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Technology Makes It Harder To Save Money

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the push-a-button-to-spend-twenty-bucks dept.

The Almighty Buck 320

Hugh Pickens writes "LiveScience reports that a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs reveals that while more than half of U.S. adults believe technology has made it easier to spend money, just three percent think it has made it easier to save. The research found that Americans who subscribe to digital services spend an average of $166 each month for cable TV, home Internet access, mobile phone service and digital subscriptions, such as satellite radio and streaming video — the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment. Those who download songs, apps and other products spend an additional $38 per month. 'Our gadgets and connections can bring benefits like mobility and efficiency,' says Jordan Amin. 'But they can also bring financial challenges, like taking money that could go to savings, for instance, or contributing to credit card debt.' If facing a financial crunch, Americans would rather change what they eat than give up their cell phones, downloads or digital TV services. Asked to choose the one action they would most likely take in tight time, 41 percent said they would cut back on eating out, 20 percent said they would cut off cable TV, 8 percent said they would end cell phone service and 8 percent said they would stop downloading songs and digital products."

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translation: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748983)

there's no lifeguard in the financial gene pool

you can save a ton of $ (5, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 2 years ago | (#39749005)

by giving up TV. With internet access and a mobile phone, you really don't need TV.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749091)

Where I'm from, giving up the basic cable package ($60 a month) is not a "ton" of $.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (2)

internerdj (1319281) | about 2 years ago | (#39749127)

Particularly when you lose your bundle discounts and you get fees tacked on for having internet service without the company's primary service installed(cable or phone)...

Re:you can save a ton of $ (3, Interesting)

iPaul (559200) | about 2 years ago | (#39749181)

It depends on where you live. $200 a month is 2,400 a year. When it's 1-2% of your income, it probably doesn't matter. So, you do a little less saving. When it's more like 10%, then it's a problem because you greatly reduce your ability to save.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749539)

Where I'm from, giving up the basic cable package ($60 a month) is not a "ton" of $.

Sure it is. Just figure it all in pennies. $60 a month = 6,000 pennies. 1 US penny is 2.5 grams. 6,000 pennies is 150,000 grams. That is approximately 330 lbs. In approximately 6 months you save 1 US ton (short ton) of money. How is that not a ton?

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749727)

Work it out in mills and you can actually figure out how much you get "reamed".

Hint for the clueless: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mill_%28currency%29

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

dae1 (981472) | about 2 years ago | (#39749147)

Unless you like sports. I can let go of cable tv at any time, but I'm too much of a sports freak. And it's more cost effective having cable than subscribing to each sports package for online viewing.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (2)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 2 years ago | (#39749225)

true enough. If they ever stream sports from their web sites it is all over for cable tv. Sports is the only thing worth watching, unless like me you don't care about sports.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749241)

Totally, brah. I can barely last a couple if days without being able to watch multiple games of grab ass between sweaty dudes. High five! Wooooooo!

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749275)

I prefer to watch the multiple games of grab ass between sweaty women.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39749197)

Well said. Quoting the article, here's how much I spend on all this crap:

$0 each month for TV (antenna+hulu)
$15 home Internet access
$5 mobile phone service
$0 digital subscriptions, such as satellite radio and streaming video

So I'm spending just $20 a month plus the occasional DVD rental (example: True Blood season 3). There's really no reason to be spending 150 to 200 dollars each month.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#39749223)

What kind of bandwidth do you get for $15?

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

Reality Master 301 (1462839) | about 2 years ago | (#39749691)

I get 100 megabit (in reality ~14MB) down, and 10 megabit (~1.45MB) up. Although the speed varies a little, it very rarely goes below 95% of nominal max, and is usually slightly above the max-speed I pay for.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749315)

As soon as I saw this article's title, I knew cpu6502 would be posting a list of how much money he doesn't spend.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 2 years ago | (#39749459)

They key to having people believe you can predict things is to predict them before they happen.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749719)

It's not hard to guess that cpu6502 is someone's grandpa. Makes it an easy prediction that he will talk about how little he spends on entertainment.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

Reality Master 301 (1462839) | about 2 years ago | (#39749631)

+1, agreeing to everything above, including the figures (exactly the same amounts for all four), except I don't do DVD rental, I hate physical media. I got a very strange Fight club feeling until I read that last line...

Re:you can save a ton of $ (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39749299)

How is giving up TV supposed to save any money? Giving up cable, sure, but all I spend to watch TV is the electric bill and ISP bill (my computer uses the TV as a monitor).

