Are you a serial upgrader

So Mom Ninja rocked my socks off two days ago with a freakin’ awesome wedding present. A new TV! She had been tracking them for a while and when she saw a killer deal on a Samsung 46″ LCD TV, marked down over $400, she jumped on it like a fat kid jumps on cake. Next thing I knew, I had a TV in my possession. Go mom ninja!

The new TV was a huge upgrade for me as I went from this piece of junk…

to this glorious conglomeration of awesomness…

Needless to say, I made a serious upgrade in the television department via mom ninja’s generosity. Since this whole wedding/moving process means acquiring a ton of new stuff (i.e waffle maker, food processor, decorations) I can’t help but wonder what things Girl Ninja and/or I will upgrade on a consistent basis. As always, I made a list, and here’s what I came up with.

Cell Phones:

I swear the cell phone companies design these things to break at the two year mark. My iPhone 3G is three months shy of its second birthday, and it seems that each new day brings a slight decline in performance. My “home” button only works if you push it extremely hard, many of my apps take AGES to open, and the battery life is rapidly degrading. I’ve had a cell phone for the last 10 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one for longer than it’s contract. I am a serial cell phone upgrader.


Similar to cell phones, my computers  also seem to crap out every few years. I’ve had my Macbook now for almost three years and the CD/DVD drive is completely dead. It makes a horrible clicking sound every time I open the screen, and it’s becoming painfully slow. Computers are exponentially increasing in awesomeness and if your computer is more than a few weeks old, it is already outdated. I’m sure Girl Ninja and I will be buying a new computer every three or so years for as long as we live.


Girl Ninja flew to Seattle yesterday to finish off all the last minute wedding preparations. This means I’m left to fend for myself in San Diego for the next two weeks. On Sunday, we moved all of Girl Ninja’s stuff in to our new place. For now we are planning on using her Full size mattress and frame, but will eventually upgrade to a queen. I’ve slept two nights now in Girl Ninja’s bed (without her), and let me tell you… Homegirl has some incredible bedding. Her sheets are honestly the most comfortable sheets I’ve ever slept in. Now that I know what high quality bedding feels like, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever go back to those crappy 100 thread-count sheets from Big Lots.


Anyone that does a lot of writing for work will be able to vouch for me on this one. There is nothing worse than writing with a  spotty pen. I love a pen that bleeds a little as I write. For Christmas, a few years back, Sister Ninja got me a Kross pen. For those that are unfamiliar, Kross is like the Lamborghini of pens. It gracefully glides across my piece of paper with every movement of my hand. A nice pen goes a long way in making my work day more enjoyable.

Sure, there are plenty of other things I will consistently upgrade throughout my life, but these four things are my priority. I can tell you there are definitely some things I plan to rarely upgrade (i.e car, clothes, iPods, sound systems, video game systems, etc).

So, reader, what are some things in your life you “serially” upgrade? On the flippy floppy, what are some things you keep forever?

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29 thoughts on “Are you a serial upgrader”

  1. As a general rule, I upgrade anything that I plan owning for me more than a few years. So yeah, I’ll drop major coin on bedding, mattresses, furniture, appliances, sporting equipment, home improvements.

    Things I don’t upgrade are Electronics. Technology is changing at such a fast pace, that I’d rather buy the cheapest TV or computer and upgrade sooner. Plus, like you said, electronics usually crap out before you’re “done” using them. That drives me crazy by the way.

    I also cheap out on clothing..I’m still on the fence of whether it’s worth spending more so they’ll last longer.

    • The more clothing cost, the greater the chance you’ll have to dry clean them. A $70 wool sweater will last/look better longer than the $20 cotton sweater but you won’t be able to just toss them in the wash.

      I usually cheap out on “investment” pieces like suits and dressy dresses because I wear them maybe once every year or something. T-shirts and cardigans I wear, practically every day, so I don’t mind paying more for them. Nothing sucks more than having to go on a hunt for the perfect gray cardigan, again, because the one I own fell apart in the wash.

  2. We tend to go through cell phones predictably about every two years. I think they engineer them to fall apart around that time. That irritates me.

    I’ve gotten into upgrading some TVs. We upgraded the small countertop kitchen TV last winter, and I just upgraded our bedroom TV after seeing an awesome deal (also on a Samsung, which totally rocks).

    I try to stick with computers as long as possible. I find that doing an upgrade here and a rebuild of the OS there often extends the longevity by a couple of years.

