Budget-Breaking Add-Ons That Accompany Big-Ticket Buys

The excitement of buying something big and expensive can drain quickly when you find out you’ll have to buy a lot of other stuff to go with it. Before you buy a big-ticket item, you should make sure you’ve accounted for its full expense by researching the accessories you’ll need to get the most out of your product.

Young And Thrifty points out costly purchases that keep on piling the expenses:

* Computers. If you no longer have your old software installation discs and codes, you’ll probably have to re-buy them for your new rig. Laptops demand carrying cases, and you may want to upgrade the bargain-basement mouse and keyboard that come with desktops.

* Game consoles. They often come with only one controller, so you’ll need to spring for extras unless you plan on going solo. You may want to look into a headset and charging station for your controllers, as well as an HDMI cable if you want to play in HD. And don’t forget the games.

* HDTVs. If you’re upgrading to an HDTV, you’ll need HDMI cables to connect any HD devices. A sound system and an HD service and equipment upgrade may also be in order. Also, a wall mount and installation don’t come cheap.

Sure, Save Up for the Big Ticket Items- But Don’t Forget the Extras [Young And Thrifty]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    An HDMI cable is a budget-breaking add-on? Um, sure if you’re buying from Best Buy. My HDMI cable was $5 on Amazon.

  2. Alan says:

    Projector…. Screen, audio system, 20 foot cables…

  3. penuspenuspenus says:

    Change the headline to: Optional crap you might want costs money.

    • DJSeanMac says:

      This article represents the increasingly detached nonsense Consumerist has become without Ben. A more reasonable set of responses:

      *Computers: be sure to both email yourself and create a text file which holds your software authorization codes. Create ISO files from your installation discs and back these up on CDR or DVDR discs which you can keep in storage. If your favorite keyboard requires an adapter to work on your new USB-only computer, try monoprice, amazon, or another online retailer.

      *Game consoles: consider using game rental services like Gamefly instead of purchasing brand new games. Also note that retailers selling used games still charge considerably more than online retailers charge for new games. As with other basic cables and connection devices, look online before heading to the store.

      *HDTVs: NEVER buy cables in a store – they’re marked up multiple thousand times. If it’s HDTV, the cable either carries the signal or it doesn’t. Cables should be measured by the grade of insulating rubber surrounding the optic fiber, not the alleged superior materials that serve as the optic fiber itself. Be sure to look for HDTV “over the air” before selecting a cable package to provide network television in HD.

  4. KeithIrwin says:

    Get your HDMI cables and mounting brackets at Monoprice or other similar on-line shops. That way, they do come cheap. If you can’t afford installation, read up on the internet a little and then mount it yourself. Also, don’t throw out your old software discs and codes. Duh. Just make a box for them in the attic or basement and whenever you’re done installing software, throw the discs in a box.

    • George4478 says:

      I finally tossed my box of software on 5.25″ floppies last year. My 3.5″ software box will follow shortly since I got rid of my last PC with a floppy drive.

      • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

        I miss the tactile feedback that the 3.5 floppy used to have when you inserted it….

        Dirty dirty geek memories….

        • kc2idf says:

          Oh, yeah! I had completely forgotten about that. I’ve been off of floppies for about six years now.

          The other neat thing was that metal-on-metal slipping noise that they would make on first disc access after putting a disc in. Schhhhhhlip-clik. I actually almost miss those two details.

          …but then I think about

          • webweazel says:

            Ah, goin’ old skool? How about when you pop them out? Ker-chunk. Like a sideways toaster. Much nicer than the 5.25s. They didn’t pop out, just slid.

            I have a floppy drive in my computer right now. Had an empty slot, figured ‘what the hell, why not?’ (Never know when they might come in handy, eh?) Got some disks on the shelf next to me. There’s a Sony Mavica around here somewhere. Remember those? The cameras that used floppys? Worked pretty good, too. Over on the side of the desk here, I got an old external Zip drive and some disks. Still works great and looking for a new home.

  5. George4478 says:

    For my wife: new shoes.

    Those require the purchase of new clothes, belts, purses, earrings, makeup, and then a nice dinner to show them off.

    My wife: Let’s go to the mall. I need a new pair of black shoes. Don’t worry, I’ll find some on sale.
    Me: Ok.
    My inner Akbar: It’s a trap!

  6. DrPizza says:

    Only foolish people would consider an HDMI cable to be a budget breaking add-on. Consumerist readers are smart enough to know not to purchase the HDMI cable, especially the “monster” HDMI cable that’s pushed at some of the retailers. Ironically, perhaps not all the authors know this.

    A $5 cable from monoprice, Amazon, or anywhere else gives an *exactly identical* picture.

  7. Torchwood says:

    I blame the retailers for the lack of cables. The margins for cables and accessories are often much higher than the main product itself. And, since people do NOT like to wait to get a cable, they purchase an expensive cable right there. Sure, the manufacturers could toss the cable in with the new product, but have been told by the retailers DON’T.