And a mobile phone? I hate watching tiny screens, my TV is forty two inches and it's still too small. And most people have data caps on their phones.

No, technology isn't an impediment to saving, lack of discipline is the impediment to saving.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (2)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#39749373)

"lack of discipline is the impediment to saving."

This has always been the truth.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (3, Insightful)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#39749441)

No, technology isn't an impediment to saving, lack of discipline is the impediment to saving.

Ex-fucking-actly. There could be hookers and coke for sale on every street corner I pass, but my own decisions will dictate whether I buy them or not.

It's just like when people talk about certain colleges as party schools. YES, there is drinking in college. YES, most colleges do have bars near them. NO, no one is going to pour it down your throat. Make good choices, and that 'party school' just becomes 'school'. Make good choices, and 'technology makes it harder to save' becomes 'hey, look, my savings account isn't empty because I'm not an idiot.'

Re:you can save a ton of $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749403)

by giving up TV. With internet access and a mobile phone, you really don't need TV.

Depends... many internet providers already caught onto this, and price their internet accordingly (i.e. it's the most expensive component of their bundles)

Verizon FIOS where I live in MD is $89/mo for 25/5.
The "double-play" bundle price is $79 for 25/5 internet, and HDTV.
The HD box rental is $10/mo.

So the choice is literally $89 for intenret, or $89 for internet + HD tv

I previously lived in a Time warner cable area. i.i.r.c. Internet was something like $59/mo, and the TV bundle w/ dvr was something like $79 (only about $20 savings for dropping cable w/ hd dvr... even less if you factor in equipment rental fees)

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#39749467)

A typical iPhone contract will cost roughly $2500 (source: http://osxdaily.com/2011/10/06/iphone-4s-plans-compared-sprint-att-verizon/ [osxdaily.com]). You can get a bundle from Comcast that includes TV and phone for $75/month (http://www.allconnect.com/shopping/sc-bundles/bundles.html#selectedTab_bundle2_bundles) and save the difference which would be about $30/month. Or you could reduce frivolous spending by a small amount to make up the difference and live like a king. At the end of the day (and the beginning) technology makes it easier to spend money and easier to track expenditures (e.g. bank sites, mint.com, quicken, etc.) so it all depends on the maturity and responsibility level of the consumer.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#39749525)

You can save a ton more by eating out less. People can easily spend upwards of $500/mo on restaurants, depending on their habits & tastes.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 2 years ago | (#39749695)

People can easily spend upwards of $500/mo on restaurants, depending on their habits & tastes. They can, but they usually don't.

Re:you can save a ton of $ (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#39749617)

By cooking your meals and not eating fast food for every meal. Suppose you save $3 a meal and $1 by eating less snacks. That is $10 a day or $300 dollars a month. The extra time investment is no big deal if your unemployed.

america (4, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 years ago | (#39749007)

where a $200 cellphone with a multi-year contract of indentured servitude and mandatory upgrades is an essential item
but a meal that costs over $7 and doesnt come with a free cola is a sure sign of the imminent collapse of western civilization at the hands of a communist marxist kenyan muslim.

Re:america (5, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | about 2 years ago | (#39749287)

I think the point is that everyone recognizes that there are cheaper alternatives to eating out all the time. You can eat out for $20/meal (not talking fast food), and it's really, really convenient. Do that 3 times a week (or more), and you're spending at least $240/month eating out.

We recognize that the benefit from that $240 (12 meals that we could make for maybe $40 ourselves, but it would be less convenient) is much, much less than the entertainment value of cable, or internet.

I can always make my own meals by buying ingredients and save a huge amount of money (I eat out a lot), but I can't make my own cable service or cell phone service.

It isn't trading food when the subject is eating out. It's trading convenience. You still eat... you just have to prepare it yourself.

Re:america (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749313)

Care to cite me where not getting a free soft drink with a meal has been blamed on Obama?

Re:america (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749465)

Care to cite me where not getting a free soft drink with a meal has been blamed on Obama?

It's America. I'm sure someone somewhere has blamed Obama for that kind of thing without a shred of sarcasm or irony.

Re:america (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749345)

You need 3 meals a day, 365 days a year, so that is $7 * 3 * 365 = $7,665 annually. But a $100/month cell phone contract is $1200 annually. Clearly, one would save more by cooking at home than reducing the dataplan. Also, food is tied to energy and commodity prices which is tied to our (de-facto) printing of money and burning our food (ethanol). It is also tied to our overseas agression as the military is a huge waste of fuel. We'd be better off paying every soldier to stay home, stay safe, and not drive/fly into anything.