    Honestly, your list isn’t that bad at all. Think of the people that apply the same upgrade principle to things like cars and housing!

  3. My strategy is to purchase what I want at the best price at the time of purchase, but as nice as I can afford at the time. I had a Pioneer stereo home stereo that lasted for 15 years until the changers finally gave out. My cell phone (Palm Treo) cost $200 3 years ago, it still works great, last week I bought a new battery and it is going strong again. I replaced my 6 yr old Dell with a netbook last year, and the netbook was very affordable, and I can’t imagine a full sized laptop now. I bought my flatscreen 2 Christmases ago on major markdown… will keep it until it dies. I have had my leather sofa and chaise lounge for 7 years, still look new because they are high quailty and leather so easy to maintain. Same for my cars, I keep until they die. I guess I am not much of a serial upgrader at all.

  4. I don’t tend to be a serial upgrader. I got my first cell phone about 4 years ago (I know, I’m a Luddite), and I kept it until my husband bought me my iPhone for my birthday a couple of months ago. I had lusted after the iPhone since they came out, but insisted that I wouldn’t buy one until my simple flip phone died. If not for the gift I’d still have it. I have had the same car for 5 years with the hope of keeping it another 2-3 (it already has high mileage-I drive a lot for work). We have a TV we’ve had since I met my husband, 13 years ago. We just had to upgrade our mattress after 10 years, and that was well worth it (and likely overdue). I had a laptop during grad school that I babied for 4 years (it literally would just turn off without notice at the end of its life. I insisted that it had to last me until my dissertation defense. It did. Then it wouldn’t even turn on.) I just tend to keep stuff until it doesn’t work anymore (and then for a bit longer while I convince myself that I should part with my money).

  5. Running shoes – I know that sounds funny because running shoes are meant to wear out after 300-500 miles, but for some reason mine just don’t feel right after 150 miles. So I am constantly upgrading – then going back to the old one to try to squeeze out a few more miles. I know runners who run the same amount that I do and keep one pair of shoes for 4 months. I upgrade and rotate 6 pairs at any given time and go through about 10 pairs a year!
    Shampoo – I buy new shampoo WAY more often then I need it. I like variety. It’s the spice of life, and I am constantly upgrading!
    Sunglasses are something that I keep forever though! I have had the same pair of Maui-Jim (to be fair, they are super nice and expensive) sunglasses for 8 years! I have gotten others since, a 5 year old pair of D&Gs and a new pair of ray-bans, but it’s not really an upgrade as much as it is adding to a collection of nice things that will stay nice for as long as I own them!

  6. I use the same approach as Mary M. But one weakness I have is blenders. I am the Smoothie Queen (whole family loves them) and we have them almost daily. Trying to get children to consume less sugar…you get creative.

    So I don’t skimp on blenders.

  7. there are a few things that i seem to upgrade consistently. one is defintiely videogame systems, i usually buy them a year or so after their release and then keep it until a year or so after the next generation of consoles is released. I am also a serial watch collector, and i dont think ill ever be able to go cheap on a watch again after getting my first Movado a couple of years ago.
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  8. I am with you on the cell phones though. Honestly I think that they make it so that it is impossible to have a phone for more than 2 years. The iPhone 4 is pretty sweet, so thhere’s an upgrade waiting for you there 🙂

    I like to upgrade electronics pretty often too. One thing I hate is when the makers drop the price of something I just bought or announce an upgrade which has more features and is cheaper. I hate it hate it hate it when that happens. So that makes me wary of buying something big.

    One thing I hope I don’t upgrade often is my car. I have a pretty sweet car that I bought new. I hope I can drive that for years to come!

  9. When you say ‘upgrade,’ do you mean ‘replace regularly,’ or do you mean ‘splurge for the best?’

    I regularly replace things that wear out quickly. Certain clothes (e.g., underwear, socks), pens, sponges, toothbrushes, and the like.

    I splurge for the best (not necessarily most expensive, but at least well-made) on things that will last — suits and separates for work, furniture, A/V system, large appliances.

    And I hold onto computers and phones as long as I can. I’m still using a five-year-old laptop, and generally keep a cell phone for about 4 or 5 years.

  10. I feel like phones crap out for me after a year! Or something goes wrong, and I have to get it replaced thru my phone insurance which costs me a $100 deductable. I’m sure I read before you’re an iphone user so I’m sure that sucks even more since I’ve heard you can’t insure them? I’ve had my android phone since October and already had it replaced once (luckily it was a defect so I only paid shipping) maybe I’m an abusive texter?

