Some may argue as to whether or not a computer is truly a necessity (for me, it is!).
But just because you need a computer, doesn’t mean using it has to cost a lot.
Here are a few simple tricks you can do with your computer that will save you money:
Use free Anti-virus software. There are some great free anti-virus programs like AVG that can help you protect your computer. I’ve been using the AVG free program for a couple of years now with no problems. You may want to add additional spyware and firewall protection, but you can usually find these for free, too. I’d recommend checking out CNET for reviews on the latest free software available.
Don’t print it – Use Cute PDF. This free download allows you to create a PDF of any page you’re looking at on the screen. Whenever I do any online shopping, I save the receipt as a PDF, instead of wasting ink and paper I could be using to print coupons.
Skip buying Microsoft Office. Whenever you buy a computer, there’s always the pressure to buy the Microsoft Office Suite. When I bought my last laptop, I skipped this purchase and saved $150. Instead, I use Microsoft Works, which came bundled on my computer at no additional charge. If you must send something as a Word or Excel document, you can simply do a “save as” and change the file type to Word or Excel. If you don’t already have Microsoft Works, I know people many people who swear by Open Office, which is another free program that does word processing, spreadsheets, and databases.
Avoid paying for off-site storage. Backing up your computer data is important. And making sure you have your important computer files stored off-site is important too, in case there is ever a fire or other natural disaster at your home.
There are several ways you can save your data off-site without paying a subscription to a company that will do it for you. First, you can save items to CDs or DVDs and keep them where you work or at a trusted relative’s home. You can also save some basic documents and spreadsheets to Google Docs. Many sites like Mozy offer up to 2GB of storage for free, so if you have a lot of info to save, you can spread your files around more than one service. (Just be sure you don’t have to pay to retrieve your data with any of these types of services). Most photo services such as Snapfish.com by HP and Shutterfly will allow you to store photos forever on their site as long as you make a purchase once a year.
Just be sure to read the terms of service before signing up for any type of off-site storage and make sure you’re comfortable with putting your personal information on these storage sites.
One other idea: If you have a file that is important to you that you want to save off-site, create a free e-mail account on Gmail or Yahoo and send it to yourself. As long as you keep the e-mail account active, the file can be stored in that account.
Use your computer’s energy-saving features. If you’re always forgetting to turn your computer off, remember that you can set your computer (under the Control Panel on a Windows machine) to switch to sleep mode or to even power down after a period of time. This can save you some money over the course of a year.
What are some frugal computer tricks you’ve learned? I’d love to hear your ideas!