Mar 4, 2010

Unnecessary Expenses: Part 3 (Merrick)

After my last post about cable being a luxury and (in most cases) easily replaced with the Internet, a lot of you asked about my thoughts on paying for the Internet.

Well, like our cable bill, our condo HOA fees cover the cost of internet so we’re sort of in a different boat than many of you. However, if our HOA did not cover internet, I would still pay for it.

Although I recognize it as a luxury and that everyone lived perfectly well without it for thousands of years, I think in 2010, having access to the internet is pretty darn necessary. In college, assignments, grades, class lectures, quizzes and much more were all online, so in order to fully participate in the class, you had to have online access. Communication for church activities, assignments, schedules, and meetings are almost always done through email and in order to stay updated you have to have an email account. Similarly, many people who work from home, or run businesses out of their homes, communicate with clients, their co-workers, bosses, and partners via email, web conferencing, and other online networks. These are all reasons that it’s pretty important to have internet access.

In addition to necessity, the internet is also a huge convenience, as far as emailing, googling, paying bills, checking your bank account, and a million other things that could be done without a computer, but are much faster, easier, and cheaper if it saves you a trip to the bank, the doctor, or even just the cost of a postage stamp.

Like I said, I have very little experience with this because our internet comes in a package deal, but here are a few suggestions to reduce the cost of your internet:
- Call your provider and see what your options are – Amber mentioned in a comment that she had to call her cable company and remind them that they did offer a $13 package. Do your research and you’ll probably find that they have very cheap options that they won’t ever bother mentioning during a sales pitch.
- Consider a slower internet option – the faster the internet, the more expensive it will be.
- See if there are providers that offer group rates that you can join with your neighbors.
- Many providers have “bundle” deals. See what you might already be paying for that would suddenly be cheaper if you bundled it in your internet package.
- Also a good reminder, per Leslie, be sure to always read the fine print on the contract to make sure your current awesome rate doesn’t change after 6 months or a year, or that there isn’t a big fee to cancel early.

Finally, if you are not like me (who checks my email every ten minutes) and you feel like you really don’t use the internet that much and it’s not worth paying for, consider using the library, which has free online access. Those who live in a college town, like me, have the option of going on campus and using their free computer labs. Also, many coffee shops and other stores offer free wi-fi to their customers. So if you don’t have internet in your home and don’t want to pay for it, there are other options.

So, readers, is the internet a necessity in your home? And if so, what are you doing to keep that monthly bill budget friendly?


Anonymous said...

I was just looking for our bill....I bet we pay $40 or $50/month- and that is probably for the "turbo charged-fast of the fast" (knowing my husband)...but, we can expense it for business. We use it for everything that you mentioned and probably,email,work,purchases, etc. - I could live in a cave...and as long as I had the internet and my computer.....I'd be completely happy! I will definitely pull the bill and take a look at it!

Carly said...

When we moved and had to start paying for internet, I called every single internet-offering company in the phone book. The rock bottom cheapest I could get (that was'nt dial-up) was $27.95 a month. We had to do either a one or two year contract and we had to buy our own router (since we have a laptop, not desktop), but they supplied the modem for the duration of the contract. I was floored that that was the cheapest we could get. Most companies kept trying to push a package deal with cable, dish, etc. I kept asking, "Isn't there anything lower? Anything slower?" Nope. Most companies (for just internet, not a package) didn't offer anything under $40.

Kimberly said...

We once had an apartment that included cable and we were able to sign up for the same company's bundle internet rate even though we were not paying for cable individually. That saved us a ton of money.

That being said, our current apartments also include cable and the same plan didn't work (this company can't bundle to group accounts). It was definitely worth asking, however.

Amber said...

The internet is a necessity for us. My husband owns his own business and works from home doing web design and social media consulting - so he is online 24/7! And of course I NEED it for my blogging :) and other less important stuff like paying my bills.

But, we do have the "slower" internet that is about $30 but we really can't tell a huge difference between it and the "fast" one.

Oh, and thanks for the shout out in your post!

Packrat said...

We live in the boonies so we don't have much choice. We pay $39.95 per month with no contract. But since there isn't any choice, it wouldn't really matter one way or the other.

When we switched from dial-up we had to purchase all of the wireless equipment. That was incredibly expensive (at that time I think it was around $400), and we were able to get it at dealer prices and didn't have to pay installation fees! (Also, this equipment does break down and/or has to be upgraded.) But, with the business we need the speed (and it really isn't very fast!)

We could get a great deal by bundling our TV, phone, and internet - except that we don't want TV and have a business phone account instead of a residential land line. (The PUC gets a little testy if you use a residential line for a regular business. Even though the business line is expensive, it helps that any repairs are done more quickly and thoroughly than on a residential line.)

My recommendation is for people to do their homework and I'll "third it" on the "read the fine print" comment.

Sorry for the book.

The Liddells said...

Definitely will continue paying for the internet. It's used way too frequently for pretty much all the reasons mentioned in the post. But, I will say that my sister and her husband, who have three kids and have been married for 14 years do not have the internet and never had. They do just fine without and just go the library when they absolutely need to.

Tianna said...

My husband is a computer geek. He's a computer programmer. Thus, despite our frugality and scrimping everywhere else, Internet is not an option. It's our splurge. We've got the fastest our city has to offer. (It does help that the city has fiber, which is really fast and there are many companies set up using it, so there is competition to keep the rates fair.) Oddly, it's not that much more expensive than all of the other, much slower options we had. I had actually forgotten about this as a place to cut back. I'll have to remember that in case times ever do get really tough...

the Danosaur said...

Having internet is kind of like having a car...sure I could survive without it, but it makes life much more convenient. When I was working from home it was a necessity. We pay $20/mo for the slowest non-dial-up service available, and we had to sign a year contract to get that rate.
When we were in Provo, we lived in a 4plex and all four couples shared a wireless connection -- that made it really cheap, only $7/mo! When we moved to Texas, we walked around our complex knocking doors until we found the owner of the wireless signal we were picking up, and they agreed to share with us -- we paid them $13/mo, half their bill. That was a cheap, but it was a hassle because when the internet went down, we had no control over getting back up again. So even though we saved money, I would rather pay the extra few dollars a month to be able to call the company when things go wrong, rather than bothering my neighbors.

I really enjoy this blog!

the Danosaur said...

PS - What about cell phones? That seems like it might fit in the category of yesterday's luxuries becoming today's necessities...