Friday, December 9, 2011

Frugal Retirement-The Internet Is (Mostly) My Friend

Recently I've decided to add a couple activities to my life. School is over and will begin in January on a much smaller scale.One of the advantages of retirement is that you can change your mind (pretty much) when you like or as needed.

 My primary passions are the same-quilting, travel, reading, and so on.  That said, I decided it was time to try something(s) new.  My first new adventure is knitting. I tried to knit awhile back and did poorly.  Still, I'm a sucker for the yarn (I quilt because of the fabric, after all). I also needed something to do in front of the television on dark evenings.  My second adventure is watercolor.  Why, you may ask?  I want to expand my other hobbies and can use the new knowledge. Painting my own fabrics is a goal, as is the ability to make watercolor greeting cards and small gifts. I'd like to try actually painting  a picture of the gulf shores (purely for my benefit) on my extended road trip in the spring.  Fear not,  I'm learning these skills frugally.

What has this to do with technology you may ask?  Simply put, everything. When I wanted to learn to knit, I went to the library and got a beginners book.  While it was helpful, I felt I needed more. I spent time searching the Internet for tips and classes. I looked at pod casts and videos showing me how to knit-I could slow them down at will.  When I wanted to learn about the supplies and equipment needed, I went to various vendor websites and found loads of information without spending a dime.

Years ago, when I wanted to learn how to knit, I had a couple choices.  I could go and ask a relative to show me.  I could sign up for a paid class at a yarn store, where they met every week for a specific amount of time. Without a skilled friend or relative, I was out of luck.  The second alternative required both access to the store, and sometimes hefty fees to pay for classes.  I'm not ignoring self education through trial and error here. In some case it's the only choice. For me, I am an extremely visual person and needed to see it-and not just in my head.  All those Internet alternatives were a godsend.

Don't get me wrong. There's a lot of junk on the Internet. Some of that junk is mindless drivel, some is less benign.  Lately I've been feeling that I am spending too much time online, and trying to cut back. I've decided not to drag my laptop in front of the television, and to try and limit my usage. It can be easy to get sucked in, look up and realize you've been in the chair for longer than you (I) should.

On the other hand, the ways to take advantage of the Internet are limitless.  Many of those resources are a boon to the frugal.  By cobbling together three shorter seated aerobic programs, I've gotten a forty minute Utube exercise program, just by putting those on my favorites.  With a few exceptions, most of the recipes made lately have been found on the Internet. I can Skype to my family in Seattle and see my newborn nephew for as long as I like for free. I search for and print out free quilt and sewing patterns all the time.  The Internet was a huge resource in making our landscaping rough draft. I bank and pay bills online,  saving stamps and fees.  One can type in an item and have a price comparison of ten different stores in less than a minute. Last but not least, the Internet is an amazing resource for frugal travel and travel planning. 

Just as with anything else in this word, some aspects of the net don't work for me.  I'm not just talking about some of the unkindness or less positive aspects. Many people watch movies and television shows on their computer. I'm simply unable to do that.  Because I'm a visual person, there is a limit as to how much I can read online. I often have to print things out to read them properly. Since like the FEEL of a real book or magazine while the Kindle app is a nice thing to have, it gets used rarely.

It can be hard to remember how quickly the "net" cam to be, and how short a time period that has been.  I won't begin to talk about how it has changed our lifes.  Younger, non retired readers will have no idea what  I'm talking about when Isay that I still remember the old BBS that my husband and I were on for the longest time.  All technology has it's up and down, but the Internet has, especially lately, been a real frugal boon for me. 

I'll keep it for now.

2 comments:

  1. The Internet is such a fabulous resource while being the source of much misery and damage at the same time. The trick is knowing which is which!

    Like you, I can spend too much time with my laptop, even while watching a movie. At times half of it will be over and I've barely watched it at all.

    I couldn't write nearly as often without the Internet available as my research library and idea generator. It saves me a lot of time and quite a bit of money on books I don't have to buy. In that sense, it is a tremendous tool in my quest for a frugal lifestyle.

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  2. Oh, Lord, yes! News, entertainment, price comparisons, shopping, staying in touch with friends and family, information,recipes,instruction--it's all there for the taking on the internet. Since there are almost limitless choices, it's easier to find the frugal ones, and harder to be bored than in pre-internet days. Sometimes it's hard to remember that you need a real, face-to-face life, too, though.

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