Top 5 ways you’re wasting money on tech each year

Faye Kyzer

As anyone who loves tech can tell you, owning all the latest gadgets isn’t cheap. To stay on the cutting edge, you can easily blow through several paychecks on new equipment each year. This barely leaves any room for bills and essentials. It’s not just the cost of gadgets that […]

As anyone who loves tech can tell you, owning all the latest gadgets isn’t cheap. To stay on the cutting edge, you can easily blow through several paychecks on new equipment each year. This barely leaves any room for bills and essentials.

It’s not just the cost of gadgets that stack up fast. Unless you look closely at every product or service you’re interested in, you might end up paying for more than you need. Tap or click here to see the best ways to slash your monthly subscription costs.

If you’re a tech lover and want to ease up on the spending, here are some of the best ways to get what you want without breaking the bank.

1. Buy refurbished and save

Everyone wants the hot new phone, but not all of us have the funds to get it. Even older models can be expensive if you buy them brand new.

Instead of fretting over how much to spend, consider pre-owned. No, don’t buy a used phone from a shady vendor — we’re talking about refurbished products, of course.

Whether you’re buying a smartphone, tablet or laptop, refurbished goods are a great option. When you buy from a reputable source, these products are pre-owned and checked for quality — with any problems or defects addressed before they end up in your hands. Many refurbished products have special warranties of their own that may go beyond what the manufacturer offers, too.

If you buy from Amazon, check the company’s Amazon Renewed store. These refurbished products are usually hundreds of dollars cheaper than what they cost new — plus, they all come with the Amazon Renewed Guarantee. This means you have a 90-day window for refunds or returns if the item you order doesn’t work as expected.

Here are a few examples of products you can pick up from Amazon Renewed:

This iPhone XS — one of Apple’s current flagship phones, is more than $400 cheaper through Amazon Renewed than it is brand new.

This powerful Dell Optiplex business computer is equipped with a quad-core chip, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive for less than $250. That’s a massive discount considering what goes inside.

It’s not just computers and phones. You can also pick up Renewed office supplies and home appliances, too.

Best Buy and Apple also offer refurbished goods. In Best Buy’s case, you can even pick up open-box products and display units for a hefty discount.

2. Try out alternative products

Just like with fashion, it costs a lot to buy brand-name tech. You can actually find a number of great alternative products and services that will do what you want for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re looking for an exercise bike, for example, you don’t have to shell out hundreds for a Peloton. Instead, try out this folding exercise bike from Lanos along with Apple’s upcoming Apple Fitness+ service. This equipment is so much more affordable than a Peloton, and Apple’s new service is just $10 a month. It’s a huge saving compared to the brand name item.

Tap or click here to see what we know about Apple Fitness+

Keep in mind, though: Not every alternative product will work exactly the same as the one you’re replacing. The model above is a fine exercise bike on its own — but Apple Fitness+ is not available yet and will likely be less polished than Peloton’s robust subscription service.

For many, this is a fine trade-off for the cost. But the lesson here is how important reviews are when buying alternatives. If you find a replacement product that looks good, read reviews carefully to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. And don’t go too cheap. Low-quality electronics can be dangerous additions to your home.

Tap or click here to see how to spot fake reviews on Amazon.

3. Take advantage of coupons and offers

People have been using coupons and promotions to save money on tech for decades. Thanks to the internet, finding good coupons is easier than ever.

Almost all manufacturers have a social media presence these days, and these pages are the first places you’ll see special offers and discounts. To stay ahead of the game, find all of your favorite tech brands on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and follow them. Now you’ll be first to know about promotions as they happen.

Watch these accounts closely around holidays, or during shopping events like Black Friday. These are usually the best times for special coupons and discounts. You can also sign up for coupon services like Honey, which auto-applies discounts to your purchases as part of a browser extension. Tap or click here to see how Honey works.

There are also websites like Wikibuy from Capital One that give you side-by-side comparisons of prices from multiple retailers. This way, you can see which sellers offer the best deals and make better choices when shopping online. Wikibuy can also show you coupons and loyalty deals you may not have known about.

Alternatively, signing up for Google Alerts is another way to stay on top of your favorite brands. Google Alerts tell you when new updates on any topic appear in the search engine and setting them up is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Visit Google.com/alerts and type what you want Google to alert you about in the search bar. You can type the name of the brand you want to get alerts on, or the brand name + discount/coupon/special offer.
  2. Click on Show options to change settings for frequency, sources, language and region. You can also choose how many results you want and where you want them sent.
  3. Click Create Alert to start receiving alerts on your topics of interest.

And last but not least, check to make sure if any of your favorite brands offer newsletters that send discounts and special offers to your mailbox. You can also subscribe to our newsletters here at Komando.com for big savings on Amazon, tech retailers and other online vendors throughout the year. Tap or click here to subscribe.

4. Keep an eye out for hidden fees and extra charges you might be paying

Tech usually finds a way to keep you paying long after you leave the store. Service bills, subscriptions and fees can add up over time — leaving you with less money to spend on important things.

Take a close look at your bills — think your internet, phone and streaming services — and check for hidden fees. Some services will tack on additional charges for “premium features” after a trial period, and they won’t always alert you when this happens.

Even your bank could be taking money out of your account for maintenance or service fees. If you’re not sure what fees to look for, here are a few that are easy to spot:

  • Transaction fees
  • Recurring monthly fees for maintenance or service
  • Convenience fees
  • Late fees
  • Media packages or bundles, common on smartphone plans
  • In-app purchases and app subscriptions, including renewals

Recurring in-app charges can sometimes mean you have fleeceware on your device. Tap or click here to see what fleeceware is and how to get rid of it.

If you’ve found a charge that doesn’t make sense, call the service or company that charged you and ask if there’s any way to get the fees dropped. You might be surprised how much you can save just by asking.

And if you’re dreading getting on the phone thanks to annoying automated menus, try out GetHuman.com. This free service tells you the approximate hold times for many companies, as well as the exact numbers to press on the menu to reach a real person.

5. Don’t upgrade unless you absolutely need to

This one might be hard for some of us gadget lovers, but it’s important advice to remember. These days, upgrading to the newest device every single year can actually cost you more money in the long term than if you choose to wait.

The reason? Upgrade fees, finance charges and device costs are all factors that make upgrading a royal pain in the neck. Unless your device is on its last legs, you probably don’t need something new. Even Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 14, is backward-compatible with devices as old as the iPhone 6S — a phone that came out five years ago!

Tap or click here to see what’s new in iOS 14. You’ll love the privacy features.

Now that you know these tricks to save on tech, give them a try and see how much money you have left at the end of the year. Who knows — you may end up with enough to buy more tech.

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