A Money Coach in Canada

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Opening my first (and so far only) macbook is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. (David, remember me asking you if buying future macbooks was as thrilling? or if it was only the first purchase that was so amazing?). I got home at about 4pm and I stayed up til nearly 3am – unheard of for me – enthralled.

That was in 2005, when iPods were starting to take off, but Mac users were still the outsiders — the cool, truly geeky outsiders who inhabited design firms making beautiful things. I wasn’t one of them, but dammit, I now had the same computer! And a money coach with a mac was cooler than a money coach with a pc, non?

Yes, it’s been a love affair, undiminished by my iPod touch, then my iPhone and most recently my iPad. My macbook is my first and true one.

But it’s been hard used: across the country and back, hauled through -40C regularly, dropped a few times, and rarely turned off over the past 5 years.

And now, routinely, this:

Spinning Beach Ball Of Death

My macbook’s had its day and it’s time to buy a new one.

For the past month, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Apple Rumour site which advises:

Product MacBook
Recommendation: Don’t Buy – Updates soon
Last Release May 18, 2010
Days Since Update 212 (Avg = 195)

But I need one sooner rather than later. I can’t imagine that Apple will release anything new in January – who would buy that soon after Christmas? – and February seems unlikely as well. All I know is that they will release OS X Lion in the summer.

If I buy a macbook now, I can still upgrade to Lion from Snow Leopard when it’s released, right? And it’s a fairly easy process?

ps – and have you bought more than one mac? Was it as thrilling after the initial purchase?

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Of course you can upgrade the OS later…it will just cost you. 😉 I haven’t done a lot of OS updating myself, but it is supposed to be easy. You might want have them walk you through the process over the phone (not sure if that would require purchasing Apple Care?).

    The timing of new hardware coming out is still a great mystery to me, too, Nancy. I have had my current Macbook Pro about the same length of time. Earlier this year I got a bigger, faster hard drive added because I was running out of room and I was having similar issues of it being slow (done in a local Mac pro shop but not Apple store). I think they did a little work behind the scenes to keep me running more efficiently, too. But, I hear once these things go they go so need to get my head around getting a new one also.

    I am using my iPad a ton for work, so my thinking is to get an iMac for my home office, and then add another tool in later when I can afford it, either another MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air if it will do the basic things I need. That way I could use the iMac and MacBook together i.e. two screens.

    I don’t think I added anything to your thinking, but wanted to let you know I am commiserating!

    Connie Crosby´s last [type] ..Wikis for Event Planning – Collaboration and Coordination


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Aw, tx for dropping by and commiserating Connie 🙂 When I bought my iPad I justified it by thinking I would use it for work – but I can’t seem to be productive on it. I’m interested in the fact that you clearly are. Good idea re Apple Care. I managed without it my first time, but I think I’ll go for it this time, esp. since I’m in Yellowknife without such a big pool of Very Smart Amateurs to help as I had in Vancouver.


    Dec 15, 2010
  2. I switched to MacBookPro and have never regretted it. I bought the biggest and best one available then- and after a year or so upgraded OSX to 10.6.5 Snow Leopard. That was worthwhile, even if I did have to do all sorts of things to get my printer to work that seemed strangely reminiscent of Windoze. I have no intention of upgrading to Lion as I have no interest in apps. What I have works for me and I will keep on using it. I cannot help but feel that some maintenance might speed up your current Mac. It seems unlikely that there is anything wrong with the hardware – which ought to be the only reason to scrap the machine.
    Stephen Rees´s last [type] ..Dave Basi’s “Memos to file”


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Stephen, thanks for commenting – been a while since we connected 🙂 Hmmm– you raise an interesting point re: maintenance. I wonder what the shelf life is of a macbook? I’ll go do some research. I’d be perfectly happy to continue with this one (both good money – coach practice and better for the environment plus I truly do have a weird emotional connection to my macbook!) if it’s doable.


    Dec 15, 2010
  3. Mark S

    I would think the only advantage to waiting is that you would get Lion pre-installed, saving you a little $. The new iLife ’11 is already out so buying now will get you the latest iLife suite.

    If the upgrade to Lion is anything like the upgrade to Snow Leopard, it was a huge $39 cash outlay! At worst – if it’s a major upgrade (Snow Leopard was not so major), it may be $119. Installing an upgrade is simple. I would not be concerned at all about the OS, but I’d be more focused on whether the Macbooks are about to be replaced by a new generation or not. And if not – why wait?


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Thanks Mark – actually, I remember that $39 now (used it on my current macbook). No big deal at all.


