Have you added up your technology bills recently? Proper research and price comparisons can save you a lot of money when it comes to the services and products you need. Many Americans don’t price-shop for their most basic technology purchases, and they end up overpaying. Here is a list of four technology services you are likely overpaying for.
Books, Movies, and Magazines
It seems we have all forgotten about our public library system. Many don’t realize it has even gone digital, with apps and tools available to sync your tablets to the world’s largest free library of books and magazines. Despite the fact it is easy to get these things for free, people still pay for e-book downloads, movie rentals, and magazine subscriptions.
Today more than ever we are relying on cloud-based storage. That said, we tend to just buy into the services that are the most convenient vs. comparing cloud services and options. For example, iPhone users run out of space and Apple has the perfect solution with just a scan of your fingerprint. That service is one of the most expensive cloud storage solutions on the market.
A little research will help save on unnecessary bills. Dropbox, for example, offers a free account with 2 GB of storage and the option to increase your storage by linking your contacts and following their social feeds. If you are a Microsoft Office 365 user, you’ll be eligible for 1 TB of cloud storage with your yearly subscription.
Cable and Internet Packages
We’ve all heard the pitch — bundle your cable, phone, and internet services and save money. The problem is that once you’ve locked yourself into a company’s bundle, many don’t compare packages with other services. Understand the services you use most and how much you are using them. For example, many are streaming TV through services like Netflix and Amazon and watching less cable TV. We pay for expensive bundle packages without thinking about reducing the costs of these services by paying for what we use vs. an overpriced bundle.
When was the last time you sat down and compared all these cable and internet packages? Companies are always adjusting their promotions and offerings, and switching to a new carrier may get you a better deal.
Cell Phone Plans
Another area where many of us overspend is with our cell phone plans. When purchasing a plan, we ask questions including:
- How much data is included?
- How many minutes do I get?
- Can I get a “free” iPhone?
The questions we should be asking, however, are:
- How much data do I use?
- How many minutes do I use?
- What is the actual cost of that “free phone”?
When it comes to cell phone plans, we fall victim to the sales pitch vs. analyzing the actual costs. We don’t want to pay overage charges for data or voice minutes, so we buy packages that include minutes or data we don’t need. We want the latest and greatest iPhone and are willing to lock ourselves into a contract and spend more per month on a cell phone that would cost less if we just purchase it outright.
Once we are locked into these contracts, we tell ourselves that getting out will be too expensive as we will have to pay a termination fee. If you spend the time to research other companies, you will find that carriers like T-Mobile make switching carriers easy by covering early termination fees. Now that T-Mobile is the nation’s fastest network, you might even end up with better service than you had before.
How to Avoid Overpaying for Technology Services
Here are a few simple strategies to avoid overpaying for your technology services:
- Look for a free alternative.
- Track your usage and spending and understand what you need.
- Shop around and compare services from all competitors.
- Don’t assume that a bundle is always the best deal.
- Don’t get stuck in an expensive contract in exchange for a not-so-free product.
- Don’t be afraid to switch companies.
Doing a little research and weighing your needs vs. the costs of the service can save you money. Don’t be afraid to make the switch from a brand you’ve been with for a long time. Sometimes, they will even match a competitor’s price just to keep you.
Image via Flickr by freeimage4life