I remember my first digital music player so vividly. I loved it. It could hold way more songs than most of the competition. It had a ton of features. I saved quite a bit on it too.
And it was a piece of junk.
Avoiding the iPod
It was just over sixteen years ago when the first iPod came out. It was glorious. It was sleek. It was simple. And it easily fit in your hand.
And it was pricey: $400. According to saving.org, that’s over $550 in today’s dollars. Who could afford that?
So instead, I looked for alternatives. I wanted something that could carry all my music (I mean, how many songs does Bon Jovi have!?). Most music players would only hold some of my collection. I looked for something that had all the bells and whistles. I looked for something that would go above and beyond the iPod. I found it.
An Amazing Piece of Junk
I purchased a music player that had tons of bells and whistles. It had all kinds of modes. It came with it’s own case I could use to hang it in my cubicle. It had various accessories for power and to connect it computers or audio equipment. It would even let me store my regular files and use it as an external drive. It was awesome.
Except that it was garbage. It would often corrupt files. It didn’t have the right adapters I needed so I had to buy some accessories and connectors. I needed special software to do everything I wanted to do with it. And I spent hours and hours getting my files into the right folder structures or fixing corruption issues or simply reformatting and starting over.
Price vs. Cost
You see, I had chosen to look at the price on the face of the iPod vs. the price on Crappy McWonder Player, instead of the cost. I thought “$250 vs $400 is a no brainer. I’m not rich. I’m getting Crappy McWonder Player.”
And then I proceeded to spend possibly $200 over the next year or so buying the right software, accessories, and adapters to make the no-name oddball work with like the normal standard. I spent enough time on it to make it work with what I had, that I could have taken a consulting job and bought a few iPods with the money I made. I chose to look at the price and not the cost.
Value and Price
The reason things cost what they do is often due to the value. There are a lot of reasons, for instance, that an iPhone might not be an expense you need to make. Depending on whether it’s a tool or a toy, you might decide it’s not a necessary purchase.
But if you determine that It is valuable to you, then you might look to a knock off to save money. If, in fact, you find a quality phone that will do what you need to do without extra time or accessory expense, you might be in good shape.
However, instead you might find that you will fill the gap of missing features, cloud services, connections, etc. with more time and money. Then consider this: even the most expensive iPhone is under $1.60 a day.
If you use your phone to do important things, whatever that means to you, and a knock-off will take you 30 minutes of extra time each day to do what you want, at minimum wage you just spent over $3.50 of your time each day to avoid spending $1.60 on an iPhone.
That’s not to say we should buy the most expensive things or not be wise with what we truly need vs. what is extravagant and unnecessary. It simply means that we need to realize that saving money isn’t always saving money.
Wisdom and Finances
What we really should do is determine what we need. We need to buy the right tool for the job, whether it’s a computer to get work done or the right TV to enjoy movies with our family. We need to spend the right amount of money for the right things, realizing that buying the wrong things to save a few bucks might cost us extra time and money in the long run.
What is more important than saving a few dollars by cutting corners is to reduce the amount of items we buy. It’s much better to have a few quality items than a bunch of junk. It’s much better to have a good phone that helps us be more effective than to buy a crappy phone and then buy a bunch of things we don’t need just because they were on sale.
If you want true value, don’t focus on price; focus on value. Focus on what you need. Focus on spending money wisely on the things that will help you accomplish what you want and avoid spending money on the things you don’t need. After all, when we buy things based on value, we can more easily avoid paying the price of a big mistake.