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There are lots of companies out there that want to take advantage of the fact that most people don’t know a lot about tech, from cable providers looking to charge you $10 a month for a $60 modem to cell phone carriers trying to charge you to use free services. Here are a few of the things that real geeks know not to pay for.

Any Cable That Costs More Than $10

A cable, for the most part, is just a cable. In the digital age, buying a more expensive one will do little to improve your audio or video quality or speed up your file transfers, which is why you should never spend more than $10 on a cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable To get the best out of your HD equipment, be it a nice widescreen television, a Blu-ray player, a PS3, or an HD streaming set-top box, you need at least one HDMI cable. Or more... Read More  if you can avoid it. Whatever claims the store clerk might make, and whatever it says on the packaging, expensive cables are usually a ripoff.

SONY DSC

My advice: go to Monoprice.com when you need cables. They specialize in making affordable cables that don’t compromise on quality, and offer everything from Apple-compatible Lightning charge cables to ethernet cables for under a dollar. But wherever you shop, keep in mind that higher prices don’t give you a better cable: just a lighter wallet.

Any Computer Tune-Up Software Advertised On TV

Of all the techy things you can do yourself to save money 3 Techy Things You Can Do Yourself and Save Money 3 Techy Things You Can Do Yourself and Save Money You're tech savvy, right? Use that and save yourself some money. Read More , maintaining your own computer is probably the best bang for your buck. That’s because there are all sorts of products out there that, while not scams, are not good investments. For Mac users this includes tools like Mackeeper Does Your Mac Really Need Tools Like MacKeeper? Does Your Mac Really Need Tools Like MacKeeper? System cleaning tools and utility suites aren't just for Windows PCs. But what do these tools do, exactly? And should you use them? Read More , which charge money to do things that other software does better for free. In the Windows world, questionable software includes the widely advertised MyCleanPC.

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This isn’t a scam, but it’s also not a great value. Software like CCleaner and Malwarebytes do most of the same things with better interfaces, and also have the advantage of being free. From what I can tell, MyCleanPC is CCleaner with a form for entering your credit card. You should avoid it.

Renting A Router Or Modem From Your ISP

We all know cable companies are tricky, but not everyone knows this: you can buy your own cable modem and stop paying $10 a month to rent one. That rental costs you $120 a year, which is more than buying a modem will cost you.

We’ve explored things you need to consider before buying your own cable modem 4 Things to Seriously Consider When Purchasing a New Cable Modem 4 Things to Seriously Consider When Purchasing a New Cable Modem With just a bit of research, you can buy your own modem and save hundreds of dollars over a few years. Read More , so be sure to read that article if you’re interested in learning more. Your cable subscription is already costing you way too much Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More , so don’t compound it by renting a high-cost modem that you could buy on your own for significantly less.

The same goes with routers — your ISP will probably offer you one, but you can just buy your own and optimize your home’s Wi-Fi coverage Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Setting up a Wi-Fi network should be an easy prospect, shouldn't it? I mean, a house is a closed-in box, and you'd think when you place a device that transmits wireless signals in all directions... Read More to get the best reception possible without having to shell out every month for a rental.

Cutting-Edge Anything and Pre-Orders

Take it from someone who reviews cutting-edge laptops and gadgets constantly: they’re probably not that much better than what you’re using now. Sure, you’ll be happy to have something new for a little while, but after a month or so that shiny new laptop or phone will be just another gadget to you. And if you had waited to purchase, the price probably would have gone down: gadgets never cost more than they do during the first month after release.

The same goes for the latest and greatest video games. They’ll be just as fun to play a year or two from now, and significantly cheaper, so you might as well wait — especially if you’ve got a backlog of unplayed games you’ve already purchased.

