Introduction: How to Save on Essential Tech

About: Writer, tech addict, lifestyle lover, lister of things, fitness nut, cat lady

For many members of the current generation, a slow smartphone with a cracked screen and no service is a pain, to say the least. Given the ever-increasing capabilities of high-tech gadgetry, dealing with outdated tech when there are newer, more functional models available can be almost insufferable. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune every six months to keep bad tech experiences at bay — there are plenty of methods that can help you be a tech-savvy consumer while saving money at the same time.

So ditch those old, failing gadgets, and use these tips to upgrade without breaking the bank.

Step 1: Buy Refurbished.

Refurbished sales are one of the best kept secrets of tech shopping. Not only will you save a bunch of money, but you’ll also get a product that’s basically brand new.

“But,” you might be wondering, “Aren’t refurbished products defective?” Not always. Products can be labeled as “refurbished” for plenty of other reasons. And those products that do go back for defects are repaired and inspected closely before being remarked. The retailers have a vested interest in seeing that they don’t get that same gadget back, since constant repairs would cost them more money.

Step 2: Change Your Internet Provider.

The Internet is a huge part of your tech life — a tablet or laptop without a fast Wi-Fi connection is little more than a fancy metal brick. Luckily, there are plenty of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) willing to offer fast speeds at competitive rates. Take some time to compare ISPs and shave a few dollars off your monthly bills.

Step 3: Try an Alternative Brand.

While Apple and Samsung design gorgeous products, you don’t really need the latest MacBook Pro or the sleek new Galaxy S6 for everyday tasks. There are plenty of alternatives that do a fine job for hundreds of dollars less. And though it may take a little bit of adjusting to get used to a new operating system or architecture, the savings may very well be worth it — you might even find that you prefer the alternative interface.

Step 4: Find Good Used Products.

Buying secondhand electronics can be a bit tricky. There are some amazing deals to be found on Craigslist and eBay, but you run the risk of getting scammed or buying a genuinely faulty product. To prevent those types of issues, make sure you’re carefully vetting the sellers you buy from. Find vendors with high ratings and plenty of legitimate feedback.

Don’t neglect the importance of a safe and reliable site, too. Stick to websites like Swappa, which reviews and monitors used product advertisement, ensuring that you get exactly what you pay for.

Step 5: Keep an Eye on Sales.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around only once a year, there are still plenty of other bargains year-round. A good sale can net you a pretty hefty discount on brand-new gadgets.

You don’t have to check every online store every day to stay on top of sales, either. Use Google Alerts to keep track of that smartwatch you’re hoping to buy, and sign up for newsletters wherever you can. Deal-watching websites can also come in handy.

Step 6: Switch Your Cell Service.

Good cell service is important, but don’t overpay because of expensive marketing campaigns and brand recognition. There are lots of alternatives to the big service providers, and many of them offer contract-free, data-heavy plans that are cheaper than you’d expect. Make use of online plan comparison tools to find something that fits your needs.

Step 7: Do Your Research.

Researching a purchase isn’t as easy as impulse buying, but with a little restraint, you can save plenty of money and still get some of the best technology out there.

Instead of relying on recognizable brands, do a little digging to find better products at cheaper prices. More often than not, the deals you find will be well worth the time you spent researching your product purchases.

Step 8: Buy an Older Generation.

When the new generation of any gadget gets released, the last generation falls in price drastically. High-end smartphones that sell for hundreds of dollars on release can drop to a fraction of their original cost after only a year. Take advantage of these price reductions to find a great (and affordable) product that meets your needs.

Step 9: Use Gift Cards.

There are plenty of gift card exchange websites where users buy and sell gift cards at reduced prices. You can easily save a few dollars by buying a discount gift card to Best Buy or GameStop, and then using it to purchase your dream gadget.

Step 10: Avoid Purchasing Extended Warranties.

An extended warranty may seem like a good investment, but in practice it’s hardly ever worth it. Your smartphone or tablet is pretty much guaranteed to survive the length of the warranty unless something catastrophic happens. Even then, if it’s repairable, the repairs are often cheaper than the warranty itself.

You should buy an extended warranty if you’re extremely accident prone. Otherwise, skip this step and keep your phone away from swimming pools.