I can tell you how most of them went down, the first digital camera died in the middle of trip number one in 2004, the dust had made its mark so I ordered a digital Rebel which lasted till my Thailand trip in January of 2006, then the autofocus went out and my old eyes couldn’t get it to focus right so I passed it on to my photo taking niece. I got a second pocket Panasonic pocket camera in the middle of trip #2 and it lasted till the middle of trip number 3.
Trip number 3 was expensive. I lost an external hard drive which spontaneously combusted with a couple thousand pictures in the midst of all of that I had another HP snap and shoot that the zoom went out of, then a Panasonic lasted till it fell apart a year later for no apparent reason, the hundred dollar camera I got over last Christmas break? It took such horrible pictures that I was embarrassed to show them.
My old 98 desktop was replaced by a laptop prior to my trip in 2004 (thanks, know who you are), when coming back to the states from that trip, the heat from the desert fried the video card. The replacement laptop’s power cord got tripped on at a party and broke up the inside, then my wife’s computer had a problem with it’s power supply and battery. Now the HP 5000dv that I'm currently using is in it’s last days, the battery won't hold a charge and the fan sounds like there are little screaming banshees living inside of it, well when it turns on that is. So I’m pricing out a new one to handle the heavy video editing that I foresee in my near future because I’ve been tapped for being the squadron photographer.
Believe me, I take care of my gear but I also probably utilize it more then the average bear, if I'm covering an event (like the basketball game), I'll take 4 or 5 hundred pictures which eventually get turned into videos and posts. I'm just doing the first month of deployment complaining and no, I don't expect any sort of help in getting a new one (unless you are Bill Gates then help away!). I can handle buying it on my own.
It's my hobby and my world would be a much lesser place if I wasn’t doing it.
So far my out of pocket is reaching into the 5000 range easily but it's hard to produce the product without the gear. Well in actually, I could just type up blog posts and put them up at the internet café, my photography life is something I raised my hand and volunteered to do but was it expected of me? No and do I care about the cost? Not really, just noting it as I take a financial management class. The positives outweigh the negative and I wouldn’t ask for it to be any other way.