How to get a computer deal now

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Buy almost anything that is not on sale and you feel ripped off. Nowhere is that more true than when you are laying down the big bucks for a computer.

Our computers are among the most expensive items we buy. So getting a deal there can keep family finances on track. So what do you do?

"Especially if you are shopping for a PC, there is always a good deal out there to be had," said Rick Kerr, a San Francisco IT professional. "If you keep your wits about you, look for coupons and watch the ads, I think you can do pretty well almost any time."

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Jonathan Ng of San Francisco agrees.

"There are sales all the time, " he says. "Just check, especially the manufacturers. Daily deals and weekly deals."

The deal is when and where you find it, but as back-to-school shopping is wrapping up, Consumer Reports' Bree Fowler offers this advice:

"Black Friday is just around the corner, Christmas is coming," Fowler reminds us. "You are going to start seeing new models and new stuff, which means the old stuff is going to get discounted. So waiting as little as to October can get you substantially lower prices."

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Want to save even more? Fowler says think outside of the box. The new product box. "There is no shame in buying refurbished," she says. "As long as you get a used model from a reputable retailer, someone like Amazon or New Egg, or you can go straight to the manufacturers."

Another way to save on your overall computing costs is counter intuitive. Buy a more expensive reservoir or tank-style printer.

"For example, the Canon Pixima G421 will cost $300 up front, which may seem like a lot, but you aren't going to have to buy those pricey replacement cartridges," Fowler says. "According to our exclusive estimate, it will cost only $10 a year to ink to run that, versus with ink jets you are going to spend hundreds of dollars sometimes."

One final tip, before buying a back-to-school computer, make sure you know which operating system is required. Sometimes it is a Mac, other times a PC.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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