I read a daft article earlier this year suggesting the cost of living was heading towards zero.
I haven’t seen much evidence of that just yet in Auckland with post-Canterbury earthquake insurance cost rises and a voraciously spendthrift council just cranking up the call on the household income.
In fact, the cost of living, despite what the Consumer Price Index would have us believe, has been rising dramatically.
But in one very important area, it has come down.
That’s the cost of home electronics, especially what I might quaintly call computing.
The other areas where there have been welcome price deflation are cars, air travel, clothing and furniture.
I’m no tech genius, as people who know me point out.
My home computing needs are simple, which is one of the reasons why I’ve managed to scrape by on second-hand PCs bought from an employer which no longer needed them.
My simple needs are largely based around the realisation years ago that I had no space in my life for gaming.
I reckon there are fewer things I’d find more addictive than bashing away at zombies, or fighting lengthy campaigns with my elf army, so I decided I’d better park that in the ‘‘things I will do when I am retired’’ category.
I only have so many hours in the day, and as a family man, they are all spoken for.
That means now I can get away with doing everything I need on a Chromebook.
These are cheap, lowmemory laptop-like devices which are powered by free Google online software.
If email, internet, a little household management, and a little YouTube are all you need, these get you that for $300-$400.
Prioritise wealth and stability over possessions
Seek value for money
Avoid paying for ‘‘best’’ when ‘‘good enough’’ will do.
They are so simple to use, I reckon many people with desktops and expensive laptops would never notice the difference if they swapped.
I got to know these supersimple bits of tech only when one was needed for my daughter at intermediate school.
These simple devices are boosting learning power in classrooms around the country.
But I was chatting last month with Sue De Bievre from Beany, who runs a crowd-based accountancy business using a dinked $300 Chromebook.
Yes, you read that correctly. Beany avoids massive costs by using cloud-based systems. So can households with simple needs.
For many older people on tighter budgets, and no desire for access to functionality they will never use, Chromebooks are a viable, cheap way to provide their computing power.
To me they are a ‘‘good enough’’ solution to a need.
Good enough is often cheaper than ‘‘better’’ or ‘‘best’’, and has the distinct advantage of leaving you more money to save, invest and pay off debt.
Paying for stuff that’s much better than you need, can be a trap that leaves you going nowhere. It’s often manifested in houses, spa pools, cars, clothes and TVs, but I reckon, in terms of bang for buck, many people have been buying laptops and PCs but only using a fraction of their capacity.
It’s my personal belief your bank balance should be more impressive than your possessions.