Can’t afford a new laptop? You may qualify for a free one

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A laptop computer can change your life — help your child do homework, participate in school from home, and help parents find a job or earn money from home. Unfortunately, laptops are expensive.

Here are some places to find cheap or free laptops:

Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse

The Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse is a group of nonprofits with a common mission to promote technology recycling and encourage the donation of technology across the country. Their nonprofits provide discounted and free computers for low-income families.

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What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse?

AFTRR provides an interactive map of its nonprofit providers, which all offer discounted or free computers to qualifying people and groups. Type your address into the map’s search function to find the free/discounted laptop provider nearest you.

How to apply for a laptop from Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse

Each individual organization within AFTRR has its own process and qualifications for receiving a free or discounted computer or laptop. Visit the individual website of your nearest provider to purchase or apply for a free laptop in your area.

Amazon

If you’re online shopping this holiday season, chances are, you’ll be shopping on Amazon. So how do you get a free laptop from Amazon?

Laptops 75%-99% off at Amazon

While they don’t have any free options, Amazon offers a large selection of discounted laptops for 75-99% discount off retail price. Most of these laptops have been discontinued or refurbished, so check customer reviews to see which computer is the best value.

Amazon Prime members are eligible for free delivery on select items, and Prime is just $5.99 per month for EBT cardholders and some government-assistance recipients. You can apply here for this discounted membership, which gives you access to all of Amazon Prime’s features.

Computer Technology Assistance Corps

Computer Technology Assistance Corps accepts donations of recently retired computers from businesses and individuals, then provides them to qualifying applicants on a sliding scale.

A desktop computer system including a tower with LCD flat screen monitor, keyboard and mouse starts at $75 and carries a one-year hardware warranty. Laptops start at $120 and have a 90-day hardware warranty.

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What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computer Technology Assistance Corps?

CTAC spokesperson Penny Close says CTAC has waived its application process since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in the past, to be considered eligible for these low-cost computers, an applicant must be receiving some form of state or federal assistance, like food stamps, reduced-cost school lunches, WIC, disability, EBT, TANF, etc.

How to apply for a laptop from Computer Technology Assistance Corps

Currently, laptops and computers can be purchased on the organization’s website or through its eBay account.

Comp-U-Dopt

Comp-U-Dopt is a nonprofit that aims to “eliminate limited access to computers, facilitate growth in technical and digital literacy skills and support the future of youth and their communities.” In other words: They give away free computers, offer technical and job training and otherwise help low-income people gain access to tech and skills that help them be competitive in today’s economy.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt?

To qualify for a free computer, you must not have access to a working computer at home, and you must have a child in pre-K-12 (up to age 20). Devices provided by the school are not included in this qualification, since they are not owned by the family. So, if your kid has a school Chrombook, you can still qualify for a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt.

How to apply for a laptop from Comp-U-Dopt

Comp-U-Dopt holds lotteries for free computers across the United States. Applicants can register at their nearest location, and names will be chosen randomly based on available inventory three days before distribution dates.

It’s important to choose an easily accessible location, since selected recipients will be notified via email and/or text message to pick up their free computer from their chosen drive-thru distribution site. Learn more here about how to get a free laptop from Comp-U-Dopt.

Computers for Kids

​​Computers for Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that refurbishes donated computers, then donates them back to schools, nonprofits and students in grades K-12 and junior college. Their goal is to equalize educational opportunities for children and close the “digital divide” that occurs for those who don’t have easy access to technology.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computers for Kids?

Computers for Kids is not based on income, so any student can submit an application for a free computer. Laptops are currently only available to people in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

How to apply for a laptop from Computers for Kids

Students and parents can submit a student application on the Computers for Kids website. The organization offers every selected child a free desktop or laptop computer with Windows 10 Pro and Microsoft Office 2010, plus one year of free tech support.

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Computers With Causes

Computers with Causes is part of the Giving Center 501c3 nonprofit, which relies on donations to provide free working computers to low-income people and families.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Computers With Causes?

Computers with Causes invites anyone in need of a working computer to complete its application process, though its efforts are mainly focused on students, teachers, parents, the elderly, foster homes, shelters, disabled veterans and struggling military families.

How to apply for a laptop from Computers With Causes

Computers with Causes performs a strict need assessment, including background and reference checks. After submitting an application on the Computer’s With Causes’s website, it may take several weeks to hear back.

Connect All

Connect All is a program that provides affordable computers and Internet to nonprofit organizations and low-income individuals.

Discounted, refurbished laptops from Connect All

Connect All refurbishes previously owned computers and sells them at low prices on its website. The organization also offers discounted internet packages through the Sprint network.

