Frugalize Your Big Purchases


One of the things Mr. Fi and I wanted to do this year was buy a second laptop. We’ve been successfully sharing one for well over a year but lately we’ve been each wanting to use the laptop at the same time, all the time. Enough was enough and a couple of months ago Mr. Fi said he was buying me a laptop for Christmas. Although the idea thrilled me (I mean, who doesn’t love shiny, new electronics?), the other part thought, “I don’t want to drop a few hund-o on a new laptop just because we want one. How can we ‘frugalize’ this?”

So after a quick brainstorming sesh, we came up with the following ways to frugalize the purchase of a new laptop thus eliminating what I like to call “my shopping guilt.”

Take Advantage of Company Rewards

My company, as I’ve mentioned before, is a meritocracy where raises and “bonuses” depend on how well we do our jobs. I say “bonuses” because we don’t receive traditional bonuses at my job. In true meritocratic fashion, a job done well done comes with recognition by another party within the company. They will award a certain amount of money that can then be applied to a select suite of gift cards. This means no real bump to my paycheck at the end of the year.

While I’d rather have cash to invest in our future, this has been pretty helpful throughout the year to pay for things like: our kitchen remodel, lawn and garden projects (Home Depot/Lowe’s gift cards), presents for birthdays and Christmas (Amazon/iTunes/you get the idea), as well as other miscellaneous home and clothing accessories we might want or need throughout the year. So when Mr. Fi said he was ready to get a laptop, this was the first idea that came to mind. I’m good at my job and knew I could get some awards in the next couple of months–yes.

Use those Gift Cards

Mr. Fi also received a couple of gift cards over the holiday that we’d been holding on to. We’ve gotten really good at only buying things that we actually need and not spending frivolously, even when it comes to “free money” such as gift cards.

Sell Your Old Stuff

The idea of bringing new electronics into the house triggered our realization of how many old electronics we still had sitting around, not being used. For example, I had an iPod I bought back in 2008 before my trip to Europe that probably hadn’t been used since 2010. We had an older Kindle Fire that we had recently replaced by a new Fire because it was on super-sale, and because the old Kindle’s battery life was less than ideal. Mr. Fi also had his Verizon Galaxy S3 that was WiFi-use-only since we switched to Cricket months ago.

Finally, there was my brand-new (not refurbished) replacement phone from Motorola that Mr. Fi alluded to selling in his earlier post already packed up and ready to go (I had vowed never to use another Motorola product again by the time we received the replacement and had already replaced it with a new iPhone. If you have anything Motorola, beware, their customer service is the absolute worst). After months (years in the case of my iPod) of putting it off, we finally put these items on eBay and just like that, we had more cash in our account and less clutter in our office.

Cash in Your Credit Card Points

As stated in not one, but two credit card posts, we’re big advocates of responsible credit use. And one of the uses we love is points towards stuff we need. Just like we’ve done for our flights in the past, we decided to apply our credit card points towards the new computer. It wasn’t much, but our Chase card got us $35 put towards the laptop.

Wait for the Best Deal

Once we had our idle items sold and our gift cards accumulated, all we had left to do was wait for the computer to become “in-stock” on Amazon. After researching and determining how I’d use my new computer, Mr. Fi decided on the Toshiba Chromebook 2 – 2015 Edition.

Almost everything I do is on the internet (blogging, Instagram, Netflix, etc.), so a computer that focuses on this as well was the way to go.

  • Chromebook Job Award Money: $150
  • X-mas Gift Cards: $50
  • eBay Income: $139.37
  • Credit Card Points: $35.08
  • Laptop: $329.99
  • Total: +$44.46.

That’s right, we came out ahead! Frugalize for the win! I have a beautiful, new laptop that I use every day since its arrival while simultaneously ridding ourselves of unneeded things.

I now have the decluttering/selling bug (poor hubs has no idea what he started) and I plan on getting rid of things and adding to the total amount above until we at least match the price difference between the old phone and the new iPhone I purchased to replace it.

Do you have a need to frugalize your purchases through coupons, gift cards, etc. (or is that just me)?

Do you have any examples of how you did this? We’d love to hear from you!


  1. Logan @ Millionaires in Ten

    My wife has started asking about a laptop for herself. Since 2012, the only laptop we’ve had is my work one. I bring it home with me everyday to use it as a personal laptop when I’m not at work. Work has no issues with this. I also have a Chromebook that’s been sitting on my desk for a while, so I brought that home for her to play with. I figured I shouldn’t keep a work Chromebook at home that was never really assigned to me, so I thought if she liked it and would use it enough, it may be worth spending $180ish for a new Chromebook on Amazon. She uses her iPhone for must stuff, but I don’t blame her for getting sick of mobile websites and wanting the full experience again. Not to mention, there are several regular websites she visits that are impossible to use on a phone.

    1. Post
      Mrs. FI

      That’s so nice that your work has no issue with using your work laptop for personal use. Mine most definitely does have an issue with it, so it’s work and some occasional Googling only on that laptop. I totally know how your wife feels when it comes to getting tired of only being able to look at things on her phone. If she’s thinking about a Chromebook, I love mine so far. I have a Kindle to help alleviate the small screen issue, but neither of these gadgets allowed me to write blog posts or comment on other people’s blogs very easily – and that was just unacceptable 😉

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your computer-buying endeavors!

  2. Fervent Finance

    I actually haven’t bought any fancy gadgets in a long time. My iPhone and laptop are provided by work (I actually get a new laptop in a couple months, so pretty excited). And I think my last big gadget purchase was my iPad back in 2011 when I bought it as a “reward” to myself for passing the CPA exam. I think you guys did a great frugal job at buying the laptop!

    1. Post
      Mrs. FI

      Ugh, I wish I could use my work laptop for personal things but my employers are super strict about what we can use our laptops for. I believe I’m in the same boat as you are now where I don’t need to buy any other gadgets for a while. I have a laptop, phone and kindle. I’m set 😉 Thanks for commenting!

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