Cut com­puter costs at home

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - ROB STOCK rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

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

GOLDEN RULES

Pri­ori­tise wealth and sta­bil­ity over pos­ses­sions Seek value for money Avoid pay­ing for ‘‘best’’ when ‘‘good enough’’ will do. 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 am­re­tired’’ 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, low-mem­ory 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.

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,

‘‘Good enough is of­ten cheaper than 'bet­ter' or 'best'.’’

who runs a crowd-based ac­coun­tancy busi­ness us­ing a dinked $300 Chrome­book.

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, and striv­ing to own bet­ter and best, can be a trap that leaves you go­ing nowhere. It’s most 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 that your bank bal­ance should al­ways be more im­pres­sive than your per­sonal pos­ses­sions.

MONEY MAT­TERS

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