    What makes me more angry about the cell phone situation, I’ve been with T-Mobile since 06 and my plan is about $95, but if I want to switch back to Blackberry or providers everything now will probably be WAY more expensive for the stuff I get with T-Mobile.

    I just got a new Macbook this year, so I really hope it lasts a long time! My last PC laptop still works but is in really crappy condition, I used it for about 5 years.

  11. When I say upgrade, I mean replace do to being old or current being broken. Electronics, video games systems, TV, Cell phones etc. Happen in cycles. I always sell my old items on e-bay if in still good working condition for some extra coin. I just went through a round of kitchen appliances upgrades. Refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven. The older ones I had for over 10 years and were all breaking down. That was a big cost, but with energy saving and rebates was worth it in the end.

  12. Love your reaction about Girl Ninja’s bedding! My husband had the same reaction when he realized the difference between his old stuff and my stuff/our wedding stuff. Pretty soon you’ll be feeling good about those throw pillows for the bed, too…promise 🙂

    As far as upgrading goes…the wedding was when most of it happened (cookware, dishes, furniture, etc.). The rest of the time we just make do with what we have!

  13. Wow! I can’t believe that so many people replace their phone that often. I still have my Nokia “brick” from high school – its maybe 11 years old. Maybe older?

    I do have a small, nice wardrobe. About 20 really nice pieces.

    When me and my husband first moved in together, literally everything we owned was from Goodwill. All furniture was less than $100. We spent several years replacing stuff as needed and as we saved up money. We have a six figure income (23), but decor was just not as important to us as starting our marriage off by setting the tone for our life together.

    Also, the theme of our $6,500 wedding was marriage!

    But I really believe that its worth it to upgrade to solid wood furniture we’ve built our self that will last a lifetime. And we bought a decent, new mattress after the first year together. (A crappy one was fine for the first year!)

    That said, we do spend some money on travel! I couldn’t believe that you and GN had never left the country. We’ve been to Latin America, and backpacked from Scotland to Russia! So I guess I “upgrade” on travel? Although we camp and hostel the whole way…

    • Thank God someone else looks at cell phones the way I do. I still actually own my very first cell phone from 2000, a nokia “brick” like you said. I don’t use it anymore because I “upgraded” to my husband’s “brick” from 2003 when he got a Palm Treo for work. I would love to upgrade to a cool new phone, but I can’t stomach paying all the costs associated with the new phone/plan. So I keep my brick til it dies.

      I thought I was going to have to replace it when the mic stopped working about a year ago. But my husband just beat the phone against the coffee table a few times, and it started working again.

      That said, we had to replace the Treo after 2 years because he dropped it and the screen broke. But I still was making him use it prior to that even though the external speaker/ringer broke. Makes life interesting when your cell phone can’t ring, it just vibrated.

  14. I’m the opposite of a serial upgrader, but hubby isn’t. My motto is “if it ain’t broke, or even if it’s just a little broke, don’t worry about it…if it’s smoking, we may need a new one.”

    Hubby’s motto is “OOH, OOH, did you see the new Prius, whoo-hoo baby!” or “You know, our 47 inch tv is awesome, but did you see Paul’s 60 inch?” or “Yeah, our house works right now, but we need a big, open game room space in the future.” Luckily, he likes being financially solvent so he doesn’t follow through on his whims. 🙂

    Let’s see, our cell phones are the free ones that come with signing a 2 year contract, so they are usually 2 years-3 years old by the time we do that…they’ve been upgrading themselves, but we don’t pay for any extras like smart phones or anything.

    Hubby builds a new gaming computer every 3 years or so for $300-$1200 depending on what’s salvagable from his old one. His current computer has 4 times the memory of our newest laptop.

    For laptops, the Gateway I got as a graduation present in 2005 is still working although the screen doesn’t brighten up anymore and the battery life is about 15 minutes. The Toshiba we bought in mid-2008 for $530 is going strong and still has a battery life of 3 hours…that’s my baby.

    We bought our Magnavox 47 inch LCD flatscreen during a Thanksgiving sale in 2007 for $1100 and it’s still perfect. We won’t replace it until it dies.

    I got my digital camera two years ago for $120 and sold the one I had for the 2 1/2 years previously on Craigslist for $50. My “new” one is a tiny 10mp with anti-shake and I abslutely adore it and hope it never dies.

