He Said, She Said – Buying A $2K Amp

It should come as no surprise that the PoPs talk about money fairly often in our daily lives. To bring some more of those conversations to you, we’re testing out a new format on the blog. If you like it, let us know and we’ll make it a more regular feature!



Kitty PoP likes to hang out on the speakers, too. And he’s starting to get festive for the holidays!

The Background On Today’s Conversation

About 10 years ago, Mr. PoP built a set of big speakers that were designed to be used with an expensive (at the time ~$1,400) tube amplifier. The speakers traveled with him from dorm rooms to apartments, and are now the main speakers in our living room. We use them for music, movies, etc. But they currently use a cheap chip amplifier, not the high fidelity tube amplifier they were designed for. (Mr. PoP is an audiophile and really appreciates sound quality.)

Two summers ago, after finishing the work on the duplex, we still had unfinished projects at our own house, but we were pooped and needed motivation to get them done. So we made a list of all the unfinished projects, wrote it all out on flourescent orange paper (we like flourescent orange paper!), titled it “Operation Homefront” and put it on the fridge. The deal was struck that when Operation Homefront was complete, Mr. PoP could get his amp (though the price has risen over the last decade so it’s about $2K for all the different parts of it now).

Well, Operation Homefront is almost complete, and Mr. PoP is looking at buying the amp pretty soon – hence why we set $1,500 aside in November for a big purchase – but it seems like he might be having second thoughts…

He Said

It’s a big purchase. I’ve wrestled with this one for about 10 years now, ever since I first got into Audiophile headphones. The odd thing is that I could have gotten the silly thing at any point over the last decade, it’s just that I never thought I had “enough” money, whatever that meant!

Part of the problem is that this sort of purchase is tough to put a value on.  Music is art, and its very tough to put a value on its experience. Of course we tried!

  • I spend about 90 minutes a night listening to music.  Over 10 years that would come out to about  half a penny a minute over the next 10 years or so.
  • Another way of thinking of $2k is that since we put away $4k a month in debt reduction we would be extending our working careers by about 2 weeks.
  • A third way is we would be paying about $10 for the interest to finance the $2k for 2 weeks at 6% (rough average of interest rates)
So what to do? I’ll probably buy the thing sometime in December, but may wait until I see a used one come up for sale on ebay or similar. The price for used vs. new doesn’t differ much, which plays into the general “buy it for life” philosophy of picking up items that will last forever with very low depreciation.
I asked the Mr. Money Mustache Forum for some advice, and they thought it was a terrible idea. They could be right, but now, even with my headphones, I can listen to a cut of “Clowns and Jugglers” by Syd Barrett and get chills up my spine. What else can I spend my money on that will do something like that?

She Said

In my view, the ball is totally in Mr. PoP’s court on this purchase. I look it as we made a deal – there was about 90 hours worth of work around the house that needed to be done. Hard, physical work for the most part. So if Mr. PoP gets his amp at the end of it, it’ll work out to us “paying” ~$23.53/hour for this work. We don’t usually pay anyone else to do work around the house, but I imagine that a handyman would have charged at least that much to do much of this work if we want to make that type of comparison.

But really, it’s not about the money. The part that I keep coming back to is that this isn’t a passing fancy for Mr. PoP. This is something he’s invested a LOT of time and thought into over the last decade, and I’m confident that he’s going to enjoy it for many years to come. But even though he’s the audiophile in the house, I don’t think it’s true that he’ll be the sole beneficiary of the purchase.

Since the amp will be out in the main room with the speakers, we’ll have more music playing in the center of the house – which will make it even more of a natural gathering place for us.  Plus, Mr. PoP’s taste in music is pretty eclectic, so it’ll likely widen my horizons a bit on that front, too!


Readers – what’s your take on his proposed big expenditure? Is it irresponsible while we’re still paying off our RE investments?

41 comments to He Said, She Said – Buying A $2K Amp

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