Broadband Access Adds Up to Big Savings

In a time when money is tight, many Illinoisans struggle with the current cost of living. Money seems to leave our bank accounts as quickly as it entered.  Now is the time to take advantage of simple ways to keep our money where it is and help it grow.   A new study has emerged, encouraging individuals to bank on broadband connectivity to keep necessary expenses to a minimum.

Nicholas J. Delgado, a certified financial planner from the Chicago-based wealth management firm Dignitas, recently published a report entitled, “The Real Cost of the Digital Divide.”  Delgado notes that it is the lack of reliable internet access that often keeps people from staying economically afloat.

A critical step in shutting down debt and developing smart financial habits is getting online.

According to Delgado, once the average $490 annual cost of an at-home broadband connection is accounted for, a typical family could save more than $7,200 a year on a variety of expenses like housing, groceries and automotive costs.  It also accounts for extras like entertainment and travel; all by taking advantage of deals only offered online.

As crucial as these savings may be, millions of people are still living without broadband access.  We have moved past the time when having dependable internet access is only necessary for university students and big business moguls.  While it is still a key tool in learning and working, it is now a requirement for everyday savings.

An article written by the Internet Innovation Alliance highlights the top ten ways internet users can save every year by making the most of online-only deals.

Potential Annual Savings Garnered by Broadband Connectivity
* Percentage based on average spent annually, according to the Department of Labor Consumer Expenditure Survey
1.    Entertainment – Savings: $2,747 or 51.72%
2.    Travel – Savings: $1,532 or  20%
3.    Housing – Savings: $974 or 7.67%
4.    Food– Savings: $965  or 25.70%
5.    Apparel – Savings: $640 or 37.12%
6.    Automotive– Savings: $438 or 1.5%
7.    Newspapers – Savings: $193 or 100%
8.    Gasoline – Savings: $95 or 4.76%
9.    Non-Prescription Drugs – Savings: $76 or 24.20%
10.     Bill Pay – Savings: $47 or 100%

Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, weighs in on the importance of policies and investments that allow all citizens to have high-speed internet access.

Beyond the dollars that can be saved with an Internet connection, being online brings unquantifiable advantages like access to education, job opportunities, social networking and on-demand information.  Congress and the FCC should focus their efforts on policies that encourage investment in more robust networks and policies that expand digital literacy to those offline, rather than aggressive regulatory detours that discourage investment.

As a state, Illinois must work to be at the forefront of this online-savings movement.  We need to create policies that open up the field for investors and businesses to come into the state and expand our current access level to every home in Illinois.  Those without high-speed broadband may be the ones who would benefit most from these savings.

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