Why I Hold On To My Broken Laptop

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As a frugal person, I try not to spend money on something I don’t need.

That also means I want to make the most out of everything that I have, including my aging laptop.

I bought my Toshiba laptop back in May 2012. I can’t remember its exact price. I’m guessing it was in the $450-$600 range.

I just wanted to have a small functional laptop that I could carry places and use for writing, researching, and entertainment.

The average life span of a laptop is 4 years. I’ve used mine for 5 years.

It’s very tempting to think about all the shiny new models out there that run so much faster and look much better than my 5-year old computer.

But I just can’t part with it.


The laptop has served me well all those years. I’ve never had to bring it to a technician. However, as it’s aging, it’s also developed some quirks and issues.

1. The speed has become really slow.

It takes my computer 5 minutes to start. Once it’s up and running, I need to wait for it to go completely into into sleep mode (all lights out) and press the power button for it to come back on and wait for another 5 minutes.

If I didn’t do that, I’d had a really hard time typing since the letters would be missing all over the place. In other words, I’d need to type really slowly letter by letter, otherwise the computer wouldn’t be able to catch up with my typing.

This waiting process takes about 15 minutes. If I’m too impatient or if I accidentally touch the computer, it will wake up from the sleep mode. Then I’d have to wait for another 10 minutes to use it. It’s been going on like this for 2 years.

I usually just turn the laptop on, leave it there to go do something else (i.e. preparing food, taking a shower), and then come back to use it. When the wait is over, the laptop works completely fine and is not a time sink for me.

If one day the speed becomes too slow when I’m actually using the laptop, however, then I know it’s time for me to move on to a new one. I will not let frugality get in the way of my productivity.

Purple paper clips holding the falling apart screen

2. The screen is falling apart.

Four months ago (Feb 2017), the screen started to break and wouldn’t stand up straight. I have to prop the screen against something (i.e. a bookend) for it to hold up. I also have to use two paper clippers to keep the frame and the glass screen together to prevent it from falling apart.

It is cumbersome to move the laptop from one place to another since the screen is always ready to break despite the paper clips holding it together. Sometimes the paper clips would slip off the screen and fly all over the place.

3. The battery is dying. 

When I first bought the laptop, the battery could run for about 4-5 hours. After two years, it died. I bought a new one for $25 so that I won’t have to bother carrying the power cord from my living room to the kitchen.

The second battery is now dying again and can last for only 30 minutes. Though tempted, I refuse to spend another $25 on a new battery. I’m trying to make the laptop live as long as it can.

But it could easily say good-bye to me next week or next month. I don’t want to invest in something I’m not sure will last for long.

Frugal until the end

Seeing how miserable the Toshiba looks, Mr. FAF has suggested I buy a new laptop for the past year, but I just brush it aside.

Other than the issues mentioned above, my computer is still functional and serves all the purposes that I need. Some people can’t even afford a laptop. I’m lucky enough to have one, so I need to look on the bright side and make the most out of it.

I can no longer carry my Toshiba around because the screen won’t hold up. But it’s still better than throwing the whole computer away and investing $500 or more on a new one. We can put that money towards our mortgage instead.

Computers are depreciating assets and thus not a good investment. Once they come off the shelf, the value will go down drastically.

For laptops with an effective life of 3 years, the depreciation rate is 66.67% per year. It means that after one year of use, a laptop is worth only 33.33% of the original price. Ouch!

I plan to use my Toshiba laptop until it dies on me. Until then, this frugal girl will not take the initiative in parting with it.



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55 thoughts on “Why I Hold On To My Broken Laptop”

  • I’m like this too when it comes to electronics! Unless it really breaks, I refuse to upgrade to the newest model. I had to replace my Macbook 3 years ago because the “s” key stopped working….tried to get around that, but it turns out that “s” is in many words, haha.

    Mr. NavigatingAdulthood’s ex-girlfriend demanded the newest iPod when they were together….and I’m pretty sure she literally owned 5 of them courtesy of Mr. NA. That’s insane to me- the first one she had worked fine, but she had to have the latest and greatest model.

    Please, please be sure that you’re backing up your computer if there’s a chance your laptop will die on you. Google Drive is free!!

    • OMG the “s” key situation sounds so relateable! I remember one time there was an issue with my “t” key too (previous computer), and was like “Why do I need the “t” so badly in my life right now?”

      Mr. FAF’s ex-girlfriend also got an Iphone from him (the 1st or 2nd one that came out). I think he was trying to compete with some other guy lol. Anyway, he got me an Amazon Fire almost 4 years ago, and it’s still working really well! 😀

    • Same here! I FINALLY replaced my laptop from 2008, aka college! I didn’t use it super often and it got the job done. I’m a frugal person as well, so it just made sense to keep it. I ended up getting a refurbished MS Surface Pro 4 bundle for about $500 less than a brand new one.

