What I learned from Steve Jobs

Before You Buy: Think Different

by Hannah Walton

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My husband recently finished reading the Steve Jobs (the founder of Apple) biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. My husband shared many of the odd or interesting things Steve Jobs did that set him apart from others.

He recently told me that Jobs, one of the richest men in the world, lived in a nearly empty house because he couldn't decide what to buy. He couldn't decide what to buy because he was both a minimalist and a perfectionist. He didn't want to fill his house with things he didn't need or weren't of a high quality.

This perfectionism and minimalism is clearly reflected in the iPod, a highly functioning music player with only one button. I believe Steve Jobs is an example of frugality because he produced uncomplicated, quality products that were made to last. Although buying Apple products may be more expensive, you know you are buying something you will use for a long time.

I, too, have started to "think different" before I make a purchase. I am using the Steve Jobs approach to consumerism by asking myself the following two questions before I open my wallet:

  1. Do I really need it? I recently ran out of paper towels. I was about to rush out to the store and spend money we really didn't have that day. But I stopped for a moment and thought, "Do I really need paper towels? What did people do before paper towels?" I thought about it. They used cloth rags, which I had in surplus. I haven't bought paper towels since.
  2. If I really need it, is it the best I can afford? Can I wait a little while longer until I can buy something of a better quality that will last a lot longer (and thus save me money!). I recently took stock of the various kitchen gadgets (utensils, appliances, etc.) that I have accumulated over the past 13 years since striking out on my own at 18. I found that the things I still had were the things that had cost more and had been of a higher quality (although I still haven't found a decent, long lasting can opener!). Every time I bought a nicer spatula or spoon, I saved money in the end because I didn't have to buy it again.

This is how Steve Jobs approached everything. It's a good way to do it. Think different before you buy. Think Steve Jobs style. It worked for him.

Hannah Walton is a mom, wife, restaurant manager, philosopher and cheapskate.

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