Na Na pinches her pennies

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

No choice anymore

So.  You think your life is your own.  You believe you can make your own choices about what you are willing to spend your hard earned cash on.  You are wrong.  Someone else is making choices for you.  I’ve said it a million times “You can’t buy what is not available to buy.”  “You can’t eat what is not there to eat.”  “You must pay their price for things or do without.”  Its all about the money you have and the legendary “they” want it.  Its so very difficult for a senior mind to keep up with the changes.

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.  The last few days I had been comment talking with a reader about phone services for those who want only a land line phone and don’t want to “bundle” with internet.  It seems people are no longer given a choice.  Its either bundle or no land line phone.  I do have internet with my land line phone but only because of my blog.  What if I had no computer?  What if I had never used a computer in my life or what if I had a disability which prevented me from understanding and using the internet?  Many seniors don’t understand cell phones but are being forced to switch anyway.  Heck, even homeless people have cell phones these days.

Many of us seniors don’t like change.  Like it or not the land line phone is on its way out.  Someday we will be telling our grand children or great grand children that phones were once connected to the wall through a fiber optic wire.  The phone had buttons to push or a dial to turn for the person you wanted to call.  The phone worked like any other except there wasn’t a screen or internet connection.  It didn’t tell you the time and it had absolutely no apps.  If you wanted to connect to the internet you had to have your phone dial for a connection to your computer.  Then if someone picked up another phone in the house you would yell out ‘get off the phone I’m checking my email’ or often you lost the connection.  We can tell the grands that in the “olden days” when you called someone but they were on the phone we got a busy signal.  Not anymore.

Going paperless used to be a choice.  In the near future it won’t be anymore.  The mailbox is destined to become obsolete and so is paper envelopes.   Just as we are being forced into using cell phones and forced to bundle internet; we are being forced into going paperless.  A few days ago I got a letter from my bank.  They are now going to start charging $2 a month to get a paper statement in the mail.  I can get it free by going online to their website and printing one myself.  But, what if I don’t want my bank account information connected to the web for hackers to steal?  What if my computer is not totally secure?  Well that means I’ll be forced into paying for security software packages.  What if I had no computer? I’d be forced to buy one and then buy internet access (bundle) and then security ….. you get the picture.  I could go to the library but those are out in the open for everyone to watch.

Actually paper itself is on serious life support and we have no choice about it.  More and more books, magazines, and newspapers are being produced in digital format.  If we want to read them we must subscribe and have some type of reader.  Oh, and paper photos are becoming obsolete too.  Family photo albums are no longer coffee table books.  Photos used to be cherished captured moments of time.  Photos were developed in photo centers and printed on paper.  Have you seen a photo printing center lately?  We can’t get what is not available.  These days photos are taken hundreds of times a day and published for the world to view.   Face to face contact is being replaced by digital pictures and short little messages.

I used to have hundreds of paper books and then recorded books became available.  I love my recorded books.  I like to listen while I work.  For a long time I collected books on records.  Remember those?  They were sort of like CD’s with grooves for a needle to follow.  Then came 8 track tapes followed by cassettes.  Now I collect shiny CD’s but these are being replaced with MP3 or is that out of date already in favor of digital services?  I can’t keep up.  I’ll continue to listen to my collection until they no longer work.  Its just a matter of time until these become relics of times gone by.  I won’t have a choice.  I can’t buy what is not available.

Handwriting with pen or pencil and paper is slowly being replaced.  Children start learning to touch screens as soon as they can hold a pad and schools are slowly moving away from teaching kids to write.   There was a time when schools had computer labs.  You had to go there to use a computer but now small hand held devices are shoved into the hands of babies.  One grandchild asked another “Can you write?”  The other said “No but Na Na knows how.”   What will we seniors do when pens or pencils are no longer available for purchase?

Speaking of purchases.   With the use of plastic cards and internet banking the future of money itself is on a path to being obsolete.  There won’t be a need to print paper money or stamp metal coins.  In a few years money will become relics seen only in museums.  The same with piggy banks and change jars.  No longer will we hear the clink of coins in a pink pig or see them pile up in a jar.  We can’t save what is no longer available.  What will people do without a bank account and the plastic money?  How soon will the plastic cards also become outdated?

Brick and mortar stores are on the decline as more people order through internet sites.   Text books and library books are slowly being replaced by digital media.  Doctors no longer use a prescription pad and drug stores have your meds ready by the time you arrive.   Without paper we won’t have a need for staplers or manila folders and file cabinets.  Chalkboards, white boards, and teachers in traditional classrooms are being replaced with 24/7 online digital learning.   No more rooms with desks, no more note taking, and no more desks.  Televisions are soon going to be obsolete too.  Replaced with tablets so you can carry your tv with you and stream your favorite show wherever you go.   Every person will have their own to carry.

