Keep SimplifyingConsider very carefully if you need to own a computer

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Since you can access the Web and send and receive your own email without owning a computer (and for free when using access at a public library), think carefully if you need to get your own computer and Internet account. Once you cross the line to getting your own computer and Internet account, you will take on considerable expense and complexity.

If you are an independent contractor or writer, you probably already have your own computer. Having your own Internet account would give you freedom to access the Internet from your home at any time, rather than having to rely on public terminals.

But if you don't have a computer, you can access the Web and use email from publicly available computers at net cafes and other public access points. This is also a way to use the Internet on an ongoing basis, and I recommend it to save on money, time, and complexity.

TACTIC: If you buy a computer, go for simplicity that meets your needs.

Advancing technology makes new personal computers today much more sophisticated and capable than those of just months ago. Yet most people don't need much of this additional sophistication, and the advancing technology keeps the price and complexity of a new computer high.

The computer you need depends on what you will do with it. If you want a computer for access to the Internet and word processing, you don't need the very latest models. A computer made as long ago as 2007 would probably meet your needs for Internet access. A computer from ancient times (the 1990's) could offer you all the word processing capability you will ever need.

You can get tremendous cost savings if you buy a used computer. A computer just one year old may cost as little as 20% or even 10% of its original purchase price. Enlist the help of a friend who is knowledgeable in computers but not a zealot of a particular brand of computer to help you in a used computer purchase. Operate the machine before you purchase it. Look for the hardware and software features you will need. Use those features before purchase. Similarly, look at used printers, modems, or other equipment.

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