Everyone On

Everyone On connects families in underserved communities to affordable internet service and computers, in addition to providing digital skills training.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from Everyone On?

Everyone On provides a search function for discounted internet and low-cost computers across the United States.

How to apply for a laptop from Everyone On

Simply type in your zip code, and choose one of the offers that comes up in your area to see available devices and internet packages.

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Jump On It! Program

The Jump On It! Program was started by The On It Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that provides free computers and computer training to low-income families with students in grades K-12 that receive a free or reduced-price school lunch, attend a public school and reside within the United States. (Learn more about their free computer program below.)

Discounted, refurbished laptop from Jump On It! Program

If you meet certain low-income criteria and earn less than $23,800 annually — or you receive Medicaid, SSI, TANF, GA-U, DSHS support or free/reduced school lunches — you can purchase a high-quality refurbished computer starting at $99 or start a lay-away plan for $15 down.

Notebooks for Students

Notebooks for Students offers certified laptop computers that were never used by the general public. Off-lease laptops originate from large corporations (banks, insurance companies, etc.) who lease them for use by their employees.

Discounted, refurbished laptops from Notebooks for Students

Laptops purchased through NFS must be used by a student or educator. Check out available inventory on the NFS website.

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The On It Foundation

The On It Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that provides free computers and computer training to qualifying low-income families with students in grades K-12.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from The On It Foundation?

To qualify for a free computer, a student must be in a grade K-12, receive a free or reduced-price school lunch, attend a public school and reside within the United States.

How to apply for a laptop from The On It Foundation

A parent or guardian for the student must write to The On It Foundation requesting a free computer. The letter must include the following information:

  1. Student name, age, grade, school name, school address and school phone information
  2. Parent/guardian name, address, phone number. The letter must be signed by the parent/guardian, and the organization also requires proof from the school on its official letterhead stating the student qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches.

Letters of request and school statements should be mailed to:

The On It Foundation
Attn: Free Computer Application
18520 NW 67th Avenue Suite 186
Miami, FL 33015

You may also scan and email the Letter of Request to Info@TheOnItFoundation.org as long as it includes a written signature. The On It Foundation requires the school statement to be mailed.

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PCs for People

Through its electronic reuse program, PCs for People provides access to low-cost computers and mobile internet for low-income individuals and nonprofits.

What are the qualifications for a free laptop from PCs for People?

PCs for People provides reduced-price laptops and computers to qualifying individuals. The organization requires photo identification and income documentation for program qualification. People can qualify by showing current income or enrollment in an income-based government assistance program. Refer to the chart on the PCs for People website for income requirements, which are based on the number of family members per household.

How to apply for a laptop from PCs for People

Eligible individuals can purchase available devices through the PCs for People website. Proof of qualification can be uploaded at the time of purchase or emailed to internet@pcsforpeople.com.

Other ways to get free laptops:

Craigslist

Craigslist offers a “free” category under its for sale listings, where people can post items they want to give away. Finding a free laptop or computer on Craigslist will be a game of chance, so move quickly on any listings you see. Just look out for potential scams, provide minimal personal details and always meet up in a safe public area to collect your item.

Freecycle

The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization with local chapters in almost every major city. Join your local Freecycle group to start searching for free laptops and computers. Like Craigslist, any listings on Freecycle are likely to go quickly, so make a habit of regularly checking the site.

Local nonprofit organizations

In most major cities, nonprofits exist to connect people with free or discounted laptops and internet services. The easiest way to find these organizations is to Google “free laptops in [Your City] for low-income families” or a similar search term.

You can also dial 211 to connect with your local United Way chapter, which may be able to connect you with local resources to obtain a free or low-cost laptop near you.

If you live in one of the following areas, learn how you can apply for a laptop through these organizations:

FAQs for finding free laptops

How can I get a free laptop from the government?

While there is no singular application process to receive a free laptop from the government, you can start by applying for benefits through benefits.gov. Many government agencies can connect you with grants or resources to receive a free laptop and low-cost internet service.

Where can I get a free laptop for my child?

If you are unable to purchase a laptop for your child, look no further than your school or community library. Reach out to your PTA/PTO, school board members, guidance counselors or school administrators to inquire about device rentals or grants available to students. If your child is enrolled in online learning, their school will likely provide a free device to complete school work.

Most public libraries have computers available on-site or to rent. Your local librarian may also be able to connect you with local resources for free devices.

Can people with disabilities get a free laptop?

People with disabilities qualify for many of the programs listed above, plus there are specific organizations that provide free adaptive software to people with disabilities. GiveTech is one nonprofit organization that gives away input devices that allow people with quadriplegia to use computers. Fill out a GiveTech application to see if you qualify.