I could name dozens of other things either obsolete over the last decade or will be within the next one.  We have no choice.  Technology is changing our world and dragging us along with it.   We either accept and keep up with the changes or we are forced into it.

I’d like to finish this post with one more relic of the past.  PRIVACY.  Cameras everywhere from roof tops to street lights and some tiny cameras that look like shirt buttons.  GPS technology tracking you down in a hurry.  Space satellites capable of looking into your windows and listening to conversations.  Cell phone tracking.  Digital power meters on your house recording what room you are moving from and into.  Recording when you are cooking and when you are relaxing in front of a tv screen or a computer.  The internet anticipating your thoughts and offering suggestions.  Banks recording all your buying habits and offering the information for sale.  There is no privacy anymore.  Everything you are and all that you own is public information.  Privacy has long ago disappeared in our world.   Those quiet moments you share with a child or a spouse are not private any longer.  Someone someplace is watching you.  We used to call it “big brother” and he was always watching.  Read George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eight Four (1984) written and published in 1949.  People thought he was just crazy at the time but now people see him as a visionary.

28 comments on “No choice anymore

  1. Carol
    May 16, 2018

    Dearest Anita,,Some time ago my 18 year old granddaughter and I were alone in the house at the kitchen table talking. She said one of her professors was a S…head Before I could say “watch your language” a man’s voice said “watch your language”. I nearly jumped 3 feet and she picked up her cell phone and told it, “mind your business serious!”.”What was that?'” My phone was listening”. Can you believe this? What about newly weds or private conversations being heard by a phone? Nana, you are so right, we lost our privacy a long time ago. Is there any place we can go to? Scary….

    • Anita
      May 16, 2018

      Yes, I’ve heard about the artificial intelligence called Siri but I’ve never encountered it. Its called a personal assistant which you get for a fee. What’s really scary to me is that children of today think its perfectly normal for things like phones to be spying on us. Kids of today really don’t understand complete privacy. Kinda makes a person wonder if the myth of microwaves and coffee pots spying on us really is a myth after all.

  2. catherine young
    April 24, 2018

    It is becoming more complicated and expensive than ever to be poor. I just went to the laundromat this past week to wash a king sized comforter and large tarp that would strain my washer. The cost was outrageous. I’m not getting anything more that I cannot safely wash at home.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote an essay about how one starts paying for true needs the instant they become necessities, whether one actually buys into them or not. I think she is as relevant today as she was when she wrote the piece. The lacking in it is that she did not address what do do when one can not afford to take care of thst need.

    A cousin broke her tooth and bridge this past weekend and was scheduled for a trip to islands for her son’s destination wedding (a huge splurge and extravagance on her part—going to this wedding, possible only with much help from son and future DIL) A weekend trip to an emergency dental specialist cost more than $1200 to fix enough to assuage pain and appearances.

    These days, for those of us getting into old age, a simple cell phone and adeptness in using it becoming a necessity. Not having those services at hand becoming more costly than having.

    • Anita
      April 25, 2018

      So true Catherine. Being poor is very expensive AND time consuming. Its also getting harder to find a laundromat these days too. Your cousin is lucky to have the funds for the dentist. Imagine not having the money.

      I agree Laura Ingalls Wilder had wisdom beyond her time. Hmm… I wonder what she would think of how we live today? What she would think of the price of food today when a penny for Christmas in her time was like being rich.

      • catherine young
        April 25, 2018

        In her later years, when she wrote the LH books, LIW was quite renown in the farm community as a self sufficient farmer’s wife. She provided her small family with a lot of the food they ate, growing and raising it as well as preparing and storing it.

        These days, there is a presumption that people have the gumption, skills and discipline, as well as family and community connections to supplement income. This is not the case, too often. The cost of living without those above attributes and supplements is more than savings, social security, pensions and social services can adequately address. Pay levels are often inadequate for those who are employed and too many cannot get living wage jobs due to many issues. This is leading to a critical situation in this country. For certain populations, elderly, disabled, some minorities, unskilled, with bad histories, things are dire.

  3. Margie in Toronto
    April 23, 2018

    You make so many good points – frankly, I find it all exhausting and yes, I’m convinced most of it is just so they can charge us more money! It’s not that technology is bad – it’s actually very useful – it’s just that people have allowed themselves to become so reliant on it that’s frightening.
    I have learned that when I’m going somewhere with friends – and none of us have been there before – to make sure to check out an old fashioned map and write down the directions – if I leave it up to their car’s GPS most of the time we end up lost – or taking 3 times as long as we should to get there!
    I’ll use cash for as long as possible and I don’t bank online. I have a landline – although it is way more expensive than it should be! My cellphone is old and only allows me to call or text – no WiFi connection – and I feel no need to buy the latest or the greatest – frankly, I can’t afford it.
    My friends laugh at me – they are all into tech and the latest gadget but I just tell them I’ll have the last laugh when that solar flare hits. More than once we’ve had power outages up here – both summer and winter – that went on for days and cell reception all went down – those of us with landlines could at least still chat!

