Device minimalism

Minimalist device purchases to save money and the planet

The modern day marketing gets most of us and creates the void in our minds to purchase new devices every year or the other. Would being minimalist on purchasing new gadgets save us money and also do good to the planet ? Let’s have a look at what is device minimalism and if we could source our devices in a sustainable way.

How we fall for new purchases

It has happened to the most of us. We have the perfect laptops and phones which has the latest features and the best cameras. Up comes a keynote or an advertisement launching a new one, and suddenly the current ones we posses feels inferior.

However, if you look at it from a different perspective, your life was probably perfect and you went around doing your tasks as it is with your old devices. Just because some one told you of an existence of a new feature on a new device, you now crave for it.

Is that feature really that important. If so, you probably never thought about this feature, when you decided to spend the money on your current possessions. Even if you did knew of a non existential in device feature, you were perfectly fine to shell out your hard earned money for the features you have with your existing purchase and okay to not have the newly introduced ones.

Does that intrigue the working process of a human mind ? The human mind easily falls for new wants and features that you presume would make your life easy. The marketing world is well versed with this and the latest ads portray what you could do if you had that new feature.Off course there are instances where needing the new devices is necessary, but often there are instances one purchases it just for the sake of having the latest.

A neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, Mr. Sundeep Teki suggests that our brain cells are actually wired to seek needs such as social status and security. The action of seeking and then actually rewarding these devices triggers the reward network of our brain.

Now, since we know why we do what we do when we seek the latest gadgets, could it be sensible to train our brains before hand and make sure we don’t go on spending spree with the newly announced gadgets. Learning to be minimalist about our device purchases could help us control our brains on the unnecessary desires.

Let’s look at various ways how we can train our minds to be device minimalistic by answering the common questions we ask ourselves when buying new devices.

Should you upgrade from your old device

Should I upgrade from a product version x to product version y is a common question on tech forums. Find one of the latest YouTube channels on tech and scroll through some of the comments. You’ll find consumers discussing the age old question. For e.g., I have an iPhone XS should I upgrade to iPhone XS Pro ? But this one shoots better photos !

Few common answers you shall find to the question- should you upgrade are :

  • Yes
  • Yes, totally worth it.
  • Yes, if you have spare cash
  • If you want it, just buy it
  • Pass the current one to your significant other/ kids/ parents and get the latest one
  • Wait for the next version
  • No

Well these answers are thoughts from other consumers. Some are sensible while some do not (rather not possible to) think through your financial plans before suggesting you to plunge on new device. Very few of them talk about device minimalism and the impacts of owning new devices every year has on our planet.

Well, say you purchased your device for a ‘x’ amount. You paid that money cause you believed the features it offers are worth that money. Now when you have to upgrade, you have to think through, if you current device is really obsolete?

There are two types of device or gadgets obsolescence.

Technical Obsolescence

Technical obsolescence is when your devices or gadgets has become obsolete on it’s tech features. This occurs when various companies launch newer versions or new devices with better tech. For example, An iPhone with better camera will make your current iPhone technically obsolete.

Functional Obsolescence

However, when your device stops performing the way it was intended to when you first bought it, that makes it functionally obsolete. Functionally obsolete devices might create problems to your day to day activities.

Now that we know the two types of device obsolescence , what do you think about upgrading your current device ? In most cases, purchasing new devices only when they are functionally obsolete, would make sense and save you money.

Does the upgrade solve any pain ?

There is another school of thought that helps you decide if you should upgrade your current device. Have a look at your current devices and ponder upon it to make sure if it gives you any pain.

For e.g., My iPhone touch screen is not functioning the way it should in certain areas. For some, this is a pain, as they can’t input some commands to the phone from certain area on the screen. While, for others this might NOT be a pain. They might use only few function of the phone and just rearranging the content of the screen to the areas where it can be touched suffices for them.

Now look at the new device you are intending to purchase. Will this device help you solve the current pain you face from the existing device ? Also, would it add more pain ? May be extra money going away from your bank account ? After thinking through this, if it makes sense, then go for the upgrade. Else, you can still manage with what you have and the amount you paid for it.

Sourcing devices in sustainable way

Most of our used phones and electronic gadgets are attempted to be recycled. However, some parts of them can’t be recycled and are usually piled up. In worst cases, they are burnt which produce poisonous and carcinogenic gasses.

When you return your old devices, what do you think- where do they end up ? Waste electronics end up in poorer countries as e-waste dump. One of the examples in Accra, Ghana which has become one of the top homes to the world’s e-waste. The waste here is processed to remove reusable parts, but the unusable ones- ends up doing harm to your and mine planet.

Preparing and training your brains to not splurge on new devices if its not necessary, will help us reduce the e-wastes.

Buying refurbished or used products is also another way you could consider, if that does the job for you.

Refurbished products- As good as brand new !

This one is for users who wish to buy expensive Apple products. Many amongst us are unaware of refurbished Apple products sold on Apple website.

If you scroll down on the apple site, and find a link for Refurbished and Clearance Products links, you’ll find devices listed by Apple for sale. They are usually returned or repaired products but carry the same stringent quality check as well as same warranty as a new device.

These devices are usually 300 to 400$ cheaper than a brand new ones.

Other retailers and online sellers also sell Refurbished products and the quality is as brand new.

Device minimalism is not against Technology

Minimising the purchase of new devices is often seen as an act against technology improvement. However that is not really the case. As minimalism is better understood as using and buying only what you need than over hoarding it.

Technology has to improve and it is what has made our life easier. However, when new devices have very small incremental improvements, would it make sense to produce an e-waste just for the sake of it. Remember, you will spend heaps of money for the new device too.

One can of course stay connected with latest keynote and launches. However, not splurging to buy the very next moment is the key to save your money and the planet. Hanging on to purchase the smaller incremental improvements for a while can do wonders to your finances !

If you are into money management, do learn more about various tips to save money in Singapore.

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