From coupon apps to smartphones, how to save money on tech

Look around you. How much do you think you’ve spent on tech gadgets and subscriptions over the years?

With shiny new gear appearing daily and another streaming service to woo you, it’s hard to stop the flow of money. I can help. Tap or click to discover all of the best ways to scan without paying money for a scanner. You’re welcome.

A lot of great software is also free, if you know where to look. Tap or click for 9 free copiers that work like a charm.

Before you take your credit card out again, read this list of mistakes that could cost you money, and some easy ways to spend less.

The problem: you’re tempted by that expensive new phone

Tech companies are touting their new releases like no other. Hear what Apple has to say and iPhone 13 will change your life. The same goes for the latest and greatest from Samsung and everyone else.

Here’s what they don’t want you to know: The changes to today’s new models aren’t that revolutionary. The cameras are just a little better. There is a little more storage. Maybe your battery will last a few more hours. Big hop.

Will I buy the new iPhone? I doubt. IPhone 12 does everything I need. If you’ve got a phone that’s a generation or two away, there’s no need to buy something new.

The solution: make your old phone look shiny and new again

Today you can get several years out of your device. Still, if your phone is more than a few months old, you’ll start to smell it.

I’m not talking about the grime on the outside – although I’ve put together a smart guide to cleaning up your tech. Tap or click here for the best way to make your screen shine without scratching it.

Also take a few minutes to clean up the contents of your phone. Cached files, memes and screenshots, outdated contacts, and other digital clutter are easy to get rid of if you’re willing to devote some time to them. Tap or click on the steps to deep clean your phone the right way.

Smart tips you can trust: Internet does not come with an instruction manual. For digital tips on getting the most out of your tech, try my free Tech Tips newsletter.

The problem: you search high and low for promo codes

There are terms you should never google. Tap or click here for a list of 7 to avoid. No, not because they are embarrassing, but because they can put you in danger. One of these terms is “promotional codes”.

You can end up on a legitimate site and save a few bucks, but in all likelihood you won’t. At best, the codes don’t work and you’ve wasted a few minutes. In the worst case scenario, you click on a malicious link and put your digital self in real danger.

The solution: count on sites that do it for you

Instead of manually trying code after code, download an app or browser extension that does all the work.

Honey works like a charm. Once installed, it will search the web for valid promo codes and apply them directly to your cart. Capital One Shopping displays side-by-side price comparisons of multiple retailers. Talk about saving time.

Google Alerts can also help you spot deals and sales. If you’re thinking of a brand or a site, set up a Google alert.

• Visit Google.com/alerts and enter the notification phrase. Use brand name or brand name + discount / coupon / special offer as an alert.

• Click on Show options to change frequency, sources, language and region settings. You can also choose how many results you want and where you want them sent.

• Click on Create an alert to start receiving alerts on your topics of interest.

Don’t forget to subscribe to one of the email newsletters from your favorite brands or sites. Follow them on social media. Discounts and specials are usually sent this way.

The problem: you’re trying to strike a deal the wrong way

When was the last time you bought something from a seller on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or one of the many local selling apps? It is perfect for patio furniture or wall decoration. Think twice before buying your next phone, TV, or computer this way.

It’s easy to create a burner account and list items. Even someone with a friendly profile picture and a local phone number could pay for a computer they know is in trouble. For all the time and money you’ve spent looking for a good deal, you might end up with an expensive clipboard.

You need to shop carefully to make sure that what you buy is worth your money.

The solution: hit the road safely with used equipment

Amazon Renewed sells used items that are rebuilt and refurbished, including laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, cameras, computers, monitors, power tools, and more. Amazon says all Renewed merchandise is “tested and certified to work and look new.” They may have cosmetic blemishes, but most people who shop don’t mind.

The products are guaranteed for 90 days to six months. If it stops working, you can return it or get a replacement. Make sure the product you are purchasing says it is “Backed by Amazon’s 90 Day Renewed Warranty” in the description.

If you’re not an Amazon buyer or can’t find what you want, try eBay’s Certified Repackaging Program. Items have a 1 year or 2 year warranty and you can purchase by condition from Good (moderate wear) to Certified (mint condition, like new). Tap or click here for more details and a link to start shopping.

Bonus Tip: How Government and Businesses Buy Your Personal Data

Check out my “Kim Komando Explains” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player.

We view our gadgets as useful tools that make our lives easier, but they can also backfire on us. The data collected by your devices is so valuable that it could be used against you in a criminal trial, requested by the police, or even purchased by the government through a data broker. I sat down with Electronic Frontier Foundation technologist Bennett Cyphers, who reveals all the secrets you lose – and which devices fly the most.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Check out all the latest tech on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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