Are you stranded inside the house for a while? Do you have a hard time finding transportation to and from places in your town? Try these three internet hacks to simplify your life. The easier we make things, the quicker we become minimalists.
HACK NUMBER ONE
1. Check out books from libraries online to sync to your e-readers.
Last summer, I renewed my library card for the first time in about a decade. Having an incredible addiction to words, I found it cheaper to check out library books than to buy them. The only exception to this rule is finding the coveted book at a thrift store or yard sale….or borrowing it from a friend.
With my library card in tow, I have been checking out hundreds of books…and DVD’s. Just last night, I discovered how to actually download an e-book onto my Kindle from my local public library. Most libraries in this modern age of technology have adopted a co-op of online e-books. You can place holds on books if someone else has already “checked out” the books you want.
A typical shopping venture for me would be to drive to Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble. I would peruse the best seller or new hot books lining the shelves. Then, I would take out my smart phone and type the names of the books that interested me in a list. Later, I would swing by my local library and share this list with the librarian who reserves books. If they were in stock, I would check them out. If not, I would be placed on the waiting list. (I’m still on the waiting list for Go Set a Watchman and I’ve been waiting since it was released.)
Other than the checking out ten DVD’s at a time for my family, it doesn’t make sense to have to go back and forth listlessly to the library. Unless you just love paper books.
HACK NUMBER TWO
2. Do online banking and bill paying to save gasoline and time.
I have been spending a lot of time at banks lately. The best way to do it is to align your debit card/checking account with the online bill pay. Get direct deposit from work into your account if you can.
Skeptical older people (non-Millennials) tend to distrust online banking or sharing pertinent pecuniary information online. This day in age, modern security systems have made this all safer for us to use, on reputable sites.
Being old-fashioned, I felt that a paper check in a paper envelope with a sticker stamp put in my physical mail box was the only way to pay that mortgage every month, coupon and check neatly printed. However, I “got with the program” and have set up my checking account from Bank A into my mortgage online site at Bank B. I haven’t had any problems yet. Actually, I find myself making more frequent principal payments when I crunch those numbers at my fingertips whenever I pull it up on my smartphone. There’s no excuse not to allocate extra money into that principal, that savings account, that money market, etc.
HACK NUMBER THREE
3. Get some of your grocery shopping for staple items done online.
For cashing in reward points with my bank, I received some Amazon gift cards. I thought, I’m a minimalist. I don’t need any new junk around the house at this time. Oh! But we all need to eat.
Being a member of Amazon Prime, I decided to experiment with Prime Pantry. This is not a sales pitch for Amazon; I’m merely using it as an example. If you search the web, you can find many grocery type online stores for your convenience.
However, at Amazon I paid $6 in one flat shipping rate to stuff a very large box full of groceries. They have other items listed that qualify in the Pantry like toiletries, office goods, home goods, pet supplies, and medical goods. And every item you add to your literal box, Amazon tells you what percentage it occupies. I couldn’t even fill mine up all the way.
For the frugal person inside all of us, coupons are available online through the Pantry and you end up getting some things further reduced. I felt that being tax free, $6 was a lot cheaper than whatever huge grocery bill tariff I would have amassed in the physical storefront (it’s 10% where I live).
I bought Starbucks espresso, coconut water, Rice Krispy Treats, cat food, Thai noodles, coconut curry sauce, Amy’s canned soups, a giant carton of Goldfish crackers, macaroni & cheese boxes, and other pantry staples. Yes, you still need to go to the grocery store or farmer’s market for fresh fruits and veggies. Meats and dairy items will be bought in-store as well. But for everything else, online grocery shopping is easy-peasy. I used my gift cards to feed the whole family.
“Moreover, if you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences; you are compelled to deal with the material which yields the most sugar and the most starch. It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.”-Henry David Thoreau, Walden