While prices for certain high-demand high-tech toys - like plasma TVs - are edging down, it's still probably safe to say the average American family is spending more on technology as more "toys" emerge. From upgrading to the latest, leading-edge PC to high prices for Internet connections that can quickly move video and audio files, families face escalating technology costs - at a time when prices for everything else are also climbing.
Most modern families probably can't imagine living without technology, so completely eliminating the cost is likely out of the question. It is possible, however, to curtail costs when it comes to how much of your family's budget goes towards technology. Here are some simple tips:
To PC or Not PC
More than half of all American households have computers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And most of those actually have more than one. But are multiple PCs -- each one costing around $1,000 -- really necessary for your home?
College students may reasonably need a laptop for their schoolwork, but elementary and high school students should be able to make do with the main family PC. Keep in mind that many parenting experts advocate close supervision of children while they use PCs and the Internet. It's easier to supervise a single computer centrally located in the house than multiple ones in kids' rooms. And, it's cheaper to buy and maintain a single PC that spends its days sheltered in your house rather than multiple ones exposed to the rigors of kids' daily lives.
Dial-up is Not Dead
High speed Internet connections like cable and T1 lines have made it possible to move massive amounts of information quickly and easily - but at a hefty price. Cable Internet service can cost up to $100 per month.
If your daily computer use is limited to accessing your e-mail or simple surfing, you may not need all that power. If you do not regularly download or upload video or audio files, you can access the Internet cheaply with a dial-up connection. Services like Netzero and Juno offer accelerated dial-up for as little as $9.95 per month.
What's more, if you travel and want to be able to access your account remotely, Netzero allows you to dial in from your laptop (or any Netzero-equipped PC) for the cost of a local phone call in most areas of the country. Accessing the Internet at some hotels can cost as much as $20 per day. Plus, rather than paying for your college-aged child to have a separate service provider at school, he or she can use your account to access his e-mail.
Dishing it Out
Thanks to satellite TV it's possible to watch a live cricket match taking place in Shri Lanka, flip between a classic movie on one channel and the latest blockbuster on another, or listen to hundreds of music channels. The sheer volume of viewing material may seem impressive, but the reality is few people really watch all those channels on a regular basis.
Do you find yourself sticking with the network channels and only watching the occasional movie on the satellite stations? It may be cheaper per month to subscribe to basic cable and an online movie rental service that charges a flat monthly fee.
Really Smart Phones
Finally, if you have access to e-mail from your home and/or work PC, do you really need to have it through your cell phone too? Smart phones are in vogue for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their ability to get you online wherever you are. But before shelling out hundreds of dollars to buy smart phones for everyone in your family, carefully evaluate your cell phone habits and objectives.
If you and your family really only need cell phones for having phone conversations, then chances are you'll all do just fine with basic cell phones. Basic mobiles will be far cheaper and many service providers offer package deals and incentives for family plans, including discounts on the phones themselves.
Courtesy of ARAcontent