On the list of Bad Investments, most electronics and gadgets probably fall somewhere between Beanie Babies and Pogs at the tippy top. While a house might increase in value, and a car – even a new one – might trickle down in value over time, your cell phone, laptop and digital camera will all plummet. Some might even halve in value within a few months’ time, and practically all of them will be next to worthless in five years.
But there are exceptions. While the majority of gadgets in your drawer will inevitably wither away to nothing, a handful of carefully selected gems will weather the sands of time quite well, retaining some value should you decide to upgrade down the line. We scoured Craigslist, eBay, and everywhere in between to figure out where your hard-earned dollars will survive.
High-End Home Audio Equipment
Yes, audiophile gear suffers quite severely from the law of diminishing returns when you compare money spent to sound quality: A handful of deranged old men with more money than sense will gladly heap thousands of dollars on the table for differences they’re not sure they can perceive – like $7,250 cables. But if you shy away from this extreme end of the spectrum and merely invest in quality equipment, you can turn it around used without getting too red in the face a few years down the line.
For proof, look no further than used gear from McIntosh, Marantz, Onkyo, or any other number of respected audiophile brands. Like all electronics, they drop in price, but modern equipment in good shape can still fetch a decent percentage of its price new. And 30-year old equipment can still go for hundreds of dollars, when you would be lucky to get 50 cents for a no-name tape deck from the same era at a garage sale.
Keep in mind that audio sources (like tape, CD and Blu-ray players) change faster with time, while the basics of audio reproduction (amps and speakers) largely remain the same, making them a better place to sink your money.
Love it or hate it, Apple has built a name for itself. And manages to charge quite a premium for it. A lot like audiophile equipment, Apple products aren’t necessarily a bargain in the short term, but they retain their value far better than many other brands. Just look for a used iPod compared to any other MP3 player, or even a MacBook compared to a similar laptop. The premium sticks, even in the used market.
On eBay, many last-gen 13-inch MacBooks hit the $700 to $800 range with dozens of bids stacking up to get there. Not a bad asking price, considering a brand new model now starts at $999. By contrast, similarly equipped Dell XPS 13 laptops were lucky to hit $600 or $700 with a handful of bids, even though new models start in similar territory – $949.