A Gadget, a Marital Dispute

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My in-laws came to town yesterday, which inevitably means one thing: my husband and his father will go on a pilgrimage to Adorama, a famous camera store near our house. In the morning, I went on a bike ride and forgot to check my phone. When I got back, I had six missed calls from my husband, and I learned we were the proud owners of a new, $1,200 Nikon D90.

"Can I keep it?" he asked.

"Absolutely not," I said.

"But we need a camera," he said. "And it's a great deal because it's a floor model—usually this would cost $1,600."

It's true—we do need a camera. We always borrow my father-in-law's camera whenever we go on trips. For a while, we borrowed his D40. Then he upgraded to a D80 and we borrowed that. Then he sold the D80 and upgraded to a D90 and we borrowed that. It was easy enough, because they live only two hours away. But that era is about to end, because my in-laws are moving to Massachusetts. And we are left without so much as a point-and-shoot. Without so much as a cell phone camera.

It's nice having a camera that takes great photos without much effort. And photography is something of a hobby for Jon, so having a good camera is important to him. I wavered a bit. I want to buy a nice bike; he should get a nice camera. And if we're going to spend the money on this camera eventually, we might as well spend it now, in time to use the camera at the wedding we're going to in May. Eventually, however, I sent him back to Adorama with the unopened box. Here's why:

1. I think these decisions have to be made jointly, no matter what. Even if we go back to Adorama and buy the camera next week, I want it to happen after we've made the decision together. I've avoided buying a new bike, because we haven't saved for it yet. We should do the same with the camera.

2. In the old days, from what I hear, people saved up money before they made a big purchase, instead of using credit cards. This strikes me as a good policy. We have a little credit card debt from a recent vacation, and I'd like to pay that off before planning for our next big purchase.

3. The longer you wait to buy something new, the lower your lifetime spending will be. This is an idea I got from the Ultimate Cheapskate. If we only buy four cameras in our lives instead of five, ten laptops instead of 12, then we'll save a lot of money.

4. Umm, my father-in-law is giving us the D40. I learned this after a half hour of discussion, and took about a second and a half to make my final decision. Okay, the D40 is not as good as the D90. But we're young. There's a recession going on. We can wait to acquire some of the finer things in life.

Have you ever fought over a gadget with your spouse?

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Last updated: Apr 27, 2009




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