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Here’s the best tech to buy during a recession

The ‘Merican way.

stonks and tech
Image: Curtis Silver / KnowTechie

I don’t fully understand stonks and the stonk marnket. Like, I know enough to realize that the financial stability of this country is maintained by a few very powerful corporations and us serfs are generally browbeaten into submission as we careen toward another recession.

You might think that buying tech during a recession is an amateur move, but you can get some great deals as tech retailers crumble. If we do hit another recession, the tech buying market has certainly changed and stock issues will likely not affect large tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon. The last recession that started back in 2007 killed Circuit City, its corpse picked clean by Best Buy, Newegg and Amazon and savvy consumers.

There are a couple things to consider if you are going to spend money during a recession. The first of course is whether or not you have a job. The 2007-2009 recession saw record job losses so don’t go buying a new TV the week before you get laid off. While many of us tend to think we’re in recession-proof businesses, unless we’re the ones tending the books, we really never know. Be prepared. Keep some cash rubber-banded under your mattress. Learn to love the taste of Spam and Ketchup. Try to remember what life was like without internet.

The second thing to consider is do you need the thing you are buying? Recessions don’t last forever, so consider resale value as well. If you don’t need it now, do you plan on selling it later when prices go back up? Are you looking to upgrade your current tech and toss out the old stuff? Perhaps think about donating your old phone to a women’s shelter or something like that. If you can afford to spend money during a recession, then you can afford to be charitable with your discarded tech.

I survived — like most of you — the last recession by the skin of my teeth. I got lucky in the industry I was in (not journalism mind you) and didn’t own a home or have any sub-prime loans. So yes, when Circuit City was closing its doors and clearing out its stock I was there to scoop up the deals and toss them on eBay a few weeks later. BluRay players, MP3 devices and so on. By the cart-full. I don’t suggest that course of action this time around. Be frugal, only buy what you need.

Let’s be clear — Amazon changed the tech buying landscape. But it’s still a corporation that wants your money, even if you have less of it to give. So during a recession, look for tech — especially smart home tech and small appliances — to drop in price, to appeal to whatever scraps of currency you have gasping for air in the suffocating tightness of your bank account.

So let’s start there, with smart home devices. Expect prices on things like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and whatever the creepy Facebook thing is to drop considerably during a recession. Keep in mind, the holidays are coming up as well, which will also prompt price drops and discounts. These companies want to sell you these devices, they need to be in your home, listening and watching. Taking advantage of your financial fears by offering steep discounts is a sneaky smart way of doing that.

How about a new iPhone? Nothing shows off your resilience to a recession more than spending $1,000 on a new phone. Apple’s September event is coming up and we can expect an iPhone 11 (that you can buy with your Apple Card). What we can also expect is cell service providers offering discounts on payment plans and contract restructuring in order to sell these phones to a public that is watching their retirement plans disappear. Sure, you might not be able to retire until the age of 99, but at least you have the latest and greatest iPhone. Should have just kept your Motorola Droid Ultra.

A new TV. 8K TVs are starting to make their way into the market which means the price of 4K TVs are about to drop considerably heading into the holidays and a possible recession. 4K Ultra HD TVs are ridiculously cheap at retailers like Walmart. As 8K TVs slightly lower in price and demand shelf space, expect even more discounts on their predecessors.

Finally, the best tech to buy during a recession isn’t tech at all, it’s entertainment. It’s streaming services. You want to save money right? Then you’ll have to start cutting subscription services. Those are the first thing to go when your finances resemble a growing pile of dead cockroaches under the sink. So hats off to Disney for seeing the coming storm and offering a cheaper umbrella. Its Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle at $12.99 a month is a heck of a lot cheaper than each service individually.

Even during a recession, we must be entertained. Otherwise, what’s the point of any of this?

If a recession hits (and frankly, I hope we can escape it) expect retailers to start scrambling to ensure their consumer base doesn’t face any disruptions in their spending habits. From Ring doorbells (it protecc) to Roombas (it attacc) to washer and dryer combos to toaster ovens and espresso machines, retailers will be trying to pry whatever cash you have left before they too are crushed under the weight of financial insecurity. That’s just the way it goes. To survive you have to be smart and spend smart, or not at all.

What do you think? Do you worry about a recession? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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