Today, a reader is offering an outside perspective on how to reduce cost of entertainment based technology.
Ever since I away from my parents' house, I knew I wanted to keep the cost of entertainment to a bare minimum. My parents were the techie-type that would go out of their way to purchase new gadgets, T.V.s, and all others just to keep up with the marketplace. I, on the other hand, wanted to get the maximum bang for my buck. What I started doing was truly looking at the cost of technology and figuring out whether it offered a substantial return on investment. My line of thinking was that if I didn’t get enough entertainment-per-dollar then it needed to either be ousted or sourced through a new solution.
That was a few years ago. Since then, I’ve learned a few things (and have converted my parents to this type of logical tech lifestyle). Here are some of the actions I have taken that have cut the cost of technology:
1. The “patient” gamer lifestyle
Video games are my primary source of entertainment when I’m not working. The problem is that new releases can run upward of $60 or more. Compare this to other forms of entertainment and you can see how it can quickly add up.
My recommendation: Be patient with your gaming. Chances are you already have a massive collection of games sitting in your backlog. Rather than spending money on new games, it would be financially wise to go through the older list. Doing so also saves money in the long run since you’re rarely be buying games at launch (at full price).
2. Go with the right service
Another major money saver has been negotiating with the cable/satellite companies. You’d be surprised at how low you can get the prices. If you figure that you watch a few hours a day it comes out to a few mere dollars for each day of entertainment.
My recommendation: Take a look around and finds what’s best for your area. When I was comparing deals I made sure to check out speed, DVR capabilities, and channel selection to maximize the entertainment-per-dollar value. There are options such as satellite TV packages available that could work well based on your circumstance.
3. Know your usage
The Apple watch was recently revealed but unless you’re a gadget junkie or someone that really wants to make a statement, you have to wonder if it’s the right fit for you. This idea is the same for most technology and gadgetry – are you really getting additional value out of that new item versus the one that you’ll replace?
My recommendation: If you plan on doing an upgrade, make sure that you’re truly upgrading and not just buying it out of vanity. If you can, too, see if you can make some money off your old devices (like cellphones) to go toward the new costs. If you can hold out roughly 4-5 years (rather than 2-3 like many others) you will certainly keep the costs to a minimum.
4. Rent/trade (when you can’t buy)
Why are we so isolated when we have such a large network?
You’d be surprised to find out how many gadgets and pieces of technology your neighbor (or people within the general area) may possess and not use very often. Because of this, there is an excellent market for renting or trading between these individuals. When you open that channel you cut out the high prices of retail purchases. Plus, you’re not letting your stuff sit around collecting dust.
My recommendation: Get in touch with your neighbors and those that are close to your family. See if they have the items you need. You could offer a small monetary amount to borrow the item or see if they would be willing to trade it for something you don’t need. In the end everyone wins and there’s still a good deal of money left in your wallet.
5. Embrace it
My grandma had a (literal) room dedicated to the books she had collected over 20+ years. The room was wasted space and it was a hassle keeping it organized since each week she brought home more. One day I bought her a Kindle and everything changed. Not only was the space freed up but she started saving hundreds of dollars each year by going digital.
My recommendation: Embrace the change of technology and make it a habit to think of it in a monetary sense. Next time you see something – pull out your phone and check out how much it may cost online. If you can beat the buy-now urge, you can probably find it cheaper. Also, find ways to digitize your media. This way you aren't spending a ton of money on physical copies of movies, music, and literature. Doing so will save the space and put more back into your funds.
What actions have you taken that have led to a significant decrease in your monthly expenses as far as technology goes?