Purchases: Week of 9-22-19

The reason for these posts

I’ve long been meaning to force myself to justify any purchase before I make it. I’m not a terribly impulsive person in the sense of buying things on a whim (far from it in fact; I probably actually have a tendency to over-research everything), so the reasoning behind this is less to minimize frivolous spending and more to leave me a record of the reasoning that went into purchase decisions so that if I need to make a similar purchase again in the future (or give advice to someone else concerning a similar purchase), I will have something to go on.

With this being said, there have been a few times that I did buy things with one idea, only to realize that I had been somewhat blinded by my desires and optimism. For example:

  • I did a lot of research on good value-longboards (thinking I’d skate to my college classes), only to realize after I’d bought one that the hilly terrain on my college campus made this a very poor idea unless it were to be an electric longboard with brakes. Oops.
  • I compared all the forms of low-impact cardio that I could think of, intending to replace running (which is high-impact) with a different form of exercise that is less hard on the body over time. I spent weeks weighing variables like fun value, safety, portability (particularly if the form of exercise can be traveled with via plane), and so on. I settled on inline skating and skipping rope. While I’ve stuck with the latter, after sinking a few weeks into inline skating, I realized that it wasn’t a good match for me after all, since the braking techniques that I thought would make inline skating more workable than longboarding (as above) were still too skill-based for my desired level of safety, particularly when I was pushing myself hard during exercise. Now, I had unfortunately dropped quite a bit of money on skates with specialty frames and carbon boots by this point.
  • After much research, I modified some Gateron clear key switches by adding trimmed springs to create key switches with extremely low actuation force, intending to use these for a dual-use stenography and typing input device. I then sent these off to a guy who assembles (solders, flashes custom firmware, etc.) split keyboards from PCB kits. Very soon after I received the completed board, I realized that my idea of combining steno and typing was fundamentally flawed, and it wasn’t going to work. (One of the USB connectors for the microcontroller also came detached – QC issues from assembly it seems. I was unhappy about this too). More money down the drain.
  • One summer in college, having been inspired by a couple friends, I decided I was going to pick up guitar. I did tons of research into good starting acoustic guitars and ancillary gear (like cases, stands, capos, tuners, etc.), and then picked up the model I settled on from a local Guitar Center. After a couple weeks making decent progress, I got stuck on the F barre chord, and realized that my dreams of somehow getting good while blowing off steam and goofing around were unrealistic given the amount of time I had: three majors doesn’t leave much extra. I’m honestly pretty terrible at staying mediocre at things (I either spend the time and effort to get good, or drop them entirely), so after weighing my time and priorities, I ended up returning the guitar in the return window (thanking the Guitar Center people profusely!), and resolved to not be so careless in the future.

At any rate, I don’t really consider any of the above cases impulse purchases. In each and every case I had done my homework: I was buying solid gear priced reasonably for valid reasons. Yet I still got burned because I had missed some important variable. With some hindsight, I think it would have been possible to catch the important factors that I ended up missing if I had been more systematic in my reasoning, and, importantly, wrote it up rigorously. I still have large collections of links concerning each of these purchases from my research sessions at the time, but the fact that I myself never sat down and wrote out what my goals were and how they would be met by the given purchase meant that I faced some nasty surprises when something that I had considered at some point but not rigorously factored into the decision ended up making things unworkable.

These blog posts, aside from the primary reason mentioned above (namely, to leave a log of my reasoning behind purchases so that I can refer back to it when making another similar purchase myself or pointing someone else in the right direction), will also thus hopefully help me avoid situations like the four above.

Posting these purchase logs on the blog is just so that anyone else who finds my thoughts helpful can benefit.


I buy most things on Amazon. I’ve talked about Amazon before. For this reason, most links will probably be to products on Amazon. At the present time, these are not affiliate links.

This week

(For the record, I don’t average anywhere near this much in a given week. I try to cluster my purchases so that there is less waste in shipping).

Honestly, most of the stuff this week is kind of boring (nowhere near as large in magnitude as things discussed before), but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.


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