In my childhood, we had a dial phone. That was a luxury. Soon came the brick or handheld phone and sim card. The phone bill got split into landline bill and mobile bill. The telecom companies devised more ways to earn by bringing a data bill for the internet users. We paid that too. Last month when I checked the number of bills I was pay I was astonished to see my digital expenses.
What is digital expense?
Digital expenses are the new age bills that we pay for digital services. As the internet is getting fast we have started using it more than ever. During the past years the cost of data has gone down significantly or so we think. Actually, if you see the cost of data hasn’t gone down but the total bandwidth and speed has gone up. 10 years ago I spent Rs.800/- for a dialup BSNL connection with 256kbps speed. In 2020 I am spending the same Rs.800/- for fibre internet with 33Mbps speed and unlimited bandwidth.
TV has changed
As the speed has increased I have stopped recharging my TV connection. Now we watch only YouTube and other OTT services. But a TV connection was a single cost which let me watch movies with different languages and different genres. Now each OTT service has its own cost which is an additional cost along with the internet cost. Also, the OTT services restrict the number of screen in which I can stream. So instead of one cost now I have internet + three or four OTT subscription costs.
Tons of photos that no-one needs
We used to click only the moments that matter because every photo had a cost associated with it. The film and development cost was thought of every time a photo was clicked. Now I have tonnes of photos stored in the cloud that I would never see again. Nobody has time to revisit all those photos. The benefits of higher internet speed is data sharing and data storage. Just to store that one favourite photo tons of unwanted photo are in the cloud. The companies which initially gave free cloud space have now begun to charge for them. So again a value is getting set with a photo. In a trip, I click very few photos to capture the best moments. Ultimately all these files are store in a hard disk somewhere which is taking energy and space to maintain. I try to keep my digital waste to the minimum.
Pay as you use cloud storage
For programmers and businesses, companies like Amazon and Microsoft share their cloud space. Instead of opting for fixed storage space, one can just pay for the space that they need. I have an account with Amazon S3 service to backup my websites. For the past few months, I have been getting huge bills. When checked I realised that a website I was backing up did not delete the old backups. As a result, my used space expanded from 10GB to 380GB. During this lockdown, I took time to fix the error and delete unwanted data. Now next month I can be sure to get smaller bills.
Email services that started charging for service
I think out of the 130 crore population in my country at least 80 crore people will have a Gmail account. When Gmail was introduced it wiped out all other competition with its clean interface and unlimited access. Today after 15yrs when we are running out of email space, Google is forcing us to buy extra storage to continue using their service. Google’s GSuite services also has constantly increased their cost per user demanding money for emails and Drive spaces. I just cancelled a Gsuite service yesterday and opened up a new email id. I am ok to change my email ids everywhere instead of spending reoccurring money.
Digital Expenses are secretive
These are some digital expenses that I did not even calculate when I thought of my monthly budget. Some of them might be necessary while many are not. I am thinking of cancelling all the OTT services because the pressure of choosing a movie to watch is too much. Switching on TV and chilling was more relaxing.
Right now as we speak I am downloading all my clouds files to my computer. I will go through the 1000s of photos and choose the one that matters. The rest will just get dumped. So is the same for the unwanted videos and files. The rest will get uploaded back to the cloud. I feel that these are complications that I brought upon myself. And for these complications, I have been paying money too for so long. Storing in the cloud is necessary so I don’t lose those important files. I will spend time to declutter my online presence so that I can spend less. Every paise counts. Every minute counts. I will save these invaluable for the Financial freedom.