  • *Screams*
    Your are my sister!! I had a Gateway laptop and it lasted me 8 years. 8!!! By the end, the company Gateway wasn’t even in business anymore!

    And the only reason why it broke was because I knocked it off the table at work and it wouldn’t turn on. I took it to the repair shop and they said it’s so old it would be cheaper to buy a new old one than fix that. I told them NO you have to try and I’ll pay more (it’s my buddy for 8 years!)

    A few days later the repair shop guy called me and said since Gateway wasn’t in business anymore he wouldn’t find a proper motherboard unless I wanted to spend $800. I just cried. I basically killed my friend of 8 years 🙁

    • Oh no I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your Gateway laptop! I’m sure the laptop was happy that it had stayed with you for so long (almost a decade!). Your comment inspires me to treat my computer better so that we can stay friends for longer (another 3 years!). I hate breakups! @_@

  • You’ve got much more patience than I do. Maybe it’s because I like nerding out over new electronics…but I’d have gotten a new laptop LOONG ago if I were you! I give you credit for holding out for so long. It takes much more willpower than I have.

    • Thanks, Dave! When it comes to money, I have a lot of willpower and patience (maybe too much sometimes haha). I’m not really into electronics and the like. Maybe it’s because I don’t really understand the mechanics of it. I’m definitely thinking about buying a new laptop though!

  • Wow you’ve had your laptop for a long time! I bought my current one in 2011. I always splurge on laptops ($1000-$1400) because they won’t get slow in old age, the physical parts just start to wear out.

    My 6 year old Sony is still doing well in the speed department, but I’ve started to notice some instability that tells me the drive is starting to go.

    I would be extremely careful about how long you keep your laptop for. Your browser probably stores all of your passwords and email addresses. I have at least 30 sets of different login creds (comes with blogging) and losing them all would suck. If your computer died and you needed the data now, how much would it cost to get? You should back up all of your important files on a flash drive so when it dies, you have everything.

    Also, it sounds like you don’t have enough RAM for your system to efficiently boot. You can almost always open up that system and install additional RAM. Sounds complicated but it’s trivial

    • Wow I can tell you’re really good with computers! I literally didn’t get most of what you were referring to (i.e. RAM), but it’s good to know! I store all of my data in Dropbox and Google Drive. Mr. FAF stores his passwords too, but I literally never do. I’m so paranoid about other people hacking my computer that I just try to remember all the usernames and passwords in my head. When I can’t remember them, I will reset passwords. #lowtechperson -_-

  • I love your pink paperclips! Haha- I’m with you, if it still works, a “well-loved” item is just that, a working well-loved item!

    I hope it sticks together a bit longer for you! 😉

    • Haha thank you, Mrs. Adventure Rich! It’s good to know that someone out there also thinks I should stay with my Toshiba for longer. I’m sure my laptop <3 your comment!

  • I’ve had my laptop since 2009 and the operating system won’t update anymore so I can’t access certain websites. I finally caved and bought a new laptop earlier this year with the help of some gift cards. If I had to pay all in cash I think I would have tried to hold out.

    Hope your Toshiba can last awhile longer for you!

    • Oh wow your laptop lasted you 8 years! It’s awesome. I used to give my old laptops to my sister. She didn’t mind it one bit. But this Toshiba is so old I’m embarrassed to even show it to her hehe.

  • I am the exact same as you when it comes to laptops. I’m on my third laptop in my life and I just replaced my really really slow laptop last Christmas when I found a good deal. It was like $350 but maybe I should have spent more because it’s just okay. My first one was bought back in 2003, second one in 2010, third in 2016 so I get decent use out of it. But since you’re a rockstar blogger nowadays, it might make sense to upgrade to a faster laptop so you can be more productive!

    • Did someone just refer to me as “a rockstar blogger”? Thank you, Andrew! I’m not there yet, but I like the way it sounds haha. This is my 3rd laptop too! I’m not really into fancy laptops. I just want a functional computer. I’m very simple hehe. I imagine my next laptop won’t look anything like a Mac 😀

  • Something to consider if you view FAF as a business, in that it’ll generate income, is that these headaches (minor and major) become a barrier to producing work. While it’s admirable to be frugal and make do, if it’s worth putting your time into blog posts, it’s worth putting a little money into a machine that works more reliably, doesn’t require such a delicate power on process, and can be moved. 🙂

    • Thank you for the great advice, Jim! I was thinking about sticking with my aging laptop for longer. But after reading your comment, I think I need to invest a little bit to make my life easier. I’m so torn right now with all the great feedback -_- #lifeofafrugalblogger

  • You and my wife would get along great! Up until 2 months ago she was still using a laptop from ~2009 with a battery that didn’t hold a charge, a screen that she had to replace the backlight, constantly ram bot and was eternally running out of space.

