You don't have to be a gear-head to know that buying the latest and greatest gadgets is a pricey habit to keep. With electronic companies spinning out updated music players, computers, TVs, and announcing the new iThinger every other week, keeping up with modern technology is enough to shock anyone's budget. To help you stay plugged in without getting financially turned off, try these five ways to save on electronic gadgets.
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1. Buy refurbished items. Don't be afraid to buy a refurbished laptop, blender, vacuum cleaner, or music player to save significant money on the latest gadget. Refurbished electronics are often items returned to the store for no reason, tested at a factory to make sure they’re in perfect working order, and then sold for a deep discount in retail stores and online.
Just be sure to buy only factory-certified items that carry a full manufacturer’s warranty in case something goes awry. By opting for a refurbished laptop over a brand new one, I saved myself $350 on the latest technology and still have a full warranty.
2. Find an open-box special. We gear-heads sure love a new piece of tasty technology all wrapped in pretty packaging and hermetically sealed for maximum buyer confidence. But if you want to save a fast 10 to 15 percent on the latest toy, then get over the dented cardboard or the ripped label and ask the store manager for an open-box special.
Many retailers offer discounts on product in less-than-perfect packaging. But before leaving the store with your purchase, check inside the box to be sure you have all user manuals, power cords, and technological thingies needed to make your gadget run. There's no sense in getting a deal if you can't power up your gear when you get home.
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3. Buy the previous generation. Many computer and electronics companies upgrade and discontinue their wares several times a year and offer deep discounts on the previous generation to clear out old stock. Discontinued items may not be as boast-worthy as the current generation, but if you need a new cell phone, iPod, or computer, then buying last season's model could save you up to 50 percent over today's flavor of the month.
4. Ask for a discount. It's not uncommon for electronics retailers to build in some wiggle-room when pricing items. So don't be shy, just ask "Is this the best price you can offer me today?" Being polite and courteous goes a long way, so don't get pushy when asking for a better deal. See 10 Ways to Get a Discount on Anything to get the goods on haggling.
5. Shop online and use coupon codes. If you don't need to plug in your home electronics today, then get online and search the internet for promotional coupon codes.
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To entice gadget shoppers to buy online, Web-based retailers often post discount coupons that can be entered in your online shopping cart, saving you big money over traditional stores. Just open a Web browser, and in your preferred search engine enter the retailer's name and the words coupon code. See 8 Stealth Ways to Uncover Big Savings with Secret Online Coupons for more cost-cutting coupon tips and tricks.
Kerry K. Taylor writes at Squawkfox.com, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.