$4,000 Budget for 4 Years - What Do You Do?

— 3 minute read

Hypothetical situation 1 a friend is struggling with that could use some nerd advice.

The Situation permalink

You're employed at a job that allows you to, more or less, decide what pieces of technology you're going to use with the following limitations:

  • You have a $4,000 budget
  • The $4,000 has to last 4 years

Assumptions permalink

Disregarding all sorts of questions that this kind of question inevitably brings up (What happens if your computer breaks down? What if there's a nuclear war?), here's a few assumptions and limitations:

  • It's a Mac environment. 2
  • Cell phone device/contract also comes out of the budget. Cell phone is required.
  • Mobility is important but not critical.(i.e. an iPad for mobility with a desktop computer is an option)
  • The ability to do presentations with a projector (projector already in place)
  • Let's just pretend that taxes and extra cell charges aren't included
  • The office already has a printer, network, internet, etc.

What I'd Recommend permalink

  • 11" MacBook Air ($1,199, 1.6GHz i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
  • 22" Monitor to leave at the desk ($260?)
  • iPhone 4S ($159 purchase price, 3 year data plan $50x36 months = $1,800)

You're at $3,418 so far and haven't picked up any extra software, mouse, bag, etc. The 11" MacBook Air, to me, gives you the best trade-off of a portable (i.e. iPad) while still having the full functionality of a computer. Plus the ability to hook it up to a projector or larger monitor if that's needed is nice. 3

It's a tough task to try to account for technology over 4 years. It's good to think about and have restrictions - but $4k over 4 years feels a bit unrealistic for a modern office worker.

What Would You Recommend? permalink

I've temporarily turned on comments below because I'd love to hear some discussion on what people would do.

Comments of "buy a Linux laptop with Windows 98" will be properly filed.

  1. That is not at all hypothetical. 
  2. I'm really happy you enjoy Linux/Windows/etc. & that you can save money by buying something with poorer quality components and more viruses. But I don't really care. 
  3. Keynote iOS is nice but it's not there yet for the average user who still wants more than Apple's minimal vision for what presentations should look like.