One of our favorite tech bloggers, Bob Rankin, compiled a list of things that you will not want to buy in 2015….or ever. The list is largely comprised of items or services that no longer really make sense in our modern world. His observations largely coincide with what we have reported over the last year. Here’s Rankin’s list, supplemented with some additional don’t-buys of our own. Oh, by the way, there are also some really good things to buy in 2015, but that’s going to be outlined in a separate blog.
1: CABLE TV: Bob notes that the average monthly bill in the U. S. now exceeds $100, and it’s been rising 6% annually for the past decade. We’ve been strongly recommending dumping the Cable Gougers and moving to services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Youtube and other options. We also suggest you take a look at media streamer like the Roku, Google Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV. The best way to reject the Cable Gougers’ money grab is to walk away.
2: MUSIC: Long gone are the days when we trekked to the music store to buy vinyl records. Even CDs have seen their day come and go, now that digital music stores like iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play offer a la carte downloads for about a buck. We think that 99 cents is overpriced — these song prices have to come down. Like Rankin, we have found that free online music streaming services like Slacker, Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio offer some great music. If you are going to buy music, check out some of the songs/albums we think offer real value. Our 2013 list of songs may also help. We also recommend you spending your music budget dollars on emerging artists looking to break out.
3: BRAND-NAME PRINTER INK: OEM (original equipment manufacturer, or brand-name) printer ink cartridges can be a huge rip-off. Rankin points out that a single black cartridge, rated for less than 1,000 pages, can cost $60 at an office supply store! We have tested remanufactured ink cartridges and found some great deals for consumers looking for reasonably priced ink. Check out this story before you buy them.
4: CREDIT MONITORING and/or identity theft protection programs offer peace of mind, buttmost banks and credit card companies already offer limitations of liability for unauthorized card charges. They’ll also provide free transaction alerts via email and SMS messages. If you are offered a paid credit monitoring service, read our blog on this first…..you’ll find that you don’t need to pay for this protection.
5: EXTENDED WARRANTIES have been foisted onto consumers for years and almost all consumer publications recommend against them. Besides, many credit card companies and retailers (Costco) include extended warranties for free. Rankin notes a recent variation is the “connected device insurance” being pushed by some phone vendors and internet service providers. Read why they are a bad value and how to just add a rider to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy instead.
6: DEDICATED FAX MACHINES are pretty much worthless (and environmentally irresponsible) for home or small business users anymore. Here’s where Rankin explains how you can send or receive faxes for free via the Internet. If you must send or receive a paper fax, all-in-one printers include fax functions and a phone jack. He’s absolutely correct.
7: DIGITAL CAMERAS: For casual users, digital cameras don’t really make sense anymore. The mobile phones of today boast built-in high-resolution cameras and photography software that are more than sufficient for non-professional uses. Amazon’s new smart phone has a particularly nice 13MP camera along with infrared capabilities for evening photography as well as 3D technology…all for about $99 out of pocket. And if you buy the Nokia Lumia 1020 sports 41MP capability.
8: STORAGE MEDIA AND SOFTWARE: Rankin points out how cloud storage and computing is making a lot of tech obsolete. Shiny plastic CD/DVD discs are obsolete and USB thumb drives should be avoided at all costs given recent revelations about their security risks. Most all software is now available as a cloud-based service so the days of downloading and installing programs locally are pretty much over.
Many home users and even businesses are now finding that they can get along just fine without Microsoft Office. Free alternatives (both traditional and cloud-based) are available and we recommend them. There’s no need to upgrade to new versions of Office anymore.
9: ANTIVIRUS: There’s really few compelling reasons to pay for internet security software. Rankin points you to Free Anti-Virus Programs that provide excellent protection. We use AVG and Avast; both are quite decent.
10. ANYTHING FROM A MULTI-LEVEL MARKETER: Seriously, most all of these offerings are overpriced, low-value propositions. Want to know why? Read our recent report.
11. GMO FOODS: Unless you have an overwhelming desire to volunteer to serve as a guinea pig, you really need to begin avoiding foods that have been genetically modified. This is true especially if you have young children! We make it easy for you to pick out what foods to avoid. On a related note, you should also be careful about what fish you buy and how much red meat you consume in 2015 and thereafter. Even dairy products are increasingly questionable. Your food decisions have large impacts upon your future health as well as the planet.
12. INTERNET SCAMS. While we love the Internet and encourage using it for shopping, the Net has a dark side. There is a set of products and services designed to fool consumers into thinking they are getting something, when in most cases they are just getting ripped off. We spend a lot of effort alerting you to these scams in our blog. These are the ones that snare most unsuspecting consumers. Our best advice for 2015: don’t be unsuspecting.