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By Rick Broida
October 30, 2016
illustration by Geo Law

When a new Apple product launches, fanboys (and girls) clamor for the gadgets, regardless of the exorbitant prices. Instead, they could’ve shopped the resale and refurbished market, where products cost a fraction of what the shiny new baubles do.

Take a look below for five common—and costly—mistakes you’re making on tech purchases, and five ways to fight the fright.

Expensive Anti­-Virus Software

DON’T BUY Norton AntiVirus ­Basic 2016 ($30 a year)
BETTER CHOICE AVG AntiVirus (free)

Your PC needs protection, no question. But don’t spend money on an antivirus subscription when independent lab tests prove that freeware such as AVG’s works just as well.

Personal Office Suite

DON’T BUY Microsoft Office 365 Personal ($70 a year)
BETTER CHOICE WPS Office 2016 (free)

If you’re willing to put up with a few ads, WPS Office offers the same core features as Microsoft’s version: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. It even has a similar interface.

The Latest Apple Product

DON’T BUY MacBook Pro 13 ($1,500)
BETTER CHOICE Refurbished MacBook Pro 13 ($1,270)

“Refurb” is not a dirty word. In fact, refurbished Apple products (including computers and iPads) are exactly as good as new. You get a new battery, new casing, even the same one-year warranty. Check the Apple website for a refurb alternative to the item on your wish list.

Multiroom Sound System

DON’T BUY Sonos Play:3 speakers ($299 per room)
BETTER CHOICE Pair your current speakers with GoogleChromecast Audio ($35 per room)

Just because your audio gear is dated doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Plug a Chrome­cast Audio into your old stereo or speaker docks for instant wireless music streamed from your phone or tablet.

A New Desktop

DON’T BUY A new PC ($200 to $1,000)
BETTER CHOICE ­Upgrade your ­current OS to Linux (free)

You check email on your phone and do web stuff on your tablet. Who needs a new PC? To make your old machine run faster and feel new, replace Windows with the Linux operating system. Look online for free installation guides.