Money saving tips for your tech life
By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)
Originally published by Cox Media Group on 1/25/21
I know computers and gadgets aren’t cheap, so here are some ways you can save money in your tech life:
Reconsider your Internet connection plan: If you haven’t changed your internet plan in a few years, check with your current provider to see if they have any new plans and check with other providers on their offerings. Sometimes they come out with new plans and changing may save money. Alternatively, some new plans might cost a bit more but offer much faster speeds, so you could get more for your money.
Depending upon your Internet provider and exact location, you may be limited to one Internet type and speed. But if you have options, consider what speeds you really need. Of course, the providers usually encourage buying one of the top plans, which are certainly needed with families that do a lot of video streaming and other intensive online usage.
However, if you do only basic email and web browsing you can probably get away with a plan offering as low as 2-10 Mbps for the download speeds. For comparison, keep in mind Spectrum now offers up to 100 Mbps download speeds for most households.
In some areas, Spectrum and other providers offer up to 1,000 Mbps download speeds.
Lower your data limit for mobile devices: If you have a smartphone or tablet that uses the cellular data for internet, ensure you aren’t paying for way more data than you need. When at home make sure your mobile devices are connecting to the Wi-Fi, so your cellular data isn’t used. Check your actual data usage from your phone bills and make any changes to your limits if you’re using a lot less data than what you’re paying for each month.
Buy good refurbished PCs: If you follow my articles here, you may know I warn against buying very cheap computers. However, if your budget doesn’t allow for a new computer in the $500-700 range, consider refurbished computers in the $200-400 range.
Though refurbished, you’ll likely have a better performing machine than a brand new very cheap computer.
But again, that all depends upon the specs of the machine, so consult with someone that understands them before purchasing.
Use open source software: Free open source software is usually developed by volunteers or sponsored by companies and their source code freely released along with the software. So before buying another program, check to see if there’s a free alternative out there. An open source alternative to Microsoft Office is LibreOffice, for instance, and then Thunderbird and Lighting instead of Microsoft Outlook. GIMP- Shop is an alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Gnu- Cash is a slimmed down version of Microsoft Money or Quicken.
Buy perpetual software licenses: Although more and more software companies are putting their software in the cloud and making you pay monthly or yearly subscription fees, consider buying a perpetual license if they offer it because you usually save money in the long-run. For instance, Microsoft pushes their reoccurring 365 subscription for their Office suite (starting at $69.99 per year), but you can still buy a license that you own forever with a one-time purchase ($149.99 or less).
Save product keys for purchased software: It’s best to save the discs and/ or product keys for any software you purchase, such as Microsoft Office, in case you must re-install after a disaster or when upgrading or replacing your computer.
Even if you don’t have the disc, it’s usually possible to download the software and then re-install it if you have the product key. Keep in mind, the product key can even be retrieved from most crashed systems using a special utility.
Ensure your computer and devices are secured and backed up: Staying better protected means you might avoid a costly disaster later. For computers, ensure you have an active antivirus running, and consider an extra malware scanner as well. If you have important documents, photos, or other files you don’t want to lose then ensure they are regularly backed up to an external hard drive and/or online. For mobile devices, ensure the remote and backup services from Google or Apple is activated in case it becomes lost or stolen.
Buy cheaper accessories and cables: Generally, the highest marked-up tech products are accessories and cables, especially in the big-box stores like Best Buy. Check any local smaller electronics stores or online retailers like Amazon before purchasing chargers, USB cables, network cables and other tech accessories.