About four years ago, we decided that my ten-year-old PowerMac could no longer be maintained. The Internet had changed too much, and no amount of extra memory or upgraded software was going to make the old hardware capable of copying with it. So we took the plunge and got me a new Mac Mini running the brand-new version of MacOS, Lion.
This turned out to be a bad idea.
First of all, the new OS had all sorts of weird quirks, like insisting on scrolling down when you moved the scroll bar up (which it claimed was "more intuitive"). I could perhaps have gotten used to those. I could probably also have gotten used to the new Mac Mail program, which I was forced to adopt because my beloved Eudora mail program wouldn't work with the new OS. But the real deal breaker was the new version of Office I was forced to purchase to use with the new system, because that, too, was not back-compatible. The new version of Word wasn't that different from the old one, but it crashed all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME. I was hitting "force quit" and restarting the program literally dozens of times each day. I was saving documents after every two sentences because I never knew when it was going to crash again.
I called up Apple and asked if I could downgrade from Lion back to my old OS, Snow Leopard, so I could use my old programs. The answer, in a nutshell, was no. So I sent my shiny new computer back to Apple and bought myself a refurbished version of the previous year's Mac Mini from PowerMax. It was about $40 cheaper than the new one I'd just returned, and it was much, much easier to use. (I still have it, and to this day, I'm still running Snow Leopard on it for fear that any upgrade will break all my programs.)
The point of this long, sad story is that for me, a refurbished computer was a much better deal than a new one. And if you're in the market for anything electronic, from a phone to a music player, it might be for you, too.
To find out, take a look at my latest Money Crashers story, which is all about refurbished electronics. I explain the difference between used and refurbished, the best things to buy refurbished, and how to find good deals. Check it out here: Should I Buy Refurbished Electronics? – How It’s Different From New & Used