Is It Morally Okay to Keep Updating My Things?

"I’m not that old, but it seems like a lifetime ago that it was acceptable to keep things until they were broken. Now if my phone is more than a year old or if I haven’t remodeled my kitchen in the past decade, I’m out of date. Is there a moral right or wrong to this consuming of new and updated models of stuff?" - TGC

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Larry Nelson's picture

People gently chide me all the time for just the opposite: keeping technology long past its point of obsolescence.  I get comments about my old flip phone, my 27" television with a big CRT picture tube (circa 1995), not to mention the VHS machine still connected to it........well, you get the idea.........

Dave White's picture

https://www.thebalance.com/home-maintenance-budget-453820

One popular says that one percent of the purchase price of your home should be set aside each year for ongoing maintenance. For example, if your home cost $300,000, you should budget $3,000 per year for maintenance.

Of course, this popular rule has its limitations. Your market timing doesn’t impact your maintenance budget. If you happened to buy your home at the peak of the housing bubble, your maintenance costs won’t skyrocket. Similarly, if you bought your home at a steep discount at the bottom of the housing market, your maintenance budget shouldn’t be affected.

Our home is 25 years old and we have been in it for almost all of those 25 (23 years):

  • The early years ... near zero
  • Now much more. This year replacing 120 square yards of old carpeting 
  • Seems expensive, but it will either be well maintained by me or have to be brought current when it is sold
  • Last year we had to replace the driveway apron because it had subsided and water was flowing against the foundation and endangered the foundation with the freeze - thaw cycle
Bert Perry's picture

The author gives away the game when he notes that if he didn't update his phone for ten years, he'd "miss out on a lot".  That's really the thing that people drive marketing with, starting with the classic example of women's fashion, and that's the thing that you've got to watch out for.  Would one be "missing out" on things that really improve the quality of life, or would one simply be making money for the phone/computer/etc.. company?

I'm also one of those who will tend to use items until they can no longer be repaired, and one thing that strikes me is that since I get things repaired, I've got the time to find high quality items instead of just rushing out to Kohl's/Macy's/Target/Scheel's to get inferior quality goods.  Everybody makes fun of my phone, but nobody cares that the hammer in my hand belonged to my great grandfather, or that the sportcoat I'm wearing dates back to the 1960s, or that my favorite bike is from 1977.  Or, rather, they see that I, unlike them, can ride 20 miles, pound a nail well, and am warm on a day that they're flat out freezing. 

It doesn't mean I'm any more or less worldly than they are, but once I divorce myself from the tyranny of the new, I'm free to make choices that make sense with where I am in life.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

It's a Schwinn!  Specifically, a LaTour III made for Schwinn by Panasonic--actually my second one.  My parents had identical bikes, and gave them to me as my dad got a newer bike and as my mom got cancer. The first one had the frame break right down by the bottom bracket after many years of hard riding.  My brother, of course, made clear it was because I weigh about 20 lbs more than he does.  :^)

One of the most comfortable bikes I've ever had--like you say, steel is real.  The downsides are that the wheels are steel too (weight and braking), and the rear wheel is narrower than most of what is available today.  So when that wheel goes, it's either Ebay or retirement for it.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Andrew K's picture

An interesting question, but we should keep in mind as well that companies actively incentivize this behavior by intentionally selling us products that don't last but a few years.

Have any of you actually tried breaking out an "old" smartphone from the drawer, for example, and seeing if it's still fully functional? You may be surprised.

Here's another example I just saw earlier:

https://www.howtogeek.com/405153/youll-have-to-replace-your-160-airpods-...

Joeb's picture

Im no clothes horse so I don’t have a lot of clothes.  My house was pretty much redone when I purchased it and the sellers had one child, but in almost 20 years 3 boys and I girl put a lot of wear and tear on my house. It’s held together with bailing wire and duct tape.  

Of course all my duck hunting gear is wearing out but that part of my life is ending. I recently splurged on a new pair of hiking boots  The only new pair in ten years   They were on the expensive side because their made by Technika and are molded to your feet   

My daughter got married almost two years ago but I got off cheap on the wedding ie 10 Gs.  So all and all I don’t have anything extravagant or buy new electronic items a lot.  

I had to have a iPhone because I sold KIAs for 6 1/2 years so I needed to know how to pair phones and use the new infotainment systems.  Other than that I don’t really buy anything new gadget wise.  I have very few firearms for hunting.  Just two shotguns. Although these days my shooting STINKS.  

The only area treat myself is in the automobile I drive.  I lease my car a KIA  for three years.  I’m on my fourth lease.  I do splurge a little bit in this area.  I have the new Hybrid Niro Touring Model with the bigger wheels.

 I Love it and Love KIAs as a whole. I also love automobiles which developed from selling them for about 11 years.  The technology improvements have been amazing.  In fact you can see how our Lord blesses man despite his sins in the great engineering wonders he allows man to develop.  Hats off to you Bert.  Without you guys and God blessing your skills the US would be in deep do do.  

So I’d say like anything else the Lord wants us to enjoy his creation and the things the Lord lets man create.  However like anything that is with moderation and without getting addicted to it.   I had a Pastor one time who was really into electronic gadgets and by his own admission he had to really check himself, because he had a bad habit in the past of going into debt buying to many of the newest electronics.  So yes like anything to much could be morally wrong.  

PS. I deliver car parts for Nissan part time.  I get to see a lot of interesting automobiles.  I recently visited one of my fellow coworkers in car sales at a Toyota Dealership.  I started out selling Toyotas.  On the floor was a pretty loaded Highlander with the Sales price with the rebates applied off MSRP.  By knowing the approximate gross in that car I compared the price to the comparable new KIA Teleride large SUV.  The price difference at invoice less rebates for both vehicles was like $8000.00.  That’s a big difference.  If anyone is in the market for a large SUV I highly recommend you look at the new KIA SUV which is made in the US.  I was at the KIA dealership today and they are sold out of the new SUV.  

Bert Perry's picture

I recently lost my 6 year old phone, and tried to see whether the carrier would re-start my wife's old phone.  Too old, no dice.  That noted, I'm guessing someone working in cell phones and familiar with standards might point out why it's difficult to support the old and new technologies simultaneously--you'd get an argument about whether it was planned obsolescence or not.  One big thing to note is that the batteries wear out after being charged 500-1000 times (this applies to all batteries), so unless you want to keep a factory producing obsolete batteries, you're pretty much stuck replacing things.   So there is actually some physics and chemistry to why you can't keep your cell phone going like Grandma's old black rotary phone.  

On the flip side, your carmaker is required by law to provide parts for a given period after it's made--I think 10 years or something.  Important when your car didn't sell well enough to attract the attention of aftermarket vendors, which is why I kept my Chevy Venture only until it was 13, but my GMC pickup (far more popular/good with aftermarket) is still going at age 22.

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

 

Bert Perry wrote:

It's a Schwinn!  Specifically, a LaTour III made for Schwinn by Panasonic--actually my second one.  My parents had identical bikes, and gave them to me as my dad got a newer bike and as my mom got cancer. The first one had the frame break right down by the bottom bracket after many years of hard riding.  My brother, of course, made clear it was because I weigh about 20 lbs more than he does.  :^)

One of the most comfortable bikes I've ever had--like you say, steel is real.  The downsides are that the wheels are steel too (weight and braking), and the rear wheel is narrower than most of what is available today.  So when that wheel goes, it's either Ebay or retirement for it.  

Sounds fun Bert!