Digital technologies are entangled in our daily life; we use technology to work, to commute, for leisure, to communicate, to shop and including to cook. More and more we are using technology to choose.

According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 68% of adults in the US own a smartphone – up from 35% in 2011- and tablet computer ownership has reached 45% among adult population.

Electronics became cheap amid supply expansion and increase in demand, the most classic law of the market.

But one of the consequences of this simple rule is that we grew more and more dependent on devices such as smartphones, laptops, GPS navigators, ebook readers and iPads; with the so-called internet-of-the-things becoming a reality all those gadgets populating our life will very likely increase in number.

Amir Andalibi is a young graphic designer, and a media artist who lives and works in Brooklyn for a creative marketing agency. His job is to implement already designed websites into the code for end-users. Tech is Amir’s daily bread. But when it comes to buying new devices Amir is far from being a stereotypical brooklynite loyal to brand identity: “buying a new hardware should happen only if it’s really needed to get a job done,” he said.

A BIT OF MAINTENANCE

Amir explains that sometimes a great way to save money and avoid unuseful expenses comes from tweaking an old device to get the most out of it instead of buying a new model: for example, it is possible to expand the RAM memory of an old computer to make it up to date again or root an Android smartphone to upgrade the OS to a newer version. Better to look for performance than for names.

SHOP REFURBISHED

Another key to cut unnecessary costs is “shop refurbished,” said Luke Knowles, CEO of CouponSherpa.com and sales expert: “Refurbished hardware is just as functional as brand-new devices but typically costs a fraction of the price.” An example is the Apple TV 4th Generation 64GB: the item is regularly priced between $159 and $199, but eBay currently has a refurbished device for just $54.99 said Knowles.

DON’T STOP AT THE FIRST BEACH

The CouponSherpa.com’s CEO invites also not to assume that Amazon has the best price on hardware: “Compare prices between […] providers and review price-matching policies. […] You can also research price histories using a tool like CamelCamelCamel.com and set up price-drop notifications to receive an email when a device you’re shopping for goes on sale or drops in price.” Knowles said.

Once the hardware is bought there is another cost that comes entangled with it: software. Americans spend a significant part of their budget on electronics and entertainment: Chetan Sharma, president of the omonimous consulting firm, estimated that on average, each US household spent approximately $3800 on access and devices in 2015.

OPEN-SOURCE ALTERNATIVE

Amir, the graphic designer from Brooklyn, is not just cautious on the hardware side, but also on the software one: ”I try as much as possible to use open-source software.” Free open-source software often offer an excellent alternative to proprietary commercial ones: examples are Gimp as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, LibreOffice valid alternative to Microsoft Office or the video-editing program OpenShot that can be used for free to edit videos.

Open source software is not just an excellent alternative to save money for individuals, as this option is also adopted by major multinational companies that run their servers on Linux: without the open source and the collaboration from the developers it “wouldn’t have been possible for big companies such as Facebook and Google to scale their business,” said Brian Gupta, a programmer and founder of the consulting tech firm Brandorr Group.

HEAD IN THE CLOUD

With the advent of the cloud technology the same advantage is also available to the average user and to small business that can use a wide availability of cloud services at a reasonable price such as that offered by Amazon. The cloud technology makes possible to save money on storage and optimize procedure through the cloud without the need to set up complex network systems.

SIGN UP AND CANCEL AS NEEDED

But technology is not just work, there is also entertainment: the vast array of online streaming providers leaves consumers with an pleasant wealth of choice that often can translate into a less pleasant bill: CouponSherpa.com’s CEO golden rule is sign up and cancel as needed. “One of the many perks of online streaming providers like Netflix, Sling TV and HBO Go is the lack of contracts. You can sign up for a service until you no longer use it, then cancel it without worrying about early termination fees.” A good example, Knowles said, is Game of Thrones: the series’ fans can pay $15 per month for HBO Go until the series wraps up, and then cancel their subscription until the next season. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.  

Roberto Capocelli