There are lots of you out there who are lifelong learners like myself, and you guys don\’t require any convincing because knowledge has always felt like the worthwhile reward for taking the time to learn something new. For those of us who frequently find that you don’t have the time to sit down and learn something new, let me take a few seconds to explain how taking the time to learn something new has ended up saving me a small fortune in parts and service.

When I turned 21, my parents got me a brand new mid-2009 MacBook Pro. I absolutely loved that thing. Everything I use in my job today, I learned on that MacBook. I used it to learn video editing, motion graphics, photo editing, and even 3D. Eventually, I wanted to upgrade my specs (my biggest 3D render job took me nearly a week (168 hours) to complete!) so naturally, I went to the best tech support I had available to me to upgrade from a spinning drive to a SSD: Geek Squad. About 2 weeks and $180 later, I swore I would learn everything I could about computers to prevent myself from being taken.

The learning begins.

It begins

In my line of work (video production and animation) I work a lot with computers. As can be expected, computers will eventually get old, have problems, slow down, and otherwise stop working. In today’s technology-driven world, with new computer models being release every few months, salespeople are always trained to push the “You should just get a new computer” approach. Great for their business; not great for my wallet. So instead of buying a brand new computer every 3-5 years, why not learn how to build my own computer? That way, when parts get old, everything starts running slow, I can just slowly upgrade it over the years instead of buying a brand new machine every few years. Sounds great, right?

I’m not saying this plan was easy. It took me several months to research how to assemble a computer and several months to learn which parts did which job, and how they all work together. And once I knew all the parts required to build a computer, I now had way more decisions to make. Instead of “Which computer do I buy?” Now I was thinking, “Which motherboard should I buy? Is this motherboard compatible with my CPU choice?” A few more months of research later, eventually I had to make a choice. So I ordered my parts one by one.

I love it when a plan comes together

One by one they arrived, and I used several online guides to help me assemble my first computer. It ran Ubuntu Linux (I couldn’t afford a copy of Windows), and it was my first ever computer build. Overall, it took about a year to learn everything I could about each of the parts and save up enough money to buy all the parts.

Today, that same computer has payed for itself over and over again because I took the time to learn about all of the components and I’ve used it to complete several video and animation jobs for clients. This is no “and he lived happily ever after” story, either. The custom build hasn’t been without its problems. However, learning the basics and even more valuable, learning how to learn, has helped me repair my computer, and keep it running smoothly for several years. Now when I encounter my next problem, I’ll never have to rely on a tech service ever again.