 

Other ways to find helpful and free resources for low-income families and individuals:

 

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This article originally appeared on Wealth Single Mommy and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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6 strategies for becoming debt free

 

It isn’t the $5 cups of coffee. Or the $50 a month for the gym.

It isn’t that new smartphone, or your shoe addiction, or even that pricey cable subscription. These are common things everyone likes to waggle their finger at when they talk about overspending. But it isn’t necessarily any one of those expenses that really gets people into debt.

It’s usually all of them. And then some.

According to the 2018 U.S. Financial Health Pulse survey by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 46.5% of Americans said their spending equaled or exceeded their income in the past 12 months. 33.9% said they were unable to pay all their bills on time. And 29.5% said they had more debt than they could manage.

That’s a lot of people who are worried about money.

Though frivolous or impulsive spending can be part of the problem, the slide sometimes starts with the best of intentions — with the desire to get a college education, perhaps, or to own one’s own home.

According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning and Progress Study, mortgages and student loans, along with credit cards, are among the leading sources of debt in the U.S.

And when the nonprofit organization Student Debt Crisis surveyed student loan borrowers in 2018, 86% said student debt is a major source of stress. Add in credit card payments, car payments, utility bills, groceries and gas, and all the other things — big and small — that take our money every single day, and it’s clear how debt can become a deep, dark hole.

Which is why it’s so important to have a plan to get back out.

If you’ve wanted to become debt-free for a while, but didn’t know how to get there, think of your plan as a rescue rope you can hold onto during the climb. Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some popular strategies you might consider on your journey to becoming debt-free.

Related: Are you bad with money? How to know & what to do 

 

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If you have a significant amount of debt to pay off, you’ll likely be looking to cut costs in a meaningful way. A budget can help with that. First, when you’re going through bills, it can help to determine your priorities, this information can assist you in making informed decisions about what can go and what should stay.

Later, it can create a feedback loop, as you (and your partner, spouse, or other family members) compare real-world spending to the numbers in the budget and consider whether to take corrective action to stay on track.

And over time, it also may be possible to uncover the behaviors that have been holding you back.

If the idea of bird-dogging every penny has been a barrier to budgeting, or if you’ve tried and failed in the past, it may help to keep the process simple. The 50/30/20 rule is a simplified budgeting strategy that’s gained traction because it limits the number of spending categories a budgeter must establish and then follow.

After determining net take-home pay (what’s left after paying taxes), it breaks down the spending money that’s left into three buckets: needs, wants, and savings:

•   50% of the money goes toward needs, including housing costs, utilities, groceries, transportation, medical expenses and any regular debt payments that have to be made (credit card bills, loans, etc.). From there, it’s up to whoever is drawing up the budget to determine what are the true necessities and what belongs in the wants bucket.
•   30% goes to those wants. That’s everything from grabbing takeout, to your Netflix subscription, to getting your car washed and detailed for date night. Logically, this is the portion of the budget that has the most potential for trimming, but emotionally, it might require some real effort to get everything to fit the allocated funds.
•   20% goes to savings. This money might go into an emergency fund, some sort of savings account for short- and long-term goals and/or an investment savings/retirement account. If you decide to pay extra toward your credit card or student loan debt, that expense also would go in this category.

The percentages are meant as a guideline, and they can be tweaked to fit individual needs. The key is to make a budget that’s strict but doable.

 

fizkes/istockphoto

 

Yes, this is easier said than done, but before rolling your eyes and moving on, consider the possibilities.

Is it time for a pay raise? If a bump is overdue, it might be time to have a talk with the boss.

Is there side-gig potential? Do you always have nights or weekends off, and would your employer be OK with your taking on a part-time or occasional job for extra money? Maybe a friend does catering, landscaping, house-painting, or some other work and could use an extra hand from time to time.

Could a hobby become a money-maker? Crafty folks can sell their wares online or at craft fairs and flea markets. History buffs can give lectures or teach classes. Animal lovers can offer dog-walking or cat-sitting services. Where there’s a passion, there’s often a way to earn income.

 

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If that raise comes through, or you earn a bonus at work, or you get a tax refund from Uncle Sam, instead of living it up while the money lasts, consider using it to pay down some debt.

A few hundred dollars might not feel like it’s making much of a dent, but every dollar you pay over the minimum can help reduce the interest you owe on a credit card or student loan.

To get some idea of how paying even a little extra toward a bill can help, check out the alert on your monthly credit card statement. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 requires card issuers to warn consumers about how long it will take to pay off a balance if only the minimum is paid each month.

