The Thing I Bought This Year with a Scary Price Tag

This year, I bought a MacBook Pro Retina, the first day it was available for purchase. I’m still not sure yet if it was a mistake.

My boyfriend, who knows much more about technology than I do, talked me into it, for very valid reasons. I work at home and spend most of my waking hours on my computer. I sold my two-year-old MacBook for a pretty decent percentage of the original purchase price, and reselling a Retina in a few years will obviously earn more than selling a cheaper model. And, come on, the Retina is super cool—those Apple commercials still have the same shiny allure even after 10 years of laptop ownership that’s way more ordinary and frustrating than you imagine when first buying into that streamlined Apple lifestyle.

When I hit the purchase button on the Apple website, my heart clenched. I had never bought anything that expensive in my entire life, and I was already terrified to own it, or to take it to the various conferences and festivals that my job requires. I didn’t even want to tell anyone I’d bought it, because everybody knew this was the slick, expensive new laptop, and I didn’t want to be one of those people lured in by any new technology, especially the ones at ridiculous prices.

But of course, I was totally lured in—the Retina screen was awesome, the processor blazing fast, and so many basic functions of my job instantly became easier. It was like the relief you feel any time you get a new, faster computer, but quadrupled.

At the same time, the perils of being an early adopter cropped up fast. I took the computer in to the Genius Bar twice within five months of owning it, for a busted pixel on that lovely screen and for a trackpad that suddenly stopped functioning. It was fixed promptly and perfectly (gotta love Apple Care), but it didn’t alleviate that sense that I had jumped too soon on to a bandwagon I didn’t even know I cared about.

On some level, I guess buying the laptop—entirely on my own and with cash—was a move toward a grown-up status and an investment in a career in writing that I love. At the same time, it’s an indication of all the terrifying price tags that this grown-up status will come with—and how many more times I’ll probably feel a pit in my stomach purchasing something, without ever knowing for sure if I actually need it.

 

Katey Rich writes mostly about movies at Cinema Blend.

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

aetataureate (#1,310)

I got the squicks at “my boyfriend talked me into it” and they never went away. Oh gosh, “how many more times I’ll probably feel a pit in my stomach purchasing something, without ever knowing for sure if I actually need it”?

@aetataureate Oh no! In my defense, there are many, many more purchases my boyfriend tries to talk me into that I ignore– he’s generally more spendy than I am, so there’s a constant back and forth. But it’s also nice to have someone around to keep you from being a totally miserable cheapskate, right?

P-Bomb (#1,032)

@Katey Rich@facebook Err how about someone who helps you being responsible with money and not guilt tripping you into buying something deep down you know you don’t need? The post reads like you talking yourself into and justifying making a purchase that your gut instinct was telling you to be a bad idea.

When can people realize that having a top-of-the-line Apple computer isn’t a prerequisite to being a good writer.

Ellie (#62)

@P-Bomb But it sounds like it WAS a good idea. I could be way off base but it sounds like she does graphics/video stuff so the visual features are more valuable to her than those of a lesser performing model would be.

There are actually a bunch of purchases I have felt near sick over making (I’m a nervous type of person, so this is actually all comparatively minor stuff not big ticket items) that turned out to be the greatest decision ever and things I’ve used for years to come. Obviously there’s a correlation between anxiety about purchasing and regret for having purchased, but it’s not always one to one.

Anne (#33)

@P-Bomb— Oh pull your pants up; your smugness is showing. When will people realize that having top-of-the-line instruments aren’t a prerequisite for be a good surgeon? A box cutter and twisty-ties should do just fine, eh?

I liked this a lot!

‘At the same time, it’s an indication of all the terrifying price tags that this grown-up status will come with—and how many more times I’ll probably feel a pit in my stomach purchasing something, without ever knowing for sure if I actually need it.’

I think this is an especially a problem for people who work in fields like yours; it’s hard to define exactly what sort of equipment you need (there’s no microscopes or diggers), so easy to berate yourself for buying something top-of-the-range to make your work more pleasurable.

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