    Having said that, my favorite place for getting cables is Monoprice. For California residents (as well as some Nevada and Arizona residents), the cheapest shipping option is Overnight Express, which is overnight shipping. Amazon is also a good source for cables.

    Besides, if your cable says “Monster” on it, you spent too much on that cable.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Well, one thing you overlook is that the retailers normally offer lower cost cables as well, sure they aren’t as cheap as various online sources but much less then the “Monster” or other branded ones.

      • Torchwood says:

        Very true. It’s just that Monster is very prominently displayed, while the cheaper and just-as-good cables require a hunt worthy of Indiana Jones. And, try convincing a salesdroid that there are other cables other than Monster.

        • SemiSpook37 says:

          Well, helping my dad pick up his new HDTV this weekend at Best Buy (don’t judge, did research beforehand and this was the only place in his area that had what he wanted at a decent price), and we only needed two HDMI cables. Found a Dynex 6′ two pack for $40, BUT the salesperson stopped us short and snagged us two Insignia 5′ cables (apparently the Dynex didn’t support 120 Hz) for the same price. Monster wasn’t even a consideration. Even steered us away from the higher priced Rocketfish optical cable for a cheaper Dynex one. So very unlike BB, yet so very refreshing.

          Hell, the guy even asked if the cable box my dad had came with an HDMI cable (which it didn’t) before grabbing the Insignias. If only we all could have experiences like that…

    • Greg Ohio says:

      My favorite is USB cables. It’s often possible to buy a product that includes a USB cable for less than the cable alone!

      I used to work for OfficeMax, and can confirm that retailers insist that the cable not be included. Interestingly, Walmart/Sams do sell some printers with the cable included.

      • Not Given says:

        I found out I could recharge my phone on my computer’s USB port using the cable that came with my mp3 player.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      If manufacturers included the cable then there would be a large surplus of unnecessary cables. While I am sure retailers do tell manufacturers not to include the cable I think this is another reason for it. You really don’t need more than one printer cable, so if you got one with every printer you bought then there would be a lot of waste. I think the idea here is you buy it once then you have it for years. Also the cost of gadgets would no doubt go up in price if a cable was included with every single one, especially when its a cable you only need to buy once. You would eventually be paying more for cables you don’t need.

      • aaron8301 says:

        DishNetwork and DirecTV INCLUDE a FREE HDMI cable with all of their HD receivers, and the receivers aren’t even sold; they’re giving to the customer for free to use with their service. So it CAN’T be cost as a reason not to include one. It’s simply because retailers want to be able to sell you one for $25, when they cost about $0.25 wholesale.

    • Kuri says:

      My dad and I were perplexed at this when we finally got a Bluray player.

  8. daveinva says:

    Motorcycle, especially one used as a daily rider. The cost of good safety gear that work in/last for multiple seasons, the cost of even basic customizing (I’m not talking chrome farkles, I’m talking ergonomics- comfortable seat, grips, etc.), the cost of insurance & maintenance… you can do it on the cheap, but costs can add up in a hurry.

  9. backbroken says:

    Mail Order Brides should be on this list.

    A friend of mine learned that the hard way.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    This is apropos for me – I just started a “replace the 1992 model year TV” fund. I need to decide whether to put it on a TV stand, or on the wall, how long the HDMI cable needs to be, etc. Also, I can’t forget PA state sales tax.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      The stand will probably be the cheaper option, especially if you are not opposed to used furniture and depending on what kind of furniture you are thinking of getting. I got a brand new sauder TV stand for $40 and it holds a ton of stuff. But some stands have mounting brackets as well so you have to watch out for that, but they shouldn’t be as hard to use as a wall one, and if you are getting a 37 inch or under TV you won’t have to worry about that one, you can just plop your TV on the stand using the base that is included with your TV. Wall mounting brackets are expensive and if you don’t want to mess it up then you pretty much have to hire a service, unless you have a trusted friend or family member who has already done it several times. Messing up the mount could be costly to both the house and your brand new TV. I wouldn’t recommend the cheap wall mounting brackets from monoprice to hold up your new expensive TV either.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        That’s good to know. I’m leaning toward a 47″ TV, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I would like to keep it on a stand, and not mounted on the wall since I have a small space and it would be convenient to be able to swivel it if I wanted to. I’ve had a Sauder stand for my behemoth table top TV for about 10 years now and it’s held up very well.

  11. Greg Ohio says:

    Buy your cables online as soon as you start looking at an HDTV. That way, you already have them and don’t have to choose between getting ripped off and waiting to enjoy your new toy.

    You probably should check that you want HDMI, and not component. Some cable boxes and DVD players use the latter.

  12. TheGreySpectre says:

    Why do you need to subscribe to HD channels if you have an HDTV? Netflix + the internet means there is no need to subscribe to TV at all.

  13. ShruggingGalt says:

    Office 2010 costs less than Office 2003/2007. Sometimes upgrading isn’t that bad.

