Finding An Affordable Computer

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There’s no easy way around it - computers are expensive. Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from financial hardship, this means you’ll have to work hard to find one in your price range. Here are a few places you should look.


Let’s get the bad news out of the way - there aren’t many national nonprofits that give computers to low-income households. However, the Computer Technology Assistance Corps, Computers with Causes, or The On It Foundation may be able to help. If you don’t have any luck with those programs, try a larger nonprofit, such as The Salvation Army.

Each of these programs have their own requirements, and some charge an application fee. Make sure you understand the terms before you apply.    

eBay + Craigslist

Secondhand computers are more likely to be in your price range, and these two websites will have plenty. On eBay, the listings are nationwide, so you’ll have a wide selection, and you’ll be able to get specific results by filtering for brand, price, and more. The downside, though, is that you won’t get to see the computer before you buy it. Be sure to read eBay’s return policy before making any purchases.

Craigslist, on the other hand, allows you to search local listings. The selection is more limited and less organized, but you can meet with the buyer beforehand and see the computer before you hand over your money. Craigslist also has a “free” section, and sometimes you’ll be able to find computers there.

Thrift Store/Yard Sale

Thrift stores don’t often carry computers, but you may get lucky. People occasionally sell old computers at yard sales as well. Keep searching in your area - you never know what you’ll find.   

Box Stores

Best Buy, Walmart, and Target often have sales on computers. It’s rare, but you may be able to find a new computer at a comparable price to the used models you would find on eBay or Craigslist.

Libraries and Community Centers

If you can’t afford these options but still need to use a computer, your local library or community center may have computers available for public use. Check beforehand to find the rules  

If you’re buying a used computer, pay attention to the description before buying. A used computer probably won’t have a warranty, so you won’t be able to return it if it doesn’t work. Do your research before buying, and don’t spend your money until you’re confident in your purchase.

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