Digital frugality

Every now and then I like to embark on grand money saving schemes. Usually this happens around the time of some disaster: the collapse of the banking system, an imminent general election with all the taxing uncertainties that goes with it, paying out for the excess on my car insurance after a little prang...

Anyway, I'm in the groove now and as my life, like so many others, is almost exclusively virtual - we're barely even living at all - I first looked at what I could save on media. I suppose I could go altruistic and subscribe to the New York Times's latest model for charging for online content, as this could even have implications for my career prospects...but I'm trying to save money.

I dimly recalled a Nicholas Carr piece on the joke that information is free. It's here:

http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2010/01/information_wan.php

Now I don't pay for all the things he lists, but certainly a few of them. And the odd thing is that I'm paying a few times for the same things. For the privilege of talking to people at a distance and having them hassle me at inconvenient moments I have a land phone line, a work mobile and a personal mobile. Two of these I pay for and they do the same thing.

I have a cable TV package and a broadband package. I'm starting to think that paying for a TV package is buying a lot of stuff I can now get on demand on the internet (via the various iplayers) or at the local pub (football on big screens). And the internet does require a TV licence of course. Why am I doing this?

Technology comes up with a lot of interesting developments but, instead of analysing what we're doing (and why and when), we just add a subscription here and a call charge there. And I write as a relatively thrifty person already. I could have an XBox live account, MMO subscriptions and the like as well.

I'm told that even in the arcane gaming world there are savings to had. I thought someone was joking when they told be there was a website called 'frugal gamer' or 'frugal gaming' - he couldn't remember which. In fact there are both:

http://www.frugalgaming.co.uk/ https://thefrugalgamer.wordpress.com/

This pleases me.

There are also a massive selection of cheap broadband options, cheap phone options, cheap(ish) line rental options, overseas calls packages and every bundled combination thereof.

Plus, in Swindon, we have coming soon (although the website updating is a tad tardy - not a good sign) free WiFi for the town. http://www.getsignal.co.uk/coverage

So I asked myself this: can I get everything I realistically need over a reliable internet connection? Thus getting rid of the following:

Phone line rental
TV package sub
TV Licence
Call charges

I'm hoping yes. I'll keep you posted.

About the author

Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

See all posts by Brian Runciman
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