Think there's no such thing as a deal on Apple products? Think again.
I'm on record as saying that when you shop for Apple gear, you should almost always look for refurbished options. That's because Apple routinely offers iPads, iPhones, MacBooks and and other stuff for less than the price of new.
Great, but how can you find out when Apple's clearance store adds something you want? And what if you're looking for a particular model or configuration not offered by Apple proper? Where can you find third-party deals on refurbs?
Simple: Head to RefurbMe. Born a few years ago as a simple catalog of Apple's own clearance items, the site now offers all manner of refurbished Apple products from many sources, like Amazon, Gazelle and Mac of All Trades. Even better, it can alert you when a particular item becomes available.
The site is divided into six major sections: Mac Laptop, Mac Desktop, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV. (You can also search for a specific product, natch.) Click iPhone, for example, and you can then filter by model, carrier and seller.
So, for example, if you happened to be looking for an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus ($500 at Amazon Marketplace) with at least 128GB of storage, RefurbMe would help you zero in on a $579 option from Mac of All Trades. (Whether or not that's a smart buy is topic for debate; just saying you can find it easily.)
If you're looking for an item or configuration that's not currently available, RefurbMe will let you create a product alert just by providing your email address. Alas, you can't set up alerts based on price, only availability.
Keep in mind, too, that RefurbMe is merely aggregating all refurbished Apple products under one roof. The product conditions, warranties and other factors can vary greatly from one seller to the next, so it's up to you to do your homework.
And don't assume that the site always has the latest and greatest deals. For example, I recently spotted a new Apple Watch Series 1 ($200 at Walmart) at Target for $179.99 (a limited-time sale, to be fair), but the best option RefurbMe could find was $261 from Amazon. (Unfortunately, RefurbMe no longer includes pricing from stores like Best Buy and Target -- all the more reason to expand your search beyond its borders.)
Even so, I consider this a useful tool for anyone seeking to save money on Apple gear.
Editors' note: This post was originally published on Aug. 29, 2016, and has since been updated.