 

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One way to consolidate debt is with an unsecured personal loan. You may be able to consolidate all or some of your debts at better terms, such as a lower or fixed interest rate and possibly pay them off in less time than you expected.

This strategy could be useful for those who aren’t up for keeping tabs on several bills every month. A personal loan can consolidate multiple debts together into one manageable payment, which could help make it easier to keep tabs on what you’ve paid and what you still owe.

And because the interest rates offered for personal loans can sometimes be lower than the rates on credit cards, you could end up paying less in interest over the life of the loan than you would have if you just kept plugging away at those individual revolving credit card balances.

Typically, the better your financial and credit history, the better the loan terms are likely to be, so it can be a good idea to check your credit record and make sure the information listed on credit reports is accurate.

Then look for a lender who offers the best terms to fit your needs. Keep the length of the loan in mind, as well as the interest rate and other terms to help you on the road of becoming debt-free.

 

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It could be difficult (okay, next to impossible) to stop using credit cards completely since they’re commonly used for things like booking or holding flights, making online purchases and more. But making a commitment to reduce credit card utilization could help you cut spending and reduce the amount of money that’s only going toward interest on those cards.

A credit card is a convenient way to pay — if you can keep your balance at zero. But if you can’t afford to erase the balance each month with a full payment, the interest can start piling up.

And though many credit cards make limited-time “no interest” offers, it’s good to review the terms in detail.

For instance, some cards may have terms where if consumers don’t pay off the entire balance by the end of the promotional period, they may be charged all of the interest accrued since the date of purchase.

To better the chances of staying in check, some options may be to consider recording all credit card purchases with a budgeting app or pen and paper and to try and face the costs in real-time, instead of weeks later when the bill arrives.

 

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Seeing progress is inspiring for many people. Think about how good you feel when you lose a little weight from dieting or gain some muscle from working out. Even small wins can be motivating.

How does that apply to downsize your debt?

Two of the commonly recommended approaches to debt repayment are the Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche methods. These strategies vary but primarily focus on paying extra toward just one balance at a time instead of trying to put a little extra money toward all your balances at once.

The Debt Snowball

The Debt Snowball method directs any excess free cash you might have to the debt with the smallest outstanding balance. Here’s how it can work:

•   Start by listing outstanding debts based on what you owe, from the smallest balance to the largest. (Disregard interest rates.)
•   Make the minimum payment on all other debts and pay as much as possible each month toward eliminating the smallest balance on your Debt Snowball list.
•   After you pay off the smallest debt, turn your attention to the next-lowest balance.
•   Keep going until you are debt-free.

The Debt Avalanche

The Debt Avalanche method targets the highest interest rates rather than the balance that’s owed on each bill. It’s more about math than motivation — you can save money as you eliminate each of those high-interest loans and credit cards, which should allow you to pay off all your bills sooner. Here’s how it can work:

•   Disregard minimum payment amounts and balances, and list balances in order starting with the highest interest rate.
•   Make the minimum payment on all other debts and pay as much as you can each month to get rid of the bill with the highest interest rate.
•   Move through the list one debt at a time until you pay off all the balances on your list.

Though the methods are different, both plans provide focus, and as each balance disappears, momentum grows. But a newer approach, the Debt Fireball method, may be a better fit for modern-day debt, which could include a large amount of low-interest student loan debt.

The Debt Fireball

The Fireball method takes a hybrid approach to the traditional Snowball and Avalanche strategies. It’s called the Fireball because it can help blaze through bad debt faster by making it a priority. Here’s how it can work:

•   Categorize all debts as either “good” or “bad.” “Good” debt is generally things that can increase your net worth such as student loans or mortgages. (Interest rates under 7% could be considered good debt—rates above 7% would likely fall into the “bad” category.)
•   List all those “bad” debts from smallest to largest based on each bill’s outstanding balance.
•   Make the minimum monthly payment on all other debts and funnel any extra cash available each month toward the smallest balance on the Fireball’s “bad” debt list.
•   Once that balance is paid in full, move on to the next smallest balance on that list. Keep blazing until all “bad” debt is repaid.
•   Pay off “good” debt on the normal schedule while investing for the future. Apply everything you were paying toward “bad” debt to investing in a financial goal.

The Fireball makes sense mathematically because it gets rid of expensive (or bad) debt first, but it also provides plenty of motivation because momentum can grow as you approach the finish. These two combined elements could provide an extra boost to your efforts.

 

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The deeper the hole you’re in, the longer it may take to climb out. But having the right plan in place before you start could give you a better shot at sticking to a budget, minimizing your dependence on credit cards and methodically reducing your debt in a way that keeps you motivated and saves you money.

Learn more:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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