Friday, November 21, 2008

More cost-cutting for Information Technology

As I mentioned last month, we turned off almost every computer at home, and moved our email and such over to Google Apps. I have been completely happy with them, and as best I can tell, we've dropped our electricity bill between $20 and $30 dollars. Turning off the big server helped, and I was also able to discover how to turn the Speedstream 4200 my ISP provided into a firewall (and turn off our current one).

Even so, we were still paying over $160 a month on TV, Internet, and phone. Our biggest problem was phone and TV. Windstream started charging us $6 for an equipment maintenance charge, and our plan was $55 a month. We looked really close at our usages, and we were paying almost $25 a month for effectively 4 channels - Boomerang, BBC America, Toon Disney, and History International. We agreed to compensate with Netflix, so it wasn't too bad a trade. Now TV is $40 (before a $5 package discount)

The big savings was in the phone part. We got suckered into switching to a plan with Caller ID and 100 minutes of long distance. That ran our phone and Internet up to $85 a month plus taxes. Then I discovered Greenstreak . "Naked" DSL is DSL that doesn't include a regular phone line. Windstream coudn't do naked DSL, but they can go "topless": the phone line can do incoming calls, 911, and 800 numbers, but no long distance at all and outgoing local calls are $0.10 per minute (i.e. don't do them). We will have 3M download speed, which is effectively equivalent to a 10M cable link (the cable bandwidth is shared in the neighborhood).  Total costs: around $35.

Since we all already have cell phones, we don't need the home phone for calling, just for the Dish, security system, and the occasional incoming call.

Even picking up Netflix, we've saved $50 from the entertainment budget, and given ourselves a lot more options.

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