Whether we really need tech gear for work or simply desire it for its "coolness" factor, an underlining reasoning behind technology is that it can make our lives easier.
READ: The Best Wireless Speakers For Outdoor Entertaining
Occasionally, technology can also save you money, helping you trim monthly utility and entertainment costs.
Here are a few devices we recommend ...
Eliminate your Landline Telephone Bill
Ooma Telo, $175
A lot of us have cut the landline, relying solely on a cell phone. That makes your cellphone a good cost cutting measure, saving you $20/month without those landline charges. Sometimes, however, you require a proper phone, whether it be for work conference calls or for a home security system. Don't buy into the claims of IP phone services such as Vonage; I recommend the cheaper option, like an Ooma Telo. The Telo hooks up to your router and a normal telephone handset, allowing you to make voice calls all over the country. The Ooma is every bit as capable as Vonage service, and if you stick to the basic plan (unlimited US calls, caller ID, call waiting, voicemail) your bill will be a flat $3.77 — no joke! It'll pay for itself in no time.
Eliminate Landline Requirements
GSM Module for Alarm System (Security Monitoring Service), $99
If you have a security system, then a service provider, such as ADT, may claim to require a landline. However, these security providers often have a wireless option available now. Call and ask about a GSM module.
A GSM Module hooks up to your security system and has a cellular antenna to communicate with cell towers for updates, calibration, and emergencies — all the reasons these services have required landlines in the past. It won't go out during a power outage and will still be functional if your internet goes down. These typically cost $99.99 and sometimes have a nominal monthly fee of $5. Use your negotiation skills to get the device for free or get one without the service charge. Calling near the end of a contract term works best for this tactic.
Cut your Cable Bill
Tablet or Antenna, $50 - $400
Acquire a tablet if you don't already have one, and connect it to streaming media services to get your content. A proper antenna will also help ensure you get all the free broadcast television you need. Outdoor models (like this one) are more powerful than the indoor units and will give you dependable reception even in a rainstorm. Cutting cable has never been easier.
Cut Down The A/C Bill
Nest Thermostat, $249
You might have noticed a trend here — devices that cut down the costs of household utilities. One of the biggest monthly expenses is the electricity required to run the A/C. Install a Nest thermostat in your home to easily program your thermostat to be efficient and turn off when you are not in the house — you can even do this remotely over your iPhone.
The device can even track motion to set a schedule automatically. One little known feature of the Nest is "Airwave." When the A/C turns off, this feature keeps the fan running to use air left in the tank for cooling. There's not a smarter thermostat on the market.
Free Wireless Access
Wireless Router, $50
This may be obvious, but you really need a reliable wireless router. This will give you the flexibility to take full advantage of services and features for mobile devices as well as give you the ability to be a good host for guests who might require it when they visit. If you didn't cut your cable, your provider will likely offer you a package that gives you 'wireless internet throughout your home' for about $5 a month. Guess what, all they're doing is giving you a wireless router you can buy for about $50, or even less if you acquire one through Craigslist. They're not that hard to set up, and they'll pay for themselves in about a year's time. The internet isn't going away any time soon.
Extra Hard Drive Space
Cloud Music Services - varies
Time is money, and so is hard drive space. A lot of users have their drives loaded down with music they've been carrying around since their high-school days. If you're already a subscriber to cloud-based services like Spotify, Rdio, or iTunes Match, use them to store your music and get back some hard drive space. Free services like Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player are also available. The songs stream wirelessly and reliably, and you won't even know the music isn't coming from a hard drive. Don't just delete your music though — store the files on DVDs or CDs, or even better yet, a few USB drives for backup.
All these technologies are reliable and I personally use them every day to minimize my month-to-month bills — with the exception of the Nest, which I'll be getting soon.