8 Ways to Avoid Regretting Your Next Gadget Purchase
When I first started looking for my latest Laptop, I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start looking. I knew I probably wanted an Apple product, but I wasn't sure. And even if I had been sure, there was no way I was going to pay full-price for anything Apple makes.
Throughout the entire buying process, I was essentially ridden with anxiety that I was making the wrong choice, and that I would regret my decision after I bought it.
To make a long story short, I ended up buying my current Mac Book Air and saving $400 plus getting an extra year added to my warranty. The best part is, so far, I've got absolutely no regrets.
Yes, I could have potentially saved more money, but I got a great deal with the time I had to make the decision.
The truth is, when you're buying any gadget, all you have to do, to make the right decision is enough homework to alleviate your anxiety. In the end, you just need the right piece of gadgetry at a decent price.
In this article, I'm going to give you 8 ways to make sure you accomplish your regret-free gadget buying goal. Whether you're buying a laptop, a phone, or an eReading device, the same basic rules apply.
8 Ways to Avoid Regretting Your Next Gadget Purchase
1. Determine Exactly What You Can Spend and Save Up
This is a no-brainer for anyone who is naturally frugal. If it's not a no-brainer for you, let me quickly flesh out why this is probably the most important aspect of regret-free electronics buying. Going into debt for a piece of electronics that takes around 2 years to pay off and will be out of date in 6 months is silly. First you're paying interest on a seriously depreciating asset. Second, you have a lot more flexibility if it ends up that you do regret your purchase. Third, if it really is peace of mind we're looking to buy, then that's one less bill collector on your back.
But besides the opportunity cost of going into debt, knowing exactly what you can spend significantly narrows your purchase choices. Less choices means a lot of anxiety related to the horrific number of possibilities is gone.
2. Decide Exactly What You Need
A lot of the regret people experience after they've bought a new computer or tablet or tv, etc. is due to some idiot at Best Buy selling them something they don't really need. If you're a book worm and all you'll ever use an iPad for is reading books, then you're better off getting a much cheaper . Before you even start shopping list out everything you want your new equipment to do. Kindle Paper White
Bear in mind that what you want may change as you hear about new features and gadgets while you shop. But in general, assume that your living patterns won't change much just because you bought a gadget.
Again, going into the purchase process knowing what you want will make you much more efficient and worry-free as you shop.
3. Use the Following Websites to Find the Best Gadgets Out There
No matter what gadget you're trying to find, there are great resources all over the internet to help you figure out which one's will be the best for you. Here's a few of my favorite sites to start researching...
Find the Best is a kind of meta-search engine that pulls in reviews and ratings from all over the internet and rates products based on a proprietary algorithm. It's definitely one of the better sites for comparing products and just getting a general idea of which products dominate the market, and which ones aren't so special.
CNET is one of the oldest and most helpful tech review sites on the web. They're great for getting simple editorial suggestions.
PCMag is another helpful tech review site similar to CNET.
In thier own words, The WireCutter is "...a list of the best technology to buy as determined by dozens of hours of research and testing." It's another great resource.
Amazon reviews are a great way to start figuring out what specific issues people are having with the products you're looking to buy. You can also sort Amazon products by how popular they are. It's certainly not true all the time, but generally, most the most popular gadgets are the ones that just work.
If you're looking at a particular brand or category of device, chances are Reddit has an entire online community dedicated to discussing. If you have no idea how Reddit works, here's an explanation.
4. Use the Following Websites to Find the Best Deals on Your Gadget
Once you've found your gadget, it's time to lock down the best deal you can find. Luckily, again, the internet is your best resource. Here's a few of my favorite sites for finding the best deals on anything - especially gadgets.
RetailMeNot is probably the best coupon site out there. All you have to do is tell it which store you're shopping at, and it will give you any coupons or coupon codes that currently work during the checkout process.
ShopAdvisor is a great resource if you have time to wait for the best deal. You can sign up and set up alerts when the price on your selected product drops. It's also a great mobile app.
For just comparing prices across the internet on different products, I haven't really found anything that beats Google Shopping. You get the power of Google behind finding the best prices.
If you're not really sure what you're wanting to get yet in the way of gadgetry, Groupon generally has some great deals on Windows products. Every once in a while, you'll find a good deal on some other brands as well.
I always check eBay for any deals before I buy the gadget I'm looking for. You can also view recent sales on eBay to see what gadgets are generally going for. It's always good to have a baseline for what the market wants to pay.
Of course, if eBay is good for checking the online market price, nothing beats Craigslist for looking at local prices. Craigslist is great for finding good deals on popular products like iPhones or Laptops.
FatWallet is a community-powered site that shows the best deals people are finding across the web. They also give you cash-back at some stores if you buy through their links (more on that later).
NewEgg generally has the best retail prices on new and refurbished tech. I always just check them to make sure they don't have a better deal.
Of course, always check Amazon too. Enough said.
5. Get a Cash-Back Rewards Card to Make Your Purchase
Assuming you have the money to instantly pay off a credit-card, and you're disciplined enough in your spending habits to have a credit card without racking up debt, there are a lot of advantages to buying electronics with a cash-back card.
The first advantage is pretty obvious...you get cash back. If you use the right card at the right time, I've seen people get up to 10% off the price of the product. It comes in the form of a check sent to them in the mail a few days after they buy the gadget.
The second advantage is a little less obvious. Most Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX credit cards automatically extend the manufacturer's warranty on electronics purchases by a year. So you get an extra year of peace of mind just from putting the purchase on your card. You should probably double check that your card actually offers this, but I haven't really found a mainstream Visa or MasterCard that doesn't. And that leads nicely into the next point...
6. Don't Ever Get an Extended Warranty
Unless you're a total klutz and tend to break everything you own, don't get an extended warranty. They are usually always a bad deal. Instead, get a mason jar and put the cash you would have spent on the warranty in the jar every month. If you do this with all your electronics purchases, eventually, even if you break something early, you'll save a lot of money.
If you do have to get an extended warranty, never buy it from the retailer. Third-party warranty sites usually have better deals and better service. The one that gets mentioned the most for overall quality is SquareTrade.
7. Double Your Cash-Back Rewards with "Get Paid To Shop" Sites.
A lot of websites out there get commissions when they refer you to an online store and you buy something. But a few of these websites will pass a piece of that commission back to you if you buy through their site. Couple that with the cash-back you'll get from your credit-card, and you can effectively double your savings. A few sites that offer this are:
8. Buy Refurbished When You Can
This is especially true if you buy an Apple product. Most of the time, it's very hard to get special deals with Apple, but a refurbished Apple will save you some money. Also, I don't have any proof of this, but I've heard that any time you buy a piece of electronics that is refurbished, they are higher-quality than brand new. This is because someone took the time to custom-manufacture your product where a new product just rolls off the assembly line with the typical defect rate that the original manufacturer accepts as the cost of doing business. Whether that's true or not, I've never had a problem with a refurbished gadget. And I can never tell the difference between refurbished and new.
What You Need to Take Away From This
Whatever you do to buy your next gadget, just keep in mind that it's only a gadget. All you can do is put the odds in your favor by doing your homework and shopping around for the best deals. As long as you feel like you've done the best you can in the time you had, you'll never regret the decision you made, even if it wasn't the best decision.