Looking for ways to save money when buying your next computer?
Tip #1 — Rebates: A rebate is not always a bargain. Computers with rebates are often close to being discontinued. You may pick up a good deal but purchase technology that’s about to become yesterday’s news. What’s more, stores will often package computers with a bunch of free items to make it look like you’re getting more value. Make sure the extras aren’t of poor quality or items you’re unlikely to use. Also, they’re counting on you not to redeem your rebate, a very common occurrence. Don’t be sucked in — make sure it’s the computer you really want.
Tip #2 — Extended Service Warrantees: Buyer beware! They’re a gamble, but not always a bad idea. If you’re purchasing a laptop and you plan to travel a lot, an extended warranty that covers replacement of the monitor/display can be a good gamble. Replacing a display can cost $400-$600, making the warranty worthwhile. On the other hand, if you plan on buying the warranty for routine maintenance, save your money. Often it can take weeks for the store to send your PC out for service. Also, remember that the store where you purchased your computer doesn’t always do warranty work during the first year — instead you may have to ship directly to the manufacturer. In general, extended warranties cover electronics (things you can’t see). They don’t usually cover physical damage. Worst of all, most extended warranties have large gray areas, leaving the warranty provider a lot of room to reject claims.
Tip #3 — Monitors: Don’t throw away your monitor if it’s still working properly. Instead, keep it and save a chunk of money by just replacing your old CPU (computer tower). Monitors last much longer than CPUs, and your new CPU will usually be compatible with your old monitor. However, if you’re dissatisfied, then monitors, keyboards, and mouses are the three tools to spend extra money on, since you use them every day!
Tip #4 — RAM: One of the largest contributing factors to the price of a computer is how much memory it has. If you’re willing to put in a little effort with some smart shopping, you can save money by purchasing a computer with less RAM and upgrading it. Here’s how it works: Compare the price of a computer that has the amount of RAM you need against the price of the same computer with the minimum RAM allowed. Now determine how much it will cost to upgrade the lower-memory system with the amount of RAM you desire. What you’ll often find is that the manufacturer has jacked up the price of the first system well above what the additional memory module costs. This method of computer shopping is cost-effective, but it’s also time consuming. So if you’re looking for a cheap PC it may be best to buy the computer as it comes. However, if you’re looking for an expensive system, this money-saving method has the potential to reduce your cost significantly.
Sharron Senter is cofounder of www.VisitingGeeks.com, an on-site computer repair, security, and networking company serving north of Boston, Southern NH, and Maine. Learn more about Sharron at www.SharronSenter.com.