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It was almost midnight, and I was trying to upload the images of my new post onto Instagram and Pinterest using my 5-year-old Toshiba.
Whenever I opened a browser, I would need to wait for at least 1-2 minute for the page to load.
I got increasingly frustrated thinking how much work I could have gotten done with all of those wasted minutes (turned hours) of waiting for the aging computer to do its job.
Facebook in particular had gotten painfully slow, taking around 3-4 minutes to load all the text and images. “There has to be a problem with the Facebook company,” I thought to myself.
My Toshiba laptop started having various issues two years after I bought it. It ranges from a 15-minute startup process to a broken screen held together by purple binder clips.
I thought the computer looked just fine, at least it served all the functions that I needed (i.e. surfing on the internet, typing papers).
Even when I first bought it, some people asked me if I had had the laptop for a couple of years. “It’s only one month old. It can’t be that bad. It looks like new to me,” I tried to defend my new computer.
I guess that’s what I got for a $500 machine: simple, basic, and not very attractive. But I didn’t mind.
The urge to buy a new laptop
Over the past 3 years, Mr. FAF has been urging me to buy a new laptop. Since I am a very frugal person and my computer was still functional, I just brushed that thought aside.
I even wrote a post about why I didn’t want to part with my Toshiba. I felt pretty proud of that decision until I got the feedback from some readers that being too frugal in this case might be undermining my productivity and costing me money in the long run.
I started to have second thoughts about sticking with a painfully slow machine. When Mr. FAF and I went to Walmart or Target for a walk, I’d look at the $200-300 computers and told him that I’d get one of those one day.
In my mind, I didn’t need a fancy-looking Macbook or Samsung. I just needed something inexpensive and functional that could serve my typing and Internet surfing needs, or so I thought until one day.
I had spent roughly 20 minutes on Pinterest clicking on almost 100 images to schedule on Tailwind at 11:30 PM. That was the last task on my list that I wanted to do that day before going to bed.
I clicked Schedule and started hearing the vent fan of my Toshiba roaring angrily in the quiet night. And then the computer crashed.
I just couldn’t believe what just happened. I stared at the black screen for a couple of seconds, waiting for my scheduled Pinterest images to appear again. They never did.
I guess my Toshiba couldn’t handle scheduling so many Pinterest images at the same time. Fortunately, it didn’t die completely. I turned it on again and waited for 15 minutes for it to start. I was determined to finish my last blogging task that day.
After the task was finished, I ran to Mr. FAF’s office to vent and insisted I should get a new laptop as soon as possible. I had actually had that conversation with Mr. FAF multiple times before.
On the one hand, I would love a new shiny computer that could run fast like lightening. I wouldn’t have to turn on my Toshiba, wait for 15 minutes for it to start, and then freeze in fear that I’d lose all of my information every time the screen collapses.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to part with at least half a thousand dollars that was happily sitting in my bank account for a rainy day. I tried to make myself happy about the fact that I had a computer to use while many don’t even have one.
I also thought about how other bloggers/readers mentioned that had had their machines for almost 10 years. I wanted to hit that milestone as well.
My 5-year-old Toshiba
The hesitation could last only so long. I have to thank Mr. FAF for dispelling my reluctance with his love for eating out.
It was a Saturday afternoon. Mr. FAF had gone out with his friend for lunch. I asked him how much it cost him. As an honest husband, he showed me a receipt for $42 for a dimsum (Hong Kong-style brunch). He had also paid for his friend that day.
I suddenly felt my blood rushing though my body and to my brain. First, the restaurant was expensive.
Second, I had been wanting to go to a dimsum but didn’t want to spend the money. My mother-in-law, Baby FAF, and I ate leftovers from the night before that day, and I even get a bout of abdominal cramps from the old food.
Lastly, I felt like I was the only one trying to save money for the family. I was livid.
All the memories of grappling with the aging laptop came flooding back. All the frustration, fear, and anger joined forces to crush my hesitation. “I am buying a new laptop. Let’s go!”, I told Mr. FAF.
