The Before Christmas Checklist For Buying Electronics

When we buy ourselves or others electronics for the Holidays, we often are faced with the logistics that can make things difficult. What if they already have the item you're getting or are getting one from someone else too? What about the extras that seem to come with electronics like added headphones, controllers, contracts, warranties, etc? How do you handle that?

Here's a simple list of things to consider or do before you buy that electronic item for yourself or someone else.

Teenage Phone User's Agreement
Before you buy that new phone for your teenager as a gift, write up a simple contract of rules they must abide by in order to have the phone privilege. Include that with the phone pre-activation. Then make sure that your carrier can set the phone up as a "kid's phone" so you have parental control. That way you can disable it, block certain numbers, and do other things to control the phone if the contract isn't kept or things get out of hand. You can also force the tracking service on so you can find out where your child is at all times.

Extended Warranties
Everything electronic always comes with a push to buy an extended warranty through the retailer. That is obvious since they make the bulk of their profits by selling you overpriced plans. Items seem to break the day after your warranty expires. Before you say "yes" to the extra charge at the register, check out blanket warranties from third parties like It's often far cheaper to use a service like that than it is to buy the warranty at the register - nevermind you'll never have to keep a receipt again since you can store them on the app.

Use Price Checking
Before you buy the item off the shelf at the local box store, check online to see if it's cheaper. If you have an Amazon Prime account, for example, time-sensitive purchases may not be as sensitive because of the free two-day shipping. You can often save a few bucks by double-checking online to find a better deal.

Use Money Saving Apps
Several apps can help you save even more when you're buying electronics and gifts. Retailmenot and Fatwallet are good examples. These can deliver virtual in-store coupons for you to use at the register or point you towards better deals just a few blocks up the road.

Ask For a Gift Receipt
Most stores will print out a gift receipt that doesn't have the item's price printed on it, but is good for returns and exchanges should something go wrong. This way if the game system or digital photo frame you purchased for your friend is a duplicate of someone else's gift or something they don't need, it can be exchanged for a refund or something else in the store.