Inflation is an artifact of a spending problem. Prices should go lower, all other things being equal. Is it harder to produce and transport a loaf of bread to the grocery store now than it was tweny years ago? By all measures, it should be easier.

As regards the article, the way to save money is to be freetard or a pirate (I'm both). Frustrated with a niggling HTPC problem in linux (HDMI audio out), I grabbed an old pair of analog speakers that was gathering dust rather than trying to shoehorn on the aging XP or purchasing Windows 7. Technology also makes it easier to save money. Automatic savings plans, direct deposits, better liquidity for more and more assets. Also ebay and even Froogle make comparison shopping tons easier than it used to be.

My tech budget is $21/month for fiber-optic internet. No cable. No dish. No Hulu/Netfix. I do indulge like with my HDTV antenna DVR but there is no monthly fee and I found more to record than I have time to watch (the marginal value of additional programming is small).

Re:america (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749369)

Why would you bring up sandwich prices while discussing the People's Republic of America's leader? The federal debt increased 45% [factcheck.org] from the time Obama took office to January 2012.

This isn't the time or place for political discussions, but your claim that my side is upset over sandwich prices is a strawman fallacy.

Re:america (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749603)

It's because of right wing nutjobs like you that caused the increase. You fuck.

Re:america (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749713)

Fuck you Republican. Your wars and your bailouts have caused this nation to sink into debt. What the president has done has profited America.
 
Go cry on Bush's shoulder while we take back our country and our civil liberties. You can't do fucking anything about it.

Re:america (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39749649)

Envy for what other people have is also a factor. My brother had a "spending spree" and went-out to get a new phone. The salesman conned him to sign a contract for $110 cell service. After he told me that I said "That's nuts cause you can get the same thing for about 60. Or 3 gigs for $35." I recommended he cancel it before the 7 day trial period ends, but of course he didn't. He said he wanted to try mobile internet like his coworkers have.

Now he complains about the bill every month, so I say "I don't want to hear it."

um, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749011)

The term "technology" is being used in a particularly ill-defined manner.

Money itself is a technology.
It should be clear that spending money is only possible if money exists...
I think you see where I'm going with this.

Bundles and termination fees (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749015)

"41 percent said they would cut back on eating out, 20 percent said they would cut off cable TV, 8 percent said they would end cell phone service and 8 percent said they would stop downloading songs and digital products."
If I cut my TV service my phone bill goes up, if I cut my phone my TV bill goes up. If I cut either I have to pay a fee to terminate the contract. Of course I'm going to cut back on eating out.

Re:Bundles and termination fees (2)

King_TJ (85913) | about 2 years ago | (#39749775)

Very true! But I've never been one to accept those bundles in the first place. Our local cable company (Charter) is constantly trying to market bundled internet/TV/phone in a "Triple Play" package -- but reading the fine print, one realizes it's not possible to select one of the faster broadband internet speeds with that bundle. As soon as you try, they won't give you the special pricing anymore and you have to order the services separately (at regular prices). AT&T wants to bundle your services together with U-Verse as well, but again, it's not a good value anyway. Rather than pay what comes out to $24.95 per month for their VoIP telephone bundled with U-Verse, I can pay under $19 per month to PhonePower for their stand-alone VoIP service (which is great because they even have an iPhone app and a Mac OS X or Windows app which allows making VoIP calls through the service from anywhere you have a wifi connection).

Service contracts with early termination penalties are another matter, and often, there's really no economical way around them if you want the services in the first place. (I've tried the cellphones from companies like Cricket that have no contract, but the phones they let you pick from are sub-standard, and their networks are proprietary enough so other handsets can't physically work on their network. Pay as you go on the big name cell networks is more expensive to use than a contract deal too in every case I've seen, unless you're assuming you'll need to shut service off in less than a year.)

But regardless of all of this? Yeah, if it came down to it, I'd rather just skip eating out and find cheaper food at the store than shut off one of these communications services. Why's that so shocking to people? I'm not saying I'd rather starve than turn off my phone. I'm just thinking I get more value out of things like my internet connection or cellphone than I do out of letting someone prepare a meal for me that I select off a list.

Steam Sales (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749023)

I used to pay $20+ for computer games. Then technology enabled Steam sales. Now I never pay $20+ for a game.

