Debt, Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money

Technologies I Live Without and Save Big

My friends think that I am crazy because I shun many of the technologies that they assume are necessary in this day and age. The truth is that just because something may be a bit more convenient, it doesn’t make it a necessity. People can live with a lot less than they think and might be quite surprised to find that shedding many of the “essentials” they believed they could not live without is a lot easier than they imagined.

I know how difficult it is to believe this at first. I was one of those people until my finances forced me to make a decision on what was most important to me — and I chose food over gadgets. I wasn’t happy at having to make the choice, but I did find that after I made it, I liked my new, simpler and less costly (which meant a lot less stressful) life to my previous one. I ultimately chose not to go back even when I could.

Here are a few of the things that I live without that you probably consider a necessity, but I have been living without for at least a couple of years now.

Car: Last year I wrote about how I am car free and all the savings that it provides. I no longer need to be car free, but there still is not one in my driveway. All the reasons listed in the original article I wrote still apply, and I have found that although it would be nice on occasion to have one, that convenience doesn’t justify the cost which would now be my daughters college education.

Cell Phone: I know that cell phones can do a lot more tricks than they could when I did have mine, but I still haven’t found any of those tricks to be worth the price that it would cost. I must admit that I do miss having one when I’m supposed to meet friends in a place with which I am not too familiar, but I still don’t think that those rare occasions are worth the cost.

TV: I ended up getting rid of my TV through default rather than a planned withdrawal from the set. My old TV broke down and although I did plan on replacing it, there always seemed to be one reason or another that the replacement was delayed. After a few weeks, I realised that if I could go that long without a TV that there was really not a good reason that I needed to get a new one. I also found that I suddenly had a lot more time to do other things that I never seemed to have time to do before like read and do my hobbies.

iPod: This is the one gadget that I never owned in the first place. I do enjoy music to some degree, but it is not my life. I’ve never felt that the benefits of purchasing a digital device and a whole new digital music collection would be enough to counter the cost. This may be one area that I give in and give it a try in the future, but as of this moment, I don’t know how many years down the road that may be.

I’m not saying that everyone should get rid of the above mentioned items, but if you are anything like I once was, there are probably a lot of things in your life that you currently consider “essential” that really aren’t. You may also find that if you try giving some of these essentials up, you may actually find it beneficial not having them in your life. I know because although that was not what I had assumed when I needed to find ways to cut costs, it is something that I have found to be true now that I have done it.

20 thoughts on “Technologies I Live Without and Save Big

  1. I feel that way about smartphones. Sometimes I think about getting one, but then I realize that I don’t actively feel like I miss out by not having one.

  2. Have a car, but only bought it after I got a job in a place that would take ages to get to via public transit.

    Have a cell phone that is NOT a smart phone, only get the “free” phone when my old one breaks. Part of a family plan with my folks so it’s pretty cheap. Don’t have a landline.

    Have had the same TV since we moved in 4 years ago that we bought off craigslist. Not interested in spending extra on fancy TVs or cable packages, so once I move out, I might either get the basic cable package or quit TV cold turkey.

    Have an iPod. Got it as a gift ~7 years ago, got it replaced a few times through their assorted warranty programs. Am completely fine with it, and no need to replace it, but I’ll keep it around as long as it works/can be fixed. Makes time in the lab a lot more exciting. With music or podcasts, I can stay entertained/informed.

  3. I agree with all of them, except for the iPod.

    3 out of 4 of the things you mention have ongoing costs, which can add up to an enormous amount of money over time (that’s the “Save Big” part of this blog post’s title).

    But with an iPod, once you’ve bought it, you never have to spend another dime on it. Podcasts are free. You presumeably already have a bunch of music you could load onto it. It will provide pleasure for years, all for the initial cost of $100 or whatever (less if you buy a used or refurbished one).

    So I don’t think that a one-time savings of $100 counts as “Saving Big.” But your other points are valid.

  4. I think your main point is good – and the things that aren’t necessary may vary from person to person. I’m not about to get rid of my cell phone – it’s not a fancy one, but my wife and I really do find ours nearly indispensable. However, we did get rid of one of our 2 cars a while ago and don’t plan on replacing it… and I think we’re pulling the plug on cable (though not the TV) this week.

