When you’re a freelance writer like I am, you need a few key things to do your job — a desk, an internet connection, and a laptop. The latter, however, is something I may be looking to replace this year.
My laptop has recently been showing signs of wear. It’ll freeze on me from time to time, and lately, the fan seems to be running perpetually, which I know could wear out its components.
It’s also worth noting that my laptop is more than four years old, so I’m not shocked that these things are happening. But it’s time to face reality and start padding my savings account for a replacement — which, thankfully, is something I already started doing late last year.
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One thing I don’t want to do when buying a new laptop is overpay. So to save on that purchase, I’m taking this approach.
1. I’m not going to wait until I’m desperate
Right now, my laptop is still technically working just fine. My husband, who knows a thing or two about computers, said it might easily last another year. But I’m not going to wait for my laptop to stop working to shop for a new one. At that point, I’ll be in a jam and won’t have time to research my options carefully. Instead, I’ll need a new laptop that day, which won’t be a good situation.
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Instead, I want to start looking at different models in the coming weeks. As the geek that I am, I also plan to make a spreadsheet where I list those models, their features, and their prices at different retailers. That way, I can track prices for a bit of time and then make an informed decision.
When comparing prices, though, I’ll consider various features like warranties. Costco, for example, offers a free second-year warranty on all electronics. So if Costco has a comparable price on a given laptop to Best Buy but Costco’s warranty is better, that’ll be the more logical choice.
I may also try to find a retailer that offers free tech support in case I run into issues with my new laptop. My husband is great with computers, but he doesn’t always have the time and patience to serve as my personal tech support guru, which I understand.
2. I’m not going to be lured in by mega sales events
Last year, Amazon held its now-famous Prime Day shopping event in July with a follow-up event in October. And the online retail giant will most likely host at least one mega-sales event this year.
But I’m not going to plan to buy a laptop on Prime Day. Nor will I assume that Black Friday or Cyber Monday will be the best time. Plus, I’m not sure I want to wait for those events, since I may need to replace my laptop much sooner. Instead, I’ll stick to my plan of researching prices in the winter and tracking them for a few months to see if things change.
3. I’m not going to pay for features I don’t need
The laptop I currently have is an older version of this one. And I’m looking for something with a similar amount of memory and a reasonably fast processing speed. These are features I need to be efficient at my job, so it makes financial sense to pay for them.
But I don’t need the fanciest on-screen graphics or the best laptop speakers. On the rare occasion that I have to sign into a remote meeting, standard sound should work just fine.
In the world of laptops, there’s a huge range. I could spend $500 or less on a new one, or I could spend upward of $1,500. The right answer for me is probably a happy medium — somewhere in the vicinity of $1,000. I don’t want to cheap out on this purchase because that could truly affect my productivity.
Plus, I’m looking at a new laptop as an investment of sorts. I don’t necessarily expect it to last five years or more, but I’d like to get three years out of it. So I’m willing to pay a little more to make that happen. And since this is a business expense, I do get some of my money back in the form of a tax break, since I can take a deduction for a purchase like this that’s essential to my job.
If you’re looking to make a big purchase that enables you to do your job, do plenty of research. But also, it’s important to know how to strike a balance between not being cheap and not overpaying. Whether it’s a laptop or something else, think about the features you really need and the amount you’re comfortable spending. But make sure you address your need for that item in a non-rushed fashion, so you don’t end up making a bad choice due to running out of time.
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