    Dec 15, 2010
  4. I use it with a bluetooth Apple keyboard, and take a lot of notes via Pages app that I downloaded. Also, lots of my email and web work can be done on it. I have been using it to take notes during interviews for various projects. I develop the interview questions into a form via Google Forms, fill out the form with the responses, and when I hit “submit” responses go into a spreadsheet for me. A lot more efficient than typing up random notes. 🙂


    Dec 15, 2010
  5. Bea Scott

    I just got me a nice Macbook (work book?) a few months ago.. My computer guy says they (Mac’s)never go on sale and i just bought the cheapest MAC because i don’t need anything more than that. I think it is kinda like buying realestate. If you weight the pro’s and con’s to much you will probably miss an opportunity. I still have a mortgage broker client waiting and it’s been 6 years. the details about the Lion are missed by me because i am getting the hang of my current system and I’m not a computer girl geek by any means.
    Thoughts by


    Dec 15, 2010
  6. brad

    I did hear that the new iPad is likely to be released in January or February; it will have two cameras (one forward-facing for video chat) and lots of other improvements; probably lighter and thinner as well. I’ve been waiting for the second generation of iPads before making the leap, but I really want one, mainly for reading things like PDFs and eBooks.

    I’ve had many Macs (at least 10) since 1985 or so, when the nonprofit I worked for back then started using them and most of us bought Macs for home use. I loved them all, even though every single one except for my current MacBook Pro either came with or soon developed significant hardware problems. I normally never buy extended warrantees for anything, but I make an exception for Macs — AppleCare is a good investment.

    My old PowerBook G4 circa 2004 now serves as our guest computer and television: I use an EyeTV to watch cable on the computer; we got rid of our television years ago. A 15″ screen is perfectly adequate for watching TV if you’re sitting on the couch with the laptop on a coffee table in front of you. Good speakers (I use AudioEngine A2) make up for the small screen with a big sound.


    Dec 16, 2010
  7. brad

    I hit the “submit” button before I got to the most important part!

    I have a few thoughts about buying now versus waiting for the next generation of MacBooks or MacBook Pros:

    The current MacBook family is a very strong lineup, and if you were to buy one of these now you’d probably have all the computer you’ll need for at least the next five years. They’re fast enough for even the most demanding applications, and most of the design improvements Apple is planning are likely to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Steve Jobs made it clear that they will start incorporating some of the features and design elements of the MacBook Air into future MacBooks and MacBook Pros, so for example we should expect to see hard disks replaced by solid-state drives, and a number of design and materials tweaks will make future MacBooks (and Pros) lighter. Those are nice features but not necessarily worth waiting for.

    Another thing I’d say is that it’s often wise to buy an Apple model after it’s been out a year or more, so they can get any glitches worked out. So buying the current model rather than waiting for a redesigned version to come out in 2011 might be smart.

    And finally, it’s always worth looking at refurbished Macs. This rarely means “used” — nearly all of refurbished Macs are computers that were returned to the store unopened, excess corporate orders returned in the original box, etc. so you’re getting a brand-new computer at a discount of typically several hundred dollars. I have friends who’ve been buying refurbished for years and have never had problems. The Apple online store always has refurbished Macs, iPods, and iPads for sale.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Hi Brad. I know the refurbished macs have a great reputation and save $. You’d think a money coach would be all over that! For some reason, I shy away from them, but … that’s just silly! I’ll go see what’s on offer.
    Thanks for providing a good perspective re: current lineup will enable me to do what I need to do, and the rest will likely be nice but not necessary features.


    Dec 16, 2010
  8. Tuzanor

    You can always buy Lion later, heck you could probably install it on your current computer.

    Before upgrading, it may be worth doing a re-install of OS X and/or upping the RAM in your current machine. After years of use, all computers tend to accumulate cruft and it’s possible that something you installed is constantly running taking up all your memory, causing the computer to swap (which is often what causes the beachballs). The type of RAM in your 5 year mac should be dirt cheap, now.

    Either way, I’d hold out until the next refresh of the MacBook Pros. The next rev should incorporate a lot of the cool tech that the latest Airs did, including instant-on and the latest generation of SSDs. That’s just me, though.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    d’oh! you know, in all this time it never even occurred to me simply to increase my RAM. I may need to rethink all of this!


    Dec 16, 2010
  9. brad

    Increasing your RAM might help, although I’ve personally never noticed much of a performance boost on a Mac when I added RAM. However, keep in mind that two things in a laptop start to risk dying on you after five years: the battery and the hard disk. My PowerBook’s battery died after four years and I can’t even get a replacement from Apple as they’re no longer made. The risk of hard disk failure starts to climb after three or four years as well. And your CD/DVD drive could start to have problems too. So at five years, you might want to think twice about sinking more money into your current MacBook. You could keep it as a spare or a guest computer, as we did with my PowerBook (which is from 2003, not 2004 as I originally wrote).


    Dec 17, 2010

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