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Life's biggest purchases... Your computer

Today, we’re looking at a pricey item that you’ll probably have to purchase many times during your life: a computer.

Buying a computer doesn’t need to be stressful and confusing. It doesn’t need to break the bank, either. Here are 5 steps you can take to make it easy.


    1. New or used?

Deciding how much you want to spend on a computer is important. New computers can cost thousands of pounds so the first thing to do is to decide whether you want a used or new model. For most people on a budget, we recommend that a used computer is the way to go. 

The latest models can be seriously expensive and, for most users, unless you need a large amount of computing power for very specific tasks, like your work, the specifications of a used computer should be enough for you.  

If you’re buying used, it’s important to buy well, purchasing a well-known model from a trusted seller. It’s worth checking out Apple’s refurbished products, which offer a healthy discount and come with a one-year warranty.

Top tip: If you’re on a budget, buy used and buy well.


    2. Stick to your budget

When budgeting we recommend that you work out the maximum amount you want to spend… then take at least 10% off. That figure is your budget. 

Don’t spend every spare penny. Let’s face it, a computer isn’t that important an item, especially if you’re only going to use it for fun. The extra performance you get from spending all your money will be minimal but the stress of spending all of your savings will be great. So be prudent.

Once you have your budget, stick to it. It’s tempting when you go looking for a computer to buy a flashier, shinier, newer model, which you probably don’t need. So stick to your budget and save some cash that you can spend on something more important.

Top tip: Find your budget and stick to it.


    3. Work out what the computer is going to be used for

Most people use a computer for either work or play. Some use it for both. 

For personal use, you need a model to suit your personal needs. For example, if you’re going to watch television and films on it, you might need extra video playing capabilities or want one with a bigger screen. If you like to play games, then you might need extra power. So understand what you’re going to be using it for before you buy. 

For professional use, you need to be aware of the programs you need for work and make sure your computer can run them. You should also check whether your employer has any specific requirements for your new machine.

Purchasing a computer for work might allow you to claim tax relief. Computers qualify for your annual investment allowance so this might be an opportunity for you to reduce your tax bill. Discuss this with your accountant and refer to the HMRC guidelines here.

Top tip: Buy the computer that’s right for you. And perhaps save some money in the process.


    4. Where possible, try before you buy

Buying a quality used computer can be tricky, as you know someone has been using the computer before you, potentially for many years.

If possible, before completing any purchase, negotiate a trial period with the computer or, at least, a test run so that you can find out how it performs and feels. Even if only for a few hours, testing the machine can give you a sense of the quality of what you’re buying.

If the seller is keen to make a good sale, they should agree. If they do, be sure to - 

  • Check the screen for discolouration, haze, dead pixels or cracks. A well-maintained screen is a good indicator that the machine has been well cared for.
  • Check the keyboard and mouse/trackpad for signs of heavy use. Like the screen, a well-maintained keyboard means a careful owner.
  • Check all of the inputs and ports to make sure that the computer charges and can be plugged into peripherals, such as your phone.
  • Check that the programs installed on the machine work and are up to date. Make sure to ask the seller if the licenses for these programs are included in the sale.
  • Check the machine’s performance, making sure it boots up quickly, programs open, the browser works on the Internet etc. Get a feel for whether the computer will be fun to use.

Top tip: If you can, have a go on the machine. If it feels well maintained, it normally is.


    5. Protect yourself

Buying a computer can be stressful, especially if you’re on a budget. One way to lessen that stress is to make sure that any money transfer is 100% secure.

Shieldpay can offer both you and the seller that peace of mind. Fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, Shieldpay’s transparent payment solution mitigates the risk of fraud by verifying the identity of all parties, holding funds securely and only releasing funds when all sides agree.

So when buying a computer, Shieldpay can protect you. Fraudsters exist in all markets, and that’s no different for when buying a used computer. So make sure any payment you make is secured by using Shieldpay, which makes life’s biggest purchases some of life’s safest. 

Top tip: Use Shieldpay to protect any transactions you make.


If you need to buy a computer, you can minimise stress by planning, researching, staying on budget and remaining secure when you pay for the computer. 

Shieldpay is here to help you put together all of these pieces of the puzzle.


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