How to Be Frugal While Still Enjoying Tech & Gadgets

Joel Lee 29-04-2016

Life just isn’t fair. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the release of so many new and interesting gadgets and devices — but if you’re like me, you just don’t have cash to spare. However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up your techie side altogether!


I know as well as the next guy the importance of slashing household expenses How to Slash Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps Tired of seeing all of your income go towards bills and expenses? You aren't alone. We show you some of the best ways to slash your household expenses. Read More in order to save money and live within my means. In fact, I’m currently in the process of climbing out from under crushing debt How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More . And while I’m the farthest thing from being rich, I can still enjoy tech.

And so can you. Beyond cultivating a handful of money-saving habits 5 Tech Habits You Should Cultivate If You Want to Save Money Cultivate these 5 habits to make sure you save money and get the gadgets and hardware you've been lusting after. Read More , there are a few tips, tricks, and lessons that you can apply to your own life in order to be a techie without breaking the bank.

No More Early Adoption

The absolute worst thing you can do as a gadget freak — at least in terms of money and frugality — is to be an early adopter. If you’ve never heard of that term before, it means that you always buy or upgrade to the latest and greatest devices as they are released.


For example, if you hop aboard the hype train every time there’s a new iPhone or Nexus, you may be an early adopter. If you pre-ordered the Oculus Rift, you may be an early adopter. If you’re thinking about buying an HDR TV HDR TV: What It Is & Why You'll Need It in 2016 High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is shaping up to be the big TV buzzword for 2016. But what is it? Will it live up to the hype? Here's all you need to know. Read More or an Ultra HD Blu-ray player Everything You Need to Know About Ultra HD Blu-Ray Ultra HD Blu-ray is one of the hot topics in home entertainment for 2016. Curious? Here's everything you need to know about it to decide if it's worth getting excited over. Read More , you may be an early adopter.


The thing is that there are so many downsides to early adoption 5 Reasons Why Being An Early Adopter Is A Bad Idea Are you the type of person who pre-orders the newest tech gadgets as soon as they’re available? Then you’re an early adopter. Is there a downside? Let's find out. Read More that it ends up providing negative value in the long run. Not only do you pay a premium for brand new items, but such products rarely hold value, might come with unseen defects, and may not live up to marketing hype.

Avoid Impulse Purchases

Another massive wallet drain is impulse shopping, an affliction that plagues millions of people across the country. Impulse shopping is exactly what it sounds like: you see something that’s pleasing to your eye . . . and impulsively purchase it on the spot.


Fortunately, there are several effective tips and tricks to beat impulse shopping Buck the Trend: 5 Tips to Avoid Shopping Impulsively Online Are you an impulsive shopper? Do you throw away money on items you don’t really want or need? Here are some tips and tricks to help you regain control. Read More that you can use to prevent such unnecessary purchases — and let’s be honest, most impulse purchases are indeed unnecessary. If all of this sounds familiar, then you might be a prime candidate for a 30-day no-spend challenge How to Fix Bad Financial Habits With a 30-Day Money Challenge Read More !


Here’s one method that has really helped me a lot: whenever you want to buy something, wait. Maybe a week, maybe a month. The bigger the purchase, the longer you should wait. If you still want it after waiting, go for it. Usually, however, the desire goes away — impulse avoided!

Buy for Life, Not for Price

A lot of people think that frugality is about pinching pennies and always buying the cheapest alternative to name-brand products. That is not true. In fact, that kind of attitude can actually cost you more in the long run. Ignore face value and instead buy for lifetime value!


It’s common knowledge that it’s cheaper to build a PC than buy one pre-built Is It Still Cheaper to Build Your Own PC? How much does it cost to build your own PC these days? Compared to pre-built models, are the savings worth the effort? We investigate. Read More , but that doesn’t mean you should buy the cheapest available components! For example, if you skimp when buying the PC’s power supply unit 6 Things to Know When Buying a Power Supply Unit (PSU) Power supply units aren't as glamorous as processors and graphics cards, but they're a critical PC component that you absolutely cannot overlook. Here's what to know when buying one. Read More , you might wake up one day to a dead machine.


When you’re shopping for a laptop, you can shell out $300 for a piece of junk that you’ll have to replace next year, or you can shell out $600 for a laptop that’ll last you three years How To Find The Best Laptop Under $600 If you know where to go, $600 can get you a lot of laptop. Here's what you should be looking for. Read More . Unless you’re strapped for cash and need something right now, long-term value always trumps short-term savings.

