Consider This: Do You Really Need that Flagship Phone?

Samsung is set to release its highest-performance to date this August – the Galaxy Note 8. It will have an amazing 5.7″ Super AMOLED display, an amazing dual 13MP main camera, iris scanner, barometer, a series of other sensors and security features, and it might be powered by Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 836 System on a Chip. It will be an amazing handset with an amazing price tag – although it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, the handset might be sold for a price around $1,000. I’m sure many of you have read the previews and followed the news about this amazing new handset with a craving in your eyes, and many of you have probably started saving to be able to purchase this pocket-sized powerhouse among the first once it is released. But before you commit to paying a small fortune ($1,000 could buy you a used Mercedes, after all) stop and think about whether you need such a powerhouse in your life.

Are you the average smartphone user?

What does the average smartphone user like? Well, it’s hard to say – smartphones are used by all kinds of people, of all ages and of all genders. They have become part of everyday life for over 3 billion users – almost half of the world’s population has a pocket-sized computer connected to the internet. If you are an average smartphone user, you are most likely a millennial reading the morning news, playing puzzle and casual games, shopping, listening to music, keeping up with your friends on social media, and overall keeping yourself entertained on the go. And you probably have an Android-powered handset.

Now ask yourself as an average smartphone user: do you need to double the processing power in your pocket? Does anything you do on a daily basis require eight high-performance cores, more RAM than an average office PC, and a graphics chip that could handle the most power-intensive games on the market today with ease?

How much can you save with a mid-range smartphone?

Let’s stick to Samsung for our example, the smartphone manufacturer with several product ranges. Its mid-range models are marked “A” – and the top of that range is Samsung Galaxy A7 (the 2017 model, launched this January). The handset currently sells between $350 and $400 on Amazon – less than half the rumored price of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 8. And how does its hardware measure up?

It has an octa-core Exynos 7880 SoC running at 1.9 GHz, 3GB of RAM, an excellent 16-megapixel camera, a ton of storage expandable with a memory card, and every security measure of the more expensive one, except for the iris scanner. It can handle the average smartphone user’s everyday tasks perfectly well, and it won’t yield in front of even the most hardware-intensive games on the market today. And it will cost you far less than the flagship model you crave after so much.

So do you need the latest flagship in your pocket? The answer is most likely “no”. So why spend twice as much on it?

8 Ways to Save Money While Still Enjoying Life

With the tough aspects of the economy and job market, it seems like everyone is looking for new ways to save money. Many money-saving articles center around cutting unnecessary expenses out of your life and while this is necessary for some people, not everyone wants to go the minimalist route. If you want to find ways to save money without completely cutting “non-essential” purchases out of your life, there are several things you can do. Here are some ideas.

1. Find Free Alternatives

Before purchasing items, see if you can find a free option first. Borrow books from your local library instead of buying them. Use resources such as freecycle and craigslist to find local sources for free items. It’s also important to participate on the giving side as well. Giving away items you no longer want or use frees up space in your home and reduces time spent cleaning and maintaining things.

2. DIY

Of course one of the best (and greenest) ways to save money is to do things yourself instead of buying stuff. DIY can mean many different things depending on your needs and skill set. There are a number of things people commonly call upon and pay services for that you can simply take the time to do on your own. For example, doing your own yard work, performing general basic maintenance on your home, washing your own car, and even cutting your own hair are several ways to eliminate ongoing costs each month. With so many internet resources showing how to do things, it’s easy to learn a new skill.

3. Repurpose

Rather than buying disposable items and throwing away things you no longer want or need, start thinking of ways to reuse and repurpose items. This can take many forms. You can save money on fertilizer by composting your kitchen and gardening waste. Another idea is to use worn or ill-fitting T-shirts as cleaning rags or to make rugs. Many sustainability and homesteading blogs and resources have ideas for repurposing and reusing a variety of items.

4. Work Together

Working with your community can be a great way to pool resources so everyone gets the maximum benefits for the minimum contribution. A community garden is one example of this. Another example is forming a rotating babysitting or carpool group with friends who have children of similar ages. By splitting the workload between a large number of people, everyone can save both time and money on common chores and services.

5. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs

Rather than giving up your daily latte or frequent movie dates, save money with loyalty and rewards programs. Nearly all restaurants, theaters, and other entertainment providers have some form of membership or loyalty rewards programs that offers significant savings. Many programs allow you to keep membership information on a smartphone so you don’t need to worry about cluttering up your wallet with membership cards.

6. Buy and Use Gift Cards

Many retailers and restaurants offer incentives for buying gift cards. If you have several places you frequently shop or eat, buy gift cards and take advantage of the bonuses. Some grocery stores even offer bonus rewards points or other benefits with gift card purchases so you can save money on your weekly shopping as well.

7. Find the Best Deals on Devices

Cell phones, television, and the Internet are services we use every day, but there are several ways to cut costs without sacrificing the quality content you enjoy. Research online subscription streaming services or cable packages that cater to the channels you watch and find the best deals by comparing multiple TV providers. The Internet makes it easy to research current cable subscription rates and cell phone plans, so you can determine which company offers the best value for your needs and budget.

When you are trying to save money, there are many things you can do that don’t involve simply cutting out unnecessary expenses. Being proactive and putting effort into learning new skills and eliminating routine expenses by being more hands on is one way. You can also research providers and find loyalty rewards programs to get the best deals on goods and services you regularly use.