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Technology has become a necessity for both work and personal life. Our growing dependence on these tools, combined with the rapid rate of updates and new developments, can make keeping pace with the latest and greatest offerings expensive. The good news is you can find excellent value on what you need by following these simple tech-buying tips:

  1. Know what you need. Many of us want the just-released phone or the laptop with never-seen-before features. Rather than setting your sights on what’s hot right now, know how you use your system and what specific features you need. And, if you’re planning to give a technology device as a gift, check what features are on a recipient’s wish list, including must-haves and would-be-nice options.
  2. Do your homework. Finding the right device upfront means less hassle and potentially avoiding hidden “restocking fees” on returns. To get the best products at the best price, research brands, read reviews and watch prices online before considering a purchase.
  3. Be choosy with upgrades. If you have too little storage on your current device or your operations are too slow, resist the urge to run out to buy a brand-new system. You can save yourself hundreds by getting the specific upgrades your system needs, but remember to shop around for a skilled, affordable technician. Some upgrades are easy to install yourself, which could save you even more. Just make sure that they’re compatible with your device.
  4. Be careful when buying used. With online stores like eBay and Amazon allowing third-party sales, there are plenty of used devices available. But before you buy used, make sure to check the seller’s reviews. Are they receiving positive ratings? If they’re not—and if you’re not technologically savvy—you may want to be extra cautious. Another option might be to buy a device that’s been refurbished, which is not the same as used. Refurbished technology may have been returned or rebuilt. Since it was previously owned, it can’t be resold as “new,” but it could cost significantly less than new. Make sure you buy from reputable retailers like your telephone carrier and that you get a warranty.
  5. Wait for sales. If you can wait for a deal, the best times of the year to buy electronics are during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or around the time of the Super Bowl. If you don’t want to wait until then, many retailers have holiday sales like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Others hold Black Friday in July, and Amazon has a 2-day sale known as Prime Day. Want to save even more? Consider buying an open box special (the item was used for display in the store).
  6. Look beyond your cell phone carrier for deals on phones or tablets. Whenever there is a new model of a specific phone or tablet coming out, many stores will offer deals on the newest model while drastically cutting the price of the old models to reduce stock. While some phones and tablets are carrier-specific, you can still find sales for others in electronics stores, department stores and warehouse clubs. Even Amazon carries less expensive phones and tablets. These stores will usually help you sign up for service through the carrier as well, but take the time to ensure you’re getting a service plan that fits your family’s needs and not one that will result in overage fees or unnecessary coverage.

Earn While You Spend

If you’re planning to shop with a credit card, pick one that earns rewards on your purchases, so you can earn while you spend.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.