Always Used, Never New

This tip is sort of an extension to the first tip about early adoption. For the most part, electronics and gadgets tend to last several years before any major issues arise. As such, you can save a lot of money by buying used instead of new whenever possible.

For example, DSLR cameras should be bought used Why You Should Never Buy a New DSLR Camera (And Always Buy a Used One) Here's why DSLR camera bodies and camera lenses should always be bought used -- especially if you're a newbie shopping for your first entry-level DSLR or a hobbyist replacing your first model. Read More because they last a long time (unless you’re a professional, of course). As long as you can inspect the item beforehand or get a good return policy, the savings are always worth it — and the bigger the price tag, the more you can save.



If you don’t feel safe about buying used 5 Used Things You Can Feel Safe About Buying On Craigslist Read More , you can always compromise by buying refurbished. A refurbished device is a non-new device that has been tested for quality and approved by the manufacturer for resale. It’s basically as good as new 5 Insider Secrets Of Buying Used Electronics Used electronics can be an amazing deal. You can also end up screwed, though, which is why it's important to know what to look for when buying used electronics. Read More and comes with a price discount.

I recently bought a refurbished Late-2015 iMac that would’ve cost $1,399 if I’d have gotten it new, but because it was refurbished, it cost me $1,189 instead. That’s a 15% discount for something that was next to new!

Fix It Yourself (When You Can)

If you want to be frugal, you’re going to have to learn to get down and dirty when the situation calls for it. Why pay someone $50 to repair this or that when you can do it yourself for free? (Obviously, there is some risk involved, so if you really need it fixed now, it’s better to take it to a professional.)


Not sure how to fix things? No problem! Head over to, which is a community of DIY folks who have built a massive collection of guides on how to repair anything and everything. The Repair Guides are very good, but if one doesn’t exist for the item you’re trying to fix, you can always try the Answers Forum instead.

Sales, Deals, and Coupons

It’s amazing how much money you can save just by waiting for a good sale, deal, or coupon code to come your way. Not everyone has the time or energy for that, but even so, you’d be surprised by what you can find with a quick Google search these days.


It’s actually quite simple. Just head over to one of these online coupon sites The 3 Best Online Coupon Sites to Save You Money Coupon sites are one of the best and easiest ways to save when shopping online. From quick deals to guides on how to control your budget, here are the best coupon resources on the Web. Read More or one of these deal notification sites A Simple Tip That Will Save Money With FatWallet and SlickDeals After the expensive holidays, and global recession has thinned our wallets, spotting a good deal can really boost your morale. Fortunately, some money-saving websites cater to your needs. Two of the best online communities for... Read More and look for anything relevant. You can also try using one of these automatic coupon finders Automatic Coupon Finders - Do They Really Help You Save Money? Like many good things in life, coupons and promo codes are elusive. Saving money is never an easy thing, after all, and when you’re trying to find valid codes for something specific, you usually end... Read More , which deliver the coupons to you so you don’t waste time searching.

Price comparison sites 6 Useful Price Comparison Websites, Engines, and Tools to Know Price comparison websites help you find the item you want at the lowest price possible. Read More are also useful for making sure that you’re getting the absolute best price on widely available items.

However, remember that a sale only saves you money if you were already intending to buy that item! A spur-of-the-moment purchase is really just another impulse purchase and money down the drain.

How Else Do You Save Money?

Money management is a scary subject for a lot of folks, mainly because the difficulties of it are overblown. Personal finance is easier than you think Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More and the rewards are immense, so it’s worth looking into. You’ll thank yourself, I guarantee it.

Still reluctant? That’s okay! Take a small step by watching these TED Talks that’ll change how you think about money 4 TED Talks to Help You See Your Money in a New Way Personal finance can be a scary and intimating subject. Luckily there is a wealth of information to help you learn. Here are some of the best TED Talks on the subject. Read More . Once you’ve done that, think about kicking a few habits that are costing you money 8 Online Habits to Kick Because They're Costing You Money Online shopping is really convenient -- but it can also be really dangerous. Read More . It’s all about slow and steady progress.

How much do you spend on electronics and gadgets in a year? What kind of tricks and methods do you use to curb your spending? Got any questions? Let us know by dropping a comment down below!