What ensued was a 2.5 hour trip to Best Buy, Target, and Micro Center to check out the new laptop models. Mr. FAF was pretty certain that I wouldn’t want to spend $1,000 on a new Macbook although I insisted that’s what I wanted to get.
I think he was secretly hoping that I’d get a $300 laptop to save money. However, the salesman at Micro Center told us it wasn’t a good idea since those cheap computers are slow and won’t last long. “You get what you pay for,” he said.
I had three criteria for my new laptop:
1. Under $1,000
My main purpose of having a laptop is to blog, check email, and watch YouTube every once in a while. If I had to make videos or perform more advanced tasks, I would look into a more expensive model. However, a laptop less than $1,000 will suffice for now.
2. Small and light
The new computer needs to be small and light enough (i.e. a 13 or 14 inch screen) for me to put in my purse or carry around at home .
I don’t travel a lot and usually prefer working at home than at a cafe or the library. However, we visit our family in Asia about once every two years, and I just want to make sure my new laptop is good for long trips.
3. Have a high quality camera
I have been thinking about making YouTube videos. While I can buy a separate camera, laziness gets the better of me. I just want all in one package. Also, it just makes me happier when I see a better-looking version of myself on the webcam.
In fact, the camera was the very first thing I checked when shopping for a new laptop (proof that I’m not tech-savvy). Mr. FAF insisted that we looked the same on all the cameras, but I didn’t think so.
After hours of soul-searching, I decided on the winner of the contest: a $899 lightweight 13-inch Sumsung ($935.99 after tax). It meets all of my requirements. It is less than $1,000, super light, and has a great camera.
Mr. FAF played a key role in encouraging me to splurge a little on a more expensive laptop to make it run better and last longer. I was thinking about getting another $500-600 computer instead.
After using the new laptop for an hour, I can notice significant changes to my productivity and life quality.
1. No more 15-minute wait
I no longer have to start my computer, go do something else while waiting for it to go into sleep mode, and then turn it on again in order to type on the keyboard.
If I didn’t do that, the words that I typed would be missing letters. Now I can just hit the Power button and wait for less than one minute to use my computer.
2. Faster speed
I no longer have wait for 2-3 minutes for WordPress, Facebook, or Tailwind to load and to listen to the computer vent fan running like crazy in the background. It now takes me seconds to open those websites.
3. Prettier images
With the high definition of the screen, everything I see on my computer – from the interface of my blog to the photos in my folder — looks like they just had a facelift.
4. Easy to carry around
The screen of my old laptop was falling apart and had to be held together with binder clips. Sometimes the binder clips got loose and flew all over the place.
Sometimes the screen just decided to collapse for no reason. I had to be very careful in carrying my old Toshiba from our bedroom to the kitchen to do some work while watching Baby FAF on the weekends.
With the new Samsung, carrying a new laptop now is like carrying a small notebook: easy and trouble-free. I feel like one of my biggest worries in life – having the old Toshiba dying on me all of a sudden – no longer exists. I feel freer and happier as a blogger, a wife, a wife, and a laptop owner.
5. No more resentment towards Mr. FAF
Remember the $300 mistake Mr. FAF made with his Mackbook when he spilled water on it? I was angry and upset at him for days thinking that I could almost have bought a new computer with that money. I had to deal with an aging computer while he could just make a random mistake and just paid $300 to have it fixed.
I no longer feel that resentment knowing that I have gotten the nice laptop that I want. Sometimes I just need to treat myself better to love my husband more and be a more understanding wife.
Now that I have parted with my Toshiba, my only regret is that I didn’t get a new laptop sooner. It would have increased my productivity, saved me so much time, and most importantly, prevented any financial resentment I might have towards Mr. FAF.
He was the one who kept pushing me to get a more efficient computer. But I kept objecting to his idea and then blamed him for not saving money for me to buy a new computer.
It was such a vicious cycle of hesitation, anger, frustration, and blame that I inflicted on myself under the guise of frugality.
I thought I was trying to save money for myself and my family. But in an effort to do so, I caused damage to my productivity and marriage.
Sometimes it’s just worth it to spend the money to make our lives easier and our family happier. And for me, the time came two weeks ago when I finally got my new laptop.
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