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ATPM 14.12
December 2008


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Mac About Town

by Mike Chamberlain,

What’s a Guy to Do?

Let’s agree at the onset not to talk about our 401(k)’s, agreed? But what’s a guy (or a gal) to do when, on the one hand, the economy is headed south faster than the frost line and, on the other hand, the only way out of the mess is for consumers to “Get out there and shop”? Color me a bit confused and conflicted.

Black Friday has come and gone and, with it, the first time I can remember Apple being all that aggressive in the markdown market. We Mac people, after all, are known for being willing to pay what Leo Laporte has called the “Apple tax.” Meaning that we are willing to pay a bit extra for the polish and precision of our computers. One has to wonder what that means in a deep recession.

I’m confident that the good people in Cupertino are ahead of the power curve and know exactly what it is that they have to do to keep the ship afloat in the storm, but that doesn’t help us as we try to decide for ourselves what our spending will be in the days ahead. Christmas is almost upon us, however, and we are going to have to decide fairly soon. So the question of the day is this: what should be on the Christmas list of the “Apple tax” paying but necessarily frugal Mac user? Are there things that a smart shopper can do to ease the pain?

Let’s start out with some easy answers. First, mind where you shop. Say you decide that you’d like to give (or get) a copy of Aperture for the holidays. Why would you pay $199 here when you could pay $159 here? I love Uncle Steve, but there are limits!

A second strategy, great for hardware buys, is to look to the refurb opportunities at the Apple Store online. Given that they come in new condition and are coverable with AppleCare, what’s not to like? Most of the Macs there are $200 off list, and iPods range from $10 off for a Shuffle to a $60 discount for a 32 GB iPod touch. Another good place to check is the Craig’s listing for Apple products where you live. Checking Dallas at the end of November yielded five pages of computers, iPods, and phones. It’s not fun to profit from others’ pain, but you can bet that there will be more deals coming as the economy continues into the new year. I’m writing this sitting in my new (OK, new to me) Aeron chair that I picked up last month for 1/4 the original price at an office closing. Keep an eye out.

Both of the above thoughts bypass the other question: what is it that you will be buying for the holidays that is a bit more frugal but still in the Mac realm? Send your best suggestion for your fellow readers.

And don’t forget to let us know after Christmas what it was that Uncle Steve made for you in the grown-up toy shop in Cupertino.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Reader Comments (1)

Philipp · December 2, 2008 - 08:13 EST #1
Hi Mike,

Nice article, but why not talk about 401(k)s? In my opionion the best buy is to put some extra money into your retirement now, when the real sale is on in the financial markets.

This could even be in "Mac realm", if one of the funds in the 401(k) holds Apple stock.

Happy shopping!


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