In November 2020, Apple launched their next-generation M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops. A few weeks later, I went against my own advice about not accumulating shiny new tech products and pulled the trigger on a new M1 MacBook Air. Coming from an aging 2013 MacBook Pro 15, my new M1 MacBook Air with Apple Silicon is game-changing in terms of the boost in portability, speed, and battery life. The level of optimization that Apple has packed into this machine is unreal at a $999 price point, and I would gladly have paid $100s more when considering the alternatives. But being my frugal self, I found a way to buy this value-packed piece of hardware for even less.
With these discounts applied, here's the math:
$999 base price + $4 (recycling fee) - $150 (Apple employee discount) - $160 (Target gift cards) = $693 total cost before tax
If you use a credit card to purchase these gift cards and use rotating categories, you may be able to get as much as 5% cash back on top of these savings. For example, Discover's 5% cash back calendar includes purchases on target.com through the end of 2020. Or you could use your Chase Freedom Unlimited or Flex card and pay with PayPal on target.com to get 5% cashback during the 2020 Q4 holiday season.
As I talked about in my article, How NOT having the newest iPhone would have earned you $9,000+ over the last 10 years, I typically advise against making frequent purchases of shiny new electronics like iPhones and MacBooks. If I'm making a big purchase like a car, phone or laptop, I need to be able to justify it. In this case, my late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro 15 had crossed the 1,000 cycle mark and was starting to show its age. Although still a member of perhaps the most rock-solid era of MacBooks ever made, my battery was draining in under an hour and a replacement battery would cost $200. With the launch of the blazing-fast, ARM-based M1 chips, the cheaper and lighter MacBook Air suddenly became powerful enough for my design and development usage. This, combined with my stacked discounts mentioned above and Apple Silicon's ARM-based architecture being hailed as a revolution in laptop performance and efficiency made it an easy-to-justify purchase in my eyes.
With my previous machine lasting 7 years, I expect my M1 Air to last at least 5 years before I find the need to upgrade. Assuming zero resale value (which is unlikely), my machine would cost about $11.50 per month amortized over 60 months. Considering how essential this machine is to building my side projects (like WalletBurst!) and how much of a joy it is to use, this might be the highest utility spending in my budget.
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