Have you heard of the term planned obsolescence? It’s a strategy defined as “deliberately ensuring that the current version of a given product will become out of date or useless within a known period; a proactive move that guarantees consumers will seek replacements in the future, thus bolstering demand.” Some call it a mere conspiracy theory, while others vouch for its veracity.
If you’ve once wondered why your gadgets perform well for a certain number of years before they slowly fail on you, you’re probably dealing with planned obsolescence. Or, you could just be overworking your devices, which is also possible if you’re using them for multiple purposes, such as in the case of a smartphone.
Truth be told, replacing a costly gadget with a new one that probably has a higher price tag is not easy. You can save for it, of course, but not everyone has the luxury of time for that, especially in this age when both personal and professional lives rely on technology. But you do not have to break the bank to enjoy technology. Here’s what you can do.
1. Take Care of Your Gadgets
Consider your gadgets as investments that you want to make the most ROI. That would be easy if you took care of them.
Start with protective gear, such as sleeves for laptops or cases and screen protectors for mobile phones and tablets. Yes, these are additional purchases, but they’re worth it in the long run. They’ll keep your gadgets safe from scratches and dents due to being dropped.
That goes without saying you should avoid those accidents in the first place. It also pays to be extra careful when you’re around water, fire, or any dangerous conditions, for that matter.
In addition, avoid overcharging your gadgets. This is the main culprit for damaged batteries and screens.
2. Sell or Trade-in Old Gadgets
If you want to upgrade, do not throw away your old gadget: sell them online. The money you make can offset a portion of the cost of your new purchase. Alternatively, you can trade your old device for the latest model. Most phone providers allow this, though this may still be required to cash out.
If you have no time to make those arrangements, at the very least, hand down your gadget to someone who needs it. Do not throw it away if it’s still functional.
3. Skip the Latest Models
Just because Apple’s introducing its latest iPhone does not mean you need to join the bandwagon of consumers who will line up outside stores for hours. If your priority is to save money, think of this scenario as an opportunity seen from a different angle.
A new generation iPhone means price drops for the older generations or those that still work perfectly well despite their “old” label. You’ll save hundreds of bucks.
4. Consider Buying Refurbished Electronics
Buying refurbished gadgets is becoming more and more popular. That’s understandable, considering how these offers give the most bang for your buck.
For example, buying a refurbished MacBook saves you approximately 30% of the cost you’ll shell out for a brand new product, and it’s as good as new, too. Refurbished gadgets go through quality assurance protocols akin to what new products go through before they are distributed in the market.
They come with a warranty, as well. Sure, this warranty will be shorter than those fresh off Apple factories, but they’re reliable.
5. Check Out Second-Hand Gadgets
First, let’s spell the difference between refurbished and used gadgets. The former go through a strict cleanup process, maintenance, and repair, if necessary, done by the seller or manufacturer before they are sold. The latter usually comes straight from the gadget’s previous owner. If you have limited funds, the latter’s your best choice.
But here, you have to at least trust the seller. You won’t get any warranty, after all. Better purchase from someone you know personally. Should that prove impractical, check out online sellers, but do a background check first, so you do not get fleeced out of your hard-earned money.
6. Shop Smart
Compare prices from various vendors. Check out both online and brick-and-mortar sellers. Wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get the best deals that is, if you’re not in a hurry.
Do not shy away from asking for discounts or price matching offers. The former will be harder to pull off in big retail chains. But if you’re buying from a local shop, you can probably haggle a bit.
As for price matching, it’s feasible if you’re a regular client of a particular store. Do it if shopping from them will gain you purchase rewards via your card provider. Tell them what other shops offer and see if they can outdo their competition price-wise. Look into cashback services, too. Names to note include Ebates, Butterfly Saves, and Swagbucks.
7. Sign Up with a Network Subscription That Offers Free Phones
T-Mobile, Wireless, and Cricket have free phone programs for new subscribers. After your subscription expires, they’ll update your phone so long as you’ll renew your subscription. On top of getting a new gadget, you also get deals like unlimited talk and text promos. Some providers even offer free data.
8. Say No to Extended Warranty
Consider extended warranty as sellers’ tactic to make the most profit off your purchase. Do not fall for this trap, even if you think of yourself as the world’s biggest klutz. The repair costs for the damages you’ll cause your gadget won’t recoup what you pay for an extended warranty, so stay basic.
The expenses you incur from gadgetry does not stop with the actual purchase. There’s electricity cost to consider, too. Drain your phone’s battery completely before charging. Unplug it when fully charged. If possible, do not use different gadgets simultaneously, so you don’t have to use the one that’s still plugged. You only have two hands; your fingers can’t be that greedy.
Rethinking Consumer Culture
More than just spending away money, our throwaway culture also results in mountains of electronic waste, among other types of garbage. If your heart bleeds for Mother Earth, as it should, then it’s time to be strategic with the purchases you make.
Do not spend money you do not have, and do not buy the stuff you do not need. Not only will you be doing your home a solid, but you also get to save money the right way. Keep your finances in check.