Tips from David Pogue, founder of Yahoo Tech:
1. Learn when new gadgets come out, so you don't buy something just before it's made obsolete. In general, there's a new iPhone model every September. New iPad every November. New cameras in February and October. New everything else in time for the holidays.
2. Consider a prepaid cellphone (you pay before making calls) instead of the usual kind (you pay after you've made calls). All the big carriers offer them, but rarely advertise them. They can save you tons of money.
3. Talk to children and grandchildren using an app like Skype (available for smartphones, tablets and computers) or FaceTime (for Apple phones, tablets and computers). It's free phone chatting over the Internet, with video. Both parties must have the app, but your kids likely do already.
4. Outsmart scammers. If your bank or a big store emails you to report a problem with your account, don't click the link and log in. The email is fake and it takes you to a bogus website. When you "log in" the bad guys snag your password.
5. If traveling outside the U.S., put your phone on airplane mode. Forget and the phone keeps checking the Internet and email over the cellular network in the new country — and you'll get a huge bill when you return. If you must check email, turn Wi-Fi on and find a Wi-Fi hot spot.
6. Buy refurbished computers (available from the websites of Apple, Dell, HP and so on). "Refurbished" isn't really the right word at all; these are brand new computers. Usually they were bought and then returned for some reason. They've been inspected even more thoroughly than new machines, have the same warranty and cost less.
7. Stick to basic cable. Then sign up for Netflix streaming ($8 a month), which lets you watch unlimited movies and entire seasons of TV shows. Or borrow DVDs from the library.
8. Never buy anything online without first checking RetailMeNot.com. This is the Web's clearinghouse for discounts, coupons and time-limited deals from the universe of online stores.
Also of Interest
- Consumer spending mistakes and regrets
- Fitness fads that boomers loved and left
- Find great volunteer opportunities in your community
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