Tech Buying Tip: Review the Accessories Before You Buy

by Randy Murray on July 21, 2010

Interested in buying some new gadget? Proceed with caution. The cost of the thing is rarely the total cost. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for a new camera, a computer, or a blender – there’s always more to buy.

Let’s buy a new camera. You’ll also need a case for it, memory cards, and cleaning cloths. And then there are tripods of several different types. Maybe you’ll need another case to hold the other accessories. And don’t forget batteries! Oh, and you’ll need a printer, ink, and paper. Or you might need to pay for professional prints. I probably missed a few things, but you’ll think of them later. And pay for them.

It all adds up.

I’m not telling you not to buy. I’m just saying you need to consider the total cost. And that cost isn’t only the price of the initial gadget.

Back when I was working inside technology companies, you’d see department heads calculating their technology costs by looking at the price of computers alone. Most didn’t think about the cost of software and very few included a budget item for software upgrades from year to year. The price of the computer ended up being only a fraction of the total cost over a three-year period. A good rule of thumb is to budget an additional 20% in ongoing upgrade costs every year for each software purchase – but check that out with each software publisher – sometimes it’s much more.

Consumers and home users rarely think about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). It’s easy to put all of those expenses in separate mental buckets. If you’re not careful, you can spend far more than you planned by not looking at everything you’ll want and need when you purchase something new.

So go ahead and buy that new iPad (I did). But start a simple spreadsheet before you do and plan for a case, maybe a carrying bag, a screen protector, and an initial budget for apps (software). You might spend the same amount, but you’ll understand in advance the total impact of your spending. Or you might decide to delay a purchase here and there to help keep your personal budget in line.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hal Brown July 21, 2010 at 8:42 am

Good advice for everyone. It is amazingly easy to become an impulse buyer.


2 Randy Murray July 21, 2010 at 8:47 am

Thanks, Hal. Impulses can be powerful, but when you sit down and crunch the numbers first, it can help slow you down!


3 Danny July 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Great advice.


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