How to Save Where it Counts on New Gadgets
It sure would be nice to have unlimited funds when shopping for a new computer, tablet or phone. Sadly, few of us have the funds to match our degree of need.
Ironically, the danger when shopping for a new gadget on a budget is overspending. The reason for this is simple: by buying an inexpensive device you risk ending up with something underpowered or poorly built. Those will age prematurely, adapt poorly to evolving needs and require to be replaced sooner.
Things you can do to Get More for your Money
Would a Stationary Computer Work for You?
If you can't afford a laptop strong enough, you might find a much better price on a tower computer. This is especially true if you need a strong computer for creative projects or gaming.
Actually, a comfortable stationary computer is a definite plus for anyone who spends long periods of time in front of the computer.
Do you Really Need that much Power While Away from Home?
It can sometimes be cheaper to buy two computers rather than just one. For instance, a high-power laptop comes at a premium.
By buying a stationary computer for the place where you need power the most (e.g. home), you could save enough to buy an additional laptop. That laptop, while less powerful, will give you the autonomy you need and will likely be easier to carry around than a high-octane model.
Make Someone else Pay for your Computing Time
If you mostly use your computer to access the web and use the cloud, a cheap Netbook or even ChromeBook could do the trick.
This way, even the cheapest computers available will do, some of the work being done remotely. Cloud apps are available for most tasks nowadays, including word processing and photo editing.
The downsides of relying so much on The Cloud are:
- You need reliable access to the web to fully benefit from this.
- You lose some privacy in the process. When you use web apps, you end up sending everything you do to someone else's computer; informing them, to a degree, of your activities.
What if you just Can't Afford a Proper Device?
One of the unfortunate effects of being broke is that it sometimes force you to waste money. It's true of most products out there and technology is definitely no exception. Here are a few options to consider:
Can you Use Someone Else's Computer for a While?
There are several spots where you can use a public or shared computer until you can afford your own:
- community centers
- employment centers
- public libraries
You might even be able to use your office computer after work hours to do some of your personal computing. Just make sure to ask permission beforehand. Also keep in mind this computer's not yours; this isn't worth compromising your relationship with your employer.
If you can endure using a shared computer long enough to save enough for your next purchase, that will save you money on the long run.
Could you Start off with an Incomplete Computer and then Upgrade It?
Some computers (especially desktops) can be upgraded. In fact, adding more memory, storage or even better graphics in a tower computer is relatively straightforward. It Makes it possible to buy your next computer piecemeal.
Your best bet is to visit your local computer shop; not the electronics store. They should be able to help you plan the final product, remove the bits you do not need right away and let you buy the base system to be progressivly upgraded. That way, when the time comes to add a part to your computer, everything's already in place to accept it.
This should help keep upgrade expenses down and make your life easier if you're planning to do the upgrades yourself.
Financing plans are not known to save you money; rightly so. Still, if your current budget forces you to make an ephemeral purchase, paying a bit of interest on a durable computer could be the better option.
Other Savings Opportunities
There are other ways you could save on your next computer. I find they tend to require a certain degree of technical self-sufficiency, but they can be worth your while.
The Second-Hand Market
If you decide to buy a used or refurbished device, make sure it comes with a warranty you can rely on. Even if you're comfortable doing repairs yourself, unforeseen expenses could easily negate your savings.
The DIY PC
If you're comfortable working with electronics, my recommendation would be to wait for sales on parts. After a month or two, you could well have all you need to build your own desktop PC at a substantially reduced price.
Waiting for sales is the less involved option and that's something I can help you with. You have two main options (besides leafing through flyers and websites by yourself):
- I send a newsletter every Friday with my picks from the weekend's sales, so subscribing could help you in your search.
- You could also keep an eye on the archetype page which describes your use of the computer best. For instance:
Best of luck in your tech shopping!