Technology Purchases: Pay Now or Later?
A cliché yet relevant question everyone has heard is, “Will I pay now or later,” but when does it apply and what does it really mean? People tend to think of it in business or financial terms, for they are often the easiest to understand; however, this question can impact your day-to-day life in more ways than you think.
So what does it mean and why should you care? Sometimes people say things that they don’t fully understand or grasp the concept of. They just “plug and play” clichés. The “pay now pay later” saying ultimately points to the fact that, regardless of the path you choose, there are going to be consequences. It begs the question, do you want to pay up-front, or will you finance with interest?
Growing up, I heard this question all the time from my parents and people I worked for, never really thinking about what it meant until I got into technology. Once I became the trusted geeky-friend-kid down the street, the nerdy-one, the “computer guy,” and every other nickname people reserve for tech-savvy people, I understood this statement.
How Did I Learn It?
I found that I was most often called on to help people pick out new computers. For me, I know about the hardware and how to do the research to get very specific things for myself, but most people only know about going to major electronics stores to purchase computers. While this buying process works, I know that it’s not always the best route.
The tendency is that people want things NOW, and they want them at a good price or, usually, as cheap as they can get them. Although it is a common thought that paying a little more will get you better quality, this is not always true. People wouldn’t stop to think why the computer-of-interest was at such a “good” price and how the vendor could offer it at such a price. They only saw the price-tag. In reality, especially with technology, the machine they were buying was already outdated and only lasted them a year or two before it warranted replacing because it was too slow, not handling the programs that they wanted to run, or simply becoming not as great of a machine as they thought.
Paying Later for Technology Purchases
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this trend if you are the type of person who likes to purchase something and keep it for several years instead of just two. The best way is to invest in what you need, not just for now, but for later, and take the extra time to research and save to buy what you want. By ordering a custom built computer from the same company that made the one bought at the store, it could easily last you two to three times as long.
Pay Now for Technology Purchases
By going the first route, buying a computer is quick, cheap, and convenient. Going the second route, however, is probably twice, if not a little more, expensive and takes time to do. The research and ordering is more involved. The cheap route ends up costing more in the long run because you will have to buy many new computers over the life span of what could be one, great machine.
What's the Difference?
Most importantly, this concept affects everyone in his or her day-to-day life. We don’t like to think about the long-term consequences. Sometimes the “pay later” option of getting things done cheaply and quickly is the perfect solution, but other times it costs you more than the price-tag suggests. This problem happens often in business when approaching custom software-development projects, but why?
Sure, if you need an app, website, or custom desktop application built, you don’t want to “break the bank,” but, at the same time, you know of things that you will need and want but can’t always get due to budget. Consider the question, “Will I pay now or later?” Going the cheap route now solves your immediate business-need, but, later, when you need upgrades, enhancements, tweaks, or fixes to accommodate for changing technology, it could end up costing you more than taking care of them in the beginning planning stages.
Paying for Custom Application Development
Why is this true? One of the biggest expenses is the cost of people re-familiarizing themselves with the project and all of its inner workings. You might say, “But how can this be? The company built this for me last year,” but a year is a long time. Just like any company or business, tech companies have to stay on the move, learning new skills and working on multiple projects. Not touching a project for six to eight months, let alone a year or more, much is forgotten.
It’s like watching a movie in the theater and then watching it again on disc months later. All of a sudden, there is a certain scene that you forgot about, but, the moment you see it, it’s an “oh yeah!” moment. When it comes to coding, a responsible developer will want to make sure that their potential changes do not impact or break other features in the project. He or she won’t want to have an “oh yeah!” moment after features are already broken in a live environment; needless to say this can have a negative impact on the site or product.
The question you have to keep in mind, especially with more complex purchases, is “Will I pay now or later?” Sometimes budgets, investors, supporters, or any number of things will drive your project into a “pay later” situation, likely costing you more, but it is often the only option for launching the project. Other times “paying now,” especially with custom software development, will get you the solution that you want with all the functionality and architecture planned into future upgrades while paying less in the long-term.
So Do You Pay Now or Later?