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Smithee Update: October 2008

This article was written by in Debt Reduction. 7 comments.

I’ve been naughty.

I went a little nuts a few weeks ago and bought a whole bunch of audio/visual equipment. I didn’t do this just for fun, though. It’ll probably end up looking like an investment someday.

I got a mixer and a bunch of microphones that we’re going to use to create alternative movie commentaries. The commentary tracks will be for sale, but of course there’s no way of knowing whether it’ll be profitable. I tried to find a cheap way of doing this, but the sound quality would’ve suffered. For what it’s worth, I did buy the “scratch n’ dent” mixer for $40 less than it would’ve been. And the microphones were a good value. You can pay hundreds of dollars for a good microphone, but I found mine for $50. Of course, I bought three of them, so… Also, I needed a pop filter and a desk stand for each of them. Those weren’t free.

Since I had already decided to be naughty, I also bought a new video camera. I already had one that provided a pretty good quality image, but the sound was just awful. It’s a small consolation, but I sold the old camera for $90 to help pay for the new one, which was about $650.

All of this went on a credit card, of course. That’s why I say I’ve been naughty. I didn’t pay for it up front with money that I’d saved.

But you know what? My friends and I got together this past weekend to record our first commentary, and we had a lot of fun. Maybe the novelty will wear off, maybe it won’t, but I’m starting to think that it wasn’t quite so naughty, after all.

In other news, I accepted a job offer at a new place that will be paying me a little over $9,000 more per year than my current employer. I figure that should mean an additional $600 per month, so my credit card debt will be paid off even faster. More importantly, I think I will love working at the new place. Aside from the work itself (Information Architecture, Usability) which I have a lot of fun with, I had a couple of extended interviews with some of my future co-workers, and I think we’ll get along great.

Naturally, Apple came out with updated notebook computers yesterday, and I’m thinking of upgrading…

Published or updated October 15, 2008.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

This sounds like the kind of thing you need to write off if you’re in the business of making some kind of commentary. A/V equipment as an “investment”, especially video cameras, is just silly. They plummet in value, which is why the used ones were so cheap. If you are using a 5 year old video camera right now, you’re obsolete.

I might rethink the “investment” justification. And if it is an investment, start a business and write it off.

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

You can definitely consider the work you do as a business, so you can write off the depreciation of the A/V equipment you consider necessary for doing your job. You won’t get the total value of your purchase back in tax credits, but it helps.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Yep – you’ve been naughty and it sounds like your fixin’ to be naughty again soon. You are definitely in full consumer mode. Nancy Pelosi wants to send you more stimulus money so that you can be even more patriotic by buying more stuff.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I feel you. I always try to justify electronic purchases any way I can.

For instance, I just got a new job that doubled my income and I only work 4 days a week. The problem is I now commute an hour while before it was 15 minutes. Since I don’t live in a big city, the selection of radio stations is fairly limited, so I decided that I was going to get an iPod to plug into my car to listen to music and some of my favorite podcasts. Sure, I could go with a cheap off brand MP3 player… but no, I want the brand new 32GB iPod Touch. My excuse is that I need an iPod for the commute, but in reality I could just as easily listen to one of the few radio stations we have or purchase an older or off brand MP3 player, but I need the best.

Same goes for my computer. Since I’m a network administrator at my day job and I run my own blog and a freelance web design company on the side, I always find an excuse to buy the latest and greatest computer. In reality, I could be just as productive on the old one.

Maybe one day I will learn… probably not.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

If maybe you’d spent your eight hundy on one microphone, you could call that an investment – let’s say you purchased a Neuman KMS105 or something good, now that’s an investment, because the more it gets used, the better it will sound. A Nady, an MXL, or any of the cheap microphones are essentially disposable throwaways. A Midas Verona? That’s an investment – hell, even some of the higher end Mackie stuff is an investment. Depreciating a $50 mic might not be the best use of your ink on the tax form – and if you bought your gear from one of the big box places (Guitar Center, Sam Ash, etc) you also paid more for mistreated junk. Sorry to tell you that, but you should know.

Nearly 100% of the “investments” I buy for my work are deductible or “write-offable.” But I am using them 100% of the time on business. I wish you good luck on whatever venture you’re trying to justify buying a bunch of stuff. But it might be better and more honest to say that you wanted a microphone, mixer, and some other stuff than to say you made an “investment.” That sounds like excuses made to justify handing your money to other people.

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avatar 6 Smithee

Yeah, when I used the word “investment”, I wasn’t thinking about taxes, or business, or depreciation, really. I was just thinking, “not a total waste of money”. Not owning a business, and never even having taken a business class in college, I forget that it has an actual meaning.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Congrats on the new job! I made a move similar to yours in January and it was the best feeling ever!

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