We have a simple financial rule in our house. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. This leads on to an unwritten rule that purchases over a couple of hundred dollars have to be checked with the other wage earner. And if they’re something for you personally AND over a certain dollar figure (which interestingly, we’ve never specified) you basically have to be able to build a business case for your purchase. Which is how, today, my husband said to me “Which is it? The iPad mini or the Kenwood mixer?” This is not a question our mothers ever faced! And it’s not quite the association we normally make when faced with the “can women have it all and have a work/life balance” discussion topic.
I only have myself to blame. A month ago, I did a gluten-free cooking course (you can find my blog post here) and it fuelled in me a desire for a Kenwood mixer. You know, one of the ones that sits on the bench, has several fantastic mixing attachments, plus a mincer on the front and a proper food processor or blender on the top (so we could replace our existing slightly broken blender). I built a great business case for that one, and looked like I might be on the way to convincing my husband that we could really, really, do with one. Especially as daughter number 2 has been on a cupcake rampage since Christmas (thanks Auntie Vic for the cupcake recipe book) and has repeatedly subjected the rest of the family to cookies and cream cupcakes (amongst others) all with delicious frosting that would be MUCH easier made in a Kenwood mixer. Also, I made some of the bread from my gluten-free cooking course, and although mixing the stuff for 4 minutes by hand may not SOUND like much, trust me, it’s a complete nightmare. So I could justify the need.
I like to think that I’m fairly up with current technology. I’m reasonably IT savvy, operate my Blackberry efficiently, use an e-reader and a laptop, and I even have two blogs! I use social media and although I am still a paper diary user, that is only because I haven’t found an electronic system which works for me. And I couldn’t see that I would ever need to use a tablet – after all, I already have the smart(ish) phone, a laptop and an e-reader. Would I even use a tablet? Totally not for me!
I must now confess that I am being forced to eat my previous words. Two weeks ago, I attended a Leadership Council for work in Australia. At this council, they hired iPads for everyone who did not have one. One of our hot topics was digitization, and we were using a new internal social media tool called Tibbr. We were to use the iPads to post status updates, photos, video and the like to the Tibbr program to share in our new digital world.
Several people commented on how well I managed this new environment. I put up posts, I added photos and videos. What was interesting was that I had absolutely no trouble manouvering around Tibbr. What I did have trouble with was the iPad. I have used one before a little, and even set up one son’s android tablet for him. So I wasn’t a complete tyro. But oh my gosh! I couldn’t find the \ button. I couldn’t figure out how to open multiple applications. The whole swiping, making things bigger and smaller and most of all, when I lost the network connection, it took me a while to figure out where to look to fix it! It was a whole new world, and as I thought back to my six year olds (!!!) swiping and sorting and USING this tool so confidently, I felt just a little old, non-technical and out of touch.
I came away from that conference really wanting an iPad. But why? I still had all those devices that I previously owned and had decided were sufficient for my needs. And yet, I still WANTED one. I had to think about WHY this was. Am I just a consumer? Just an “I want the latest gadget and I want it now?” person? Here are my reasons for wanting an iPad:
- I can listen to music while I’m reading.
- I can take notes unobtrusively during conferences, meetings and so on.
- I can replace my existing paper diary to-do list.
- I can use our BYOD policy and get my emails on an iPad, as well as the aforementioned Tibbr application.
- I can do my blog on an iPad (which means getting an external keyboard as well, because I can’t type fast enough on the on-screen keypad). I can also take photos on it, which means I don’t take the photos on my Blackberry and then email them to myself, then save them to my hard drive, then upload them. On the downside, it is a little harder to transfer these photos from our proper camera.
- When I’m travelling, it’s a lot lighter than a laptop.
- I want to stay current with technology and feel I’m slipping behind.
- The iPad minis are way cool, and I would definitely go with a mini for a whole passel of reasons.
- I want one.
So there are some good reasons there, and some fairly pathetic ones 🙂 But are the good ones good enough or are they merely justifications for a selfish and unnecessary purchase?
Going back to our golden rule of finance – we only buy what we can afford – and we can’t afford both. These are both what I would class as luxury items. So which one do I go for – and can I actually justify either? Do I really need either? Well, simply put, no. Would an iPad be useful for my work (and by that, I include blogging and writing)? Sure. Would a benchtop mixer make it easier for me to do gluten-free baking, especially bread? Sure.
Is this totally a First World Problem? Absolutely, and I even feel a little guilty for debating this, while there are starving children in the world! Perhaps I should just give the money I would spend on this to a charity to help poor children in my country instead. And that leads me on to another thought – when did we become so obsessed by things? By the hoopiest gadget or the fastest car? Is it just human nature to want more, more, more all the time? Perhaps it’s time for me to learn how to live more simply and covet less stuff.
What do you think, gentle readers? Would you go for the iPad or the Kenwood mixer – or neither? Have you faced similar decisions around wants and needs, career versus personal life? What did you do?
Postscript: here I am a week or so later, and what do I now own? A very beautiful iPad mini with my name engraved on the back. I’ve taken my friend Rhonda’s very sensible advice and am saving for the Kenwood. My birthday isn’t until November, so I can ask friends to contribute, and by then, the model I want may have come down in price. Huzzah! A solution. And I’ve joined the iRevolution!