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Ha Ha, it looks like several of us will be laughing when that big solar flare hits and phones stop working and atm machines are off line.

  4. Kathi
    April 23, 2018

    Totally agree Anita. and it makes me ANGRY. I REFUSE to pay bills “digitally” NOPE. but there is one that I MUST do that way. and I LOVE my paper books, etc. I just keep thinking ONE BIG BUG in the internet and we are ALL DOOMED. Heck. actual “cash on hand” has become a rare thing. Very frustrating. I’ve got a cell phone. I call it my “dumb old lady flip phone”. it’s just for emergencies. BUT, I even NEEDED a cell phone to “get in line” at the DMV last week. I’m just happy I am getting old. I don’t WANT to be in a totally digital world. one hiccup with the computer and ALL can go haywire. sigh.

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Our minds do think alike. One bug or one major solar flare or one EMP burst and the world goes to heck in a hand basket. hmm… I remember but I wonder if anyone else remembers or knows what a hand basket is? The future is looking more and more like the “cyborg collective” of star trek. Everyone being controlled by the one central computer brain.

      You couldn’t get in line without a cell? That’s scary.

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Kathi, I forgot to ask you, do you still subscribe to Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine? I don’t plan to renew again. It has become more about making art quilts than about the machine quilting so there isn’t much there for a professional quilter anymore. The current issue is 90 pages with only 6 about stitching. Stitching cross hatch. Everything else was about making art, designing fabric, and advertising. Its a very long way from the single page issues loaded with useful stuff in the beginning. I thought the art stuff was the reason they started the other magazine Modern Quilts. I can’t justify the cost anymore. How about you?

  5. T
    April 23, 2018

    Vonage are offering free equipment and a $10/ month+ taxes deal for home phone service via hi-speed internet. We used it when we called overseas a lot.

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      We don’t have Vonage home service here. We have only ATT or Spectrum. But readers might want to know this. How long is the $10 a month good for? How long is the contract?

      • T
        April 24, 2018

        Vonage works anywhere there’s high speed internet connection, contract is 12 months I think.

  6. sarasinart
    April 23, 2018

    It sure is a different world than what we’re used to. It’s scary, too.

  7. jestjack
    April 23, 2018

    Thank you for the timely blog….It appears to me it will be costly in the future to NOT change. My Dear Mother has a checking account where I noticed a $3 fee per month. I questioned the fee and CSR explained that the fee was because DM wants copies of her checks in her statement. I told DM and asked if we could stop the check copies in the statement, saving the $3….No dice….She says she’ll pay the $36 a year. In addition it will cost her over $90 for her “landline” in it’s present form. And lastly while in line at Walmart over the weekend I saw Newsweek magazine at the check out with an interesting article about legalizing “weed” throughout the Nation. Considered picking up a copy…$10.99 plus tax! No thanks….And right next to it the Sunday Paper…$4…This has got to be challenging to those on a fixed income…. Thanks once more for the interesting blog….-Jestjack

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      I avoided paying the fee for check copies by using checks with duplicates. The bank tells me that the copy service is no longer provided at all. If I want copies I must go to my account online and print them myself. These days most places require direct payments which I hate. Who’s to stop them if they take money out several times or even take everything that’s in the account?

      I used to subscribe to several quilting magazines because I used them in my work. The magazines got thinner and costs got higher. I’m down to only one subscription but won’t renew when it expires. The information it contains has changed so much it doesn’t help with my work like it used to do and the cost has become ridiculous.

      Hmm… that’s exactly why I write my blog. Because it IS challenging to live with very little and survive. I want people to know and to learn from others too.

  8. Nicole Alderman
    April 23, 2018

    I’m in my thirties, and it’s frankly frightening the things that I cannot “op-out” of, or choose to do, that we’re choices when I was a kid…and I’ll probably be around another 90 years. How much more different will things be then? How many more choices will vanish?

    I have no cellphone, and I LIKE living without one. But, it’s harder to do so. People used to see someone broken down on the side of the road and assume they need help…now they assume the person has a cellphon and has already called for help.

    I don’t want to be tracked everywhere I go. I’ve read too much fiction growing up to care for that idea, even though we’ve all been subjected to it slowly, like a frog in a pot of water that slowly comes to a boil. Soon it will be nearly impossible to get a car that doesn’t have GPS, and perhaps even difficult to buy things without some sort of chip, perhaps the implanted ones that some already have…or a cellphone. People cash checks, pay bills, get directions, take pictures, call people, and can even pay for things with their phones….which track their every step. It’s totally creepy, but so many people of my generation and younger just think that they have to sell their privacy/soul to be able to live. I refuse, and will continue to refuse for as long as I can. How long that will be, I just don’t know!

