Every once in a while, I stumble upon helpful hints that can benefit most any modern tech user, regardless of platform preference or level of gadget addiction. And this one invokes a driving force for many consumers these days — saving money.
Who doesn’t love saving a buck or two? If you’re filthy rich with money to burn, you can take this moment to click away from this post now. As for the rest of us, Lifehacker put out a Top 10 list of tips to help us save some dollars on our tech.
How many of these pointers do you regularly use?
10. Forego the Extended Warranty. In most cases, this is just wasted money. That, of course, presumes that you’re not incredibly clumsy. Or a parent of a tot who likes to throw things. If you’re somehow prone to accidents, then you might want to bite the bullet. Everyone else, however, would do better by setting aside a few bucks here and there for a private tech fund. Best part is that, if you don’t have a horrific accident or loss to replace, you now have access to reserves that will pay for your next purchase.
9. Skip The Contract. You could get a pre-paid phone. A lot of people still do, and growing smartphone offerings make that a better proposition now than ever before. But don’t forget that T-Mobile has also killed off its carrier contracts, which means there’s yet another tempting offering on the table. (Just make sure Magenta’s coverage is strong where you live.)
8. Know That “Pricey” Does Not Equal “Quality.” When it comes to charging cables or other low-level accessories, you can save quite a bit by going for affordable generics. A quick search on Google or Amazon will quickly reveal that Lightning and HDMI cables don’t have to cost a fortune.
7. Get A Refurbished Device. I love this story: Years ago, I bought a refurbished Mac Mini for a little less than $400. I used it for a few years without problems, then traded it in at Best Buy for more than $200. In the end, I only paid about $100 for a computer that worked well for years, had the same warranty as the new models, and wound up partially funding a new tablet. Not all stories work out quite so well, but even if there was no trade-in, it still would’ve been a bargain. (Pro tip: If you buy refurbished, get it direct from the manufacturer or a reputable retailer, and make sure it’s “factory certified.”)
6. Work That Discount Mojo. If you’re still in school, you really must look into the student deals offered at many of the big tech companies, university retailers and others. Hit up the Internet and look for coupon codes and limited-time deals. (SlickDeals.net and DealNews are my personal favorite sources.) And check your credit cards for rewards. A friend of mine forgot about her points for years…until she popped in one day and saw she had enough to buy a new phone.
5. Get Your Timing Down Right. Whenever a new version of a device is about to come out, the current and previous generations often get a price cut. Then there’s that huge buying opportunity called the Holiday Shopping Season, as well as Back To School. So don’t jump the gun, if you want to maximize your savings. Time your purchases right, and you can make off with a sweet deal on that smartphone, tablet, laptop or gaming console.
4. Sell Off Your Old Gear. Not only is it kinder to the environment than just throwing it away, but your old stuff can help fund your new stuff. Or, for an easy transaction, you can trade it in. There are plenty of places that will give you cash or credit, including Best Buy and Gazelle.com. (Pro tip: Never throw away the packaging or accessories on new devices. Mint condition products with the original packaging tends to be worth more when you’re selling them. And if you trade it in, places always ask about the chargers, etc.)
3. Get an Older Device, And Hack New Features Onto It. If your tech fu is particularly strong, you can buy an inexpensive legacy device and go rogue on that sucker. Plenty of people root an older Android phone, jailbreak an iPhone, overclock that processor or do myriad other things to sexify an older gadget.
2. Do Your Homework. Obviously, the newest, most hyped gear always grabs attention. But if your actual tech usage is light — say, Googling things, or just hitting up Facebook or Twitter — then why pay more for specs that you’ll hardly use? You’ll want to research any new potential purchases and weigh the specs and features against what you’ll actually need.
1. Stop the Upgrade Madness. You want new phones, and you want them regularly. But every time you agree to the carriers’ upgrades, you’re re-committing yourself to a new contract. (See tip 9.) Phone lust is a powerful thing, we know, but if you’re doing fine with the device you already have, or if the upgrades are only incremental anyway, why not save yourself one or two hundred bucks? Then, when the heart-stopping smartphone of your dreams steps onto the field, you’ll have the funds to make that huge leap into tech nirvana.
Many of the tech professionals and IT managers I know actually caution against being an early adopter, and not just for phones, but for all kinds of devices. This isn’t necessarily for budgeting reasons, but due to sheer wisdom. They wait so that any bugs and glitches can surface — all over the poor users who dove in first — before taking the plunge (or not). Potential cash savings are just a bonus.
So being tech-savvy doesn’t necessarily mean buying every new thing the moment it comes out. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Unlike your garden-variety consumer, you know when to spend and when to save. And when you choose to do the latter, you have the tech chops and know-how to really stretch that dollar.