hard To Avoid Buying “Stuff”

We’re taught to value experiences over material things but unless you plan to never leave the house you’re going to need a whole lot of willpower to avoid buying stuff today.

Have you been out window shopping lately?  There are some seriously amazing products and innovations on the market – things that weren’t even around 5 years ago that we now apparently can’t live without.

Related: Why IKEA Is Killing My Finances

I’m guilty of buying stuff that I probably don’t need because I thought it was cool and would add value to my life.  Here are a few examples:


I hadn’t been a big fan of Apple products, other than using iTunes to buy the odd album.  My wife got an iPhone a few years ago and I recently switched too after my Blackberry died.  It’s amazing that one device has replaced so many others; phone, camera, computer, watch, video recorder, music player, alarm clock, flashlight, calculator, etc.

I’m fortunate that my employer pays for my phone and monthly plan.  My wife is holding out for the new iPhone 6.  They’re expensive devices, no doubt – the latest iPhone 5s goes for about $700 without a contract, or $229 with a two-year term.


I bought my wife an iPad for Christmas a few years ago and she loves it.  The tablet has replaced our desktop computer and her laptop – and at $399 it’s less than half the cost.  The nice thing is that it still runs like new, while laptops tend to last 2-3 years at the most.

Related: 6 Fees Worth Paying


I was excited when I heard that Google’s Chromecast would be available in Canada.  Chromecast is a streaming device that plugs into your television via HDMI. From there you can access a number of apps and services, such as Netflix and YouTube, plus you can open up a Chrome tab remotely on your TV and play pretty much anything through the device onto your television.

Big deal, right?  Don’t the new smart TVs do that?  Sure they do, but expect to pay an extra $200 to $300 more for a smart TV.  The Chromecast device costs just $39.

What I like about Chromecast versus other set-top boxes like Roku or Apple TV is that it’s tiny and once you plug it into the back of your TV you’ll never see it again.


Chalk this one up as an impulse buy.  All it took was a couple of videos from their YouTube channel and I was hooked.  I wanted to buy the camera after watching someone else’s awesome experience, but the funny thing is that the camera is not going to create those experiences for me – I have to go out and create them myself.

Related: Does Your Spending Need Tending?

So for $300 I got an awesome little camera when I could have spent that money on an amazing adventure that I’d remember for the rest of my life.

Final thoughts

Those are just a few examples of some amazing products that have the potential to bust our budgets if we’re feeling impulsive.  I haven’t even touched on all the tools, gadgets, and appliances that are out there.

We went to a show home the other day that had a gas cook-top where the elements move up and down for easy cleaning.  All the drawers and cupboards were push-to-open.

I don’t recommend visiting new show homes for fun unless you’re ready to buy all new furniture, appliances, or a new house.

Related: I Can’t Afford It

What new gadgets have you recently purchased?

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  1. Lama on April 28, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I got a Kindle recently, mainly because the paper book I ordered kept getting delayed. The author of the book told me that they print on demand now, that’s why it’s taking me over 2 months to receive it. I
    also wanted to start saving on all the shipping fees + books on Kindle are cheaper than the paper version.

    • Echo on April 28, 2014 at 9:38 am

      I’ve heard good things about the Kindle but I think I’d rather get the all-in-one tablet (like Kindle Fire) rather than just an e-reader.

      • Lama on April 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

        The reason I just got the e-reader and not the whole tablet is to minimize my distractions when reading a book… one minute you are reading a book, then you are on Facebook, so I wanted to avoid it being so easy.
        It was also to ensure that my kids don’t touch it , since there’s nothing on it for them ! They already monopolized the iPad and it’s enough 🙂

  2. Tom on April 28, 2014 at 5:58 am

    I recently “found myself” checking out compact digital cameras—mine is about 6-7 years old. But I’ve also been coveting an iPhone—ours is a PC pay-as-you-go flip phone —and with it’s amazing camera which is with you virtually all the time, there just isn’t any need to buy a new digital camera too.

    • Echo on April 28, 2014 at 9:35 am

      The iPhone has a pretty good camera. I’ve had to send pictures to an ad agency for work and the ones I sent with my Blackberry were not good enough quality but they said the iPhone pics have been great.

  3. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet on April 28, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I got an iPhone a couple years ago and justified it by saying to myself it would allow me to be more productive during downtime (ie. commuting). That has been partially true. It isnt necessary but its very handy to have. Same with the iPad, and ours also runs like it’s brand new even after a couple years.

    • Echo on April 28, 2014 at 9:33 am

      I’m pretty impressed with the iPhone and iPad and I like that the products don’t seem to break down after 18 months like products from the other company named after fruit…

  4. Loonie Lover on April 28, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I hear what you’re saying about not getting carried away with the latest and the greatest, but you have to be careful of being too conservative, too.

    I remember years ago deciding to save maybe $80 on a laptop that had USB 1 instead of USB 2 capability. That was maybe the last USB 1 device ever sold. I regretted that mistake for a good five years (until I retired that laptop). Sometimes, it’s worth it to be at least with the curve, if not slightly ahead. The trick is knowing when!

    • Echo on April 28, 2014 at 9:23 am

      One product we resisted for years was the PVR, but now that we have it with that TELUS deal we love it. Not like we watch a ton of television but when we do it seems all the shows we like are on Sunday and Monday so we’ll just record a few and watch them throughout the week.

      • Loonie Lover on April 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

        Ohhhhh, my PVR is the very definition of a love-hate relationship. We got that as a free throw-in when we switched to Shaw. Didn’t think I would ever really use it. Buy, was I wrong.

        At this point that little black box is the one thing that is stopping me from cutting the cord with my cable company altogether. The thing that really guts me is that we got it for free. The “free rental” thing seems to be stuck in their system, and I have no plans to tell them about it. If I cancel cable, I know we’ll never get the PVR back if I ever change my mind and want to go back to cable.

  5. Stephen @ HowToSaveMoney.ca on April 28, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Well, it honestly sounds like you don’t actually regret any of those purchases except maybe the $300 camera. I can see how that would only have limited use.

    You were justifying all the other purchases through the entire description. I have to say I agree with you. They definitely aren’t needs but it sounds like these things HAVE actually added value to your life. You say “I thought it was cool and would add value to my life” like your are going to go on about how they were a waste for the rest of the article. Surprised me when you didn’t.

    I say if it adds enough value to your life and you can afford it, then go for it! Why not? We all buy more than we “need” anyway … it’s just all about picking the right stuff that give you true value and enjoyment.

    • Echo on April 28, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Yup, the point was that there are some amazing products out there and so it’s hard not to buy stuff all the time. We can’t all be minimalists or live life behind the curve. Despite what the “experience” people say, some material things do add value to your life. The key is to be smart about your purchases and not go overboard.

  6. Robert on April 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I recently upgraded my iPhone to an Android phablet. Although the androids are much better than the Apples now, the real reason I upgraded is that I switched phone companies for a more suitable plan and the new company doesn’t offer an Apple option.

    I also bought a new tablet because I scrunched the old one. I shopped around a lot and found Kobo 10″ Android really sweet for high quality and cost.

    I am not a frequent impulse buyer for gadgets and I never start out with one label in mind. I identify a need or want and shop my requirements around.

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