    It took a few months of convincing but we finally upgraded and it is great! Given how much we use our laptops on a daily basis I feel it’s a worthy upgrade for the time savings and frustrations we no longer have to deal with.

    • Agreed! I think your wife and I could be besties! Mr. FAF has been convincing me to get a new laptop for years! After reading your comment along with others’, I think maybe it’s time for me to upgrade my tech life -_-

  • Yeap, consider it a business asset. You need a functional computer to help productivity.
    My laptop is old too. I can’t take it anywhere because the battery is shot, but I’d definitely get a new one if I need to wait 15 minutes before I can use it. You’re already busy with a job, baby, etc… It’s just another complication.
    Probably should get a new laptop and consider it a business expense. You can write it off on your tax.

    • Great advice, Joe! I’ve gotten used to the 15 minute wait, but I sure don’t like it one bit. @_@

  • I think it’s a…frugal choice =) Which is good! But personally, I think I’d smash my head through the wall if I had to wait 5 mins for my laptop to start. Wow, that must really help in developing patience. I just got a new laptop for blogging, and no joke, I’ve never seen a laptop start up so quickly. It can go from being completely shut off to on, in 5 seconds. No joke, 5 seconds might even be too long, it might be shorter than that. It confounds me every single time….so, have I changed your mind? =) You gotta use money sometime! Think about all the efficiency you’ll gain, and longevity in life due to lower blood pressure levels!

    • OMG 5 seconds!! Yes, you’ve changed my mind. I’m gonna tell Mr. FAF he needs to find a new computer deal for me when he has more time at the end of this month. 😀

  • Wow you have the patience of a saint. Good for you on keeping that running! Better make sure that all of your important documents and photos are backed up – on a cloud service or a backup drive, just in case 🙂

    • Haha thank you, JM! I have a lot of patience when it comes to money 😀 I store all of my data in Dropbox and Google Drive, so I wouldn’t feel so crushed if my computer died on me one day 😉

  • Figure out your hourly rate, then how much time you’re spending waiting on the computer to respond. If you consider that your time is worth money, then you’re throwing it away working on an inefficient machine. Time to replace.

    • You made a great point, Janet! I thought about that but couldn’t bring myself to spend the $. I need to rethink my strategy >_<

  • Oh wow, five minutes to start? Lots of credit for being really patient with that Toshiba and not ready to give in to a new one. Frugality is definitely a factor for this, you will probably use that laptop until it literally collapses.
    But until that happens, make sure to clear your history every time you are done with the browser so it won’t store your passwords

  • Interesting! I also have a Toshiba of about the same vintage and it also takes forever to boot up. And the battery charge indicator stopped working so am never sure how long I can use it. Other than that it is fine, so we are in it for the long haul.

  • I bought my Lenovo back in 2010. I’m typing this comment on it right now. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, I go out of my way to keep my machine in the best condition that I possibly can. While it doesn’t run as well as it did when I first got it, it still does its job. And for that, I’m grateful. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do some of the things in life that I enjoy most.

    Great post! 🙂

  • Wow… I’ve got a Dell that is at least six years old. Its battery is out, because it’s defunct. It takes forever to start up. I’ve considered wiping the hard drive and converting it into a Chromebook. Ask Google for instructions.

    But I also bought a Macbook Pro back in Oct 2014…

  • As a fellow Asian who is used to holding onto things for too long, I’ll say this. Get a new laptop now! If you use your laptop for a lot of things including business work, then it’s worth paying extra for. I bought a Dell XPS even though it cost me almost $2K CAD, but since I use it all the time, it was worth it. I travel with it all the time.

  • Wow Mrs. FAF, you have used that computer to the end! All my old laptops I bought during college were falling apart similarly — terrible battery, screen falling apart, slow, I just couldn’t work with them anymore, but I did feel terrible throwing them away so I reset them and repurposed them for my younger sisters who do more basic things for school. 🙂

    I think of a computer as an investment and do believe a higher end laptop lasts longer! I bought my macbook in late 2013 refurbished for about $1000. It was definitely the most expensive laptop I ever bought, but all my $200-$600 laptops I bought would start being unbearably slow within 2 years!

