Equipment Purchase vs Leasing

Let’s talk about new gear and how to pay for it.

I like the idea of a lease for computers so that you’re on a renewal cycle and can always get the latest and greatest with minimal skin off my back.

I also like the idea of purchasing computers to have additional options past the original working life.

How do you pay for your equipment?Text

When you say leasing - do you mean lease to return or lease to own?

When I did a major scale-up of my business a few years ago I did several leases with $1 buyouts. Essentially you’re financing the purchase at a fixed rated/payment over a set number of months. It’s a good way to build out capabilities you are certain you have billable work for and the only way you can unlock them fast to catch the opportunity. I would do it again if I needed to.

If you need a recommendation or details DM me.

I’ve paid for most of my gear by charging a kit fee when I work on said gear.

I’m a fan of getting not the latest and greatest, and instead precomping more. Haha.

Although if Apple ever makes an M-series tower I may get that…

Depends hugely on your business, market, and economic status quo. I have had experience with

  • Lease-to-own Inferno on Onyx (early 2000 in a vibrant economy) >500K € for a system
  • Plunder older generation hardware on eBay for minimum cost vs maximum power (around 2010 in a struggling economy) <10K € for a system
  • One-time purchase of current generation system (2020 in a stable economy) ~25K € for a system

These are all Linux systems. With Flame on Mac, a lot has changed since you can use that machine for running other software as well…
Also now that you can rent Flame on AWS that might be another option.

In my experience, I’ve done all sorts of things. I’m just wrapping up a three-year lease on a Mac Pro machine. It paid for itself in the first eight months and I think I got 15 K worth of machinery leased at 17 K over 36 months. Of course in the last three years my business has changed substantially. Since then I’ve paid cash for several more machines with better performance.

This all depends. What are you looking for? What’s your target market? What’s your budget?

Because you can find P620’s refurbed on eBay for less than $2500. Bring your own ram, storage, and GPU and you’re into a decent built for under $6k. Heck, most of this you could put on an Amazon credit card and pay zero percent interest on 18 months, which is more than enough time to pay it back if you find a decent amount of work at $150-$300 a day kit fee.


I think that’s the important part. Ideally your business generates enough free cash flow to build future capacity and pay for systems and software outright. But there are occasions of major change where you have to make a bet on the future, either scaling up, or making a lateral transition that requires significant investment. In those situations it’s a good idea to make a calculated bet to accelerate your business and give you the freedom to make an investment without having to earn the budget first and missing the window. Once that stabilizes you want to be back to purchasing with cash.

I’m in the same situation @randy described. I had to buy some cameras, lights, and systems on leases. But all my system and software purchases in the last year were paid for in cash. The financing company I worked with keeps calling me, but I have to tell them that I have no current plans on using them.

Whether you use a credit card or a lease depends on a few things. If you’re looking at $10-15K, a credit card may be a good deal, gives you a bit more flexibility. Anything above that a lease may be better. If you are registered as a business (LLC or S-Corp) there are some benefits to using a lease, as it builds your corporate credit record which can be helpful down the road. A credit card just looks like a cash advance on the corporate rating, and not as useful.