How to Save Money on a New Computer

by Guest Contributor · 13 comments

As is usually the case in big ticket purchases, the best way to save money buying a new computer is not to buy one.  The statement is obvious but it’s worth mentioning. If your current computer works fine, it can be much cheaper to spend money on upgrades than on a completely new machine.  If you are still determined to purchase a new machine though, here are some things to help you minimize the impact on your budget.

Figure Out What You Need

Laptops and desktops are available with all the bells and whistles imaginable.  A serious online gamer may need the memory and graphics from the high end of the available spectrum. For most users, a much simpler machine can accommodate all our needs and still provide excellent usability.  Assess your needs before you go to the store where all those pretty computers will tempt you towards making a purchase that exceeds your parameters.

Part of this process is also figuring out what you don’t need.  Unless you plan to use a web cam constantly, you don’t need one as part of your package.  Printers are nice, but you can get cheaper ones if you buy them alone.  Biometric security features?  Fancy but scarcely necessary unless you are a spy or corporate big shot.  Minimize as much as possible.

Use Rebates and Sales

Because computers are a technology that is constantly changing, you can usually find great deals on slightly older models.  Whether it is an older version of an operating system, a slower drive or less refined screen, most of us aren’t going to notice the difference.  On the other hand, these are the models that offer the best rebates and are most frequently on sale as stores try to deplete their inventory.  Do keep an eye out for computers with rebates that are more than a similar unit without one, though.

Refurbished Or Out of the Box

There is a growing market for computers that have been returned to the manufacturer for one reason or another.  If there is a defect, the manufacturer will repair the unit and return it to the owner.  Other computers simply didn’t meet their new owner’s desires and they returned them within the warranty period.  Either way, there are some serious savings available on these units.  When you buy these, they generally work just like new so it is definitely worth looking at these models.

Avoid Extras

If you are looking at a desktop, you can avoid a lot of pricey extras.  Your current monitor, keyboard and mouse should work just fine with your new CPU, so don’t purchase new ones.  Extra software added to a standard machine may not be necessary for you, so ask that it not be loaded.  Avoid Vista optimization add ons; frankly, I suggest you avoid Vista altogether. Even with a free upgrade, your computer will be faster Windows 7 was freshly installed.

Buying a new computer doesn’t have to break the bank.  Personally, I just got my kids a really nice desktop with a monitor, speakers, and wireless internet for $300, so I know you can do it, too.

This post is part of the free ebook on How to Save Money on Everything! Check out the free book by subscribing to the newsletter (details below)

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  • Marissa says:

    I always look for out of box deals for computers, as the warranty is the same and you save a few dollars as well.

  • Joe Morgan says:

    Along the lines of avoiding extras, you can save a lot by passing on all the extra software bundles they like to push.

    You can get by very nicely with a free antivirus, like Avast. and you can use Open Office instead of MS Office. Those two things along can save you $200-400.

    There’s plenty of free software out there that’s just as good, if not better than the premium stuff:

  • Primary Work at Home says:

    I agree about DIY. It is really a big help to save.

  • Andrew @ Financial Services says:

    DIY is the way to go. It really pays to know your stuff though. A lot of desktop packages in stores now are just overpriced boxes with limited upgrade options. You can really save up and avoid making cash loans if you know what to put into your computer.

  • kenyantykoon says:

    i see the sense in this post but in my case, gadgets are in my money vice list and in buying them i really waste a lot of time and money looking for something that will put a smile on my face each time i switch it on in the way of speed and features and all. sadly the excitement wears out really fast and i am left wondering why i bought the thing in the first place

  • Fanny says:

    My husband built his own computer through parts from a computer store. Although it was initially cheaper to put it together himself, it always broke down and needed repairs. So in the end, the do it yourself method ended up costing more than a new computer.

    • MoneyNing says:

      That’s surprising because I always found that do-it-yourself type computers lasted longer as I could replace specific parts that malfunction (instead of replacing the whole computer when things go wrong).

      Maybe it was just a stroke of bad luck?

  • GE Miller says:

    This year I just bought my second desktop. The last one I bought? – 10 years ago. That’s right, 10 years ago. It was slow as hell, but when most of what you do is use the internet, you don’t need a super pimped out machine.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Just an update everyone. I just added to the free How to Save Money on Everything ebook and it now contains 42 pages of money saving tips.

    Remember to sign up for the newsletter to grab your copy.

  • Financial Samurai says:

    I’m at a point where my 5 year old iBook G4 has ZERO charge. Since a battery costs about $100, it just seems to make sense for me to buy a new laptop PC for around $500, or perhaps a Macbook Pro for $1,000.

    i’ve got 512KB of ram, and a 20GB HD, and I think I really do need to buy a new computer. 🙂

    • MoneyNing says:

      You never NEED to, but you can probably get your work done quicker if you have more ram on your computer 🙂 Good luck in your search and hope to hear about the news that you got a new one soon.

      • Financial Samurai says:

        Yeah, I think I really do need it. Was at Best Buy today, and I’m amazed how much you can get for $650 now (4GB DDR3 ram, 350GB HD, etc) vs. the Mac’s at $1300-1,500.

        I’m going to wait until mid December and see if I can get a deal.

        PC’s are so much cheaper.

  • Nick K says:

    Finally someone mentions the refurbished models. There seems to be a fear about these that they will break, but they last just as long as new products that I’ve bought. They are routinely 10%, maybe 20, even 30% off the prices of a new computer and they are just as good.

    I will never buy a new computer again if budget is a concern.

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