Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Internet Helps Save Money

Many are dumbfounded when they learn that someone like myself who cuts every corner to pinch some pennies and goes to extreme measures to save a few bucks would choose to keep an obvious a luxury as internet in my home.
Why don't I just get rid of my internet and kiss that bill goodbye as I'm willing to do with almost everything else? Internet can't be a need, after all, as it is such a new invention and people have survived millennia without it.
Why do I insist on having internet when it is absolutely unnecessary for life?

The reason is because I truly believe that if you want to be serious about living a really frugal life, having good access internet is an absolute must, even if it is not an actual need for life. The internet is one of the best free resource available to mankind, making it the biggest and best money saving tool. Cutting off  my internet connection to save money would be akin to moving to a cheaper kitchen free apartment; it would be shooting myself in the foot. I save exponentially more money each month via the internet than I spend each month maintaining the service.
Sure, access to the internet can be had in other ways, like at work, a friend's house, the public library or at an internet cafe. While these are ways to use the net without paying that internet bill, only by having the internet at home can you truly fully take advantage of the value of the internet. Your strategy of mooching internet off others may backfire: it can get you fired from your job, make you lose friends who feel taken advantage of, public libraries aren't always available and don't always have free internet, and internet cafes are expensive.
I keep internet in my home because it saves me lots of money. Let me count the ways.

Internet Saves Me Money

1. Cutting Telephone Bills
  • Contact people for free. No need to pick up the telephone for all your instant communication needs. The internet allows you contact people without paying a dime, via email, instant messenger, internet telephone services and Skype. Read my previous post for an in depth look on how to cut communication costs here.
  •  Accessing information for free. Instead of calling 411 to find out phone numbers, simply use whitepages.com or another similar resource. Instead of calling different businesses to find out necessary information, simply go to their website and most of your questions will be answered, eliminating the need for many phone calls.
If I got rid of my internet, my phone bills would go up drastically.
    2. No Paying for Books
    • Free Encyclopedia. My parents had a nice edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Amazon charges nearly 800 dollars for that set. If you need a good source of information in print, that Encyclopedia Brittanica is really the best of the best, and is really the most reputable place to get the most information about the most subjects, but $800 dollars? Ouch! I can get all that information plus more via the internet.
    • Frugal Books. Instead of buying hard cover books that take up lots of room in my 565 square foot apartment, I can either access free books via the net or even pay less money for an e-book than I would for a hard copy.
    • Free Cookbooks. With resources like allrecipes.com and recipezaar.com as well as countless blogs, I've got no need to be spending money on cookbooks to find delicious recipes to feed my family.
    If I got rid of my internet, I'd end up spending a lot more money on books to access needed information.
      3. Snail Mail No More
      Remember those ancient days when we actually had need of postage stamps? In all honesty, I have not bought even one postage stamp in the five years I've lived in this country.
      • Online Bill Pay. Instead of mailing in bills, I just pay my bills via the net. I get a discount this way and don't have to pay for stamps and envelopes to boot.
      • Online Invitations. Sure, this is less formal, but everyone seems to be using either facebook or email or both to invite people to events. Why pay for stamps when you could do it for free online?
      • Online Letters. Whether to congressmen, a friend, or even grandma, most people have email these days and your written word can be mailed without the aid of a stamp, while ensuring it doesn't get lost in the mail.
      There's no way I'd be able to keep up my postage stamp free streak if I got rid of the internet.
        4. No Newspapers or Magazines
        • Free News Sites. I get updated on the news without needing to buy the paper. Most newspapers have websites that you can access for free, making receiving quality news more affordable than ever.
        • Free Online Magazines. Not only news can be found for free online. Most magazines also have free online editions. Well, the ones that really count are available. No need for glossies to clutter your house when you can get that same magazine for free online.
        • Internet Coupons. No need to buy the paper just so you have access to all your coupons. Many coupons are available online on many different sites. To be honest, I'm not the most up to date on this stuff as couponing doesn't happen in my country, but I do know its out there for those who'd like coupons without buying the paper.
        Without the internet, I'm sure I'd buy a newspaper or magazine once in a while to keep up with the happenings in the world.
          5. Free Entertainment
          We are able to keep an entertainment budget of a whopping $0 per month merely because have the internet. How do we stay amused for free with the internet?
          • Online Movies. Many, many, many, many movies are available online. Older movies especially are available, as are made-for-TV movies. Yes, its not the newest and latest flicks available, but they're entertaining nonetheless. (And I have a confession- I get a kick out of watching Disney Channel Original Movies and they're nearly all available online.)
          • Online TV Shows. If you go to different channel's websites, you're often able to see many of their recent shows. CBS.com, PBS.org, ABC.com, MyLifetime.com, History.com and Syfy.com are just some of the many channels who's shows are available online for free. Hulu.com is also another option for free TV.
          • Online Old Shows. Many episodes of old TV shows are available online. Just look on Youtube or Google Video to access these for free. Type in the name of the movie and whatever number episode and you'll likely find it.
          • Online Radio. Ok, listening to the radio doesn't cost money, but buying a radio does.
          • Online Music. Most online music stations give you the chance to search for music to listen to. There is so much music available online that there is really no need to buy CDs anymore.
          • Blogs. Blogs are definitely my biggest source of entertainment. They're fun and amusing and informing to read and I definitely spend more time reading blogs than I probably should.
          Without the internet, I would go out of my mind with a $0 entertainment budget.