On Cell Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749027)

I'd LOVE to get rid of my cell phone but today's job market requires me to have access to a phone to set up interviews and such. I wish it could all be done through e-mail but that's just not the case. And screw a land line. If I'm going to be extorted, I'll be extorted with a phone that isn't stuck in my wall.

...not quite it... (4, Insightful)

raydobbs (99133) | about 2 years ago | (#39749033)

People are willing to change what they eat because their cell phones plans have steep early termination fees if you drop your level of service - same with your digital television or broadband connection. Temporarily changing your dietary desires is much more simple - not a sign of technology addiction, more a sign of service charge and penalty avoidance.

Re:...not quite it... (3, Informative)

zero0ne (1309517) | about 2 years ago | (#39749213)

Cutting out a single night out at a restaurant will almost always end up covering the cost of that month's cell phone bill.

Re:...not quite it... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39749409)

Cutting out a single night out at a restaurant will almost always end up covering the cost of that month's cell phone bill.

Where the hell do you live, that a single meal costs upwards of $100-200??? Shit, the wife and I spend that much* on food a week!


*To OP's credit, I live in the midwest where the cost of living is significantly lower than elsewhere in the country.

Re:...not quite it... (3, Insightful)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 2 years ago | (#39749635)

If you have kids you either spend $25 to $50 for a babysitter, gas at over $4 a gallon, and the price of the meal. If you don't use a babysitter you then pay the same or more for the food your kids will eat. I can't goto a movie for under $70 any more. I'm not complaining about it, because it's just a fact of life. I wanted to have a wife and kids and I knew that it would be costly. I'd rather spend the money on cable tv and internet as our primary forms of entertainment. Sure, it sounds expensive when you hear $200 a month for the cable and internet bill, but in reality it's the cheaper form of entertainment for a family. I also have 2 WoW accounts (currently the only game we play) for my wife and myself. Raiding together or pvping in a bg or arena to us is a lot more fun than going out all the time. It's also a lot cheaper and gives us something we can always do together as a couple.

Change what you eat? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39749039)

Good. Humans don't need meat every day anyway.

Re:Change what you eat? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749117)

Not true. Women need hot beef injections daily so they aren't so cranky. Unfortunately white dicks just aren't up to the task and there isn't enough black meat to go around.

In the sense that there is more "stuff" now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749089)

I probably spend more on gadgets and electronic parts than I would if we didn't have any of those things.
But I don't have a crystal ball to say what else, if anything, I'd be spending my money and free time on, if there wasn't a whole world of electronics. Maybe I'd spend more time and money on other hobbies, like music.
As far as subscriptions, I pay for phone and internet, and nothing else. Those comics and jokes about not paying 99c for an app or a subscription to watch movies? I'm that guy.

Re:In the sense that there is more "stuff" now... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#39749267)

what else, if anything, I'd be spending my money and free time on, if there wasn't a whole world of electronics. Maybe I'd spend more time and money on other hobbies, like music.

Don't let the RIAA hear you say that...they'll have you 'silenced'.

Power, Water, Shelter make saving hard too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749125)

Just like power, water, and shelter; communication both for social and economic reasons is not an option, it is a requirement of being a member of society.

While there may, in enlightened countries, be either competition or mandated platforms (like local roadways are); the US is really lacking in this department and the various monopolies and duopolies know it.

Who needs all that stuff? (2)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#39749129)

Just get a decent connection for say $50 and bittorrent the rest. =)

Re:Who needs all that stuff? (1)

Zico (14255) | about 2 years ago | (#39749175)

Or add on to a friend or family members unlimited sprint account, that will cover your phone and net access at a modest price, then yes torrent, share netflix+hulu accounts, hell throw in 40 bucks once for an antenna,over the air DTV is very good. You could have unlimited consumption of stuff you'd actually like to watch for next to nothing.

Re:Who needs all that stuff? (1)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#39749439)

I can make an antenna for about 5 bucks that beats almost anything they put out for sale.

Americans priorities are wrong... (0)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about 2 years ago | (#39749137)

should be the title of this article. In a country where it is considered good to be on "The Jersey Shore" and bad to be a "Geek", its no wonder there is a economic crises. Its just amazing to see people in the unemployment line playing a game on their $600 iPad, or Driving a $70K car into a trailer park.

Re:Americans priorities are wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749755)

Do you know for a fact that the guy driving that $70k didn't pay for it in cash? Maybe he had something bad happen to him that cost him his job and all of his savings and he's holding on to that car, because it's the only thing he has left from that life? That's exactly what happened to me and I keep the car I have, because it reminds me that things will get better and I will be back to where I was.

