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Frugal Splurging – Oxymoron?

I do my fair share of coupon clipping. I try to take advantage of the CVS and Walgreens games as much as possible, and I haven’t paid for any toiletries since I started playing these games. I use cloth towels to wipe down my counters and wash them so that I don’t waste paper towels. At the same time, I’ve recently purchased a big screen TV, a ps3 and a brand new laptop. Despite splurging on these big tickets items, I still consider myself to be extremely frugal. Is it possible to make frugal splurges? Not only is it possible, but I believe it’s 100% necessary.

Current Computer Situation

I’ve already blogged about my frugal TV and ps3 purchases, so I’ll dive into my purchase of a new laptop to explain what I call frugal splurging. I’ll begin with why I need a new laptop. I currently have a desktop that I received as a graduation present from college in 2006. The problem is my desktop is that it’s in my spare bedroom/office, which is somewhere I don’t like to spend a whole lot of time hanging out.

I also have a laptop that I received as a graduation present from high school in 2002. This laptop is what I currently use for blogging and internet surfing. The problem with my laptop is that it’s 8lbs, doesn’t work unless it’s plugged in and the video card is messed up. Not exactly the best piece of machinery.

Do I Really Need a New Laptop?

I found myself wondering whether or not I really need a new laptop. I know that I really dislike not being able to move around with my laptop while I’m using it. Say I want to go work at the kitchen table rather than on the couch? I have to shut down, unplug and then restart my computer at the kitchen table. Quite the hassle. Also, I see myself being very active in online ventures for the foreseeable future. I would really like an uber portable laptop that I can bring to the library, or to use as a resource when I tutor.

Do I really need a new laptop though? My current laptop is capable of blogging. It has it’s limits, but it works. It has been serving it’s purpose for years now. In the end, I decided that the increased productivity and usefulness of having a laptop that can actually act as a laptop would outweigh the hefty purchasing price.

Research Your Purchase

The first step is to research what exactly you want to buy. To do this I listed everything I wanted my new laptop to be. I wanted it to be lightweight, portable, capable of surfing the internet and blogging and have a respectable battery time. I also wanted to pay as little as possible. The first set of criteria (lightweight and portable) pointed me towards the netbook/ultra-lightweight category. I visited the local best buy to check out netbooks and decided a 9-10″ screen just wasn’t going to cut it. This leaves me in the 12-13″ range to keep the weight down and enhance portability.

To keep costs down, I decided retailers like best buy and staples weren’t the place to buy my new laptop. All of the computers they sell have bells and whistles that are completely unnecessary for a machine that only has to surf the internet and word process. This took my search online. This is when I found the Dell Inspiron Mini 12.

Dell Mini 12

The Dell mini 12 is under 3 lbs with a 12″ screen size. It’s considered a netbook, but it sports a nearly full keyboard, which is necessary for blogging. It has a 6-cell battery that will provide over 4 hours of battery life. It has wireless built in and just enough processing to multitask with internet and music if I want. The best part is the price. Dell mini 12’s fully loaded, which really is bare bones compared to other laptops, cost around $600.

Waiting Game

Now for the waiting game, which is critical for frugal splurging. I know exactly how hard it can be to make your mind up that you are buying a new toy and then hold off for awhile.After deciding which laptop I wanted, I REALLY REALLY wanted it. I was so tempted to just buy the mini 12 at full price, but I held off. Playing the waiting game is crucial for frugal splurging. You have to wait for a sale, or a refurbished computer or a deal of some sort. Big ticket items allow for big time deals.

Waiting saved me money, not once, but twice. I had been checking the dell outlet and once a day to see if any deals were to be had. I also set up deal alerts at slickdeals. Last night, I found dell was having a President’s Day sale that would last through tomorrow. Last night, dell was offering $55 off a dell mini 12 with free shipping. I waited until today and found the sale was increased to $80 with free shipping. In the end, I paid $530 after tax with free shipping for a fully loaded dell mini 12. I’m super excited to get my new laptop (as I type this the fan comes on for the fifth time in five minutes).

Cash Back

One final way to make your splurge extra frugal. I always use cash back sites when purchasing products online. You might as well take free money when it’s offered. My favorite sites are cashbaq, ebates, mr. rebates and bigcrumbs, but I always check evreward to see which site is offering the best cash back deal. On my purchase mr. rebates was offering 3% back, which brings my final price to about $514.

Frugal Splurging

Yeah, it might be hard to see spending $514 as a frugal act. Most in fact would consider it to be splurging since my current laptop works. I consider it frugal splurging. My checklist for frugal splurging is as follows:

  1. Determine if you really need to make this purchase
  2. Research your purchase
  3. WAIT – a deal will come along
  4. Don’t forget your free money via cash back

By following my checklist, I was able to save nearly $150 with the sale price, free shipping and cash back.

I do consider myself to be frugal, but splurging is completely necessary. Life is too short to not splurge from time to time. Just make sure you go about splurging frugally!

What do you think? Do you believe in frugal splurging?

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