Computer Buying Guide

Thinking about buying a new computer?

Whether you're looking for your very first computer or are just upgrading to a newer machine, buying a computer can feel overwhelming. With so many options to choose from, it's tough to know if you're getting the right computer at the best price.

That's why we've created this page: to guide you through the process of buying a new computer with as little stress as possible.

What kind of computer should I get?

There are many different types of computers you may have heard of, such as desktops, laptops, and tablets. But before you start shopping, you'll need to think carefully about the kinds of things you want to do with your computer.

For example, if you only need something for email and light web browsing, you'll probably buy a very different computer from someone who does a lot of video editing or PC gaming. You should also think about where you want to use your computer because it will have a big impact on the type you buy.

How much should I spend?

Once you've decided on the type of computer you want, you'll need to start thinking about how much money you want to spend. This is probably one of the more confusing things about buying a computer, and that's because you'll find options across a wide range of prices—from as low as $250 to well over $1,000.

These prices are based mostly on the internal components of the computer, such as the amount of hard-drive space, memory, processing power, and so on, which are called the specifications (or specs for short). These internal components are also a big part of the reason computers can become outdated or obsolete after only a few years. As manufacturers continue to create faster processors and larger hard drives, a computer that costs $1,000 today might only cost $500 in a few years.

So, very generally, we recommend spending between $300-$800 on a new computer, depending on your needs and budget. And if you really don't have much to spend, we'd still suggest buying a machine with even slightly higher specs than the absolute cheapest model. A computer with more hard drive space, more memory, and faster processors will be a much better deal in the long run.

Common PC brands

We recommend only purchasing computers from a well-known manufacturer, such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, or Samsung. While store brands will be less expensive, they're also much less reliable and will likely become obsolete much sooner than a name-brand computer.

What about Apple/Mac computers?

So far, we've been mostly talking about computers that run the Windows operating system, which is the most common OS for PCs. But in addition to tablets and smartphones like the iPad and iPhone, Apple sells desktop and laptop computers, which use the OS X operating system.

They're well-made machines, but they're also very expensive, especially compared to some of the computers above. Because they don't use Windows, you probably won't be able to install any existing Windows software you already own. And because even the cheapest Apple laptop will cost at least $1,000, we'd only recommend purchasing an Apple computer if it's well within your budget.

Where should I buy my computer?

Once you've chosen a computer, you'll have to decide where to purchase it. As with most things these days, you can choose to buy a computer at a larger retail store—like Best Buy, Target, or Walmart—or online. If you're buying online, you'll be able to choose from big online retailers like Amazon or NewEgg, or through a computer manufacturer's website, such as Dell, HP, or ASUS.

Can I buy a used computer instead of a new one?

If you're trying to save money, you might consider buying a used or refurbished computer instead of a new one. Refurbished computers are machines that originally had some kind of defect but that have been restored to working condition; they're often available with the same internal components as new machines, but for much less money. Just make sure the seller offers some kind of warranty so you can return the computer if it doesn't work.

Here are some of the places we'd recommend looking for refurbished products:

You can also buy previously used computers, but you'll want to be cautious when doing so. Whether you're buying it from a friend or a site like eBay or Craigslist, it's much more difficult to guarantee everything will be in good working condition. And it's even less likely you'll get your money back if it stops working.

One other thing to note: If you're buying a computer that's already a few years old, just remember that it will probably go out of date much sooner than a new machine. If you decide to buy used, we'd only recommend buying a used machine that's less than two years old and still in good working condition.

More resources

Looking for more detailed information about current models and technical specifications? Check out the sites below:

That's all we have! Happy computer hunting!

Save on your monthly phone bill

Adding it all up

Now that you know the different things to consider when selecting a cellular plan, let's take a look at an example of an average bill to see how it can all add up:

At $107 per month, this would add up to $1,284 per year for your smartphone and $2,568 by the time your phone is completely paid off. Whatever you choose to purchase, be sure to keep overall cost in mind in order to make a decision that's a good financial fit for you.


Now that you know the different things to consider when selecting a cellular plan, let's take a look at an example of an average bill to see how it can all add up:



Now that you know the different things to consider when selecting a cellular plan, let's take a look at an example of an average bill to see how it can all add up:

Save Money on your Cable bill!

1. Cut back on premium channels

It’s hard to say goodbye to HBO, but doing so can shave as much as $20 off your monthly bill with some providers. Let go of Showtime and you could save another $5 to $15 per month.

Farewell doesn’t have to be forever, though. If you can’t live without "Westworld" or "Stillwater," remove the channel when the season wraps.

2. Pare down cable boxes

Premium channels aren’t the only extras you can trim. Additional cable boxes often cost $3 to $12 per month. Maybe the equipment in your bedroom isn’t necessary after all.

3. Pay attention to fees

Call your provider’s customer service line and question each fee on your bill. Some will be unavoidable, but you can sidestep others, such as those for HD technology, by tweaking your plan.

4. Nix the DVR

Miss your favorite show? There’s a good chance you can watch it on-demand the next day. Even local news segments live on via the stations’ websites. Trading in your DVR for a standard digital receiver could trim $10 or more off your monthly bill.

5. Downsize your plan

Trimming your cable package to include just your must-haves can save you as much as $40 per month with some providers — and you probably won’t even miss the extra channels.

6. Bundle cable and internet

Pairing your cable and internet service with some providers will save you more than $1,000 over two years.

Just don't get talked into bundling services you don’t need, such as a premium cable package when you only want local networks or blazing-fast internet service that you only use to watch Netflix. These may indeed be great deals for some users, but that doesn’t make them great for you.

7. Negotiate a lower rate

Don’t be afraid to haggle with your cable provider. You may be able to negotiate a better deal by talking to customer service and asking for a discount.

8. Seek out cheap cable

Compare the rates at each provider in your area. As long as you won’t face a sizable cancellation fee for switching away from your current service, you could end up with a cheaper alternative.

9. Cut the cord

Still not satisfied with your cable bill? Eliminate it altogether. There are many ways to watch TV shows online for free. You can still watch broadcast TV with the help of a digital antenna and binge on your favorite series with Netflix or Hulu. Subscriptions for Netflix start at $9.99 per month, while Hulu's base plan is just $6.99 per month.

Those looking for a less drastic option can try SlingTV or DirecTV Stream. Packages start at $35 per month with SlingTV and $69.99 per month with DirecTV Stream. Both offer access to live and on-demand TV without the extra fees of cable.

Whether you go bold or make small cuts, the savings on your cable bill will add up over time — giving your budget more breathing room so you can treat yourself in other areas