The other day I was sitting on my couch, drinking my morning coffee and catching up on the news from overnight via my twitter feed. Now, my iPhone 5s has a decent sized screen, and almost all of the news sites I read have mobile versions, but it isn’t a comfortable read for any newspaper subscriptions, and I like the news. I started thinking, if I had an iPad, I could subscribe to the newspaper. See, my father reads the newspaper and he’s doing quite well for himself. I can only assume those two things are correlated.

And so, instead of finishing the article on the crisis in Crimea, I started looking at iPads. Makes sense, right? Sure.

I’ve spent previous 4th Mondays debating e-readers, and reviewing wearable tech, and somehow, I have managed to successfully avoid this question: Do I actually need this?  In 2014, it seems like there’s a new gadget or upgrade every other week, and the race to have the latest and greatest of anything can be an outright frenzy. I’ve lusted after ultra-thin notebooks, after Bluetooth-compatible speakers, after e-readers and tablets and smart-whatevers. And every once and a while, I’ve been one click away from an impulse purchase that was just unnecessary. How do you stop yourself from giving in to the madness? I mean, seriously. Heaven help me if there’s a sale going on. 

So here are the 5 questions I’ve learned to ask myself before I click that confirm purchase button.

 

Do I already own it? It seems like a silly question, but seriously, think about it. Let’s say the object in question is an iPad, and you want to buy it for reading, oh let’s say, the newspaper. Asking for a friend, of course. Well, does she already have an e-reader? Does she already have an iPhone? Because those are items she can use to read things like the newspaper. Now, in my case, I mean, her case, her e-reader is a Nook SimpleTouch, which can’t subscribe to papers, so that’s a good start in favor of the iPad, but I do own an iPhone, so my defense starts to break down a little bit. Yeah, it’s for me, I’ll drop the ruse. 

With any new technology purchase, make sure to stop and ask yourself if it is unique in its purpose, or if it’s just a shiny, new variant on a device you already own.

 

Can I afford it? Even when it comes to purchasing a new pair of ear buds, I have to ask myself this question. Do I have the money to buy this right now? Are the bills paid? How’s the car doing? It’s been a while since you’ve gotten your tires replaced, is that coming up soon? Being an adult is hard, I agree, but these are the things an adult has to ask herself before she buys replacements for things that haven’t actually broken. When it comes down to health insurance vs. a Mini Jambox – well, the rumor is you’re supposed to pay for health insurance first. If you’re all clear on the boring grown-up stuff, then I say, make it rain Jamboxes, my friends. Because once the responsibility stuff is out of the way, the “I do what I want” rule applies. 100%.

 

No, but can I actually afford it? This is the question that I hate the most, because it’s the one that gets me EVERY time. Let’s say your bills are paid, and you’re going to be fine on rent and you have cash money to pay for new tires. But that pretty much takes your checking account out of the running for an iPad. WAIT, WAIT THERE’S MORE. Because being an adult means that someone in a suit at the bank said you can have a credit card and Apple readily accepts credit cards as payment and that’s like, extra money right? Yay for me! Well, sure, but also, not exactly. Boo on you.  Before you go ahead and swipe that card, ask yourself, again, what the payment plan is for that new toy. $500 bucks sitting on a credit card can turn into a whole lot more when those interest rates get their life-ruining hands on it. As many of us know, the only thing worse than not having any money, is not having any money and then having to just give it away to the bank. It’s insulting, it’s offensive, and, apparently, it’s avoidable with a little self-control.

 

Can I think of 5 legitimate uses for it? The impulsive part of your rationale for purchasing a new toy will come up with 2 solid uses of an object, and say, “good enough!” *click* But coming up with 5 actual uses is much harder, and requires a good amount of reflection. For my iPad, I had the first two immediately: for travel and reading the newspaper. But coming up with another 3 uses was tricky. See, I wouldn’t use it for writing because I much prefer an actual keyboard, which is why I have a laptop. But then again, my laptop gets cumbersome after a while of lugging it around airports and such, and I often leave it at home on shorter trips, relying on my iPhone for my work stuff. This seesaw debate forced me into more research on the investment, which meant more time to stop, think, and reconsider the last and final question.

 

Why do I want it again? Lots of things sound like a great idea in the moment you think of them. Like any of the first 5 topics I come up with when brainstorming ideas for writing. However, not so many of them sound as good after sitting on them for a few days. Trust me. So circling back to this question after going through the first four is a good way to decide whether or not the purchase you thought you “needed” is really a necessity, or just a whim. How will it improve your life? Because that’s what technology is for, when you really think about it, isn’t it? I bought a smartphone because I needed a way of conducting business when I was away from my computer. And I bought my laptop so I can write when I’m travelling, work on formatting of blog posts, and even get myself out of the house for a bit without sacrificing productivity. What will an iPad do to benefit my life in a way that one of these other things doesn’t already do?

 

Since I know you’re all concerned with the outcome of my dilemma, the answer is: it’s still up for debate. I have a long list of well thought-out reasons to purchase the iPad, but the truth is, I’m not really 100% sold on my answer to “No, but can I actually afford it?” Right now it’s at a half-hearted ‘kind of?’ But with buyer’s remorse being a very real thing, I’m glad I’ve found a way to think every tech purchase through. That way, when I do finally decide to invest, I’ll know it was absolutely the right choice.

And, as always, new gadgets are fun and exciting, especially if you make sure you’re buying what’s right for you, and not just what has the best advertising campaign. Unless it’s a Jaguar. I mean, does anyone else really want a Jaguar now? I really want a Jaguar.