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How I Saved Money on a New Laptop

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Earlier this week I bought a new laptop. My currently laptop is around 3 years old and it's starting to show it's age. It has 768MB of memory, much less than many computers have nowadays. When I have my 700 Firefox tabs open, it really slows down to a crawl. I realize I could fix this fairly cheaply by buying some additional memory. The other problem is that if I'm not careful about leaving all the vents open to air, the laptop will overheat and reboot (without warning). I've lost a good amount of work this way. My friend says that I could take a can of spray air to the vents and fix this problem. So in reality it would take me $30 to make it a fairly functional computer again.

So why didn't I go that route? I asked myself my five questions before making a purchase. As these problems crept up, a new laptop was getting closer and closer from going from a "want" to a "need" to protect my income. The other side is that there are some productivity gains to be had as well. Simply having the extra memory and faster processor should get me through tasks quicker. In addition to these, I'll have a web camera for the first time. It's a small thing, but I'm sure I can talk with my niece and nephew back east. I got a WXGA+ screen which is a 1440x900 resolution instead of my current 1200x800. That's going to lead to a sharper picture. I also will get an HDMI out, which will be great streaming Netflix movies easy to my televisions. Finally, I got a built-in bluetooth card, which means I can teather to my phone and get Internet anywhere my phone has data.

However, I am most excited about the price. I had done some research and came really close to buying a refurbished system on CompUSA's site. I saw a computer that gave me most everything (no bluetooth) for $610. A friend said that if I go that way, I should look at the Dell Outlet. I saw deals that were similar, maybe a little more - nothing to sway me much. I remembered that at times Dell has coupons. As luck would have it, one of these coupons was for 20% any refurbished laptop over $500. And then I found that I could get all the above with a Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 and 4GB of memory (just a tad more than the 768MB I have now) for $503 it was impossible to resist. Yes, I did get a refurbished system and that may be a concern to some. (Who knows, maybe I'll be writing an article about How I Lost Money on a New Laptop 6 months from now). Pricing the computer new, it would cost $869... after a $279 instant savings that Dell is running now.

So my tips for saving money on a laptop... look for refurbished, and try to stack coupons from places like Ben's Bargains. You can also follow Fat Wallet's Laptop message board as they show good deals that in stores. For instance, Big Lots is currently getting some overstock from Circuit City and clearing it out at very cheap prices. Each store only gets a few and it seems like they sell out quickly, but that was my plan B. I liked the Dell laptop better.

Posted on October 31, 2008.

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9 Responses to “How I Saved Money on a New Laptop”

  1. rstlne says:

    When I got a ThinkPad last December, I used a shareholder discount plus an online coupon on top of their year-end sale to save around 50%. That was the only way to get the price down to where I thought it was a good deal. Then I gave away my old laptop computer to someone who needed it more.

  2. Tom says:

    It’s pretty amazing how much laptop prices have come down – even just in the last year. I just ordered my wife a nice Dell for under $600. Including shipping and taxes.

  3. Kym says:

    Seeing as it’s Dell, I wish you the best with it not breaking down. Seeing as it’s also refurbished, I fear that it will. And they won’t help. I worked at an authorized Dell repair shop for several years (among 3 other brands), we got Dell the most frequently even on brand new machines. Turnaround time was slow, and after they give out a replacement part that’s it, no more for that same part. So..I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a bad $500 deal for you, but I worry.

  4. Lazy Man says:

    Considering I’ve bought quite a few Dell products that work fine, I’m not overly concerned. I know that some percentage of any brand is going to have a problem. I don’t know how I would quantify the chance or repair possibility between the Dell that I went for vs. the Gateway that I almost went for. In fact many people said not to get the Compaq that I has served me well now.

    When you get to something really, really popular there’s always going to be a few vocal people that had bad experiences. I think the majority of people are doing well or the company would be out of business quickly.

  5. I bought a new macbook a few weeks ago since I decided to go full time freelance, it wasn’t really necessarily, but it has made it a lot easier since i travel 1 1/2 to his house every week and we work together :P

  6. Lazy Man says:

    As a design person though, Macs are in your blood :D

  7. shadox says:

    Here’s how I saved money on a desktop: I bought one 7 years ago and I am using it to write up this comment (a few minor upgrades along the way – for graphics, memory and a bigger hard drive), but it’s still going strong – it’s a Sony Vaio, incidentally.

  8. Nice work… didn’t know about the refurbished coupons.

    I used the Live Search Cashback program from Microsoft. Saved me 20% on my new laptop, and can be used multiple times if you’re still looking for an easy way to save for Christmas shopping.

  9. Miss Thrifty says:

    I had to buy a new laptop recently too. My tips are here:

    http://www.miss-thrifty.co.uk/2008/08/13/ah-for-the-love-of-laptop-computers/

    I decided against buying a refurb – if these laptops are wearing out within 3 yrs anyway, I’m not sure that the cash savings work out in the long run – but it’s a PITA, when you’re trying to live frugally and your laptop conks!

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