Law School
Personal Finance

Mac on A Budget

Well thanks to our friends over at Engadget, we now know what Steve Jobs is unleashing at the Macworld 2008 conference this morning. The new MacBook Air, the thinnest laptop on the market, will be pretty pricey, but it sure seems attractive to law students who carry dozens of pounds of books around with them daily.

Last semester I made the switch over from my bulky Gateway to the black MacBook. It’s true that the MacBook put a major dent in my pocketbook, but it also greatly increased my daily productivity, enabling me to get more done faster. Thanks to great tools like OmniOutliner, OmniFocus, Quicksilver and the ease with which my Mail, Address Book and iCal work with all these programs makes the MacBook “hands-down” the best purchase I’ve ever made.

If you read Mac Law Student (if not you definitely should; here’s the link)you’d know that Macs happen to function a lot like law students’ brains. They have the ability to accomplish multiple tasks at once, storing information in a meaningful and easy to recall way with the overall goal of retaining tons of information for yesterday, tomorrow and into the future.

I do have some tips though for getting yourself into a Mac, even when you’re on a budge

1. Never Purchase New
Generally computers are a lot like cars. They’re not going to go up in value once you’ve taken them out of the box, in fact, computers tend to depreciate much faster than cars simply because the technology is updated more frequently. With this in mind, you should always strive to purchase last season’s technology. So, if you’re in the market for a MacBook now, wait until MacBook Air saturates the market, and then try to purchase a regular MacBook from someone who upgraded to Air.

2. Troll E-Bay
Buying a computer online can be intimidating, you just need to ask plenty of questions, and make sure you’re bidding on a trusted seller. A good rule of thumb I use is to bid and sell using Pay-Pal only, because then you have another level of built-in corporate policies protecting you. In fact, I’m using Ebay now to sell my 16GB iPod Touch (I like the new iPod nano version better; see link here).

3. Call Your Local Apple Store and Ask If They Sell Refurbished
Local Apple Stores will many times have refurbished Macs in stock, or old floor models that they pull off the floor but are available for purchase. It’s best to call your local store or show up and ask them what their particular store’s refurbished options are.

4. Constantly Monitor Mac’s Online Refurbished Sections
Apple will sell their own refurbished products to you here. Most other online retailers also sell refurbished Macs, but I’d stay safe and purchase directly from Apple.

5. When All Else Fails, Finance Your New Mac
I hate to recommend this, but if you can’t find what you want used, and are extremely picky, you can purchase new (and finance through Apple’s Juniper Bank Visa Card–with a huge and unattractive APR). I would almost never recommend this, unless it is your only option to put yourself into a Mac and you are truly in dire straits. My position is that being “backwards” into a Mac by financing it on a credit card is still marginally better than owning and using a PC as your primary computer (sorry for offending PC users–I still have two PCs in my home).