          6. Getting Things Online

          • Free Things. When people are giving away things, they're often posted in an online community bulletin, craigslist or freecycle.
          • Second Hand. The internet is a great resource for buying things second hand cheaply. Ebay is just one of the many, many second hand sites available.
          • Sales. Many stores offer discount prices to people who purchase via the internet.
          Without the internet, I'd end up paying much more for everything I have.

          7. Free Software

          • Free Faxes. Why buy a fax machine or pay to fax things, when you can do it for free via the internet?
          • Free Computer Programs. So much free software is available on the internet. Its a shame to pay for computer programs available for free online.
          Without the internet, I wouldn't be able to afford most of the computer programs I use on a regular basis.
            8. Learning to Be Frugal
            People's knowledge of subjects are limited usually to what they've learned in school, read in books, and heard from friends. Frugality is not a subject often taught in school, so many are woefully ignorant of the vast majority of money saving techniques available. Internet can help you learn so many frugal strategies.
            • Blogs. Most of what I've learned about frugality has been via different blogs I read of people I admire. The list of frugal mom blogs I read that inspire me are limitless, but there are some in specific that have inspired me the most. You know who you are. If you're reading PennilessParenting, its because you too have realized that you can learn frugal strategies via blogs.
            • Forums. A shout out to the thrifty forum over at Diaperswappers.com. When you've got a dilemma or need help solving a money related issue or need more ideas on how to cut back, asking a forum of thrifty mamas for advice is the best way. 
            • Websites. There's a bunch of really great sites out there that teach you all about being thrifty, top of which is Wisebread. So many ideas by so many authors. All available on the internet.
            • Do It Yourself. The internet can help you learn so many ways to do things yourself so that you never (or rarely) need to pay someone to fix or make your things again. Ehow.com is a good start.
            Without the internet, I wouldn't know a fraction of what I do about frugality.

            Internet Helps Makes Money

            In addition to merely saving money, the internet opens up worlds of opportunity in the jobosphere.
            • Online Job Listings. No more scouring the classifieds anymore- the internet has so many job listings available.
            • More Jobs Available. Many jobs, especially work at home jobs suitable for mom, require the employee to have internet. 
            • Start an Internet Based Business. Whether an etsy or ebay shop, consulting business or monetized blog, the abilities to start an internet business are unlimited.
            Without the internet, PennilessParenting.com wouldnt be here today and I'd be unable to bring in an income via my writing.

            Sure, the internet is not a need. Some even call it a luxury. Do I have any plans of getting rid of my internet? Heck no! What- do you think I'm crazy or something???

            Do you think the internet is a luxury? Do you think someone short on cash should get rid of their internet service? How does the internet help you save money?

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