Back Up Plan For Those Dependent On the Internet For Financial Organization When The Internet Or Electricity Goes Out
Published 12/19/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
I am part of a new generation of technology dependent people. Since the explosion and mainstream adaptation of wireless internet, cellular phones, iPods, and the growth of social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and even real time chat, I've become very dependent on technology and the digital medium. I've already transitioned the bulk of my important documents into digital format and thrown away all of my old audio compact discs in favor of mp3's. I've discarded the practice of receiving paper bills through snail mail and have already converted all of my bank and credit card statements into e-billing exclusively. I've substantially cut down on paper transactions in favor of direct deposits, ACH electronic transfers, and online payments through PayPal. With a few keystrokes and taps at my computer keyboard, I can shift my bank funds around from savings to broker to checking. My legion of credit cards are all enrolled in automatic debit payment, which automatically withdraws money from my attached bank account to pay off each month's credit card statement balances.
Everything has become electronic and my life has grown significantly more organized, paperless, and automated. I've aggregated my bank accounts, credit cards statements, investment brokerages, frequent flyer plans, hotel plans, and other reward point plans into my Yodlee powered Fidelity Full View account aggregation program where I can monitor everything from a single online access point.
However, this dependency has one obvious downside and weakness - I am heavily dependent on the reliability of computers and the internet. When there is a power failure or an internet outage, if unprepared, I can be left helpless and thrown into a lurch as I become cut off from my primary source of financial organization. This is exactly what happened a month ago at my home, when I was unprepared for an unexpected neighborhood power failure that lasted several days. My cable TV showed nothing but static for days while my internet router droned a single green light - a sad sign of a dead internet signal with no online activity. For those few days my home was cut off from internet services and I had to find alternative solutions.
Luckily There Are Backup Options To Access Your Online Financial Services When Your Internet Provider Or Electrical Service Is Down:
- Use The Internet From Your Computer At Work - If you're lucky to have an internet accessible computer at work, then you won't have to suffer much from internet or power outages at home. This is the best case scenario.
- Access The Internet From A Local Library Computer - Most local public libraries today offer free internet ready computers for patron use. Some libraries may impose timed usage limits but the computers are generally free. My local county library offers free internet workstations but users are limited to only an hour per day, tracked by each individual's library account number that must be used to log in everytime.
- If You Have A Laptop With Sufficient Battery Life, Try To Pickup Someone Else's Wireless Signal - I don't think this practice is technically legal but I don't know anyone who hasn't done it at least once, even by accident or unwittingly. The air is swirling with stray wireless internet signals. If you are in a major bind and need access to your financial accounts immediately, this might be a possible short term option. It's remarkable how so many people fail to properly encrypt and password protect their wireless router signals. But use your own discretion and judgment on this matter.
- Head To A Wireless Hotspot At A Coffee Shop Like Starbucks Or Caribou Coffee - Most major coffee shop chains offer patrons free internet access at their stores. Sometimes the smaller mom and pop stores require you to buy something to get free complimentary wireless access, but most larger chains don't necessarily require it. Of course this will require you to have a notebook computer (unless you feel like lugging your huge desktop computer and cable wires to your neighborhood joint and have other customers give you strange looks).
- Resort to Using The Telephone - What is this contraption I have in my hand? Oh that's right, it's what people refer to as the telephone. You speak into it and your voice is magically thrown miles away into the ears of another waiting person. Well if you're like me, you conduct all of your financial transactions online without the need for phone calls. But when your internet service is down due to an internet provider outage or electrical failure, you might consider resorting to phoning in to access your online accounts. All banks and credit card companies offer customer service lines to handle transaction inquiries. Yes it's not debatably as convenient or hassle free as online access at your fingertips, but it's the next best thing.
- Enjoy The Few Hours Or Days of Freedom From Internet Access - It's hard to realize it sometimes in this internet age, but there is much more to life than just the internet. Particularly if the lack of internet access is due to a prolonged power failure, perhaps it's a good time to pursue your other interests. While your internet service is down at home, take the time to go outside for a drive or a walk. It can actually be quite liberating not having to be tied down to the internet at all times.