No big secrets here (4, Insightful)

husker_man (473297) | about 2 years ago | (#39749141)

Big thing is to first know where you are spending money, and then categorize your expenses into what is a can't-do without, must have, nice to have, and frivolous buckets. You need to put about 10% of your income into a long-term retirement fund, and have (ideally) six months of living expenses in a money-market or savings account (Must have). You need to put a certain amount of money aside each month for certain necessities (housing, required food, loan payments) (can't do without (unless you're living in your parent's basement)). Most of the rest of it tends to be the nice-to-have (like cell phones, phone lines, new clothes, eating out).

I would agree that cable internet is indispensable to me for work purposes, and would be one of the last things that I would cut back on in the event of a major problem (like losing a job).

I pay about $225 for phone service, cell phone service, and satellite service, with another $50 for cable internet (total of $275). I've looked at getting rid of the home line and going strictly cell phone, but my spousal overlord unit isn't ready to do that yet, and with three teenagers in the house, I expect my telephone costs to be going up here until they move out of the house.

Re:No big secrets here (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#39749517)

I pay about $20 per month for my no-contract cell phone, including data, because I'm on a pay-as-you-go plan, and I use my $20 per month VoIP landline whenever I need to make a call. Before Google Voice, if a call came through on my cell and I thought it would be a long call, I would ask to call the person back, but now I just take the call on the landline. Total cost for phone service: $40 per month.

I don't advise getting rid of the landline because it might tempt you to switch your cell phone to a much more costly unlimited plan.

so true... (1)

drkoemans (666135) | about 2 years ago | (#39749151)

the difference is I'm spending more of my money on the product and less on time and acquisition. Where I would need to drive to as many as 3 or 4 stores to find (or just as likely not find) a product I'm looking for, I can now order it on my lunch break and it's at my house the next day. It's never been easier to spend my money but I can find reviews to buy the right product for my need, I have more direct access to the company that provides the warranty or tech support, I can comparison shop to find the lowest price and I don't have to buy gas to pick it up. I'd call that a fair trade.

DUH!!!!!!! (2)

rjejr (921275) | about 2 years ago | (#39749165)

I remember starting grad school 20 years ago spending $1,400 on a little 1 piece Compaq Presario and thinking - "Good thing for credit cards or nobody could buy a computer." And then I realized - there will always be "the next big thing' in technology for people to spend money on. Bigger tvs. Even bigger tvs. Flat screen tvs. 3D tvs. Sony Walkmans, mp3 players, iPods, iPads, notebooks, Netbooks, cell phones, smart phones, dial-up, broadband. I'm not saying it's all for the worse, nor am I putting on my tinfoil hat, but I'm pretty sure theirs a good correlation between the explosion of consumer electronics and the explosion of credit card debt.

Re:DUH!!!!!!! (1)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#39749355)

I think I might have the explanation for why there's always a next big thing in technology: R&D and Engineering? Technology has gotten better in the past 20 years? That's less of a conspiracy, and more of a fact.

If I had my current pc when I was starting school, I would have thought it was from outer space. Hell, my phone has more power than my first desktop pc. It's not that it's a massive conspiracy to make money, it's that companies that make the technology want to stay in business, so they innovate.

Saying that there is a conspiracy to make us buy new technology is like saying there is a conspiracy to switch from stone tablets to paper.

But I do agree with the correlation between the explosion of consumer electronics and credit card debt. I don't know why, but that just seems right. There's unprecedented access to credit, but we're still operating as if credit cards are cash money in our pocket. Schools need to (some are, poorly) improve the financial literacy offerings they currently have. We didn't cover credit cards when I was in high school, but then again, I would have been instantly denied at age 18. Anymore, 18 year olds will get one, charge it up and watch their credit scores tank.

Re:DUH!!!!!!! (0)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 2 years ago | (#39749637)

No, the explosion of credit card debt is people too stupid to save up for something.

(BTW, I use credit cards daily... because they're cheaper AND more convenient than cash. I auto pay in full every month.)

Thats funny.... (1)

Eldragon (163969) | about 2 years ago | (#39749177)

I could have sworn it was getting taxed on the .01% interest earned on my savings account that made it hard to save money.

Re:Thats funny.... (2)

Zico (14255) | about 2 years ago | (#39749215)

Why even save? It's the responsible ones the fed hurts; interest rates should be upwards of 20% instead of the bullshit we have now.

