Seven tips guaranteed to reduce the amount of money you (or a loved one) spend on gadgets.
While there are plenty of folks who will rush out and buy Apple’s new iPad at the earliest possible moment no matter the cost, buying the latest and greatest is an expensive hobby. At the same time, the release of a pricy new gizmo from Apple does mean one thing: Every other gizmo from Apple might be getting a little bit cheaper in the near future.
Which leads us to our first way to save on tech:
1. What’s hot today is cheap tomorrow
Yesterday’s technology is often good enough — and it’s a lot cheaper. For example, if you’ve been looking to buy an iPod, you’ll probably find some steals on sites like eBay as people eager to get their hands on a shiny new iPad look to ditch their older devices.
And this doesn’t just apply to Apple stuff. Thinking about getting a new HDTV? Wait a few months until 3D TVs start hitting the market, and watch what happens to the prices of today’s HDTVs.
2. Don’t pay for things you can get for free
We talk a lot about Google’s free offerings (I just wrote a story on how you can use Google’s Voice service to get free calling on your cell phone), but they also offer email (Gmail), a suite of tools like Microsoft Office (Google Docs), a dictionary, books, web chat tools, free 411 service (GOOG-411), storage for your health records, videos on YouTube, language translation, photo sharing, a calendar, free blogs, an RSS reader, 3D modeling software and a ton of other stuff. So if you’re paying for any of those products and services, don’t! Just head to google.com/options for a full list of what Google offers and check out our story on free software programs for more ideas.
3. Team up on your cell phone bill
Sure, they’re called “family plans”, but a more accurate name would be “group plans” because you don’t have to be a family to share one. Get some friends together and split a cell phone family plan. Your share of the total bill will almost certainly be less than what you’d pay for the same service alone. And if you find an unlimited family plan, you can all talk for as much as you want without having to worry about who used up all the minutes.
Not a big talker? No problem. If you only use your phone during emergencies, and have low income, you might qualify for a free phone so you can ditch the bill entirely. See our story on Free Cell Phones, Free Minutes for details.
4. Refurbished is your friend
Many manufacturers will sell refurbished products on their websites. This isn’t like buying slightly damaged items at an outlet store. These are products that, for whatever reason, have come back to the manufacturer and been repaired: Maybe the screen was cracked when a customer took it out of the box. Or maybe there was never anything wrong with the product, but its packaging was damaged the first time it went to a retailer. In either case, the product is restored to the same condition as a new item and sold at a discount, so it’s a great way to save. If the manufacturer offers a warranty with their new products, you’ll typically get the same one on their refurbished items. Just check before you buy because you’ll want the freedom to return your refurbished purchase if it’s a dud.
5. Don’t pay taxes
A 5% sales tax on a $2,000 laptop is $100. Buy the same laptop from an online retailer that doesn’t have brick and mortar stores in your state, and save the money. Some, like Amazon, will give you free shipping, but even if you do have to pay for shipping, it’ll likely be less than your sales tax on pricier items.
6. Refill your ink
One of the biggest ongoing cash pits in the tech world is printer ink. If you’re a big printer, consider using a laster printer. Laser toner is cheaper than inkjet ink. And if you do have an inkjet printer, always refill ink cartridges instead of buying new one. You’ll save a bunch of cash and keep a little extra waste out of the landfill.
7. Unplug what you’re not using
If you’re not using your tech devices, unplug them. Pretty much everything high-tech uses some small amount of power when plugged in. Pop the cord out of the wall and enjoy some simple savings.