Alchemical Thoughts

Thoughts on things you should not have to pay for

Posted on: May 13, 2016

I tend to read list articles like this one, “16 Everyday Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For“, with a big grain of salt. Once in a while, they will have some good tips. However, more often than not they reek of either privilege or say things that are less than bright and/or practical. This one caught my eye a while back because of some of the assumptions it makes. So, let’s look at some of the items on their list.

  • The one on wifi outside of the home is fairly spot on. If you must, you are likely to be able to jump on a free wifi spot, as long as you have a device, and you understand that public wifi is usually not secure. In other words, do not do things like your banking online on a public spot. As for internet in the home, yea, you pretty much still have to pay for it because expecting to mooch off a neighbor should not really be an option.
  • Condiments and napkins. Really, the advice is to just go to restaurants, etc, and just help yourself to the condiments and napkins? The part that cracked me up was this one: “Even more expensive commodities like sugar, jams, and honey can be found if you’re looking hard enough — like those packets and individual jars that are common at the resorts and hotels that you may visit on vacation.” So, how much did you spend on that vacation so you could get the jams and honey? I thought part of the point of this piece was to be frugal. If you are staying at some resort where they hand out little jars of jelly, you are probably not being as frugal as you could be. And what happens if I need jelly now? Do I need to book a vacation so I can get some?
  • The books thing is pretty spot on. Use your local public library as much as possible. You will not get argument about that from this librarian.
  • Computer software? That can vary in quality. But one thing that I would point out is that things like Google Drive you have to be able to access online. Have a few days of bad Internet (hell, we had a full month of barely functioning Internet at our workplace recently, and all hell broke loose since the powers that be said, “don’t worry, it’s all in the cloud. . . “, and no one could get to the damn cloud, but that is another story), and you can kiss your productivity good bye. I am not saying you can’t go generic on some stuff like MS Office, but if it is Internet dependent, and your connection is less than stellar, well, is it worth it?
  • Which leads me to the one about cable. Yea, cutting the cord is becoming the trendy thing to do. Thing is in order to do so that you can use a streaming service you need a good internet connection. Guess who for the most part has a monopoly on that fast internet connection so you can Netflix and chill? Yep, your cable conglomerate. So you are not really cutting the cable unless you want to go back to dial-up. It does amuse me when I ask folks who say they cut the cable where do they get their entertainment from, and they say the internet (that they pay the cable company for). Can you save some bucks? Maybe, maybe not. Depends really on your situation. Also, not everything is on Netflix, and no, not all television shows get put up on the net for free for you to stream.
  • I love the idea of free museum days. Just one problem: they are often on weekdays when most of us have to work for a living. And no, taking a day off is not always an option.

As I said, articles like that really need to be taken with a grain of salt, a big grain of salt.

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