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5 Tips for Avoiding a Technology Budget Crunch

There’s no question that this generation of smarter electronic devices has greatly enhanced our lives, making it easier to communicate, create, research, and shop. However, as much as this technology is a blessing, it is also a curse.

Tech manufacturers are skilled at creating buzz around their latest products, so even though you just dropped several hundred dollars on a gadget, in another six months you may feel pressured to upgrade to something with more firepower.

But before spending more money on a new smartphone, tablet, or other device, use these tactics to prevent excessive tech costs:

  1. Assess your needs: Do you really need a top-of-the-line processor just to surf the Web? Understanding how you use your devices can help inform whether to purchase new ones.
  2. Hold off on the latest tech: Just because a tech company announces a major launch for its new product doesn’t mean you actually have to buy it. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it; and more importantly, if it isn’t in your budget, don’t buy it. Be patient; if you wait just a few months, you may see prices drop.
  3. Shop for refurbished items: Many manufacturers offer refurbished versions of their products. These items are typically built from previously used parts. The advantage is that they usually work like new, come with a warranty, and are significantly cheaper than an equivalent brand- new item.
  4. Consider all the costs: Sure, you might be able to scrounge up the cash for the actual device, but what about the accompanying service charges? With phones, consider the data package, fees for overuse of texting or data, and insurance. For other technology, include the cost of Internet, cable or satellite service, and installation fees.
  5. Get rid of your old equipment: If you really want to upgrade to the latest tech gadget, first try selling your old equipment. This way you can use the earnings on your old device to finance your new purchase. E-commerce sites like eBay and Craigslist can be great marketplaces for finding interested buyers, or you can sell it to a recycler like Gazelle. In some instances, the manufacturer may be willing to buy back your equipment or offer you store credit.

Reliable electronics can make doing homework, studying, and entertaining yourself easier and more enjoyable, but remember: newer, fancier gadgets aren’t always better. Be realistic about your needs—and your budget—before you trade up.

(Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by CashCourse or the National Endowment for Financial Education. These courses and related resources may be used only for nonprofit, noncommercial educational purposes. CashCourse makes every effort to keep the information in these courses current, but, over time, new developments as well as legislative and regulatory changes may date this material. If you discover inaccurate information, please contact us.)

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