Nobody likes to spend money on electronic devices, yet they’re one of the necessities of life. While we need them to communicate with others, check our schedules, and keep tabs on the family, we can never justify their cost on sheer entertainment value. None of us enjoys spending money on electronics that will be passé two month’s from now, yet we all need to have the latest, most expensive, and styling gadget. Yet they always seem to crap out when we need them the most.
You may just save yourself money if you keep these 5 points in mind before making a spur-of-the-moment purchase on an electronic device.
- Always do your research first. Spur-of-the-moment purchases may be exciting, but you’ll have buyer’s remorse once you return home, realizing that you could have shopped around a bit first. There’s also the hazard that when you purchase online, it may not be exactly what you were hoping for. The screen, or keys, may be too small. Visit an electronics shop first, to learn about the functionality of your chosen electronic device.
- Buy open box items. These are items that have been returned to the shop because someone changed their mind. They are offered for a significant discount to the consumer. It may also have been a box that was opened in-store to show a customer the product. Returned and open box items are still backed by store and manufacturer warranties, so your risk is still low.
- Try a money saving app or software. Sites such as the Invisible Hand (http://www.getinvisiblehand.com) track prices on the most popular name brand products. Sign up, and wait for the prices to drop. The site will alert you to the best prices for your chosen electronic device.
- Ask the salesperson to match their price with a competitor’s. These prices can be quickly looked up online, and many stores offer another 5% discount on top of the price match. If you have a store loyalty or gift card, it can be beneficial to purchase products from your favorite store, rather than just the one with a lower price.
- Buy at the right time of year. Certain times of the year are better than others for buying electronic devices. Other times of the year aren’t so great, such as prior to the school year, or Christmas, when retailers know they can jack up the prices because these items are needed. July is a good time of year to buy last year’s computer model, before the current year’s are released. March is a great time to buy a TV, as many distributors end their fiscal year in the spring. February is a great time of year to get a two for one cellphone Valentine’s Day deal promotion.
Even if you’re in panic mode, calm down and spend some time shopping for new purchases. It’s worth spending time to minimize the expense of new electronic devices.
Children mirror the actions of their parents. That’s why it’s so important that they learn the value of money, and how to live well. We all want our children to do well in life, and that begins by avoiding debt, saving money, and learning to live frugally. The better our financial planning, the greater the chances that our children will match our success when they are adults.
Here are 6 tips to teach your children about frugal living:
- Name brand isn’t necessarily better. Many of the same products sold in discount stores have different labels in higher-end boutiques, yet they are the exact same product manufactured in China. The trick is to finding items that look expensive, but were purchased from a discount big box store instead.
- It’s not necessary to purchase everything. Libraries contain plenty of books to read, CDs to listen to, and DVDs to watch. Sporting and camping equipment can be borrowed from friends. Musical instruments can be rented. Many items of entertainment value are often used only once, before being discarded. Many items can be borrowed for free, or rented for just a fraction of their full cost.
- Get your kids involved. If you’re in the market for a new Blu Ray player, let your kids peruse the flyers and online sites to find the best price. Offer an incentive such as if they can find it for $20 cheaper, then you’ll buy them a toy. Of course they must shop around for that too. Let them tag along as you visit the mall. But don’t drive all around town looking to save $20—with today’s prices you’ll end up burning it all up in gas.
- Put items back on the shelf. Don’t be afraid to change your mind at the store. Let your child know that an item isn’t really needed. Perhaps the grocery budget is being exceeded, and it’s more important to have apples in the cart, than chips. Tell them about the “cooling off period” for making purchases—the time between want, and discovering if you really need it. The more expensive a purchase, the longer the length of time for cooling off.
- Reuse, repurpose, recycle. Teach your kids about the 3-R’s—Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle. They don’t need a new wardrobe for school, if their old clothes still fit. School supplies can be reused. Cool craft projects can be made from recycled items such as popsicle sticks, glossy magazine paper, and pop cans. Old furniture can be painted to look like new again.
- Hold a yard or garage sale. Get the kids involved in finding old toys they no longer play with, but that are still good to someone else. Let them know that the money that is raised from the garage sale will be used for a good purpose.
Remember to reinforce your frugal living points with your children. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they’ll learn to live frugally.