12 Jul

Saving Money on Computers

This is the first in a series about saving money on things your student will use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. My opening tips discuss how to save money on one of the ultimate big ticket item purchased for college: a computer.

Don’t you love it when I tell you that you don’t have to pay the sticker price of college? Well, guess what? You don’t have to pay the sticker price for a computer either!

Start by finding out what your student actually needs before you pick out a computer. For example, a good word processor and anti-virus software are probably necessary, the five-piece speaker system with a subwoofer probably isn’t. Once you know what you are looking for, you can start shopping around. Also, remember that desktops can be considerably less expensive than laptops, and tend to have more power (although that’s quickly changing.)

Laptops on campus are a double-edged sword-they can make note-taking quicker and easier to organize and make homework more portable, but they can also be a distraction during class. Weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each to decide which will be a better investment.

When you have decided what you are looking for, start shopping around. Most of the top computer companies offer student discounts. Student discounts are sometimes significantly lower than other discounts you hear about or find. Hewlett Packard (HP), Dell, and Apple all have educational discounts, and many have stores created for especially for individual colleges. Many student discount computers will come bundled with other accessories. For example, Apple has a deal right now that lets students get a free (with rebate) iPod nano when they purchase a Mac. Find out more about their discounts at the following websites:

Apple: http://www.apple.com/education/hed/students/discounts.html

HP: http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/register_app.do

Dell: http://www.delluniversity.com/shopnow.aspx

If the computer your student wants is not offered with a student discount, you can pursue other options. One idea is to buy a refurbished computer. If you go this route, be careful. Make sure the dealer is reputable, and get a good warranty. Another option is to find websites that offer coupon codes to help discount the price of computers and all kinds of other items. Try Googling your favorite computer company + the word “coupon” and see what comes up. You can also search for the computer company of your choice at the coupon websites like these:

DealCatcher: http://www.dealcatcher.com/

CouponMountain: http://www.couponmountain.com/

Whatever you choose to do, be sure to do your research so you can get the best computer for your needs for the best price.

Happy shopping!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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