How to save money on technology

I’m no tech expert but  here’s how you can save money.


  • Why do I own one? I took a physics course (PHYS 117 if you’re interested) that absolutely required each student to bring a smartphone, tablet or laptop to class. A smartphone was the most affordable and portable option.
  • Look for used smartphones on Craigslist.
  • Buy an older edition of whatever smartphone you want. Some smartphone enthusiasts like to rush out and buy the newest phone available, and sell off their older edition cellphones  for cheap.
  • Awesome perks of owning a smartphone: I also have a lot of online assignments for classes so I use my phone to do math homework, etc. I also realized how awesome smartphones are for taking pictures of that occasional slide you know that you won’t be able to copy down fast enough.

Cell phone plans

  • Don’t pay for data! UBC has free wifi all over campus.
  • You can also get away with minimal minutes and texts.
  • That said, I was annoyed by pay per minute/text because when you run out of cents, you can’t receive calls or texts! So, I spent money on a basic plan since I like to call. I like to think of spending money on a cellphone plan as a good investment because being able to call and text allows me to save time and allows my employers/coworkers/friends/family to contact me. I have a cheap plan with Fido but my friends have affordable plans with Koodoo, Virgin, Wind, Rogers, Telus and other companies.
  • I think Fido was the cheapest option at the time but I don’t know if that’s still the case. Compare plans at difference companies.
  • I think 99 cents to be able to call ambulance/police/fire is worth it but I know people who don’t pay for that to save money. It’s up to you.


  • NOTE: This was written solely based on  my experience WITHOUT a laptop.  This term, I’m testing out what’s like to use a laptop in class. (If you don’t have a laptop and want to try, see bold text below).  I’ll probably update/make new post after an experience
  • Before school starts, sales people at Best Buy and other stores will try to convince you that you absolutely need to purchase the fastest lightest laptop that exists that comes with $1500 price tag. You don’t absolutely need it. I went through first term without taking a laptop to class.
  • However, life can be easier with nice technology. E.g. submitting math assignments using my smartphone means staring at “Loading” for minutes every question.
  • So if you really want to save money, don’t buy a laptop UNLESS you need one for classes e.g. if you’re a computer science major.
  • How to get by:
    • Use the public computers at the library. Beware: sometimes you  have to wait a long time for a computer to be available.
    • Something that everyone know about: besides the desktops, you can also borrow an UBC-owned laptop for 4 hours. This is great when you’re working on an essay or presentation that you want to ask your friends for feedback on. The laptop that I’ve borrowed (I always get the same one) has word processing software and internet access, which is all I’ve ever needed. Warning: if you don’t return the laptop before the deadline, you have pay an huge fine.
    • If you need specialized software, there are iMacs loaded with SPSS, Photoshop, video editing software and more.
    • If using public computers, go earlier in the day or on weekend.
    • During the end of the semester, you may not get a computer at all. Such is a life.
    • Have very very  nice friends who will let you use their computer when you really need to use a computer.
    • Do not use your friend’s computer too often though because he/she also needs to use it. Try to use the public computers more often or your smartphone if you own one instead.
    • Write everything by hand. Investment: a package of 150 lined papers during back to school sales is 25 cents.
    • Pens: I ran a lot of pens dry so keep an eye out for free pens! Pens are often handed out during club promotion events, awareness initiatives, the discount bookstore and other places. If you’re really desperate, there are abandoned pens on the floors of lecture halls. I personally don’t pick up pens from lecture halls because I don’t know if its owner is sad and is trying to hunt it down. But if you’re really desperate, there is a lot of stationary on the floor.


  • If you’re taking chemistry, buy the Sharp EL-510RNB Engineering/Scientific Calculator. You can’t forgo buying this.
  • Don’t waste money buying a scientific calculator that is not the calculator allowed on exams.
  • Don’t waste money buying expensive graphing calculators. You won’t be allowed to bring it to your math exam. In fact, if you take Math 102, 103, you can’t bring a calculator at all.


  • I personally highly recommend investing in a printer. It doesn’t have to fancy e.g. colour printing or a fax/scan/print combo. It just needs to print things. A printer is just so convenient for printing notes, papers, hand-in assignments, etc.
    • Buying a printer together with your roommate or a group of friends could work.. but it’s a little messy to deal with who gets the printer once you’re no longer living together.
    • If you do that and are the one who uses more ink, you should be the one buying the ink cartridges more often. In fact, go buy the ink cartridges most of the time.
  • That said, the libraries have massive printers that lots of students print with. If you don’t plan to print much, then you can pick this option to save yourself the price of a printer and those pesky printer cartridges.
    • Despite my cheapo nature, I don’t rely on the library printer because I had the library printer fail me once when I had to print an assignment that was due that afternoon. Yikes! But that might not be a common experience so don’t let that scare you from using the library printer.
  • Another option to save money by both avoiding buying a printer and paying for print is to print from a printer that is free to print from. This option is not available to all students. Check if you’re part of an association that grants you free printing. Obviously, don’t overkill with your printing but printing the occasional document should be harmless
    • e.g. My friend who is part of Collegia (a commuter student association) prints and scans at Collegia. Technically that’s not completely free because he had to pay to be a member of Collegia. But hey, it’s not bad.
  • If you can find a good deal, double-sided printing is worth paying a little more so you can save paper, save the mishaps and time wasted manually double siding. You don’t always waste a huge amount of paper printing single-sided but it’s not great for the environment and a stack of single-sided pages can also weigh down your binder substantially.
    • As often as you can, print 6 or 8 or 9 or max pages that fit and are still readable so you save ink and paper
    • If you change the text colour to a light gray before you print, you save ink
    • The font Garamond allegedly uses less ink than Arial and some other fonts. (I forgot where I read this.)


Hope this post saves you money so you graduate with a little less debt! 🙂

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