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Family Money

computer-buy-buttonSeven years ago our desktop computer slowed down to a crawl and we tried all we could to get it up to speed again. We scanned the system for viruses, spyware and other malware. We updated our anti-virus software. We bought an external hard drive and moved all unnecessary files to free space and allow the computer to perform functions. We even removed unused programs and disabled auto start programs to free up valuable disk space.

Despite our best efforts, it was still lagging. We learned to close programs when we were finished with them and turn off programs not being used in the background. We cleaned disk space with a disk clean up tool to identify files that are safe to delete and used a ScanDisk to find errors caused by improper shut downs, viruses and other problems.

As a last ditch effort, we defragged our hard drive (fragmented data is stored in different locations causing the PC to look in more places to retrieve data) and installed additional RAM (if you don't have enough RAM your computer uses virtual memory which slows down performance).

After exhausting all these tips, we eventually bit the bullet and bought a new laptop. Even though it would have been nice to just fix the computer, it would not have been cost effective. We came to the realization that after seven years, it was time.

So, we looked at what we needed in a computer and decided on a laptop because it fit our lifestyle at the time. When we bought the laptop, we also bought a TV antenna for the house and got rid of cable. The new computer was bought with an HDMI cord port with the intention of watching streaming video on our TV by connecting the laptop to the TV via an HDMI cable. Additionally, we only bought the software we needed and left off all the extra bells and whistles.

We were fortunate to be able to transfer software from the old computer and had the foresight to save the monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers. It's a good thing we did, since we ended up buying a new desktop a couple years ago and only had to buy the computer.

Other ways to save money when buying a new computer are buying it "open box" or building your own. Also save money on an extended warranty unless you really think you need it — most problems occur after the warranty expires anyway.

Nikki Ducas is a budget-savvy Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons that you can afford nice things without accumulating debt.

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