Home > 2014 > Personal Finance

10 Mistakes That Can Double Your Tech Spending

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

From phones to TVs to computers, technology is woven into almost every aspect of modern living. We use it for work; we use it for entertainment; we use it for security.

However, you could be spending a lot more on tech than needed.

Mistake No. 1: Renting Electronics & Equipment

Hopefully everyone is savvy enough to realize that rent-to-own electronics are virtually always a bad deal. In fact, they’re an almost surefire way to end up paying as much as three times whatever you’re buying is worth.

But what about those things you “have” to rent, like your cable or Internet modem? Maybe you don’t realize you don’t have to rent them. You can buy your own.

It’s a secret the cable companies may not want you to know, and you probably don’t know, given that some estimates say more than 90% of customers rent their modems. Comcast would like to keep collecting that $8 a month without you being any the wiser, but you could go buy your own modem for less than $40 and be done with the monthly fees forever.

Mistake No. 2: Buying Services You Don’t Need

Sometimes when we sign up for a cable, Internet or cellphone plan, we simply take what’s offered to us. It’s easier to say “sure” than to consider whether you really need that many movie channels, a sports package and DVR services.

Now is the time to thoroughly examine your monthly bills and see what extra services you pay for but don’t use. For example, your phone plan may come with call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling. If you never use those, see if there’s a cheaper package available without the added services.

Mistake No. 3: Assuming You’re Stuck With a Particular Provider

This mistake is most common with cellphones. You may think that to get the latest and greatest phone, you need to sign a contract and stick with a particular carrier for two years. In reality, you can buy an unlocked phone and use it on almost any carrier, including low-cost prepaid plans.

Unlocked phones cost more upfront. Because you’re not signing a contract, you’ll have to pay the full retail price. Depending on the phone you want, that could cost a small fortune, but there are also plenty of reasonably priced unlocked phones available.

And remember, even if you pay more for the phone upfront, you’ll save in the long run if you select a low-cost carrier.

Mistake No. 4: Upgrading as Soon as You Can

Speaking of phones, how many of you now have an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy Note 4?

May I ask why?

If you have lots of money to spend, there may be no reason not to buy the latest and greatest gadgets. On the flip side, if you’re trying to stretch your dollars, there is no reason to buy the latest and greatest gadgets.

Don’t forget that marketers spend a lot of time and money trying to convince you that your TV, computer, phone and whatever else you own is obsolete. They’re in the business of making sales. You should be in the business of protecting your money. Upgrade only when you truly need new technology, and don’t junk perfectly good items simply because something flashier comes along.

Mistake No. 5: Turning up Your Nose at Refurbished Items

When it’s time to upgrade, don’t turn your back on the refurbished rack. Refurbished electronics can be every bit as good as brand-new items. The only difference is they sport a deep discount.

Mistake No. 6: Always Buying the Extended Warranty

Stacy Johnson took a closer look at extended warranties this summer, and you’ll definitely want to read his advice.

The bottom line is that while some items may benefit from a warranty, some times they’re simply a waste of money. It doesn’t matter if it only costs a few bucks; you could be throwing away money if you automatically say yes to every warranty offered, especially if you’re already getting coverage from a manufacturer warranty or from your credit card.

Mistake No. 7: Thinking a Higher Price Means Better Quality

Sometimes we spend our dollars in the wrong place. We may spend an arm and a leg for something pricey when the bargain-basement version does just as good a job.

According to savings site Brad’s Deals, these electronics categories are prime areas where you may be tempted to overspend:

  • HDTVs
  • computers and tablets
  • cameras
  • smartphones
  • appliances

Mistake No. 8: Failing to Maximize Your Smartphone

Do you have a smartphone? Then you could probably ditch all sorts of extra expenses and gadgets from your life.

For example, if you have a smartphone, there really may be no reason to pay for these:

  • landline service
  • long-distance service
  • GPS
  • digital camera

Depending on how heavily you use the Internet, you may even be able to use your smartphone as a hot spot in lieu of a separate home connection.

Mistake No. 9: Leaving Everything Plugged in

It might be a pain to unplug your electronics every night, but it could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 10% of your energy bill could be going to items that are plugged in but turned off or, say, in the case of cellphone chargers, not in use. That’s because cords plugged into an outlet can be pulling power even if the electronic it’s attached to is not on or being used. According to the government, you could be paying $43.46 per year to have a cable box with DVR plugged in 24/7.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has a chart of average standby power usage so you can pinpoint what exactly might be the biggest drain in your house.

Mistake No. 10: Buying Without a Discount

Finally, you’re spending way more on tech than you need to if you’re not waiting for sales or using a coupon.

For most of us, many tech items are a luxury, and that means we have the luxury of shopping around for the best deal. Other than impatience, there is little reason to buy an electronics item this instant. Practice delayed gratification and wait to make your next big buy. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here shortly, bringing with them deep discounts on lots of tech products.

Technology can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break your budget. Avoid these 10 mistakes and start saving today.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team