The cost of a digital life

If you’re single, start with your monthly smartphone bill. Double that if you share expenses with a spouse who also has a smartphone. Or, if you have some sort of shared “family rate,” use that number.

Now add whatever you pay for Internet access.

Next take your monthly cable (or satellite of whatever) television subscription.

If you’re as connected as I am, these three costs combined could equal or exceed $360 per month. That’s $4320 per year.

But don’t stop there. Let’s move on to all your monthly and annual fees that exist only because the Internet exists.

For openers, let’s assume you have Netflix streaming. Count Amazon Prime if you mainly joined to have access to their streaming videos. Add these two together and you have almost another $200 per year.

Do you pay for something like Backblaze to backup your data to the cloud? Do you pay for cloud storage to Dropbox or iCloud or anything similar? If so, toss those in.

What about music subscriptions services such as Spotify or Rdio or even iTunes Match?

Do you pay to subscribe to digital versions of magazines/newspapers? If so, count them, unless you would have otherwise paid to have a print subscription.

Finally, add in any other Internet-based fees that you pay on a regular basis, from website hosting to VPN networking.

The combined total will obviously vary a lot from person to person. For me, it comes to about $4800 per year, or about $400/month. For most people who are active Internet users, I believe the number will be similar.

Remember, this is all money spent on services that largely did not exist twenty years ago! And the amount we spend each year seems to only get bigger — as newly emerging services become commonplace to the point of becoming “essential.”

If you’ve wondered why you have more trouble coming up with the money to pay your bills each month, even when most of your major expenses (rent, food, etc.) remain stable, now you know.

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