Image Credits: Online Shopping via Shutterstock, Macbook via Shutterstock, DSLR via Shutterstock, Tablet Repair via Shutterstock, Mobile Devices via Shutterstock.

Related topics: Buying Tips, Save Money.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Jane Fletcher
    June 7, 2016 at 7:21 am

    I'm a tech junkie but I have a limited budget. I buy refurbished whenever possible. There is a store near me that sells a lot of refurbished products that are just like brand new and quite often, have the full manufacturers warranty. I also grab open box products at Best Buy. The discount generally covers most of the sales tax. And yes, I avoid being an early adopter. It's not only the price. I wait because I want to find out if there are any problems with the product

    • Joel Lee
      June 7, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I'm like you, Jane. Everything refurbished whenever possible, as long as the savings are worth the risk. The bigger the price tag, the more likely I am to get refurbished -- and I've never been disappointed yet. My most recent purchases have been a DSLR, some lenses, and an iMac and I'm incredibly happy with all of it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. bob patterson
    May 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    I also discovered a source for nearly new tech discounted. Ebay, right after the holidays. Kids can't tell Grandma or Uncle Joe that they already have the tech they got for gifts, and sell it on-line.

    • Joel Lee
      June 7, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Oh, good one! I'll have to remember that next year. Thanks, bob!

  3. Joe Lavery
    May 11, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Agreed! Tree Rules: Resist! Resist! Resist!
    So far... bought only one smart phone (motox), bought only one laptop (sony), bought only one new N7 tablet (and one used N7 tablet). Our ten year old uses a $10 Alcatel for videos, and apps.
    Need a 2nd or 3rd laptop at home? Pass the word at work for freecycle. Then convert someone's old Win7 to Linux + $50 SDD.

  4. Anonymous
    May 9, 2016 at 4:43 am

    lol. That wasn't a typo.

    • Joel Lee
      May 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Yikes! :D

  5. C West
    May 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Joel. I'm a big frugal-buyer when it comes to tech. I desperately wanted an iPad and I got a deal on a 'Grade A' refurbished one at a very reduced price (on an auction site) and haven't had any problems in the year I've had it.

    As I write this my laptop is in the process of doing a system backup. Unable to really afford the kind of laptop i want I'm installing an SSD to improve performance, longevity and speed it up.

    My phone came as a recommendation from a computer mag for a best buy great budget phone; it's fine, it works and has saved me a few hundred pounds.

    A couple of paid for software I have came discounted when I searched for product coupons and managed to get around 20% discount.

    How can I forget... Every day, 'Giveaway of the day' (.com) offers paid for software for free. I've had a few great downloads from there that would have cost otherwise.

    It's all good to find these deals and handy for those who have to be frugal.

    • Joel Lee
      May 9, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      That's awesome! All of those are great habits to have, though they do require a bit of patience and willpower. The one about upgrading to an SDD instead of buying a completely new laptop -- very smart. I wasn't aware of the giveawayoftheday site, that sounds cool! Thanks for sharing, C West. :)

  6. Anonymous
    May 1, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I only ever buy things when they are on sale.
    I don't rely on apps or web extensions though.
    I much prefer to double check things myself through the day.
    It's amazing how much you can save with timing.

    I often get 40-50% off the listed prices of gadgets minimum.

    I also use vouchers i have earned from surveys.
    Case in point:
    I recently bought a wireless phone charger listed at £39.99.
    It was on sale at £19.99 and I used a £10 voucher meaning I only paid £9.99.

    Not a bad saving I think.

    • Joel Lee
      May 9, 2016 at 2:54 am

      Heck yeah, 50% off is really good! Like you, I try not to buy things unless they're on sale. Can't say I'm always that patient though. :P Thanks for sharing, Peter!

  7. Anonymous
    April 30, 2016 at 3:23 am

    I spend anywhere between $300 to $11000(NZD) a year on PC related hardware. This year it's an HTC Vive (WHICH IS CURRENTLY IN TRANSIT :-))) ), 802.11ac router, headset, and a decent sound system later in the year. I've worked lots of overtime and ratchet up the savings past the point *prior* to the previous expenditure so that my savings grow overall.

    • Joel Lee
      May 9, 2016 at 2:52 am

      As long as you plan ahead and budget accordingly, that's awesome! I'm not sure if you actually meant $11,000 or if that was a typo for $1,100 (the former sounds like a LOT haha). Still, glad to hear your savings are still going up. :) Thanks for sharing, Axle.