Anomaly Here (1)

deweyhewson (1323623) | about 2 years ago | (#39749185)

I can certainly see how, for the majority of people, this is the case. It is certainly easier to shoot money off here and there almost on a whim for various things we would have just gone without before.

For me, though, I'd have to say that technology has made it easier to save. Cash has always tended to burn a hole in my pocket until I find a way to get rid of it, but being able to just have a set of numbers show up in my accounts and move them around with ease has relieved most of that spendcrazy drive while making it more satisfying to move that money into my savings.

I suspect the true root here isn't that technology itself is to blame for the lack of saving, but that people are driven to spend, spend, spend anyway, and technology has made it far easier to do so without ever even leaving the couch. If you're not motivated to save already, technology isn't going to help you, I think.

Re:Anomaly Here (1)

stewbee (1019450) | about 2 years ago | (#39749305)

I suspect the true root here isn't that technology itself is to blame for the lack of saving, but that people are driven to spend, spend, spend anyway, and technology has made it far easier to do so without ever even leaving the couch. If you're not motivated to save already, technology isn't going to help you, I think. Along these lines is pretty much what I was thinking, but I will expand on it. By having such conveniences as the internet, there is a lower threshold for impulse buying. there is no need to go the brick and mortar shop anymore. And the transaction is more of an abstraction than it ever was before when actually having to go to a retail shop to purchase something, where you grab for you wallet and either pay in cash or credit card. Now I just type a few letters and numbers on the keyboard, and viola, I have something new and shiny to consume. I know that I too am not immune to this. There are probably things that I wouldn't have bought otherwise without the convenience of the internet. I am just fortunate that I have enough restraint to keep from going hog wild. Unfortunately, most Americans aren't good at self restraint :(

Re:Anomaly Here (1)

stewbee (1019450) | about 2 years ago | (#39749365)

I suspect the true root here isn't that technology itself is to blame for the lack of saving, but that people are driven to spend, spend, spend anyway, and technology has made it far easier to do so without ever even leaving the couch.

ARRGH! The one time I don't hit preview and I fsck up the HTML. Here is a clearer version of my post.

I think. Along these lines is pretty much what I was thinking, but I will expand on it. By having such conveniences as the internet, there is a lower threshold for impulse buying. there is no need to go the brick and mortar shop anymore. And the transaction is more of an abstraction than it ever was before when actually having to go to a retail shop to purchase something, where you grab for you wallet and either pay in cash or credit card. Now I just type a few letters and numbers on the keyboard, and viola, I have something new and shiny to consume. I know that I too am not immune to this. There are probably things that I wouldn't have bought otherwise without the convenience of the internet. I am just fortunate that I have enough restraint to keep from going hog wild. Unfortunately, most Americans aren't good at self restraint :(

Some day in the future people will look back... (1)

dryriver (1010635) | about 2 years ago | (#39749187)

Some day in the future people will look back at the 2010s and be shocked/surprised: "People had to pay a lot of money to simply make a few voice-calls over long distances back then? Really? And they also paid money to go on the internet? How weird! OMG, people back then also had to pay money to watch a few low-resolution TV-streams of some movies... The world must have been sooo backward back then... Thank God we were born long after that peculiar time." This requires a future, of course, where society is advanced enough to grant new rights, like "The right to communicate over long distances. The right to access the internet. The right to access popular audio-visual cultural products that are broadcast or streamed." Our backward capitalist societies will likely strike these future people as "Backward, brutal, mean". =)

You know it (1)

arcite (661011) | about 2 years ago | (#39749359)

I was hit with a $500 roaming charge while I was in Thailand. Ok, well I should have realized that roaming was a complete rip-off but I had some emergency calls to handle. Must have been like $5 a minute! Bastards!

Re:Some day in the future people will look back... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39749363)

Sorry but you don't have a nature-given right to take other people's money, property, or resources. For example you cannot force me to open my wallet, like a thief, and pay for your phone service. You only have a right to your body (because you own it) and what nature gives free of charge (like air, sunlight, etc).

