After struggling for several months with the computer equipment provided by the state of Mississippi for me to do my job, I reached the difficult conclusion that it was simply inadequate. The amount of time and effort I have wasted using obsolete computer equipment could be spent elsewhere with much more of an impact. So like many K-12 teachers who end up having to spend far too much of their own money on supplies their employer should provide, I decided I'd just buy what I needed myself. Fortunately, I was able to find a setup that should be more than sufficient for the next 3-5 years at a decent price. I even decided to treat myself to a larger monitor than I've ever had at work before. If I'm paying for it anyway, why not get one a few inches larger?
There are many websites out there these days designed to help Black Friday shoppers (and many of them are useful the rest of the year too). I'd love to hear about any you find particularly useful. This year, my favorite was TechBargins.com. It was extremely helpful in finding good deals.
Shopping, especially in an atmosphere of so many sales, can easily lead one to get carried away. I find it a perfect time to exercise some reason and skepticism. I learned a few things from my shopping experience this year. Technically, these are things I already knew, but I was reminded of their importance this year.
- Start with a clear idea of what you need. If you don't, it is damn easy to get sidetracked by all the deals and end up buying things you don't need.
- Research prices so you will know if a particular discount is really worth jumping on. I found several this year that initially sounded good until I realized that the discount from the regular price was actually quite small.
- Recognize that many of the deepest discounts may be for older products. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it would be very easy to buy something without realizing you were buying last year's model and not the newest version.