Looking for ways to save money on technology? The easiest way to keep more cash in your pocket is to ignore the temptation to upgrade devices. Use your old laptop, smartphone or iPod for another year.
But sometimes, that's not possible. Devices die, or are stolen. Sometimes, they're just so outdated they no longer have modern functionality.
Let's assume you need to buy a new laptop, smartphone, e-reader or MP3 player. Here are some things you can do if you are a frugal consumer who wants to save money when making a technology purchase.
Some technology companies allow you to buy "refurbished" products. These are usually gently used, returned items that have been factory-checked and certified to have no deficiencies.
Refurbished items sold directly from the manufacturer sometimes carry the same warranty as brand-new items. For example, Apple offers the same manufacturer's warranty on both new and refurbished products, as long as you buy the item directly from Apple.
How much money can you save? Apple sells many refurbished products for between 15 percent to 35 percent off, depending on the model. At those rates, you could save $350 or more on the purchase of a higher-end MacBook Pro.
Limit optional features
The bells and whistles of the latest technology are nice. But do you really need all of the upgraded functionality that a new or improved product offers?
Before you set foot in a store, make a list of your "must-haves." If your habit of keeping a reading light on at night is causing marital strife, upgrading to a Kindle Paperwhite -- with backlighting -- might make sense.
But if you want that feature just because it seems new and neat, restrain yourself and buy a more basic version. Here are four tips for doing so:
Shop elsewhere for accessories
You may choose to buy a smartphone through your carrier, but that doesn't mean you need to buy a case from the Verizon store as well.
Hunt for cases, covers and other accessories on websites like eBay, Amazon and Overstock. You can often find technology accessories at a fraction of the in-store cost.
Don't rely on Black Friday deals
Black Friday is coming up, but that doesn't mean it's the only day of the year when you can find the best deals.
Keep tabs on prices and sales year-round. You'll sometimes spot deals that are as good (or better) than those offered on Black Friday.
Paula Pant is a journalist-turned-blogger who helps people shatter limits, ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.