Have you splurged on a gadget lately?
Don’t feel bad if you have. Given all the practical uses for modern laptops, tablets, and smartphones, your splurge might be at least part investment. But even still, your budget can only stretch so thin. Everyone has a limit.
With a little planning, though, we can perhaps find bargains on our favorite gadgets. Or, in some cases, we might find new favorite gadgets that provide a better value than the name-brand top of the market ones. Either way, there’s a way to buy all the gadgets you want and need without breaking your bank account.
1. Buy used
This is the most basic tip, yet so many people avoid used products. Sure, maybe you don’t want to buy a used laptop from a random seller on eBay, but there are plenty of places you can find used gadgets that come with guarantees.
In fact, if you’re buying new video game systems you’re probably wasting your money. GameStop has used consoles at quite a steep discount. That goes for the games you play on those consoles as well. While the shiniest, newest titles and consoles might not be available used, you can probably get by with what’s available.
2. Buy older models
There is no doubt that Apple’s new iPad is the best tablet on the market. The competition from Android just isn’t there yet. That could change in the near future, since a few manufacturers are taking advantage of Android’s open nature and making their own customizations. But as of now Android tablets lag far behind.
They’re so far behind, in fact, that the second-best tablet on the market right now is the iPad 2, which came out in early 2011. You can grab that brand new for a decent discount. Apple itself is selling them starting at $400. Why pay $100 more for the new model when the old one is nearly as good?
3. Go off-brand
Many consumers have convinced themselves that they need Apple products. There are plenty of alternatives, but Macs are the right computers/tablets/smartphones for them. When it comes to smartphones and tablets maybe they have the point; that’s not really the point of debate. When it comes to traditional computers, though, Apple’s expensive models just don’t stand out as much.
There are plenty of alternatives that provide as much or more computing power than Macs for a fraction of the price. Lenovo has been pushing its Ultrabooks with Windows 7, in both consumer and professional grades (just like Apple). Yet they’re priced so far below that anyone who sees the specs and the pricing will have a difficult time choosing Apple.
4. Buy them from friends
While buying a gadget from a random eBay seller might not be a good idea, buying one from a friend is a different story. The difference between them is that you have a better idea of how your friend treated the gadget. If they took good care of it, you can rest a bit easier buying it off them. And if they don’t plan to use it, they’ll probably give you a bargain basement deal on it.
This works particularly well for smartphones. Carriers work on the two-year contract system, meaning every two years customers can get a discount on a new phone. Your friend might be upgrading to something new and fancy, but might be leaving behind a decent phone. Since he’s not using it, you can just buy it off him. It’s like buying used, but even cheaper.
5. Trade it in
This is admittedly the weakest of the options, but a dollar is a dollar. There are many places you can trade in your used gadgets. GameStop is notorious for this; not only do they take used video game consoles and games, but also iPods and iPads. Many cellular carriers let you trade in your old phone when you get a new one. You can use this to save when upgrading.
The only issue is that you won’t get very much on a trade-in, especially if your gadget is over a year old. Again, a dollar is a dollar, but at some point you might be better off holding onto your old gadget as a backup. It all depends on the situation, really.