Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cancellor of the Exchequer

It's kind of late in the year to be making resolutions, but I am getting fed up of getting nickel-and-dimed by my bank, phone companies and sundry other big or small corporations who surreptitiously chip away at my meager bank account (and limited attention span) unrelentingly, so I've decided to go on a canceling campaign.
Starting today, I will cancel something every day and simplify my life a tad.  I will remove myself from mailing lists, go on "no junk-mail" and "do not call" lists, cancel old credit/store cards and accounts, find a decent cell phone company and put my money in a local savings bank. I give myself until the end of May to get it all accomplished, given that I am driving to Santa Fe next week.  But I can do a lot on line, so I will keep at it.  Just one cancellation a day would be enough to gradually reclaim control over my privacy and over my finances.  I recommend you do the same.  It's liberating and actually FUN!

It started a bit subliminally about a week ago, when I finally got tired of erasing the same types of messages from my in box day in and day out, so I began to unsubscribe from a slew of mailing lists and forums that I somehow had been enlisted in, more or less consciously, for years.

I am pleased to announce that I no longer receive emails from Orbitz,
Kayak, Informaworld, Microsoft, Unity-FM (how did I ever get signed-up for this one?), allrugby (another odd one), Ancestry.com, Lending Tree, and my old mortgage company.  I have been on an unsubscribing rampage.  There are many more to come...  As part of my new habit, before deleting a message from my inbox, I check to see if it's something I want to unsubscribe from.
There are "nice" ways to let one unsubscribe - where all it takes is a reply with the word "unsubscribe" on the subject line - and "not-so-nice" ways, when the company actually requires you to sign in just so you can change your user settings and thus stop receiving spam.  I'll get around to canceling those as well, but first I have to request for them to send me a password.  How bogus is that!?

Just before writing this piece, I canceled my Netflix membership.
I enjoyed the service, but I am not in Spencer enough to fully get the benefits, plus I much prefer to read a good book to watching a movie by myself.
It was exhilarating!  After I hit submit, I jumped up and acted as if I had just scored the winning goal in the World Cup Soccer final...  weird but true.

Truth be told, a big impetus towards this anti-profligate new hobby of mine was provided by my discovery of Mint, as I was filing my taxes with Turbotax Online, thanks to which I have been doing my taxes completely on the web for a few years (another thing I recommend you look into).  Mint is not perfect yet, but it has some really great features.  It's another tool I recommend, counting on its becoming ever more powerful.  One of the niceties is that Mint's mobile app alerts you whenever there is a "fee" levied to your account.  Very revealing.  Every time a "nickel and dime" is taken out of my account as a fee, it's like getting stabbed (or more precisely "pricked") a little.  It's painful, but useful.  It generated a "reaction" in me that has led me to become the Lord Cancellor of the Exchequer*.  Wicked Mint!

It's addictive.  Speaking of which, I am going to also unsubscribe from smoking hand-rolled cigarettes.  The Easy-Way... again.  I don't need to smoke any more.  I have a new habit now... and its side-effects are actually good for me!

Who's next on the chopping block?  
I'll keep you posted...  (look for #canc in my tweets!)

* Maybe, being a "Lord", I can crash some of the parties that Kyle has been giggin' at in Oxford!
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