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Want a Smart Home Appliance for the Holidays? Here Are 3 That Are Actually Worth Your Money

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on the newest home appliances to create a smart home. Here are 3 smart home devices that are actually useful and affordable.

If smart phone is the the most influential consumer technology in the world today, smart home is one of the next frontiers that the biggest technology farms are going after. However, smart home technology and devices can be a rather tricky topic. First, these devices can cost thousands of dollars (think smart refrigerator) and are therefore difficult to "upgrade" every 1-2 years. The implication of this is that buying the wrong device when the technology itself isn't yet mature (or for that matter, proven to be all that useful) can be a rather expensive mistake. Afterall, it's still not rather clear if consumers really want to input the expiration date of all of your groceries into your refrigerator or want a screen on the machine in the first place. Still, there are some smart devices that can be extremely beneficial to improving your life while not costing you a fortune. We've done the research to narrow down the list for you.

Smart Vacuum Cleaners

Among all the smart home devices out there, smart vacuums might have been around for the longest. Not only that, these electronics can be immensely useful in helping you save both time and money. For example, an iRobot Roomba or a Xiaomi vacuum cleaner cost about S$500 to S$700, considerably more than a typical vacuum that costs S$100 to S$200. However, by clearing your floor automatically every day, a smart vacuum cleaner can save at least an hour of your time every week. If an hour is worth S$10 (wage of a typical person), this smart home device can save you enough time to make up for the difference in price (roughly S$500) in just 1 year.

iRobot and Xiaomi are just a few of the smart vacuum cleaner brands

Smart Plugs

Nowadays, there is a plethora of smart home devices available, including smart humidifiers, smart refrigerators, smart laundry machines, smart lamps, smart light bulbs, smart slow cookers, smart coffee machines, etc. However, it can be a rather daunting task financially and emotionally to purchase a brand new smart home version for every appliance you own. Instead, investing about S$10 to purchase WiFi enabled "smart plugs" can be a very economic way to make your electronics "smart." By simply plugging in your existing appliances with these plugs, you will be able to control them from your phone or tablet, or even schedule them to be turned on and off automatically at specific times.

Smart plugs, which cost about S$10, can be a very economic way to make your home appliances smart

Smart Baby Cameras

Baby cameras should be an essential purchase for young parents nowadays. Especially for busy Singaporean parents who have to both work during the day, it can be unsettling to leave their babies at home even if they have a nanny. Smart baby cameras can reduce this source of stress significantly by allowing parents to watch their babies from their phones anytime, anywhere. Even for those without a kid can still benefit from these devices in terms of increasing security of their house. Best of all, these cameras cost only about S$20-S$40, so most people should be able to afford them rather comfortably (or even buy a few to install in different rooms).

iRobot and Xiaomi are just a few of the smart vacuum cleaner brands

Other Things to Consider When Making Your Home "Smart"

The promise of having a "smart home" can sound very pleasing. Afterall, who wouldn't want a completed automated house that can take care of all of your chores with a simple voice command? However, this technology itself is still in its infancy and companies are still trying to figure out how what kind of smart device will actually be useful for consumers in their homes. Therefore, utilising cheap and/or proven devices to create some automation in your home might be the best way to make your house "smart" compared to shelling out thousands of dollars on experimental smart home appliances. In fact, it's highly likely that many of these expensive smart appliances quickly become outdated as new softwares and devices are invented, just as it happened for smartphones in its early days. By waiting out until this category of electronics becomes mature, consumers can save a lot of money and still benefit fully from better developed devices.

Furthermore, it's important to be conscientious about your personal finance situation before making these purchases. If you can't readily afford a smart home appliance, you should not incur a credit card debt just because you want a "cool" house filled with the newest gadgets. While some shopping credit cards can definitely help you save money on these purchases by earning rewards, they can't offset the interest you will incur if you can't pay down your credit card bill immediately. Even if you are to use a 0% instalment credit card to spread out your repayment, you should be prudent about spending beyond your means; if you keep using this feature to purchase items you can't afford today, your repayment obligations can eventually grow beyond what you are capable of paying back.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the founder and CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting and investing. He previously worked at hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with honors, Magna Cum Laude. His work has been featured on major international media such as CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, the Straits Times, Today and more.