Budgeting With Technology

Technology can be a huge drain on time and money if you don’t manage it carefully - and in our modern day society where everything is built and run on technology there isn’t much of a way to opt out of this particular expense - unless you want to be pretty much cut off from the rest of the world.

Though some of us have much greater needs for technology than others there is still a basic minimum that most people have to have in their lives. For example, I’m a writer and a designer so it’s important for me to have a high-end laptop, high speed wireless, updates of the software I use, and overall a pretty decent set-up that way. I also have a nice phone and tv and those sorts of household things that fall in the technology category. For others that aren’t in a computer based industry they might be fine having a basic computer with a regular internet connection. Whatever works for you is fine and whatever level your needs are at there’s still a way that you can save lots of money in this aspect of your life.

One of the best ways to save money with household services is to get them packaged together or “bundled” as many companies refer to it. By purchasing things like cable, phone, internet, and other services from the same company they can price them as a group instead of individually and usually get you a discount and a better deal for having bought them all together. Plus if you stay with that provider for a certain length of time they usually give you a discount as well for being a long term customer.

Another way to save money in this area is to get on family plans - especially when it comes to cell phones. Being on plans with multiple lines and people can dramatically reduce the bill and it can also get you freebies like a free phone or a free service (like text or picture messaging). Staying with cell phone companies for a fair amount of time is also smart because you can get free phone upgrades after a certain period of time, and typically if you cancel your services too early you’ll get charged a hefty cancellation fee as well.

When it comes to saving money on hardware like laptops you can do well to take advantage of any discounts that apply to you as a specific group or age range. For example because I’m still in school I get an educational discount that saves me hundreds of dollars off of laptops and software when I need them. I also get a discount for being a long standing customer with certain companies. There are many discounts available for minorities, people on certain government programs, and for small businesses as well - it’s just a matter of taking the time to do the research. With items like laptops you can also buy them used, though I wouldn’t recommend getting a refurbished one as these can often be quite badly damaged and then just cleaned up to look like they’re in decent condition. With a laptop - because many of them are already expensive in the first place, it’s worth it to buy a nice one upfront because of the cost it will save you in repairs or upgrades in the long run.

Another way to stay in your budget with technology is to ask for discounts or free additions when you make a big purchase (which most technology purchases are). When you buy a new laptop it’s common for free software to be thrown in along with little things like a power cord, internet cable, and other such small items. They may not seem like a big deal but they can be expensive to purchase separately - so get what you can for your money when you have the option.

It also helps to have friends in the industry too. Knowing someone who works for a computer store can help get you discounts and deductions that may not have been available to you otherwise and can usually get you free tech support as well - a service that can be pretty costly otherwise.

When purchasing new technology watch for yearly sales and discounts and wait to make your purchases during these times. It also helps to know when new versions of a product are going to be coming out because the older version is usually cheapest right before the new version launches and if you’re alright not having the most up to date technology you can get by just fine for a lot less with a slightly older version.

Maintaining your technology is just like maintaing a car. The better care you take of it right now - the longer it will work and the less you’ll have to spend on repairs and replacements. If you take the time to have your laptop cleaned routinely and always make sure to have protective software on it you’ll save yourself a great deal of time and energy that would otherwise have to be put towards fixing it or even worse - having to buy an entirely new replacement for it. There have been plenty occasion where a simple bit of software would have saved me from a lot of expensive work that had to be done on old laptops - and usually this kind of software isn’t very expensive upfront. It’s often just a matter of purchasing it and using it on a regular basis.

It’s also important to choose wisely when purchasing new devices or software upfront - you get what you pay for so don’t think that by going cheap you’re going to be saving a ton of money in the long run. The standing rule is that the cheaper it is, the cheaper it’s made - which means it’s more expensive in the long run for you because you’ll have to fix it more often, upgrade more often, and replace more often. What seems cheap in the beginning often turns out to be a lot of long drawn out costs in the end.

Overall staying within your technology budget doesn’t have to be hard - all it takes is a little investment in the beginning and some careful research about what you’re buying. Put that kind of effort in and you’ll be rewarded in the long run by technology that last and works well for many years to come.