This Does Not Compute

Technology, gaming, music and things that just don't compute

Sage advice: Just buy it now

Courtesy Digital Apoptosis

The whole our-economy-stinks thing is a bit of a double-edged sword these days: While nobody has (or is willing to spend) any money, there are some very good deals out there as retailers try to not take a complete wash on their inventory. That doesn’t mean you can put off buying the stuff you really want though.

“Just buy it” is a mantra I’ve had for a while now; it’s been mostly used towards my wife, who will see something cute that she wants (usually Hello Kitty-related), but then agonize over the price (usually less than $20) and whether she really needs it. I’ll always tell her to just buy it and get it over with, because in either case she’ll end up complaining about it in some way — either that she shouldn’t have bought it, it cost too much, blah blah blah, or that a week later when she decided that she really did want it she finds it sold out. The remorse about the cost of an item subsides much more quickly than the regret of having missed out when you had the chance.

I have two examples of this from within the last week, for purchases I made myself. The first was plane tickets for an upcoming trip to San Diego and Los Angeles. The plan is to fly into San Diego, spend a few days, then ride the Amtrak up to Los Angeles and spend a few days more. I’m not a big fan of flying, and I refuse to take non-direcr flights. There are only two carriers that fly direct between Minneapolis and those two cities, Delta and Sun Country. Seeing as I essentially needed two one-way tickets, I scrutinized each carrier’s fares and schedules, and decided that Sun Country would be cheapest for both flights. When I started researching about a month ago, the fares were about $140 from Minneapolis to San Diego, and $155 from LAX to MSP.

But I sat on my haunches for whatever reason, and only last week did I decide to buy the tickets. The San Diego fare was still the same — two tickets, with one checked bag per ticket (an extra $20 each) and pre-selecting our seats ($8 per ticket), ended up being about $360 with taxes and fees. (That’s the price of one one-way fare on Delta.) But suddenly the LAX-to-MSP flight had jumped in price; those tickets were now $202 each. By waiting a few weeks, the price had gone up and I ended up paying an extra $100. (If the fares drop on that flight soon, I’m gonna be pissed.)

Here’s a happier story to balance it out: Due to that impending California trip, I’d been in the market for a new laptop bag. My old Samsonite messenger bag was showing its age (I had gotten it back in college to shuttle my laptop and books between classes and work), and I wasn’t ever terribly thrilled with its laptop accomodations (I had, at one point, dented the hinge on a 15″ aluminum PowerBook G4 because I set the bag down too hard). I narrowed my choices down to two: a $30 Lowepro laptop messenger, or a $100 Timbuk2 Commute 2.0. My frugal self wanted to go with the Lowepro, not just because of its lower price but also because I swear by them for camera bags. The one thing that the Timbuk2 had going for it was that it was TSA-compliant, meaning I could run it though the X-ray machine at the airport without having to take my MacBook out.

However, I found that Timbuk2, for whatever, reason, had discontinued the Small size of that bag, which was the one listed as being suited for the 13″ MacBook series. I don’t like hauling around more than I have to, and having to move up to the Medium size meant I would have to carry more bag than I needed. Some Googling showed that a couple places still had the small size in stock, one of the  a Mac reseller. Poking around on their site, I found that they had two of the bags for sale: A black one for $60, and a cool-looking red and grey one for $90. The pricing struck me as funny; one color shouldn’t cost more than another if they’re identical products otherwise. So I shot them an e-mail, asking bluntly about the price difference. The next morning, they wrote back and offered the red bag to me for $60, the same as the black one. Score!

Now, I’m not advocating going out and willy-nilly buying everything you’ve ever wanted, but if it’s something you know you need, or something you’ve had your eye on for a while, just buy it already. Remember that prices go up as things become in short supply (like seats on airplanes), and that deal-of-the-century offers won’t wait for you to agonize over them (like discontinued laptop bags being sold for half their original price). Just buy it already!

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