I answer to both.
From the time I bought my first computer, a Commodore 64 in 1982, I was hooked on gadgets. In the early days if you wanted to be what’s called an early adopter (code for trying to be cool because you bought something most people didn’t have) it often came at a huge price. Literally, a huge price.
There was a time not too long ago when consumer electronics were pricey. Remember when laptop computers easily topped $2,000? Forty-inch high definition TVs, believe it or not, started off at $8,000, and items less used today but still in households like DVD players and camcorders, also exceeded a grand.
So in these days of $300 big-screen TVs, $100 laptops and $50 home automation systems, we’re getting more for our money, and it would make sense that these inexpensive products would help us pay less, save more and enjoy life debt-free.
But they haven’t.
With advances in technology has come the desire for us to have more, to turn a want into a need, and to have something as good, if not better, than our neighbors. What’s more is that manufacturers of consumer electronics came up with ways to not only get us to buy the initial product, but to get us locked into monthly bills.
How many of us have paid $800-$1,000 to get each one of our family members the latest smart phone and then find ourselves shelling out $200-$300 a month for service? Sure makes the $50 landline phone bills we had in the past seem like peanuts.
Remember when we used an antenna to get about a half-dozen TV channels for free? Then came the advent of cable, which for $20 or $30 a month got us 50 more channels. We seemed satisfied with that. How did that morph into 300-400 channels (most we never watch) and costing us upwards of $200 a month?
Add to that monthly subscriptions to movie and music services, and it’s no wonder that all of these expenses combined can be more than a car payment.
Which brings me to the purpose of this column.
As that self-professed geek and cheapskate, I have helped friends and family over the years make sense of technology so they can make better decisions with their money.
Many people have told me that they are tired of spending so much money on items but admit they are scared and sometimes clueless about technology and the steps needed to change something. They end up relying on sales people or commercials to influence their spending.
Full disclosure: I will not be reviewing products. There’s thousands of publications, You Tube channels and blogs that do that. I am not a financial adviser who will tell you ways to invest your money.
Instead, I am someone who has been in the media and technology field for 35 years, and will explain clearly (that means limited tech speak) the pros, the cons, and the steps you can take to still enjoy the benefits of technology, without putting you in the poor house.
Here are the some of the upcoming column topics:
* How to cut the cord from cable and satellite TV and save more
than $100 a month. It’s not as hard as you might think. Spoiler alert: I spend
$25 a month for everything I need.
* What to look for in cell phone plans to keep your costs down.
* Smart Home automation. It’s now affordable for everyone.
* Got that 4K TV a year ago and still waiting for 4K content? Did we waste money on that TV?
Not everything will focus on consumer electronics. I will share ways for you to build and protect your money.
* You should be getting a 2 percent interest rate on your savings. I do.
* Protect yourself by freezing your credit. Soon it will be free.
What will make this column different from anything that might be out there if you Google it, is that it is local, and will include your participation.
As a staff writer and manager of the online products for this newspaper, I'm not a distant faceless writer. It’s my intent to answer your questions and to share your stories each week as well. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to have you along next week.