Saturday, June 7, 2008

Internet Issues and Tips

Once again, we went a few days without internet. There's been a lot of issues here since the apartment complex switched from everyone having individual 'net to offering it for the whole community. So once again, I was unable to get anything done in the way of blogging. However, I did have time to think about some things concerning money and internet.

First, ways to save on internet. You don't actually have to have home internet to survive. Most of us feel disconnected when we can't get online to chat, do email, or whatever it is we do. And admittedly, I'm one of those people. However, when you're forced to do without, you find ways around it. If internet is one of those costs that can be cut out to save money, here are some ideas for staying connected:

1. Utilize work internet - I'm lucky in that the company I'm currently working for has internet and allows us to use it on breaks for personal use. Check with your company's internet policies to find out if it can be used at designated times. If so, do email on your breaks and/or part of your lunch. Just make sure not to do anything that would violate company policy. Don't be a jerk and ruin the privelege for everyone else because you wanted to download porn.

2. Find a Wi-Fi spot - If you have a laptop, Wi-Fi hot spots are common and can be very helpful. Plan some time where you can find a local coffee shop, bookstore, or restaurant that offers it. If there's a cost associated with it, find out beforehand. And be careful, even though you might not be paying for the internet, you might get tempted into buying an expensive coffee drink or meal. In order to avoid this, try the.....

3. ...library. Not only does the library generally have wireless access to internet for laptop users, they usually have several desktop computers set aside for the general public to use and to access the internet with. And because most libraries are "No Food or Drink" places, you won't be incurring any extra costs except the gas to get there.

4. Ask a friend - If you have a close friend who's online, make plans to use their internet. Offer to pay part of the bill for the privelege of using it for periods of time throughout the week to do basic email, bill pay, account stuff. If you're in a financial bind, let them know about it. Who knows? You may have something they need in exchange. You can also use the time to hang out and catch up if you don't get to see each other often.

If after careful consideration you find that you truly, absolutely, no matter which way you look at it can NOT live without internet, there are a few options that will help cut costs.

1. Downgrade to dial-up - Not everyone uses the internet to download, upload, and play games. If you're a minimalist when it comes to the internet, meaning you pay bills, check email, and occasionally shop online, then you probably don't actually need a high speed connection. Find out how much local dial up costs. With DSL and cable connections, dial up prices have decreased immensely. Remember that you do have to have a land phone line and a degree of patience as it is slower and may not be as efficient.

2. Search around for package deals - Many big companies are now offering packages that include internet, phone service, and digital cable. If these are things you want anyway and can afford, try out a package deal to save money. However, make sure to read the small print. Alot of bundle deals start out at a low price and go higher after a month or so. Know exactly what you're getting into before signing on the dotted line.

Even though we've had problems, many apartment complexes are already set up with internet and have, for the most part, gotten all the bugs out of their system. So if you're looking for a new place to live, finding one that has on-site internet can be a money saver if the rent is already reasonable.

Last but not least, don't hesitate to call for a discount on your bill if your internet is out for an extended period of time. Most companies want to keep their customers and will do what they can to make them happy, especially if the problem was on their end. If they won't help you out, you have a good reason to file a complaint and go look elsewhere.

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