Perhaps it is just the economic climate, but everyone seems to be looking at where they can cut costs. One place people overlook where they could cut costs is in their computer habits. There are many little money sinks here and there which can add up to some really big dollars in the long haul.
1. High Quality Digital Cables
I'm not sure where the belief that you had to have the top of the line cables to make your computer or home entertainment system run at its peak levels. Perhaps it is a hold over from analog days, where cable quality really did matter. For digital streams of data, there is very little, if any, benefit to buying top of the line cables. A digital signal only had two possible states, on and off. As long as the system understands the current bit, it makes no difference if the cable was five bucks or five hundred. The “quality” of the bits going through the cable makes no difference.
2. Printer Ink
I'm sure most people know about the insanity of printer ink's price. However, this wouldn't be a real list of overpriced technology without highlighting it. Printer cartridges are much like razor blades. Most manufacturers will take a loss on the printer itself, counting on making their money back on selling ink cartridges. Since refilling or using non-name brand cartridges can be really bothersome, they can charge almost anything they want for the cartage. Which tends to be an arm and a leg.
3. Text Messages
It is really insane just how much people is charged for text messages. Data wise, a text message is practically nothing. For example, I am writing this article on Open Office. If I were to save a completely blank document in Open Office's default file format, it comes out to 7.04 KB. Using that same amount of memory, I could create about seventy-one text messages. Makes you wonder why you're paying per text or for a twenty buck a month texting plan, huh?
4. Brand Name Components
As with many things, brand name components are often priced at a premium. While they are sometimes constructed better or have other features that the buyer may want, sometimes they aren't worth the heavier price. Unless you're going into some very high end work or gaming on your computer, you don't really need to go all out on name brand parts. This is particularly true with computer accessories. While Apple is the one that everyone picks on for selling their brand name parts and accessories at a premium, every major company does it somewhere. Knowing where you can cut back and use an off label part for the same effect can allow you to save big.
5. Video Games
Since I bought up gaming in my previous item, let me go a bit more in-depth on that. Gaming can be a very expensive hobby if gone unchecked. But, there are ways to drastically cut the cost of gaming.
The biggest is looking for and making use of deals. By getting a game with a decent preorder bonus or discount, you come out ahead. However, by pre-ordering you prevent yourself from seeing reviews, so there is the chance of getting a dud game.
Another option is to wait for the game to go on sale after it releases. The video game market moves very quickly and games will drop in price or go on sale within a few months of it releasing. This also gives time to find reviews and understand what the game is about and if you will enjoy it.
That is assuming that you buy your games at all. No, I don't mean pirate your games. By renting your games or getting them on loan from services such as Gamefly, it becomes really cheap to play the latest console games. Then, if you really like a game you can either buy it though them or pick it up elsewhere.
The final option is to buy games used. While this doesn't jive well with some publishers, you're able to save a great deal of money by just getting games used instead of new. The problem is that some games reward first time buyers via free downloadable and/or multiplayer content that someone who bought a used copy would have to pay to gain access to. So, you may have to do some research on that front.
6. Extended Warranties
This time, it really depends on the product on wither or not an extended warranty would be worth it. For some products it is a good deal but for others it isn't. Of course, the first thing you have to do is weight the price of the plan with the cost of the product. Will you just want to replace the item down the road should something happen or fix it?
For mobile devices, laptops and phones, more often than not extending the warranty is a worthwhile investment. Mobile devices take far more abuse than their home-bound counterparts, There is always the danger of a mobile device being dropped, banged up, or otherwise damaged. If the warranty covers accidental damage, you will be fine should something unfortunate happen while out and about.
For home bound items, it factors more into how likely it is for the item to break. When you look at reviews, take note of failure rates. Is the company well known for making quality products? How often does reviewers say the product is breaking down and for what reasons? The answers to these questions will tell you if an extended warranty is a money waster or a money saver.