10 Things to Avoid Buying in 2014

Julia Chang

credit card buyWe know how easy it is to get lost within the aisles of your big-box electronics store, especially when you’re due to replace a few of your favorite tech gadgets.

But do you really need shinier, newer versions of those items, or are you putting a strain on your wallet by investing in the soon-to-be obsolete—no matter how discounted they might be?

MarketWatch rounded up a list of 10 things they say just aren’t worth the money anymore. And the list isn’t limited to tech dinosaurs, either—some are services that simply don’t give you enough bang for your buck. So where shouldn’t you be spending your money this year?

1. Cable TV. Subscribers have been declining since 2004 and transitioning to lower-cost services like Hulu and Netflix. If you’re willing to watch your favorite television episodes after they air live, then consider cutting the cord to save the cash. Just keep your ears covered at the water cooler to avoid hearing any spoilers.

2. Landlines. Let’s be real. When was the last time you used your landline? Do you even still have a landline? More than a third of the population doesn’t; they’ve gone wireless-only and are saving money to boot. And remember, it’s not just your cell phone you can use for calls; Skype and FaceTime are popular alternatives.

3. GPS devices. Smartphone apps and built-in GPS in newer auto models have driven down North American personal navigation system sales from 18 million devices in 2009 to just 7.5 million in 2012. Opt out of the $70 to $300 bill for a new GPS device, and download a free map app on your iPhone instead.

4. DVD and Blu-ray players. Internet-based streaming services aren’t just hurting cable providers. They are also driving down sales of DVDs, which dropped more than 20% from 2011 to 2012. Many people also use their gaming consoles to watch DVDs.

5. Hotel rooms. These mark the first of the non-techie items to avoid. Demand for hotel rooms is actually rising, which is driving up prices: PricewaterhouseCoopers expects the average hotel room price to rise from $110.59 to $115.68 this year. For your next vacation, try booking apartments and homes for cheaper through sites like Airbnb or Vacation Rentals by Owner instead.

6. Two-year phone contracts. The locked-in terms and fine print often cost consumers more in the long run. Try a no-contract provider. Although you’ll pay full price for a phone, your monthly bill will be much lower—often half of what you pay under contract providers.

7. Computers—both desktops and laptops. There’s little that a computer does that a tablet can’t, except burn a bigger hole in your wallet. Whether it’s streaming media, Web browsing or word processing, chances are you can do most of what you need to do on a tablet—at around a third of the cost.

8. Extra leg room on planes. Some airlines charge up to $180 to give you a seat in economy with a couple of inches of extra legroom. But for almost the same amount, you may be able to upgrade to business class, which gives you the legroom and throws in better customer service. Before you pay for that exit-row seat, try asking your airline at check-in or at the gate whether an upgrade is possible.

9. Points or miles rewards cards. Many credit-card providers have raised the threshold for the quantity of points required to redeem rewards, which means consumers have to spend more to get anything in return. On top of that, many of these rewards cards come with annual fees. A cash-back card may be a better deal, in which card owners get a percentage of money back for a certain number of dollars they spend.

10. Point-and-shoot digital cameras. Those small candy-colored digital cameras used to be all the rage a few years back, but their sales recently dropped 44% from 2012. Looks like most consumers are opting to go with the cameras on their smartphones, or purchasing more expensive DSLR cameras for better quality.

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  • Ross

    I respectfully disagree with #7. You can buy a perfectly capable computer for less than the cost of an Ipad. It is true that you can probably do most of what your looking to do on a computer with an Ipad, but should you? Could you do it faster and with less complication on a computer? I personally find the web browsing and word processing experiences to be absolutely awful on tablet/touch based devices.

    • Fatima

      I completely agree. Tablets are no replacement for laptops. At least not at this time. In fact, my parents tried to talk me into buying an ipad instead of laptop and I refused because ipad is just a bigger iphone without the calling features on it. I already have iphone. Laptops are much more user friendly and has significantly more functions.

    • Sheila

      I agree also. I much prefer my keyboard on my laptop to a touchscreen on a tablet. I can’t even stand to browse on my phone sometimes because the screen is too small. Some things just can’t be replaced.

  • shannon

    I switched to Republic Wireless 3 months ago and the savings on my smartphone bill each month are huge! I thought you might be interested how I did it. Republic is different. Their network uses WiFi + Cell, which means more coverage, in more places, for way less money. WiFi is everywhere too, you know? It’s like the largest network you’re already using. When you’re not around WiFi, that’s what the cell part is for. You could save hundreds off your bill in your first month alone. And your phone works just like normal, and then some. If you use the link below (email me: shannon4peace@gmail.com), we’ll both get a $20 service credit. Keep in mind – you MUST USE this personalized link in order for us both to get credit!* Thanks! *PS – Republic has a few different purchase options. When you get that far, if you choose the option to design your own Moto X, your purchase is not eligible for the referral credit because it’s purchased direct from Motorola, which is ok with me. I have the moto X (but I didn’t design it… went basic. love it!). My cell phone bill used to be $75+ and is now on average $35 / month for more then I got before.

  • Sheila

    I’m not sure I agree with much on this list. I’m probably in the minority, but I still like to watch the news as it happens rather than read about it later online. That’s one of the primary reasons I keep my cable.
    I still find my GPS to be much better than the version on my phone. Plus isn’t it even more distracting to be messing with your phone while driving?
    I don’t understand #8. Why would you pay $180 more just to sit comfortably for 2-3 hours. Ok, maybe on an overseas trip it’s worth it, but otherwise that’s kind of pricey. Planes aren’t usually comfortable anyway, but most of the time I just fall asleep so what difference does it make.