    5 years later with my macbook, it still runs great and the battery life is still amazing! I see it lasting another 2-3 years at least! I also have tons of software that I don’t want to figure out how to reinstall, so that’s a great excuse to keep on going 😛

    • I gave my old computers to my sister too! I’m glad she didn’t mind hehe. I think you’re right. I might have to pay more attention to the quality of my new laptop this time. I usually just go for a cheap one, but I also heard Apple products last a long time. I’m glad your Mac is working well after almost 4 years!

  • My Macbook Pro that I purchased freshmen year of college just passed away recently. It was 8 years old at its time of death. The sad part is that it was still running well up until the very end. I had rebuilt it/upgraded components over time spending minimally. The hard drive failed at one point but I replaced it and it had one other critical failure while it was still under warranty that Apple replaced for free.

    I dread looking at the prices of new laptops. They are just so expensive. Right now I am using my desktop and Ipad for writing. Eventually I will probably get a new laptop but not right now when I am trying to rapidly save money.

    • wow 8 years! You definitely got some good use out of that Macbook Pro! I know it’s so sad to part with something you’ve had for so long, especially when it was still running so well. I balk at the prices of new computers too. That’s why I’ve been putting off buying a new laptop for the longest time! >_<

  • You’re not alone, Ms. FAF 🙂
    I still have my very first laptop, it’s still working, bought it in 2008 (I have proof, it’s 9 years old and we’re still using it!)

    I’ve always wanted a laptop so, right before moving to Italy, I took the plunge and bought one. It worked out perfectly that I could take it with me, but I would have never guessed it would be perfectly functional to this day!

    • Oh wow! I think you laptop has probably worked the longest compared to the ones mentioned by other readers/bloggers. You must have taken really good care of it too! 😀

  • Mrs FAF, I have been using my MacBook Pro for the past 4yrs. Although it is expensive than other windows PC, MacBooks hold their value pretty well. I don’t see why it won’t last me the next 5yrs. My charger is all beat up and wrapped duct tape :). But the battery life is still exceptional compared to my past HP laptop. I use my MacBook to mostly do programming work. Not trying to buy you into an Apple ecosystem but there is a cool deal right now. You can get a free Beats Wireless Headphone with eligible Mac or iPad Pro using Apple Education Program (I believe you can use any college email ID to get this deal). The Beats Wireless Headphone costs around $300 on eBay. https://www.apple.com/us-hed/shop

    • Thank you so much for letting me know about the deal, Andrew! I will check it out. I have heard so many great things about Macbooks and how they last a long time. It seems to be definitely worth the money. I’m glad your laptop is running strong. Yay to another 5 years!

  • My home laptop is pushing 4 years and the slowdown is starting to get on my nerves. I’m thinking about replacing it soon.

    I hope you’re backing up your files regularly just in case it dies on you unexpectedly!

  • I’m exactly the same way! My laptop is about 7 years old. It broke down last year, but I was lucky because my college offers a service where they fix laptops for free. It’s still working, but I don’t know how much longer it’ll last haha.

  • Hahahaha, oh my God I had this same story. I bought my first laptop when I was like 18. It was one of the first major things that *I* bought myself with my own money. Five years later, when I had to flick the screen a bit to make it turn on, push the ‘s’, ‘f’ and space bar keys really hard to make them appear, and the computer would turn off as SOON as it came unplugged (which was an issue because the port had warped and sometimes it randomly fell out), I knew it was time.

    Buy a desktop. The maintenance is easier, they last longer, and you can upgrade just one piece over time to make a drastic difference. This allows you to have a smooth outlay trend rather than a jagged one which indicates periodic mass spending followed by very little spending.

    • Oh no I’m so sorry to hear about the accident with your computer. I know it’s so different when we buy something with our hard-earned money. Mr. FAF has been asking me if he can buy a desktop, so we’re entertaining that option too. Thanks for the advice! 🙂

  • I have a 5 year old broken laptop also. The screen stopped working one day, it was just dark. I got worried that I would have to replace it. I plugged into a monitor…and it turns out it was just a bad screen. So now I still use the laptop, but with a monitor. The bad thing it isn’t portable, but it still works!

  • Hahaha I <3 the pic of the laptop with binder clips holding it together. I have been using a fork jammed between the keyboard and monitor of my 3 1/2 yo Toshiba for over 6 months, ever since one of the hinges cracked and more recently finally fell off. It causes connectivity issues on the monitor. New hinge costs $265.00. Fork = 0. but it does make WFH a pain in the butt. Perhaps
    Toshiba is not the most durable product?

  • My laptop is old too. I can’t take it anywhere because the battery is shot, but I’d definitely get a new one if I need to wait 15 minutes before I can use it. I think this time to purchase a new laptop.

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