Friday, August 9, 2013

Computers. Printers. Scanners. Fax Machines. Phones.  They’re not just for work at the office, many people have most of these items in their homes today.

But how much is this costing you?  Do you know?  How do you know whether or not you are wasting more money than these items are worth, just to operate them?   The key is really doing your homework before you make your purchases.  But once you have these items, how can you stop these items from bleeding your bank account?

Don’t worry… here at We Solved It we can help you either streamline your life and cut back on expenses or cut your losses to improve your life going forward.

While most people have to have the latest phone or latest computer, you have to ask yourself if this is really necessary.   How do you know when it is time to upgrade to make your life better or if you are just wasting money to keep up with the Joneses?

First you must identify what your bills are.   Look at your electricity bill.  Is it higher than it should be?  Did you know that older machines and devices can actually use more energy?

*You want to be sure your devices have ENERGY STAR so that they do not use more energy than they should.

*Do all your devices need to stay plugged in 24/7?  Probably not.  If you do not use your scanner/printer every day, then you are wasting energy.  Same goes for your fax machine if you still use one of these instead of or in addition to a scanner.  Your computers should have their software updates and anti-virus scan scheduled BEFORE you go to sleep, so that your computer can also be powered off  and go to sleep, just like you.   Your cell phone does not need to be on and charging while you are sleeping either.  By powering your phone off, not only will you ensure your battery gets a true, full charge, but you save energy as well.

*When you do have items plugged in, you need a surge suppressor.  With the number of storms across the globe happening, you do not want to ‘fry’ your devices.  You want to protect them by having them plugged into something that can ensure their protection when they are plugged in. It is also easier to power ‘off’ everything by one switch when you need to do this.

Next question… do you really need all these items?  Can you streamline into one item?  There are many All-in-one printer/fax/scan/copy machines these days. This might be something to look into to simplify your life and only plug in one device instead of four.  This will also help you save on your bill, save space and also decrease the number of extended warranties you have to purchase.  Think about that – weigh the savings. 

When it comes to your printer – you will need to consider one important thing:  Does it cost more to supplement the ink cartridges than what the printer is worth vs. the longevity of the machine?    If you do not need to print in color, no need to be stuck paying for two cartridges.  And while laser printer toner cartridges do cost more, you have to replace them less often and these are workhorse printers that will last you at least 10 years or more.  You have to examine the use, what you need the printer to do and how often you replace.  If you are replacing ink cartridges more often than you would like and they are expensive and cost more in 2-3 replacements than the printer itself, it may be time to switch.  This is a major consideration to think about when purchasing your next printer.

Computers.  Everyone wants a tablet. Everyone wants the smaller device that weighs less.  But do you really need it?  If you have laptops or even archaic desktops which work fine and you only use them for leisure and a few related school or work  projects and you are not a jet setter hopping planes every week, chances are you don’t need a tablet or smaller device if your current devices are working fine.   Why do it?   So you can be a slave to technology while you are away on what is supposed to be a vacation?   Perhaps this is defeating the whole purpose of going on vacation.   If you have a cell phone that has internet access, you really don’t need a tablet.  Or if you are staying at a motel, hotel or lodge that has a business center, you have computer access if you really need it.   Rethink the upgrade and just upgrade your software instead.  It’s a better choice.  If you keep your computer in shape and maintained you won’t have to worry about needing more memory, just clean it up and rely upon inexpensive flash drives to back up your computer.

Phones. We’ve become a greedy society upgrading to the latest and greatest phone.  Does your cell phone still make a phone call (what it was designed for)?  This should be your first question.   Second, you need to ask yourself if the extra expense is worth it.  Sometimes new versions of phones have not worked out all the latest bugs and you do not get the tech support you need to make it work as it was promised.  Bottom-line, you are creating more headache for yourself as well as unnecessary expense.   If you are happy with your phone and it works for you, why upgrade or get stuck in a higher priced phone plan when you are currently operating just fine?    Ask yourself if there are ways to cut your phone plan down if you are not utilizing all you are paying for. This will help you streamline your expenses, particularly if you only do carry it for emergencies.

If you just cannot control yourself and you are a new gadget junkie, then take a close look at your habits.  If this is who you are and you know you constantly upgrade year-to-year, then avoid the extended warranties for items you won’t be continuing to use. It’s a waste of money to do this if you are just going to buy a new device anyway.

Above all, ask yourself about what you’ve accumulated and what you are using vs. not using, and what has just become a dust collector.  You can donate your old machines to many charities, schools, shelters and churches and get a tax write-off.  And if you are a gadget junkie, then at least make the donation, rather than dumping the devices in the trash and destroying our planet. Someone else can use these items and will be grateful for the donation.

Streamlining your devices and really examining what it is costing you is helpful to maximize your overall savings – both for your wallet and for saving energy.  And in the end, this helps minimize our carbon footprint and too many devices which only cause unnecessary headache.  This is like a multipurpose solution all-in-one you can do for yourself today!

~ Athena & Tess – We Solved It

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