Computing For Cheapskates, Telecom For Tightwads
The idea came to me Sunday night, as I was mulling over a couple of other ideas I'd been working on. After pondering the symbolism of reviewing expensive software when many of you might have more pressing concerns, I decided to write a column about how to spend less money on a tech lifestyle instead.
At first, I thought I'd do a simple how-to piece on ways to save money on new hardware and software--what you see in the first third of the column as it ran, and which I've covered before on this blog. But then I made the mistake of adding up my telecom expenses for last year. In a word: ugh. It seems that my wife and I managed to spend over $2,700 in 2007 on the combination of two cell phones, basic landline phone service, satellite TV and DSL.
(Did I write "ugh"? "@*!#" is a more accurate reflection of my thoughts on seeing that figure.)
I tried to stick with advice that wouldn't be too difficult or expensive to follow. So, for example, I didn't suggest using a Voice over Internet Protocol service (my favorite remains Skype) to replace a landline, just for outbound long-distance calling, where it offers maximum savings for minimum effort.
Similarly, I didn't suggest buying any add-on hardware, like the Apple TV or the Roku Netflix Player, to watch TV downloads or streams on your television. (You can just watch them on your computer or, if you've got a laptop and a TV that--like any flat panel set made in the last few years--has a VGA input, plug the laptop into the TV to watch the show.)
Having done this exercise, I now need to figure out how I can chip away at my own telecom costs. Where to start? Perhaps by dropping HBO, now that the network has begun building out its initially-weak inventory of shows available on iTunes.
You can help me, and your fellow readers, here: Share your own tips on how you've cut your tech budget, whether it's capital expenditures like new computers and gadgets, or operating costs like all these different telecom subscriptions. (Note: Please don't say "canceling the newspaper subscription.") Post your suggestions below--or share them in my Web chat, starting at 2 this afternoon.
October 2, 2008; 12:54 PM ET
Categories: Computers , Gadgets , Telecom , The business we have chosen , Tips
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