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Glenn Lowson/Special to The Toronto Star
Recently I interviewed authors David Chilton (The Wealthy Barber) and Derek Foster (The Idiot Millionaire). When I asked them how they have been able to save so much money, both said “they are not stuff guys.” They don’t buy a lot of gadgets. In fact Foster says he doesn’t even own a cell phone because he never needed one.
I realized that Chilton and Foster have their finger on the pulse of a pervasive problem when I saw survey results in which over half of the participants said technology has made it easier to spend and not save money.
The poll of 1,005 American adults found that Americans who subscribe to online services spend an average of $166 each month for cable TV, home Internet access, mobile phone service and digital subscriptions, like satellite radio and streaming video – or the equivalent of 17 per cent of their monthly rent or mortgage.
I have no doubt that many Canadians are in the same boat. Even with the recent price adjustments I negotiated with Bell, my April bill for two phone lines, internet and television came to $137.22 and the Rogers bill for my cell phone was close to $100. If my husband’s smart phone was not covered by his employer, we would easily be paying $300/month in total. Families with teenagers who talk and text constantly are paying even more.
And if you are not convinced, keep in mind that these figures do not take into account hardware and software upgrades to keep up with the latest hot new thing in the market, frequent toner cartridge refills plus laptops, tablet computers and printers for kids heading off to college.
Even if we only factor in technology costs, it’s not surprising that the cost of living is on an upward trajectory. There is a huge difference between putting a computer on every desk, a big screen TV in every room and a cell phone in every pocket and paying for only one landline without an answering machine or call waiting, basic cable TV and a typewriter like our parents did.
Related: Who needs cable? I get 20 channels for free
But if you can figure out what you really need, keep track of how much you are spending and budget for technology purchases, you might just be able to find an extra $100/month or more to save for retirement.
There are lots of articles on Moneyville with hints on how to reduce the cost of everything from putting up a television antenna in lieu of cable to getting better phone service for less. One-third of the year has gone by but it’s not too late to make a resolution that before next New Years Eve you will begin managing your technology spend rather than letting it manage you.