Cheap Computing

Jul 7 2014   9:57PM GMT

‘The Savings Experiment’ Might Help You Save Money

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

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saveThere have always been websites and blogs devoted to frugality. You’re reading one right now. But we haven’t seen a whole lot of videos on the topic of frugal technology. However, a section of AOL’s Daily Finance site called The Savings Experiment has a whole bunch of them.

Save All Around by Powering Your Computer Down is a video the site ran back in 2012 that a friend called to my attention because last week’s Cheap Computing post was titled Should You Turn Your Computers Off When You’re Not Using Them?

I like to think I got a little deeper into this topic than AOL did. Maybe that’s because it’s hard to get much information into a two minute video. It’s also possible that while AOL’s intended audience is people who wonder how to find the “Any” key, I write for technological sophisticates like you.

Still, the AOL ‘Savings Experiment,’ sponsored by Bank of America and Visa, has a lot of good tips and is worth a look or two.
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Dial Into Savings on Your Smartphone Bill, for example. I believe I’ve mentioned a few times that my wife and I use Virgin Mobile, which gives us unlimited data and 300 minutes of voice for $35 per month per user, which is just right for us; my wife has gone over 300 talk minutes just once, and unlimited data is good because we do a lot of video work. You might want a different plan from a different carrier. The big secret is to shop — and wisely at that, which means you need to take the perky AOL spokesmodel’s advice to check your phone use habits before comparing cell plans.

One problem with ‘Savings Experiment’ is that it isn’t always accurate. For example, Surf for Savings on Internet Service says Verizon FIOS is the most expensive ISP. This may be true where their contributor Brent Hankins lives, but where I live in Manatee County, Florida, FIOS is about $50 per month and the only other broadband provider charges nearly $75. So no matter what the AOL people say — or what *I* say, for that matter — you should do your own shopping because we all have different circumstances, needs, and desires.

Still, there’s a lot of valuable ideas to be found on ‘Savings Experiment.’ Not the least of them is in this video: The Best Batteries for Your Buck, which basically tells you rechargeable batteries are lots cheaper than single-use batteries in the long run. This is 100% true — except for devices where a battery may sit for many months unused, such as a smoke detector. That’s an application where a one-use battery will give you better service than a rechargeable — and where trying to save a dollar probably isn’t a good idea, anyway.

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