Although technology continues to become more powerful and yet also (usually) more affordable, computers and other gadgets are still major purchases that you'll likely replace in a few years. It pays, then, to plan ahead to get the best deal on these items. If you're buying a computer for work purposes (or to use at least partly for working remotely), you may also be able to tap into some additional savings potential.
Use Your Company's Resources
If you are or will be a telecommuter working remotely for your employer, you may be able to use your company's equipment at your home office. Many companies provide telecommuters with a laptop and other basic equipment, and some also offer allowances for office supplies -- contact your company's HR department for more details. Even if your company doesn't provide you with hardware outright, you may be able to get a corporate discount on a new computer, cell phone service, or other work-related items.
Get Professional or Other Membership/Student Discounts
If you're not able to -- or would rather not -- use your employer's equipment or resources, you can still save on buying a computer and other equipment and supplies through professional associations, unions, or other memberships. Many organizations offer special member-only discounts on wireless service, computer hardware, software, office supplies, and business services from specific partners. Even non-work-related memberships like AAA offer valuable savings to members. And don't forget -- if you go to school even part-time, you may qualify for academic discounts, which can be significant.
More: Explore About's Tech Careers' Directory of Professional Organizations
Buy at the Right Time
Major holidays remain the best times to shop for big purchases, with deep discounts offered on electronics particularly on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday after, when online retailers offer major deals).
Outside of holidays, another good time to shop for computers and electronics is in the spring. The reason is that major consumer electronic shows present new and upcoming devices in January, and retailers start around April to make room for these new devices by marking down current inventory.
More: Cyber Monday shopping tips, from About's Guide to Frugal Living, has some good advice on deal tracking, coupon code, rewards, and price comparison websites
Use Online Shopping Tricks and Other Strategies
Using coupon code sites like retailmenot.com and shopping from cashback sites like Ebates are great ways to save online. Here are some additional ways you may be able to save on your next PC or gadgets purchase:
- Put an item in your shopping cart but don't check out. Some retailers will email you a discount code after a week or a few weeks of inactivity to convince you to buy. (This doesn't always work, though, so don't count on it unless you have a flexible shoppig window.)
- Don't forget tax and shipping. Because computers are large purchases, tax and shipping can be significant; make sure when you comparison shop you take these into consideration.
- Consider warehouse clubs. Yes, warehouse clubs like Costco and BJ's aren't just for household supplies; although you might not get as much pre-buying service at these clubs, you can get good deals on electronics they carry.
- Follow retailers on Twitter or Facebook. In addition to signing up for email newsletters, consider following on Twitter or Facebook any retailers you may purchase from -- many offer unique promotions for their social media followers.
- Upgrade, buy used, or build your own PC. Mark Kyrnin, About's Guide to PC Hardware/Reviews, has additional tips for finding a laptop or desktop PC for less, including purchasing PCs with less RAM and upgrading the memory yourself, building your own desktop, and purchasing refurbished units.