Staying up to date with the best gadgets and tech gear can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Oftentimes, the expenses associated with tech are hidden from view and stack up quickly. U.S. News reports that, on average, Americans spend the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly mortgage payment or rent on tech expenses. There are ways to cut down on your tech budget without having to go completely retro, such as the following:
Look for the Real Deals
Skip the big box stores and head online if you want to find the best deals. Many times, you can find a huge discount on big ticket items by simply shopping around online. For example, a 55-inch Samsung 4K TV from Best Buy is several hundred dollars more than one from Amazon. Regular brick-and-mortar stores have overhead costs that increase the price of their items as compared to a warehouse or online store. Shop online first for pricing information, then stop at the stores if you need that look and feel hands on experience. But most importantly, be careful about that temptation to buy that new TV on an impulse. Shopping around could save you hundreds of dollars.
Save on Mobile
Choosing pre-owned tech is much more cost-efficient than buying a new phone. In many cases, you won’t even fall behind the curve. For example, an iPhone 5 is still a current piece of technology that you can buy at a carrier like T-Mobile or other carriers. The company also carefully inspects, tests and certifies all pre-owned phones and has a 90-day limited warranty. Before buying used anywhere, be sure this certifying and warranty are in place.
If you must have a brand new phone, reconsider the contract. The deal on the contract may cost you more in the long run than if you chose a prepaid phone. Android Authority reports that it found a 2GB data plan contract with Verizon that ended up costing nearly $3,000 over the length of the contract as compared to Straight Talk that cost just over $1,400. If you are responsible with your data and minutes, you can save a tremendous amount by shunning the shiny deal they offer you and paying as you go.
Don’t Bother With a Warranty
Every time you buy a new tech gadget, the retailer tries to hit you with a warranty option. But unless you are a legendary klutz, don’t bother. Extended warranties rarely get used, and, often times, the insurance it provides is minimal. If the phone you just bought mysteriously stops working in the first few months, your manufacturer warranty guarantees you a replacement.
Build It Yourself
For the more tech-savvy consumer, you can build a monster gaming rig for a fraction of what a designer gaming platform, like Alienware, charges for it. Once you discard the fancy but unessential parts, like the LED CPU fans, building a powerful desktop PC on a budget is easy. Sites like NewEgg offer incredible deals on their regular products and even deeper price cuts on opened boxes, returns and slightly-used goods.
With a little know-how, research and instructional videos, you can build a desktop PC that is capable of running the most powerful applications and games without breaking a sweat. In fact, Elite Gaming Computers points out that Alienware’s Elite Gaming Bundle for its Aurora line costs well over $3,000 but could be built for $2,000 or less. Even if you don’t currently have the know-how to build your dream gaming rig, a little bit of studying or help from a knowledgeable friend can save you almost enough to build another computer.
If maintaining a budget is must for you, but so is staying current with your tech gadgets (even though it’s costing you the same as 17 percent of your rent), be sure to take advantage of all these saving tips.