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Yes, and parents are giving up their children’s privacy from the day they are born. Children born today won’t know what its like to have choices. I watch my two year old grandson and one year old granddaughter walking around with their own tablet they call a phone and feel sad.

      I’m frightened fairly often these days. Especially when I drive my brother’s new car to chauffeur my SIL for shopping. She says she can hardly wait until self driving cars become affordable for their budget. Right now they have one of the new wifi cars that doesn’t need an actual key and has a backup camera. I feel like I’m under a microscope everytime I drive it or maybe inside a computer with all the stuff it does. I’ve read post apocalyptic fiction and mother nature’s fury books when I can find any in recorded form. That’s scarier to me than any blood and gore books.

  9. Donna
    April 22, 2018

    Oh how true you write! Also, these new ways cost money. I have no home phone because I decided several years ago I did not need both. Long distance cost extra on the home phone, included on the cell. A couple of weeks ago my cell started acting wierd. It said I was running out of storage. How could that be? I don’t use any apps, have not downloaded any, what’s going on? Go to the cell store and they tell me my phone is old and I need to upgrade for more storage. Every time they do a software update it takes more space. My 8 gig phone is no longer sold; now minimum is 16 gig. Oh joy, upgrade or run out of space. It never ends, always something you have to buy whether you want to or not. So in 2 more years will I need an even bigger phone? I have a cell because towns are few and far between so cells are important if you have car problems. No decision yet but have to do something soon. Sorry for the length of this, just had to vent.

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Of course they would tell you your phone is outdated. A new sale means more money for the company. I’m the dummie here because I don’t have a cell phone but I thought they could be cleared of data just like computers. When my computer starts to run slow I can clear out the “history” file and it works. Do cell phones have a history file? Didn’t a news report not long ago say something about the battery of cell phones needing to be replaced when it started acting weird but the companies had not told people? I can’t remember exactly. Maybe you could check this first. Its ok, vent all you want.

  10. silveryew
    April 22, 2018

    Thank you for an insightful post. We encounter this a lot at the further education college I work – in particular mature students who are coming back to study we do help a lot. Many of them left school at a time when computers weren’t a thing and are now returning to learn when almost everything is done on a computer.

    In the past I have proofread CVs, helped people register to vote (all online of course) and one afternoon I had a lady call who couldn’t work out how to save her work on the laptop the library had lent her to do her work on, so I walked her thru it.

    And it also surprises and saddens me how deprived so many of our students are, who can’t afford to have internet at home, let alone a computer.

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      Yea, I have the same problem. Just when I get something figured out on my computer and the internet they go and make upgrades without telling anyone and it throws me off again. Then charge me for it. I spend three times longer figuring out how things work than actually doing anything. I just barely manage to pay for my internet and my tower computer grows more outdated each day.

  11. Linda S
    April 22, 2018

    Well, thanks Anita. Now I’m totally depressed. Haha

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      If you were here I’d offer you a cookie to make it better.

  12. KAYTHEGARDENER
    April 22, 2018

    Dear Na-Na,
    Just because we seniors might have a computer, it doesn’t mean we also have a printer!!
    So we still need paper! I nearly lost out on my student loan repayment deferral because 1) they never sent the renewal notice earlier & 2) after I finally got a live person in the customer service, it took nearly another week to get the forms by USPS. Then I had to hustle to meet the original deadline or else…
    In the future, I specified that all renewals must be sent in large print format by mail, so we will see what 2019 will bring! 🙂

    • Anita
      April 23, 2018

      I agree. A printer is necessary for many things and for larger projects (quilt patterns) I go to Staples copy center. In the future copy and print centers will go away too.

      • Nicole Alderman
        April 23, 2018

        The Staples by my house closed last year… There’s still some in cities farther away, but none in the closest two towns. Speaking of stores closing, Toys ‘R’ Us is closing too. Now, I’m not much of a consumerist, and a lot of Toys R Us toys are the beeping and booping toys I could care less for. But, it’s getting harder and harder to walk into a store and LOOK at what’s available and get a present for someone. Thankfully, there’s still Target, but there’s not as much selection and so most people just order online. But, it’s often hard to know what to search online for, whereas one can walk into a store and usually be inspired and realize something would be the perfect little toy.

        • Anita
          April 23, 2018

          So right, it is getting much harder to find brick and mortar stores. On my side of the county we have only Walmart, Meijer, or Kroger as major stores for clothing and toys. Then we have Big Lots or Dollar stores after that. No fabric stores on this side either which means I can’t get quilting supplies unless online or very long bus ride. My daughter used to buy diapers and some baby items at Toys R Us but it closed a few months ago.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2018 by in JUST THINKING, TODAY STUFF FOR YESTERDAY MINDS.

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