May
23 - 2011

Saving Money When Buying a Computer

photo by Marcie Casas

The following is a guest post from Gregory Roldan.

Even though computers continue to become more powerful and typically more affordable, buying a computer is still a big purchase that you will likely be replacing in a few years. Therefore it is a good idea to strategize so that you get the best deal on your acquisition. Below are some tips that should help you save money when buying a computer. If you are short on funds at the moment, an alternative to computer-company financing or credit cards would be to look into computer loans.

Get Educated
You need to know what you want from your computer so that you don’t buy a unit that offers more than what you need or not enough. The best thing you can do to educate yourself about computers is to speak with friend, family member, or co-worker that is knowledgeable about computers. If this is not possible, visit sites like Cnet.com to compare pricing and specs of various computers.

Buy at the Right Time
Major discounts are offered at retail stores the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) and the following Monday online (Cyber Monday). These two days are the best times for buying a computer.

The springtime is also a great time for buying a new computer. Reason being is that most of the major brands are getting ready to introduce new models for the consumer electronic shows that occur annually in January. It is around April that the retailers begin to start making room for the newer models by reducing the pricing of their current inventory.

Install Software Yourself
Most computers purchased from the major retailers come with software pre-installed. This may be convenient but it does add significant dollars to the final purchase price. Also, it is likely that you will not ever need some of the pre-installed software. Therefore, buy a computer that comes with just an operating system. You can locate the majority of the basic software programs (word processing, spreadsheets, anti-virus, spyware and adware removal) free, online at sites like Tucows.com.

Cheap here: Do compare package prices vs. buying software individually, though, if you need specific programs for work or school. Also, think about if you need to upgrade software or if you can just reinstall the software on the new computer. A $25 investment in a file-moving program might transfer files easily and inexpensively. And beware when buying Windows 7: It requires 64-bit software programs – and no, I have no idea what that means, except that some of your old programs won’t work at all in the new environment. I learned the hard way!

Avoid Extended Warranties
Computer stores make a lot of money from these extended warranties and therefore are going to push them hard with every purchase. Most of the major computer lines come with a 1 or 2 year manufacturer’s warranty. Most warranty eligible-issues usually transpire within the first year or two of purchase. This in conjunction with the reality that technology changes extremely quickly, any sort of extended warranty outside of the manufacturer’s isn’t worth their cost.

Cheap again: If I know I’m going to keep a system for four years or so, I might buy more warranty if I want to gamble that the repair will cost less than paying for a service call down the road — but do beware that it’s a big gamble. I don’t buy extended warranties on anything else.

At the end of the day, being smarter and shopping for the computers you actually need and want, you’ll be reducing your garbage down the road.  In fact, even if you simply upgraded, you could take part in e-waste recycling and lessen your impact on the environment.

About the Author
Gregory Roldan is a freelance writer who helps people obtain unsecured personal loans and educates consumers about their finances; specifically how to manage debt and credit.

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