    I look at it as a matter of priorities – if something isn’t truly important to me, why am I spending money on it?

  5. You’re right with some points. But I could not meet friends without having a cell phone, no smartphone though. Since I’m always late or something can happen on the way to get there it is important to let your friends know. But I bartered my cell phone on for one week of baby sitting. It saved me a lot of money and at the same time i don’t have to relinquish upon something.

  6. You did not mention computer and internet service which I assume you have. We live outside the city limits and have had to pay $80 per month for internet service. We had to get it with a two-year contract which, thankfully, is over in December. Now, AT&T has reached our area, so they are offering us internet service for $15 per month. Yeah!!!
    We had dial up for awhile, but that is so annoying, it is not worth the effort.

  7. I was forced kicking and screaming to get a cell phone for work, so went and got a $40 phone and $100 worth of pay-as-you-go minutes. It’s great for those “I’m running a little late/lost” calls, and what my friends pay for 1 or 2 months lasts me well over a year.

  8. We still exsist with our landline telephone. We have no ipods,wii, or games like that. Our TV was being used exclusively for DVDs and videos until my son gave other son an antennae and conversion box so he could local channels with his dish. Hubby can’t get it working right at son’s apartment so currently we have TV after almost 5 years without–incidently it hasn’t gotten better. We use a microwave and an old fashioned coffee maker (no espresso, etc.) and the only electrical kitchen appliances I have are my mixer which is almost worn out and my waffle maker, since homemade waffles are better and cheaper than those pieces of frozen cardboard disguised as a waffle.

    Lots of things aren’t necessities. We do make use of the internet with a satellite because we earn our living mostly on line so it pays for itself. I will admit to a top of the line sewing machine, but since I forego manicures, pedicures, makeup, cigarettes, coffee, etc. I feel like I got it for the price of not doing the others 🙂

  9. I gave up cable TV about 6 months ago. I use netflix streaming and am very happy with it. The only thing I really miss is watching sports at home, but I’ve found it’s more fun going down to the pub and watching the game with friends.

  10. Prepaid cell phones are great for limited use. When texts are PROPERLY utilized they serve as a substitute for longer calls. Net10 is a simple 10 cents/min 5 cents/text. Thanks to their online discounted minutes our cost is less than $20/month.

    The key is not to use texts as conversation but for a simple exchange like sending a short shopping list.

  11. I managed without a car for 3 years and could have gone on with it but found a cheap old Civic that runs well. I use a cheap Tracfone for emergencies and have kept my landline. I have my TVs hooked up to converter boxes. Have rediscovered garage sales and made a killing this past summer – among other things, picked up some nice used furniture, a nice TV for $10, an old VCR for $2, a cheap rewinder and tons of VCR tapes, sometimes for 50 cents each, some even unopened – very cheap entertainment since I don’t have a movie channel. I’m managing nicely and could care less about having newer stuff. I feel fortunate to have so many thrift stores in my area, and they are full of nice things.

  12. I think the trick with this sort of thing is to not go all out…

    My wife and I have one car but it is 10 years old and in good shape. Unfortunately we will have to get a second next year due to moving to a southern city where it just isn’t possible to not have a car.

    My wife and I both have iPhones… but we use them to their limits which I think a lot of people do not do. To us, they are phones, laptops, notebooks, organizers, music player, video player, and video game player. I have a laptop through work, but if I didn’t I still wouldn’t have one due to how robust the iPhone is.

    My 10 year old TV finally died, and we (okay it was mainly me) did splurge on a beautiful new TV. We compensated by having no cable and free internet from our landlord. I would say in the past three years this is my one and only thing I really spoiled myself with- guilty as charged.

    Here’s where I have an opinion: Why do people own iPods? Now especially the ones who also have smartphones which can store music! Do you REALLY need 40 gigs of music on you at all times? I have 4 or 5 on my iPhone and it is way more than I need… once or twice a month I’ll swap some stuff out- pretty easy to do! And for those without iPhones… I used to have a 2 gig Sandisk I got for $15 on! However I agree with the guy who said they are an easy cost b/c there is no follow up expenses though… if you get one as a gift why not?

