Paying for my own work tools

Your employer should pay for the tools that you need to use to get your job done, right? Right??

Well, let me ask you a different question: A car should let you cross at the zebra-crossing, since pedestrians have the right of way in those situations in all cities, right?


But, do you really want to take your chances and gamble your life?

I remember having heard someone saying this before: "If you're dead, you won't be able to argue you had the right of way." So I'm always on the defence when I cross zebra-crossings. I'm not going to count on the law or even drivers' collective courtesy to ensure that I get across the road in one piece.

And I think we should the same mentality towards tools at our workplace.

I'm a software engineer, so naturally when I say "tools" I'm referring to software, but I think what I'm proposing could apply to physical tools, too.

Recently I've noticed how cumbersome it was to use the free software that almost everyone uses at our company (we're a startup making it super easy for B2B electronics sellers to offer online rental checkouts). Funny thing is, apparently I was the one who introduced Monosnap to everyone...

Anyway, cumbersome. Monosnap is good enough for people who don't know that there's better screenshotting and screencasting software out there. I know much a better alternative exists because I like writing and marking up screenshots and using them in blog posts. I've paid for one called CleanShot X and I absolutely love it (it's available only on macOS).

Thing is, being a startup, cashflow is sensitive. I get that, and don't blame my employer for not wanting to pay for a nice-to-have.

What does one do now?

Let me tell you, I mulled over the $29 one-time price tag to purchase this piece of software for several days before finally saying "fuck it, this will make my days at work much more productive and fun" and buying it.

With the benefit of hindsight now, I'd say that was a fantastic decision.

My screenshots are annotated with ease and are aesthetically pleasing for myself and my colleagues to look at. My screencasts are mind-bogglingly smooth and professional, automatically overlaying hotkey keystrokes on the screen and producing ripple effects from mouse clicks.

Hundred percent would do it again.

If the price tag was higher, would I still have paid out-of-pocket? Until that day comes, I can't say with confidence that I would, but in principle, I would strongly consider it.

At the end of the day, we're professionals trying to get our jobs done. If we believe that our toolset is incomplete or inadequate for the job, what's the only logical thing to do?

In this scenario, $29 is well worth it. The barrier wasn't financial, it was mental. I shouldn't need to be paying for software that I'm going to run on my employer's laptop to do work for my employer. But life is too short to bicker over $29 decisions.

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