    I also bought the Wii for hubby the Christmas it came out (2006) for about $299 I think and he uses it and our Playstation 2 when he isn’t PC Gaming or in grad school, lol.

    Now cars…I hate my car and hope it dies so I can allow myself to get a new-to-me one, but it’s only 5 years old so I hopefully have a while (I hate car payments). Hubby hated his last car enough that he bought a used Prius in 2008 about 3 weeks after the last car was paid off. We just paid off the Prius and so far, he doesn’t want to replace it yet. I’m going to literally give birth to a cow if he tries talking me into a new car any sooner than 2015.

    So, I guess we don’t upgrade often. I want a solid 5-6 years out of all expensive electronics and 7-8 years out of cars…I’d wish for longer but I know my husband too well to think he’ll go 10-15 years in one vehicle…

  15. We recently SERIOUSLY upgraded both cars, but at least my husband’s won’t get replaced until he decides to make it strictly a “car show” car instead of a daily driver. At which point, he will probably get the one I have now. I don’t think we will ever upgrade mine to a much higher level than it is now, a 4 yr old, low mileage used car. I don’t see the point.

    I am a lot like sarah in that I like to upgrade on travel. I especially like nice accomadations. I tend to use all the money that would normally go to the plane tickets and put it into staying at a nicer place/nicer location.

    I tend to be an extremely frugal person on most other things. We only got a new sofa when the Kmart futon sofa we had been using broke to the point we couldn’t repair it. I’d like nicer furniture, I just won’t spend money on it while I’m trying to pay down debt. (cars not withstanding)

  16. You expect to upgrade your computer every three years!? That is insane to me! I had a Gateway laptop (aka Poor Quality Machine) for four years before it gave up the ghost. I upgraded to a MacBook Pro, and I have high expectations for this machine. 5 years+ expectations.

    The only thing I look to be consistently upgrading is my cell phone. And actually, I don’t want to UPGRADE as much as I’ll be forced to. I’m 100% satisfied with my LG enV2, but the direction of most cell phone providers is to require a data package ($20 – $30 extra each month!) and to make the phones all technology-crazy. I just need a QWERTY keyboard. No touch screen. No Internet capabilities. I’ll probably end up buying my enV2 on eBay every time it dies just to avoid the fancy phones. And if Verizon ever makes a data package mandatory? I’ll be giving up my cell phone.

  17. I pretty much don’t upgrade…I am on an insane frugal kick, trying to save 1 to 2 thousand dollars per month BAM! straight into my savings account and so all of these things are less attractive to me. The thing that is hard, is how quickly technology depreciates in value! I have a desktop computer, and when I leave for Europe I would certainly like to pull in some cash by selling things…but seriously, who wants a slow desktop computer with a noisy fan while it is on, or a 2 year old i pod shuffle? I even have a discman! Oh dear…this technology won’t be my cash source that is for sure.

  18. For me, there are two things I like to upgrade:

    1) Mattresses. If you’re spending 1/3 of your life asleep, a good mattress is important.
    2) Phones. I’m new to this approach of wanting to upgrade, but I too find phones break down in about 2 years.

  19. phones, sporting equipment and drum equipment. My approach previously has been looking for the new magical piece of equipement that will make me a professional athlete/musician when I should have been focused of practicing

    • Benjamin, the more I see your comments all over (including on my blog), the more you make me smile. You have a different approach on stuff or something that catches me offguard. Just wanted you to know that you have a fan.

  20. I definitely try to hold onto cell phones as long as I can, and with how often my best friend replaces hers (1-2/year!!), I don’t think every 2 years is all that much! I’ve had phones for as long as 3 years, but generally they stop working properly or they don’t have a key feature that everyone else seems to have gotten about 5 years ago (I was one of those people who didn’t have text messaging for the LONGEST TIME lol).

    I spend good $$ on electronics that I know I will keep (TVs, computers), bedding (sleeping is one of my favorite activities, why not?! lol), and maybe you could include clothes in there but I don’t actually spend a lot since I’m a real bargain hunter! haha.

  21. With the buzz around the new iPhone not being worth the upgrade, I actually wrote a post on why I delay the “upgrade” process for EVERYTHING as long as possible (cell phones, iPods, cameras, tv’s)! Cuz at the end of the day, your quality of life doesn’t really need minimal $100 improvements every 6 months…I try to keep it to at least 2 years so when it’s an upgrade, I can actually appreciate the difference – you know? Plus it’s so much cheaper!

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