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Affordable Technology for Families on a Tight Budget

Tips for Finding Affordable Technology for the Family

Beyond trying to find technologies that overlap and scoring bundled deals for added discounts, here are some best practice tips that will help you get better value for your technology dollar:

  • Avoid the extras -- That home theater system or computer may be packaged with extras you don't really need. The "free" printer included in your computer bargain may look like a good deal, but the printer manufacturer is probably making its money on the price of the replacement ink cartridges, not the printer itself. That's because the ink costs a fortune. Extra memory cards, microfiber polishing cloths and ritzy cables look good in the ads, but you'll save money by buying basic packages and adding the extras yourself as you need them.
  • Explore last generation products -- Technology is always changing, and the latest and greatest gadget is typically sold at a premium price right after it's first introduced. If you plan your purchase to coincide with a new product release -- and buy last generation technology -- you'll buy a quality product at a bargain basement price. The manufacturer will still support the older model, and chances are that it will be technologically current enough to provide you with years (or at least many months) of useful service. Decide.com is a consumer electronics buying site that makes suggestions about when to buy items like flat screens and laptops. The ratings are model specific, and summaries include predictions about price hikes and drops as well as reports on when new model releases are expected. It's a good site to check once you have a wish list in hand.
  • Pass on the extended warranty -- Consumer Reports recommends passing on the extended warranties offered by electronics retailers. After evaluating the repair histories collected on tech products, they concluded that repair rates are typically relatively low, and the repairs that are necessary usually cost less than or about the same as the price of the extended warranty. Oh, and if you make your purchase using selected platinum or gold credit cards, or with an American Express card, you'll double the manufacturer's warranty free of charge anyway. That's hard to beat.
  • Buy refurbished -- Manufacturer refurbished electronics are often sold at as much as a 30 percent discount, and many include a 30-to-90 day warranty. A refurbished item has typically been purchased and returned to the factory for some reason. The repairs necessary to make the item fit to offer for sale may be cosmetic or could involve replacing DOA components. When considering this type of purchase, stick with brand name merchandise, and choose resellers you know.

Related Articles

Sources

  • City of San Diego. "Computers at Home." (2/14/12). http://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/pctech/child/athome/buying.shtml
  • Tech Family Budget. "Tech Ideas." (2/14/12). http://techfamilybudget.com/?cat=11
  • Cnet. "Budget Tech." (2/15/12). http://news.cnet.com/posts/?keyword=Budget+tech
  • Consumer Reports. "Buying electronics - 10 Money-saving Secrets, Plus Ratings of 36 Retailers." 12/08. (2/14/12). http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/resource-center/buying-electronics/overview/buying-electronics-ov.htm
  • Darlin, Damon. "A New Secret Weapon for Electronics Shoppers." The New York Times. 12/6/11. (2/14/12). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/technology/personaltech/web-site-offers-help-getting-deals-on-electronics.html
  • Roku. "Stop Dreaming. Start Streaming." (2/14/12). http://www.roku.com/

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