How has Technology Impacted your Finances Over the Last Decade?




New Technology Does Not Come Cheap

Being an early mover on the latest technological gadgets can be exciting, get you attention (both good and bad), and possibly lead to increased efficiencies. However, these benefits typically come at a great expense.

Often times over the last decade or so I have felt a little left out when it comes to having the hottest new technologies and services. Before I get your views on ‘must-haves’ and ‘do withouts’, here’s a list of the things I passed on that many other twenty-somethings have embellished on and how much it has saved me.

I Passed on these Technologies & Services

technology cost

  • pager – never had one. Do they still exist? They use to run about $50 with $10 a month recurring fees from what I remember.
  • cell phone – OK, I didn’t pass completely, but didn’t have my first until 2004. Six years of not having one saved me about $3,500.
  • text message plan – I send about 3 a month @ 10 cents each. Most plans I’ve seen cost about $5/mo.
  • iPod – call me old school, but I still don’t have an mp3 player. These guys use to cost $400 out of the box.
  • cell phone data plan – nowadays they run $40/mo.
  • Tivo – DVR costs $150 plus $13/mo.
  • XM radio – $50 for the hardware, $13/mo. for the service.
  • Netflix – Plans vary, but $9/mo. seems to be the standard. This is the lesser of two evils, and if I wanted to go really hardcore, I could rely on the library.
  • XBox, Wii, Nintendo, Playstations – the last gaming system I had was the Super Nintendo (and it still rocks). Not spending a dime on all the latest systems and games has saved me untold thousands. I’ll make a conservative estimate of $2,500.

I estimate that passing on these things has saved me up front costs of $1,500 plus monthly service costs of approximately $8,500 for a total of $10,000.

But… I Couldn’t Resist These Technologies & Services

Despite all of my restraint, I haven’t been able to pass on the following, and it’s cost me quite a bit:

  • cell phone – I’ve had for 5 years. I use a Net10 prepaid phone plan that only costs me $15 per month.
  • cable TV – I’ve paid for it for the last 5 years for a total cost of $3,000.
  • HD service – $10/mo. for the last year. $120 total.
  • HD TV – I dropped $1,000 on a 42″ 1080p. I bought from Costco at a price that was about half off anything comparable at the time.
  • high speed internet – I didn’t make the upgrade to cable until this year, previously DSL. Over 5 years, it’s cost me about $1,200.

Total cost for all of this technology and service: $7,420.

The Lessons in All of this:

  1. Even the very frugal can get caught up in technology and service fees (for me, the service fees have really cut into my savings).
  2. Cutting back on some non-necessities can really save you a ton. Not having the latest greatest thing will probably have no adverse effect on your life. Rather, eliminating that dependency might actually make you happier.
  3. The latest, greatest, quickly become obsolete. Pagers, old gaming systems, flat screen TV’s, cell phones, computers are not built to stand the test of time. While they are here, they can wreck your finances.

Technology Discussion:

  • What technologies and services have you been able to sacrifice over the years?
  • What technologies and services have you not been able to live without?
  • What role does technology take on in your life?

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