The Hole At the Bottom Of Our Income Bucket

I’ve had my cell phone for almost 3 years. Its relatively old technology and it’s not something I can engage in conversation about with a group of friends. It could use an upgrade and what was a very cheap cell phone plan is now not that cheap any more in relation to what is available now. This has me looking at what is being offered today.

There are all kinds of cell phones that you can buy and I always hear the “I got this phone for free. I only pay $X per month”. The cell phone companies have done a great sales job in convincing so many people that phones are free or you can get them at a steep discount.

The reality is, that phone isn’t free or even cheap. A portion of what you are paying on a monthly basis is being used to pay off what the cell phone company bought the cell phone for from the Apples and Samsungs of the world. In the end, your monthly cost is higher than what it would normally be if you kept your old phone, or got one from somebody that tires easily of their phone. In other words, that $300 – $700 phone is being paid back to the cell phone company over the course of a couple of years. If you didn’t enter the 2 year agreement you could get a the same cell phone plan for less per month.

Most of us like and want new things. New things often work better than old things. New things can make our life easier. However, that grasp for new things has a price. That price comes in dollars and cents and it’s most often a price paid on a monthly basis. This monthly drip lessens us feeling of the financial pain however self inflicted monthly costs have a much deeper cost. That more precious cost is paid at the expense of our psychological freedom, our peace of mind.

More recent to my recent cell phone gazing (which I must confess, I could very well end up with a new phone… although it won’t be “free”), we put our family’s satellite TV service on hiatus. We did this early in the summer and are seeing if we can continue this consumer item cut back. It really isn’t much of a lifestyle curbing for us since we don’t watch much TV anyway. In the past we have mostly PVR’d movies, the CTV 6pm news, Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank. But watching TV on average for 1 hour per night isn’t worth the cost of what we have been paying satellite. However, our alternative is a lot cheaper.

In talking to friends, we decided to try and have managed to subscribe to the U.S. version of Netflix through an IP mask which fools websites you are visiting that you aren’t really in Canada. If anyone has any ethical arguments against that, please let me know. The way I see (or maybe rationalize it?) is that it isn’t any different than going across the border for groceries, but again, I’d like to hear any feedback from you on that issue. You can do that in the comments at the bottom. But I digress.

What this change in entertainment viewing service has done is cut our bill from over $60 / month down to $8. It has given us very large library of movies and TV series. Couple that with all the TV you can watch over the internet on various TV network’s websites and you have a full slate of viewing pleasure.

Did I mention that we also just cut the land line in our house? With 3 people in the house and 3 cell phones, this should have been done a long time ago.

The point is that monthly costs, particularly those attributed to our own particular lifestyle definition, restrict us of true freedom. The more we want them the more we think we need them which makes it more akin to a heroin syringe. And that hole at the bottom of our income bucket called monthly expenses means we have to keep filling up the bucket, limiting the freedom to choose how much income needs to be attached to how we spend our time.

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