It’s becoming harder to be a financial minimalist, each day another thing that used to be free now costs money.
We were sold a bill of goods.
When the personal computer arrived on the scene we were told it would reduce our dependency on paper. Combine the personal computer with a printer and figures show that we use more paper than we did before the use of computers. Consider the fact that we no longer subscribe to a daily printed edition of a newspaper or magazines like we used to and the fact that we no longer write and mail letters this means our paper use is from printers, boxes from online shopping and packaging materials. Two of the three paper sources are directly linked to the internet and computers. Put another way, the increase in paper products is a direct result of technology.
Our waste streams are overburdened. There’s the paper and boxes, that are often thrown out but also all our gadgets as they break down or become obsolete when newer technologies become available.
Then there’s the internet. We were told the internet would be free, Google plans to bring free internet to parts of the planet where it’s currently unavailable with the use of satellites. The majority of the area where the internet is currently unavailable is in developing countries. Why does Google want to bring the internet to these countries? My guess is it’s another way to reach a new market for sales.
When I first heard about the internet I heard it was free, other than your ISP connection. We signed up when dial-up was the only way we could access the internet. I found it truly was a gift to us, a home schooling family. My sons accessed information that would have been hard to find at home or our library. The computer reduced the number of books we bought for educational purposes and saved me a lot of gas running around to find answers to my children’s questions in their studies.
At first what we viewed was free. Then I began to notice ads on the side bar, I could ignore those. Then the ads began to appear in the content and on images which bothered me when reading. But now it’s gotten out of hand.
The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. ~~~ Bill Gates
I see the internet becoming the ATM of this generation. Banks promised the ATM machines would not have a cost to the customers, it was only a way to lessen demands on the teller’s time. Today if I want money from an ATM it costs me five dollars per transaction because there isn’t a machine locally provided by my bank. Of course by lowering demands on the teller the banks were able to reduce the number of tellers, but that’s another story. I got smart, and began to ask for cash back from cashiers to have spending money on hand, now stores are charging a fee to give you cash back.
Just like the town square, opportunities for and incentives to purchase continue to grow in this technological age. What I believed was a new free resource to access information is now the shopping mall of our day and it doesn’t stop when we turn our computer off. Amazon now sells cell phones that have ads on them. I know because when my last phone died and I couldn’t find a used replacement he suggested this was the best value. Now my phone has multiple notifications from Amazon a day for things I might like.
I limit the amount of news I see by reading the Guardian once a day. I enjoyed the ad-free experience. Now they are asking for funds. One day they had this banner that read. “If you use it why not pay for it. It’s only fair.” I found the last three words rude. They’ve changed their banner, but now it’s almost a threat. They remind you that they can make their content pay only if they don’t get enough to support their work. Many news sites already block their content unless you pay for access. This practice isn’t limited to news sites, many sites including for medical information also block content unless you subscribe.
Like China, the Internet is a huge new market. It’s up to you to figure out what to do with it. Use it as a prospecting tool, make connections with people, add value for your existing customers. ~~~Larry Chase
The online marketplace isn’t reserved to just those sites we knew were solely there to provide us with items to buy. It’s invaded every aspect of the internet. Even this blog has ads at the end of my posts put there by WordPress to entice you to make a purchase and increase the bottom line for them.
Here are a few more ways you will find yourself being asked for money while using the internet.
YouTube changed its algorithm a couple of months ago which determines who earns advertising from their videos, so now YouTubers are asking for money to support their videos or they will block their content from those who don’t pay for it.
Of course YouTube doesn’t need individuals to make money now that they have created YouTubeTV where subscribers can get local television programming for $35 a month. What do they care that the people who counted on an income from YouTube can no longer make ends meet.
Many who make their living through video creation and even blogs are now turning to Patreon to make money. Bloggers are beginning to save their best content for view only through Patreon for subscribers.
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, made a remark about people who don’t pay for prime that, to me, was insulting. In his annual letter to shareholders Bezos stated the $99 a year subscription price to Amazon Prime was “such a good value, you’d be irresponsible not to be a member.” He went on “There’s a good chance you’re already one of them [Prime member], but if you’re not, be responsible — join Prime.”
While Amazon Prime has included free videos, music and some free ebooks to its offer that began with free two-day shipping, being a Prime member might not be a good thing. If you are shopping regularly online and use the free two-day shipping every package costs the environment. My mail carrier explained that Amazon now has Sunday delivery through the US post office. He said Amazon demanded Sunday delivery or they would ship all their packages through another carrier. His words were, “They held us over a barrel and blackmailed the post office into Sunday delivery.” The added Sunday delivery puts more vehicles on the road on a day they hadn’t previously been in use.
Searching for peace of mind, I use ad blocking software. Companies are getting smart, I found this out when clicking on a link for a news article. Their software knew I was using ad blocking software and restricted my access unless I turned it off. I found another source for information instead.
I get it, the economy sucks. Everyone is looking for a way to supplement their income or seeking a bit of security in a volatile job market by working for themselves and the internet affords one a wider audience, but for the average user of the internet who believed this was a low-cost way of getting news or learning skills the internet I have to ask if it might become an empty resource unless you want to pay for content.
We can ignore subscriptions sites for videos such as Netflix or Hulu because we know their content is subscription only but to have news and medical information only available if one pays for the access is frustrating to say the least.
How can we achieve financial minimalism and still use the technology available?
The first thing we need to do is decide before we connect to the internet what value we may receive from paying for information. If we’ve cut the cable do we need Netflix and YouTube TV to replace it? Will subscribing to these services save us money or was the cable bill a better offer? Are we willing to spend the time to find free answers to our questions? In a time when everything is available at the click of a button the best thing we can do is walk away and think about a purchase.
The best advice I ever heard was to postpone any purchase decisions, big or small, for twenty-four hours. If after twenty-four hours you still feel the item is a necessity for you, then go ahead and buy it. While that advice was originally intended for in-person shopping decisions, it’s just as valuable today. Don’t click that buy now button today wait a day and see how you feel about it after sleeping on the decision. The same holds true for our gadgets. If you phone still works don’t run out and buy the newest version just because it is available.
We’ve entered an age where every thing has a cost attached it’s up to us to determine which, if any, requests for our money will add value to our lives.
Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.