Re:Some day in the future people will look back... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39749593)

This requires a future, of course, where society is advanced enough to grant new rights

Which is not where we are going. We are busy killing existing rights, rendering them useless, as well as deploying increasingly many computer systems whose owners need the permission of someone else just to run a program. The next generation will indeed be shocked by today's computer climate:

  • You mean you could use a computer without having to pay for a monthly service plan?
  • You did not need to present photo ID to get a computer? You did not have to use your legal name online?
  • You actually owned your computer? You did not just own a terminal for connecting to computers owned by the computation companies?
  • You were allowed to copy files without first getting permission from the copyright control and enforcement agency?
  • You were allowed to run your own email server, without getting a license?
  • People were outraged when books were removed from their computers without their permission?
  • You were allowed to write and run your own software without having to pay a year programming fee?
  • Hackers won round #1 with the PC, and round #2 with the Internet. Hackers are losing round #3, as governments and corporations focus increasing effort and money on taking back control of computers and computer networks. There is just too much profit to be had from it.

Maybe a good thing (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#39749201)

This might actually help solve the obesity problem. If American's can't afford to eat out because they are spending too much money on tech, maybe they will eat healthier homemade food. One can hope.

Oh, and technology doesn't make it more "difficult" to save money, it just makes it easier to spend a lot of money. I can save my money just as well with technology as after. More, actually, since technology gives you lots of cheap or free entertainment, which is less money spent in bars or going out to movies or on gas.

Also helps that I don't own a smartphone or iPad. Don't need one, either. I do have a wifi-equiped MP3 player: no monthly contract, and works for 90% of the things I would need a smartphone for. A messenger phone works for the rest.

Re:Maybe a good thing (1)

RodBee (2607323) | about 2 years ago | (#39749449)

This might actually help solve the obesity problem. If American's can't afford to eat out because they are spending too much money on tech, maybe they will eat healthier homemade food. One can hope.

Or they will buy money-saver frozen meals. You know, the ones full of salt and trans fat. Then they will get fat AND cancerous.

Re:Maybe a good thing (1)

sdguero (1112795) | about 2 years ago | (#39749461)

Unfortunately it doesn't solve the problem of healthy food being far more expensive than McDonalds.

Re:Maybe a good thing (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#39749667)

If healthy food is more expensive than McDonald's, then you fail at basic shopping.

Seriously, I'm not talking about coupon-cutting crazies, just plain, regular shopping that can give you large, great meals for under $5 that blow the socks off a more expensive McD's combo meal; or if you have to focus on saving money, under $1 for a big pile of staple food.

My android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749211)

Saves money due to the fact I can find low gas prices, check my account balances before proceeding with purchases, find coupons and deal while out and about, and so on and so forth. And with the Chase Bank app I dont even need to go to the bank which is another amount of gas saved. I honestly think the money Ispend on the cell phone yearly actually pays for itself if not pays me back for using it wisely.

I love seeing this (3, Informative)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#39749227)

Because it means that those of us 'young folks' (less than 30) in the USA who can actually plan their finances stand to be KINGS and QUEENS in the future. My wife and I live very, very comfortably on what my friends would call a meager pittance (we both work in education, thank you). Our stuff isn't as nice as what they have, but we also don't have the crushing burden of debt looming in our future. We may not have a MONDO flat screen, but we do have a high speed internet connection and access to as many movies and television shows as we need. We may not have a $70k car, but what we do have is reliable and gets 35-40 mpg. Our house might not be a McMansion, but our small house does sit on 67 acres of woodland. . . .

We're saving for a college fund for children we don't have yet, saving for early retirement and generally living the life of leisure.

Why am I saying all of this? Because, not all Americans are idiots. Most that I know are kind of stupid, but really not that bad.

And some, like my wife and myself, are actually quite bright. Not meaning to brag, just meaning to point out that people like us exist.

Re:I love seeing this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749335)

No, you definitely do mean to brag. I'm glad you've got yourself together, but I don't give a shit.

Re:I love seeing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749651)

Me and all of my friends (under 30) are good with our finances and have little to no debt, modest lifestyles, relatively high incomes, and high savings rates.

Education salaries are usually modest but aren't "pittances", Im guessing you and your wife pull in between 60-90K combined, which would put you in the top 40 - 20 percent of household incomes (median somewhere around 45k). So you aren't roughing it too bad.

Also how do you pull off 67 acres and a house without a huge mortgage? Thats gotta be at least 500k in land alone. So I wouldn't judge your friends too harshly, Mortgage is still debt, and land is hella more expensive than a $500 tv.

Anyway just reminding you that there are millions of young people who are good with money in this country. We might not be the majority but there is still a metric crap-ton of us.

Re:I love seeing this (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#39749717)

As an American who's older than 30, it's great to hear this. It's becoming easier and easier to stand heads-and-shoulders above your peers just by doing simple things like this, and having a good work ethic.