    I do like all your philosophy though.. though I think you should cave and get a pay as you go cell phone. Not only would it save you an immense amount of trouble, it could literally save your life one day.

  13. I think you have great advice. Unfortunately, the TV and iPod are the only ones that can apply to us since we have small children. I can’t be without a car in case of an emergency. We have a TV but no cable. We have a prepaid cell phone which costs $125 initially for the phone and prepaid card which is good for a year. After that, we just buy a $10 or $20 card once a year to refill the phone and the minutes don’t expire for another year. It’s worth it to us to have it for emergencies. Something to add to your recommendations might be home phone/internet service. We decided to purchase Ooma two years ago and have not had a monthly phone bill since. We do have high speed internet (our only bill of this type) in order to use the Ooma phone service. It’s like getting a 2 for 1 deal.

  14. I still don’t understand how individuals are able to live without a vehicle? I have lived in towns and cities of every size (populations of 500; 50,000; 185,000; 600,000; 2,900,000, 5,900,000) and ONLY the city of 50,000, which had a joint college/city bus system could meet my transportation needs. In all other areas, the distance from home to any other necessity of life (employment and groceries being the main ones) is a minimum of 5 miles, with no public transport available. Even traveling on a bicycle, that’s pushing it.

  15. While in debt I found that I am VERY susceptable to advertising so I gave away the TV (two years ago) and now that I am out of debt I realized I really did not miss it so never replaced it.

    I also gave away my computer and lap top as I was not using them. I sit at a computer all day for work and the last thing I want to do in my free time at home is sit at a computer. I can use it at work during my breaks or go to the library if need be. I have not missed them.

    I have a car, although an older model and I am pleased with it…as the insurance is cheap.

    I have a cell phone although it is one of the free models and I have the cheapest cell plan and God has blessed me as my cell phone company also offers me a 15% discount on top of the cheap plan due to where I work.

    I do not own nor want an ipod.

    There are just many, many technologies I can do without.

  16. Tyler – How do you manage without a car, you ask. Well, you find a town where you can work from home or very close to home if at all possible and buy/rent a place within walking distance of a Walmart or several bus routes. It worked well for me, did a ton of walking which never hurt, and the bus was great for the big snows we had. Did have Mom’s car as a backup for buying bigger things but I truly seldom asked to borrow it. I’d go without a car again if I had to and feel lucky I live where I have the choice.

  17. Most of this comes down to want versus need. Some of us are around who lived in a time before the iPod, before SmartPhones, before computers were widely available. Guess what…we found our friends, we were able to do work, we managed just fine. I used to to have electronic gadget addiction/envy but I jumped off the bandwagon when I realized I was allowing myself to be sold stuff because someone else had it and not because I needed it. I truly don’t need most of the electronic stuff that will end up in land fills in the next year because something newer will be coming out. If you have lots of money, and like the toys, and don’t have anything important to do with your money (like save for retirement, college funds, mortgages), fine. Spend away, but know you will never catch up. Some of us don’t want to. As for people who insist on being constantly on electronic leashes, I find it very rude to go out with someone and find them more interested in the phone than spending the time with me. It is about the most insulting thing a person can do to me and I’m starting to not put up with this lack of courtesy, and I will say something. I do have a car, but that’s mainly because I have an elderly mother and the local public transit system stinks, and I don’t have wads of money to spend on very expensive tax cab rides. The car is a need. The iStuff is a want, and I can skip it without regret.

  18. I found this article a relief. My friends thought I was nuts to cancel my TV, but honestly my husband is not venting every morning while he watched the news, and using NetFlix, considerably cheaper, we have exactly what we want to watch when we want to watch. Things are just freer feeling. We’ve often thought about going now to one car versus the two we have and I admit, your article is inspiring both myself and my husband to seriously reconsider being a two car family. Much thanks! Sandy

  19. If you have a computer with internet at home, consider for watching TV. We went a year without TV and used Hulu to watch sitcoms and other shows for entertainment. Plus, if you “subscribe” to a show, it automatically saves new episodes for you! Who needs a DVR?!

    Currently, no iPod (who needs one when I can listen to music on, free cable, 17-year-old car, and an old phone. I do spend $$ on our cell plan: data, text, etc. But we know it’s a splurge and we’re OK with that!

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