Being Cheap without Being Cheap

There are many ways to save a little money here and there. Although this may not seems like a lot of money in the end it will begin building up. One easy way to save money is by examining usage cases of products you intend to buy in the future.

What am I talking about here? It’s simple really, whenever you are buying a product conduct a survey in your head on whether or not you’ll need particular features of the “better” model or not. For example having that nice $1,000 scope on a rifle is nice but if you’re only going to be shooting at ranges with 100 yards it’s a rather unneeded item.

This topic will discuss a simple way doing a usage case can save you a large amount of money by considering the purchase of a computer. Computers usually have a notorious number of possible upgrades. These upgrades usually become exponentially more expensive as the performance increase. Let’s look at processors for an instance.

This case will be greatly simplified in that processor A, B, and C are equal in every regard except clock speed. Processor A runs at 2.5 GHz, processor B runs at 3.0 GHz, and processor C runs at 3.4 GHz. Now let’s say the cost of processor A is $100, the cost of processor B is $200, and the cost of processor C is $350. As you get more speed the cost goes up while the amount gained becomes less each time.

Going from processor A to processor B costs an additional $100 and nets you 500 MHz. Meanwhile moving from processor B to processor C costs you an additional $150 and only nets you 400 MHz. Obviously the cost to performance ratio is better when going from processor A to processor B then it is when going to processor B to processor C. Which processor should you get? Obviously processor C is the fastest.

Many people often go with processor C because they equate more speed is better. But they could save themselves $150 to $250 by decided what they do with a computer. Let’s say all you do is browse the web and read e-mail. Neither of these tasks use much in the way of processor speed and processor A will easily fit your needs. Now let’s say you want to play some high end games, you may get some advantage out of buying processor B in that case but the additional 500 MHz probably won’t be apparent to your. Likewise while playing a game you generally aren’t using other applications so the game will get optimal use of the processor.

The same thing can be said for RAM. Once again browsing the web and checking e-mail doesn’t require much RAM while playing high end games takes considerably more. But you really aren’t going to need more then 4 GB of RAM on a current game since most of them are still written to work on 32-bit platforms. This saves you money on RAM and allows you to use a 32-bit operating system that will be more backwards compatible than it’s 64-bit equivalent.

This basic principal can be applied to almost anything you buy. Yes getting a piston drive AR rifle may allow you to shoot more rounds without cleaning it but if you clean it regularly why sink the additional cost into the piston driven system? If you have a standard definition television and don’t plan on upgrading any time in the future why pay the extra money on a Blu-Ray player? You won’t notice any difference but will have paid far more money for the player and the movies.

You don’t have to be cheap to save money. Just be smart about think about what you want to do with anything you buy. Then ask yourself if you’ll really use any additional features of the more expensive model or not. I bring this up because a friend of mine was going to purchase a $4,000 computer but was able to get a $1,500 one after doing a little usage analysis. That’s a large chunk of money for simply taking half an hour to think about what he actually does with his computer.

Many people end up having financial troubles because they simply buy the most expensive version of what they want. Yes a Geo Metro may not be a good car for a family but you probably don’t need to sink all of that money into a Chevrolet Suburban either. Something int he middle would most likely best suffice. Why buy a $500,000 home when you really only need a $200,000 one? Usage analysis is a valuable and free tool, use it.