Well, yeah. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 2 years ago | (#39749255)

Inducing consumption is the goal. If you can convince people that they "need" to do it even better. If you can convince them that they don't "need" to do it, but really, really "want" to, you're golden.

Re:Well, yeah. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39749493)

Inducing consumption is the goal. If you can convince people that they "need" to do it even better. If you can convince them that they don't "need" to do it, but really, really "want" to, you're golden.

No, you're not golden until you convince people that, because all the people they know (and a bunch they don't) are doing it, there's obviously something wrong with them for not doing it.

Misleading summary (5, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | about 2 years ago | (#39749293)

Statistics, damn lies... 41 percent sounds like a lot more than 8 percent, making it sound like people will choose music downloads over food, but the truth is most people don't download music.

Internet should be free or dirt cheap and... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 2 years ago | (#39749319)

If access to the Internet is free OR if it is cheap and unlimited, either connecting through a land line or using a wireless device, such as a cell phone, then this will help people save money.

90% of my "television" entertainment comes from the Internet. I used to have cable, but realized it was outdated - I barely watched all the shows and most of the time, nothing good was on and was tired of watching Family Guy on four different channels!!!

My parents are also saving close to $100 a month when they turned off cable and are now only subscribed to netflix. They are going out more, eating at locally owned restaurants - basically enjoying the outside world a bit more....

Saving money is like Losing weight (5, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39749331)

It matters less what you are doing with the flow of your metric, and more on your net balance.

Whether I spend $300/mo on digital services or buy a bigger house than I need, or a nicer car than is necessary for my requirements, it's the same dollar at the end of the day. Americans are gaining weight because of easy access to high-calorie food that is made to be appealing through advertising and instant sensory gratification. Americans are not saving because our entire economy is based on spending as much as possible on things which are made to be appealing through advertising and instant sensory gratification.

mint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749343)

Mint.com has made it much easier for me to save money! No joke, it has kept my budget in check and I'll be buying a new car within the next month due to all my nit picking of expenses laid out in front of me

Tools for Saving Do Not Equate to Saving (2)

dgrotto (2588895) | about 2 years ago | (#39749381)

I also view tech saving tools as a hindrance to saving. I've tried a lot: Quicken, Money, Mint, the venerable Pear Budget, etc. All tools that allow you to grok where your money is going, but provide little incentive or mechanisms to curb spending. We collect all this great data and then say "huh..." and shrug our shoulders.

My parents always had a drawer in the clothes dresser that had the "house money" in it for the month. Once that cash was depleted, there was no more money for the house, period. This was real incentive to spend wisely and to see how much money was left. If there is a technology that can easily enable this "cash envelope" system, I am not aware of it.

technology enables, it's choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749401)

And choice is addictive...

Get what you want - But be smart about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749473)

Cell Phone: Prepaid android smart phone contract under $50 a month
Cable: Cut ties with my cable company in favor of torrents/hulu/netflix

If you live in a major metro there is no need to be subsidizing the farmers in wyoming, by paying extra for a cell phone contract that roam on other networks. You can get by just fine with single carrier coverage.

Focus on results not the hype.

Confusing percentages (1)

noahwh (1545231) | about 2 years ago | (#39749489)

They say 41% of adults pay for digital products and services.
They say 8% would stop downloading songs and digital products.

So is that 8% of the total population, or 8% of the sub-population that actually uses it and could give it up?

I suspect it's the later, in which case they may as well say 20% (8/41) of adults who pay for digital products and services would stop downloading songs and digital products. That's a much more plausible number, in line with the percentage that would drop cable tv.

Technology saves money (2)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#39749513)

Technology saves on:

  • Landline
  • Newspaper subscription
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • DVD purchases (buy used on Amazon.com)
  • Book purchases (buy used on Amazon.com)
  • Music purchases (99 cents per song is a third of the inflation-adjusted price of a 45 RPM in the 1970's)
  • Percentage off the price of anything (sort by price on shopping.google.com)

Huge increases in compliance costs (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39749519)

So all the /. comments are going to go: yeah, bullshit.

Well, guess what. While you are busy coming up with 'new technologies', your government officials are busy coming up with new compliance requirements concerning these new technologies.

What are the costs of keeping all of the emails backed up somewhere for example for all the companies that have this compliance requirement?

That's just a small example.

Re:Huge increases in compliance costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749707)

any excuse to rant against government, ey? seriously, you would take a picture of a cute kitten and turn it into anti-government diatribe

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