    Also, software companies are no longer allowing free upgrades to version # changes, so the version you’ve got on XP may not work in Win 7 x64. So you’ll need to upgrade the software anyway. It sucks but that is where the world is heading. (Which is why I don’t mind the new Office policy – the new version is cheaper than the upgrade from 03 to 07 was)

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    If manufacturers included common cables with every gadget then eventually there would be a lot of waste. You don’t need more than 1 printer cable, so if you got one every time you replaced a printer then there would be a lot of waste. The idea here is you buy 1 cable and have it for years. The only exception would be if the gadget uses a cable that cannot be found commonly, then it should be included with the item. While I am sure retailers tell the manufacturer not to include the cable this is another reason.

    When I bought my HDTV I knew exactly what I needed before hand and had my cables before the TV arrived. Saved a lot of money that way. I was also able to find cables on clearance from retail stores for about the same price as cables shipped from monoprice, so even if you are shopping in a store there are deals out there.

  15. Kuri says:

    I purchase most of my addons from Amazon. Better prices and no wondering IF they have it in stock.

  16. MikeVx says:

    Digital signal processing operates on the simple yes/no principle, as a result, the quality concerns that existed for some types of analog products just aren’t there. For HDMI, USB, or pretty much any other digital signalling system, buy the cheapest cable you can get that will conduct the electricity to carry the pulses on. As long as your USB cable isn’t so junky that it can’t carry the few volts needed to power lower-end devices, you’re fine.

    Monoprice is my go-to for cables, and I have yet to get a failure.

  17. dush says:

    HDMI cables are $7. The tvs also come with speakers and a stand. Money saved.

  18. pythonspam says:

    One of my new years resolution is to stop reading consumerist “articles” by Phil V.

  19. CreekDog says:

    that post is so unimpressive:

    1) Antivirus doesn’t come cheap?

    What? It sure does, often free: Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, AVG, etc. Even Norton and McAfee antivirus can be had on Amazon for a little over $20.

    2) You need to subscribe to cable to get HD channels. WTF?

    You can get them over the air. Doesn’t the author remember when and why we all had to get new tv’s and/or those high definition converter boxes? Because the signals changed to accomodate High Definition TV over the air! Jeez.

  20. aaron8301 says:

    With HDMI cables between $3 and $4 on Amazon, I don’t think they really need to be considered an extra expense. Now if you’re an idio-I MEAN if you’ve never read this site, then yeah, at $30-$60 a piece, even at Wal-Mart they’re gonna be an extra expense.

  21. frescagod says:

    if you no longer have your old software installation discs and codes, you’ll have to re-buy them? who throws away their discs? also, if you have a mouse and keyboard already, you can carry them over with a new desktop (assuming you’re buying a desktop).

    HDMI cables, like everyone else has said, cost like $4 at monoprice.com or amazon. i got a wall mount for my big LCD for about $22 earlier this year.

    i don’t think any of these things really break the bank.

  22. Bibliovore says:

    The biggest of big-ticket buys for most people is a house, and THAT has tons of add-on expenses — especially for your first one. When we bought ours, we also bought a lawn mower, snow shovels, yard tools, and a ladder; we also got the carpets professionally cleaned, plus minor repair and prevention purchases like braided metal hoses for the washing machine and a working sprayer for the kitchen sink. Then, of course, there are the costs of the move itself.

    The stuff we already had fit our new place nicely, but many people also get new furnishings to fill out a new space or better tailor it to needs — we did get a stepstool for the kitchen. Painting’s another common new-home expense, and we were glad our place didn’t need it; friends who bought their house at the same time repainted their entire interior, including several coats to cover the hand-painted-and-just-off-enough-to-be-really-disturbing Pooh mural in one bedroom.

    Also, all homes need maintenance and will eventually need repairs. When we calculated our home-buying budget, we added a monthly automatic deposit into a savings account for whenever the roof and water heater and furnace and so on will need repair or replacement.

  23. Razor512 says:

    budget-wise, a projector is the worst investment because the lamp does not last long and it dulls overtime. The lamps can also run anywhere from $250-$3000 (depending on if you are using a projector costing in the range of $600-$15000).

    Game consoles are the worst investment overall because they always have ways of extracting extra money from you in order to use the product. eg xbox live, steep monthly cost just so Microsoft can keep track of your achievements (they offer nothing that justifies the cost other than the people who they market to are generally unable to understand the value of their money and the services being sold to them).

    Any product that is targeted at a younger group has a huge profit margin, eg an action figure that has less plastic than the disposable bowl from a fast food dish, yet the frozen food and the bowl will cost $3 while the action figure will cost $15-20.

    For computers, if you are getting a desktop PC and you don’t build it your self then you made your first big mistake and things will only get worst from there.
    Always build your own desktop PC’s, it will cost less and you will have a longer warranty. You will also have a greater ability to upgrade the system as well as overclock if you feel the need to.