Pre-ordering is a particularly bad idea, because you’ve no idea if a game is actually any good before buying it. If you wait until a few months after release, you’ll know from reviewers and other players whether a game is worth your time. A little patience can save you a lot. And don’t get pulled in by terrible pre-order bonus schemes Watch Out! These 7 Game Pre-Order Bonuses Are Total Rip-Offs Watch Out! These 7 Game Pre-Order Bonuses Are Total Rip-Offs One source of outrage in the gaming community is pre-order "bonuses" that consist of pathetic toys, unfair advantages, or carved-out content. Read More !

I talk about this more in my piece about money saving tricks you probably didn’t know 5 Genius Money-Saving Tricks You Probably Didn't Know 5 Genius Money-Saving Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Sometimes it seems that no matter how much money we earn, we never have enough. How does this happen? And how do you fix it? Read More , so check that out if you’re interested.

GPS Subscriptions

A lot of people confuse “GPS” with “step-by-step directions,” so let’s separate the two concepts. GPS stands for Global Positioning Service How GPS Works [MakeUseOf Explains] How GPS Works [MakeUseOf Explains] As an avid gamer, I’m surprised by the correlation between GPS-like features in modern video games and the proliferation of GPS technology in mundane life. When I was a kid, paper maps and cartography were... Read More , and it’s a system of satellites set up by the US government that makes it possible to precisely calculate your location. These signals are everywhere, and free to use. Turn-by-turn directions, meanwhile, use these free signals to see where you are and a database of maps to give you directions.

If your cell phone carrier offers you a GPS service for a low monthly charge, don’t pay for it. The map app on your phone can already take advantage of free GPS signals to give you directions. There is no reason to pay for GPS service on your phone, ever, and don’t let your carrier tell you otherwise.

Sure, some map apps don’t work offline, but you can download cities for offline Google Maps usage How to Download Offline Maps in Google Maps for Android How to Download Offline Maps in Google Maps for Android Want to use Google Maps without an Internet connection? This is how. Read More  or download a different offline maps app Sick Of Your GPS App’s Data Connection Flaking Out? Try 3 Updated Offline Maps [Android] Sick Of Your GPS App’s Data Connection Flaking Out? Try 3 Updated Offline Maps [Android] Not long ago, Chris covered three of the best offline GPS apps available on Android. Since then, many other GPS apps released or received major updates. Do these newcomers compare favorably with those reviewed by... Read More  if you’re worried about that. Again: the GPS signal itself is everywhere, and free to use, so you don’t need to pay your carrier or anyone else in order to use it.

A Mobile Data Plan

Speaking of phone companies: data plans are expensive, and there’s a good chance you can live just fine without one. I do this myself, using a variety of apps that work offline The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data Data plans are expensive, and you don't need them. Here's how you can get by without one and still take full advantage of your Android smartphone. Read More  for most of my mobile phone usage. When I need Internet access, I stand near a Starbucks for a while — my phone connects to their Wi-Fi automatically.

republic-wireless

Even if you think you need a data plan, there’s a good chance you’re overpaying. There are plenty of low-cost alternatives to the big carriers The Best US Cellular Data Plans for Your Smartphone The Best US Cellular Data Plans for Your Smartphone Though mobile phones have improved over the years, cellular plans have either stayed the same or gotten worse. Luckily, we've found the best deals for US smartphone users. Read More  if you know where to look. Personally, I use Republic Wireless, which offers a $10 plan for unlimited talk and text along with optional data plans that refund your payments when you don’t use them.

Landlines and Cable Television

Resisting foolish one-off purchases can save you money in the short term, but reducing monthly expenses adds up to a massive amount of savings in a year. This is why I think it’s a good idea to shut down your cable TV account Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More  and replace your overpriced landline with VoIP Keep Your Landline, But Ditch The Phone Bill, With This Simple Device Keep Your Landline, But Ditch The Phone Bill, With This Simple Device Landlines cost too much; you should ditch yours. Here's how to do that, save hundreds every year, and still get unlimited long distance calling from a familiar device: your current home phone. Read More , if at all possible.

I’m going to admit that these won’t work for everyone: sports fanatics are stuck with cable if they don’t want to give up watching their teams, and landlines are useful for emergencies, particularly when the power is out. But seeing how much these two services cost — upwards of $150 per month for some people — it’s worth considering ditching both of them if at all possible.

