Frugal Advice for the Gadget Addicted
Hi, my name is Jesse, and I’m a gadget-aholic. But I’m also a believer in frugal living, and new toys can add up quick. Small handheld gadgets are my weakness, but I’m learning to control the addiction. Here’s some advice to live frugally and enjoy your tech without compromising your financial goals.
1. Admit That You Have a Problem
Stop justifying every iPod, iPad, smartphone, or new laptop you buy. You know you don’t “need” them. You want them. And sometimes a want is OK, just don’t kid yourself.
2. Address Your Needs
Now that you know what you want, assess your tech needs. Is this new gizmo really going to improve your life? Is it really an upgrade from your earlier gadget? Are the features worth it? Do you need more memory and a front-facing camera? If not, maybe you can wait.
Also, make sure you are not overspending to buy features that you won’t use. For example, if you live in a small apartment, you probably don’t need a TV bigger than 42”.
3. Buy Used When Possible
4. Sell Your Old Gadgets When You Do Upgrade
Why leave a used phone, MP3 player, or digital camera collecting dust in a drawer? You’d be surprised how much people are willing to pay for some used gadgets. It helps if you take care of your current stuff to preserve resale value. In addition to Craigslist and eBay, sites like Gazelle specialize in buying old electronics, and they’ll even pay for shipping.
5. Buy Manufacturer-Refurbished Items
Apple and Dell sell refurbished products on their websites, complete with warranties. I’ve had a lot of luck buying items that were for all intents and purposes new. Often “refurbished” means returned and re-boxed.
6. Capitalize on the Serial Upgrader
We all have friends who buy a new phone or the latest and greatest gadget every few months. Capitalize on their addiction by buying their only slightly old stuff. I scored an iPad this way when a friend decided to upgrade to the 3G version. And usually your friends will be willing to cut you a deal.
7. Set Time Frames
Set a time frame for purchases and upgrades. Like every three years for a computer or two years for a phone. If it’s a new item, wait for the second generation if possible. First generation items are notoriously buggy.
8. Buy a Generation Older
While they might not be the latest and greatest, you can score older items at a big discount. This is an especially great option when the latest generation doesn’t offer any big bump in features. Older models can often be found at a discount when stores clear their shelf for the current generation.
9. Upgrade Parts in Your Old Stuff
I’ve gotten big improvements out of older computers by upgrading the RAM and hard drives myself. New batteries, a new hard drive, and more RAM can be easy to install can make your current device as good as a new one.
10. Think Multi-Purpose
Buy devices that can do more than one thing. If your new phone plays MP3s, maybe you can skip the latest iPod Nano. And why buy an e-reader and a handheld video game system when you can get a tablet that lets you read, play games, and surf the web?
11. Recognize That There’s Always Something Newer Around the Corner
Just like death and taxes, you can count on new “must have” gadgets every few months. And the longer you wait to buy, generally the better the next tech product will be in terms of features, specifications, and mostly importantly, price.
This is a guest post by Jesse Lynch. Jesse is a Chicago-based marketing professional and freelance writer. When not plotting ways to save money, he writes for his food blog Fast Food Reviewed and his personal blog. Read more by Jesse:
- How to Get Into Advertising
- East Coast vs. West Coast Burger Throw Down. In-N-Out Burger vs. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
- Burger Wars! Burger King’s $1 Double Cheeseburger vs. McDonald’s McDouble Throw Down