In my line of work, a trip to Costco can be hard. I have to resist the urge to rush to the electronics section to stop people from making bad purchases.
But somehow I think grabbing their ankles while they try to walk to the checkout line won't go over so well. Americans may be getting more frugal, but there are still so many things that most of us are paying too much for! When we started polling the BradsDeals team, we came up with far more things people spend too much on than we could fit in a single post. In this first of the series, we're taking a look at the electronics items you should be saving more on.
Don't you just love paying an extra $100 or so on that flashy new HDTV for your living room? Oh, wait, you don't. Sales tax really shows up on big ticket items. The online marketplace for HDTVs is more competitive than ever, and many sites let you skip the sales tax while offering the lowest prices available and free shipping.
Another great tip for saving on TVs: you don't have to buy the smartest TV on the block to have a great at-home experience. Sure, you want access to all the cool online content like Netflix and Hulu Plus, but that doesn't have to come from your TV. Think of your TV as a display and attach a cheaper device to it to act as the brains. A network Blu-ray player or Roku give your basic HDTV the same capabilities, and it is actually almost always cheaper to buy them than it is to buy a SmartTV. For instance, I have a 40" 1080p Emerson purchased on Black Friday for $260 and a $60 Sony network Blu-ray player. Compare that $598 for this 42" Vizio SmartTV for $598.
Computers and Tablets
I always wince when I hear about someone going into a store and buying the computer or tablet they want without even checking online. If you are buying Apple products, check out this post on why NOT to buy in the Apple store. The same is true for tablets, in recent months we've seen $319 iPad 2s and $139 Kindle Fires…but only if you buy refurbs. If you are buying HP, Dell, or one of the other manufacturers, you can still save by shopping smart. That means looking for coupons and checking out previous generations. For a long time, we stressed about our computers being obsolete within a month or so after purchase. But most new generations these days show incremental "speed bump" type upgrades, rather than complete redesigns. Personally, I'd take a slightly older model with 6 or 8GB of memory at a great price over the newest processor any day.
More is better, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to camera megapixels, you're probably overdoing it like a Humvee with oversized tires. Becky, another of our blog authors and resident photog, asks, "Do you really need eleventy million megapixels? Unless you're shooting for billboards, the answer is no. You really don't need more than 8MP, tops. More megapixels also come with additional hidden costs. You'll need more SD cards, more hard drive space, etc. since more megapixels equates to larger files, and that all adds significant cost over time, too. Camera prices fall rapidly with each new generation. If you're really savvy, you can pick up someone else's perfectly good camera when they upgrade."
This even applies if you are looking into higher-end DSLR cameras. Megapixels are much less important than the make, model, and lens options. If you are buying a DSLR, your best bet is probably NOT that basic camera body with 18-55mm lens kit. Bundled values like this Canon T3 with 3 lenses and tons of other goodies set you up with all the paparazzi gear and save you hundreds on the cost of the items purchased separately.
If your standard practice when getting a new phone is to go to the store of your carrier, check out the phones, and buy the one you like, you are playing right into your carrier's hands. They count on people going for convenience and instant gratification. Independent vendors can offer bigger savings on the phone of your choice. Check out Wirefly and Amazon Wireless to see if they have a better deal. Also, a little patience can save you a ton of cash. My smartphone MO is to research and pick out 2 or 3 models that I like. Then I play the waiting game. On my last smartphone purchase, it was only a matter of a week or so until the HTC Sensation 4G (which had only been released a few months before) dropped from it's normal price of $249 with contract to $0. The sale was short-lived, but I was prepared and ready to buy. I saved a bundle and got a phone I loved.
Replacing your washer/dryer combo by going to Lowes and buying the the best model you can find in your budget? You are probably spending too much! It is time to learn about the dance sensation that's sweeping the nation, it is called showrooming. If you aren't familiar with the term, here's the scoop. You go to a brick & mortar store and use it as a "showroom" to look for that new refrigerator or lawn mower, and then you go online to find the best deal on the one you want. Bad for traditional retailers, but great for you. Check out our current coupons for sites like Sears.com, HomeDepot.com, and Lowes.com. They nearly always have promotions running for appliances.
Want to continue reading this series to find out the bills, apparel, entertainment, you are spending too much on? Sign up for Brad's Alerts!