We technophiles have an expensive hobby to pursue, but that doesn't mean you can't cut a few corners. Here are the best ways to save money on tech without taking a step down in quality.
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10. Skip The Extended Warranty
Every time you go to buy a gadget, no matter how big or small, you've probably been asked whether you want to buy an extended warranty. Not only will these increase the cost of the product, but they just aren't worth it. If you're particularly clumsy and tend to break things, go for it — but otherwise, you're probably better off creating your own extended warranty fund, which will save you more money in the long run. Remember, Australian consumer law doesn't specify exact dates after which a warranty will expire, so the value of extended warranties is highly questionable.
9. Reconsider The Contract
When you buy a new phone or tablet, you can often get a pretty big discount if you buy it at the start of a new contract. However, looks can be deceiving: you're almost certainly paying more in the long run because you signed that two year contract. Check out our guide to whether going on contract makes economic sense.
8. Don't Assume Expensive = Quality
Sometimes, you're just paying for a name brand — or worse, snake oil. Do your research before you shop and make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck. A useful starting point is our guide to things that you should never pay full price for. Often, the generic brands are going to be just as good for a fraction of the cost.
7. Buy Refurbished
If you're in the market for a new laptop, phone, or other gadget — particularly if it's a model that's been out for a little while — buying refurbished is one of the cheapest way to save some cash. Apple is one of the most prominent examples, but it's worth checking other manufacturers as well.
6. Go Hunting For Deals
There are few things more frustrating than paying full price for tech you could have scored at a discount. Our guide to the best deal sites will help you hunt down the right price at the right time.
5. Wait Until the Right Time
Tech prices fluctuate for two reasons: the newness of the product and the time of year. Buying a product as soon as it's released is a bad idea; these days, you can wait just a couple of months and find yourself a substantially lower price in many cases. Seasonal sales can also be your friend; the pre-and-post Christmas period is a good time to score cheap computers, while other tech supplies often get cheaper in the run up to the end of the financial year in June.
4. Sell Your Old Stuff For As Much As Possible
The better you take care of your current gadgets, the more money you can get back for them when it's time to upgrade. And the more money you get back, the less you'll spend on the next big thing. Check out our guide to valuing your gadgets online for the best tips on making your money back.
3. Hack It For Better Bang For Your Buck
Why pay more for the premium product when you can get its features for free on a less expensive version? Put your DIY skills to work and squeeze every ounce of power out of the cheap version. Overclock your processor and video card, root your Android phone, add extra features to your point-and-shoot or DSLR camera, or beef up your router.
2. Do Your Research
When it's time to buy a new piece of tech, you have a lot of things to consider — and if you don't do your research beforehand, you could end up with something much more expensive than you actually need. Whether you're buying a mouse and keyboard, a camera, or even a pair of headphones, make sure you brush up on the current crop before you go out and buy. Buying the right product for your needs will ensure you won't waste money.
1. Get Off the Upgrade Treadmill
Sometimes, we upgrade to a new device because our old one stops working, or our needs change. Other times — as much as we don't like to admit it — we upgrade just because we need the newest, shinest gadget around. There are strategic ways to do this, but if you really want to save some money, the best way is to stop upgrading so often. Compare what you have with what you need, and use the above tips to make the most out of what you already use. With the right introspection, it should be easy to get off the upgrade treadmill and stop wasting money on new tech.
Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.