How to Be Frugal While Still Enjoying Tech & Gadgets
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 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 . 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 , 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 or an Ultra HD Blu-ray player , you may be an early adopter.
The thing is that there are so many downsides to early adoption 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 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 !
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 , 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 , 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 . 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 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 , 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 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 iFixit.com, 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 or one of these deal notification sites and look for anything relevant. You can also try using one of these automatic coupon finders , which deliver the coupons to you so you don’t waste time searching.
Price comparison sites 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 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 . Once you’ve done that, think about kicking a few habits that are costing you money . 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!