What Other Tech Is a Waste of Money?

I could go on. For example, you can save a lot of money by buying used devices The Ultimate Guide to Buying Used Devices The Ultimate Guide to Buying Used Devices I bought my current laptop, a 2011 Macbook Pro, on Craigslist almost four years ago. Here are some tips I picked up during my quest. Read More , or you could start monitoring your energy usage How a Smart Energy Monitor Can Save Money And Give You Peace of Mind How a Smart Energy Monitor Can Save Money And Give You Peace of Mind Smart energy monitors tell you how much electricity your appliances use, and how much money you could save if you turned them off. They can also help you create clever smart automations. Read More . It largely depends on where you you spend your money. But I want to learn from you.

What tech ripoffs do you try to avoid? And how do you avoid them? Let’s compile a list in the comments and help each other save some money.

  1. A41202813GMAIL ..
    March 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    LandLine ?

    Are You Freaking Kidding Me ?

    I Have Absolutely Zero Need For Mobility, Period.

    I Can Choose Internet+Phone, Either ADSL Or FIBER, Unlimited Traffic For Less Than 30 Dollars A Month ( ADSL Phone Calls Are Charged Separate ).

    GOOGLE FIBER WORLDWIDE, PLEASE !

  2. Colin
    March 16, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I find simple TVs easy to find in Ontario, but I am not looking high end makes or models.

  3. fcd76218
    March 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    "Caveat Emptor" or as Sy Syms of Syms Clothing Stores used to say in his ads "You have to be an educated consumer." Would you buy a computer from Home Shopping Network? Hundreds of thousands of people do because they are convinced that HSN offers low prices.

    The companies you mention are just trying to make money. There is nothing inherently evil about trying to maximize your profits. If there were no, or very few, people willing to pay for the products you mention, either the prices would come down or the companies would go out of business. What burns my ass are the costs for bogus services that we must pay, such as electric companies charging customers for calculating the monthly bill. Take a close look at your electric bill one of these days. It will make your hair stand on end.

    • Justin Pot
      March 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      I didn't mean to imply that anyone is evil, just that if you pay attention you can save some money.

    • SavvyDude
      May 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Right, it's not true evil, but boil it down and it's really companies taking advantage of stupid people. The real problem is stupid people. Let's get rid of them.

  4. Fred Thompson
    March 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    GPS subscriptions typically include live traffic information which affects routing and POI searching from live data. Compare the cost of being stuck in traffic or using outdated addresses and contact information to the cost of the subscription. No contest.

    Alternately, purchase a GPS app with offline data support (TomTom, iGo, Sygic, etc.) and that has traffic and POI info by data connection...MUST have data connection.

    If you need to use data you go to a free wifi hotspot? So...price checking, live messaging/video/voice (Skype, Periscope, facetime, ooVoo, vider, etc.) are impossible in a store, while in motion, etc. Being judicious about use of mobile data is good advice.

    We have a landline with a basic wired handset because our provider still uses self-powered lines. If there is a power outage our ability to have voice communication is not limited to battery life. We also have multiple handsets which can be used concurrently. Cell phone speakerphone requires every participant to be in the exact same physical location. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to get caller ID or call waiting wtihout paying an extra fee.

  5. msr
    March 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Smart and 3D TVs, but, unfortunately, simple TVs are hard to find nowadays.

    • Justin Pot
      March 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Totally agree, and it's too bad straight-up TVs are becoming impossible to find.

  6. Roger J. Caldwell
    March 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Yes, most techies recommend purchasing your own cable modem. Yes, it is cost effective as it's way cheaper than leasing. The only problem is that Communist-Cast/XFucitty will blame your "owned" modem as the culprit of all of THEIR network issues and refuse to provide support. My experience anyway.

    • Justin Pot
      March 15, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Comcast always finds a way to get people, it seems. :(

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