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By the author of What School Should Have Taught You.
In many ways, privacy is dead in the modern world. We’ve forsaken privacy – and everything that entails – for convenience in many different aspects of the modern world. I think that privacy has gradually grown to be more and more of a topic of interest for the average joe walking down the street, however, and even if you are just now awakening to the fact that social media is making a LOT of money off of your information, and that you’ve already pumped a lot of that information out there, there are still free ways to protect your privacy that you can do.
And as you will see, some of these ideas will actually help you to SAVE money.
Don’t put social media apps on your phone.
Stay off social media as much as possible.
Ideally, I would urge you to delete all of your social media accounts ASAP. These contain a massive wealth of information on you, and that data is constantly being sold to others. If you don’t feel comfortable with deleting those platforms, at the very least, I would urge you to limit the amount of time you spend on them, to click as little as possible, and be a lurker in the background.
This is absolutely free and will help you to protect a LOT of your data.
Read what other people have to say if you must, but don’t post or like things yourself. Also, keep in mind that a lot of information can be gleaned about you just by looking through what pages you follow or who your friends are.
Going to the bank at the beginning of the month to withdraw cash for the envelope system of your budget will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also protect your privacy. If you are constantly using your debit or credit cards to make purchases, you are telling those companies that run those cards what it is that you’re buying.
That information about you will then be sold to advertisers and marketers (and others) so that they can not only build a complete profile on you but better tailor their ads towards you so that they can manipulate you into buying other products.
So, you’re using cash saves you money because A) you’re using the envelope system, and B) you’re protecting your finances from manipulation by an advertiser. It’s a win-win for both your budget and your privacy.
Use a VPN.
There are plenty of free VPN platforms out there that will greatly improve your level of privacy. I think this should be a given for you every single time you go online, whether via your phone or at your home computer.
Just like using cash, if you use a VPN regularly, you deny advertisers the ability to discover what it is that you have an interest in. If they don’t know that you’re a huge fan of cooking with a Dutch oven, then they won’t know to inundate your sidebars and emails with ads about Lodge cast iron, camping gear, cookbooks, and the like.
You’ll actually save money by protecting yourself against targeted ads DESIGNED to manipulate your purchases.
The only catch with free VPN services is that you’re going to get inundated with ads every time you go to turn on or off your VPN. Don’t let the convenience of being able to access the Internet instantaneously cause you to put a significant amount of your data out there all because you couldn’t sit through a 30-second deodorant commercial.
Use a secure email account.
Both protonmail and tutanota will allow you to create a FREE email account that will better protect your privacy. You won’t be able to let as many messages sit around in your inbox, but both of these options give you access to fully encrypted email capability.
As is typically always the case with any “privacy company,” there have been some security concerns with various “security emails,” but the point is that you will have an exponentially greater level of privacy if you use either of these options compared to Silicon Valley companies and it won’t cost you a dime.
If you’re using the stock messaging device on your smartphone, you’re sending all of your texts and calls out in the clear. This means that anybody with the right equipment can intercept those messages and calls and read/hear them in their entirety.
You can download Signal for free, however, to encrypt those communications, and it won’t cost you a dime. Understand that Signal has had it’s own share of privacy “questions,” (which it claims are untrue) but it’s still a better option than sending your communications out in the clear.
Leave your phone at home is one of the best free ways to protect your privacy.
I think this is one of the most important things you can do on a daily basis to protect your GPS coordinates and conversations from being listened to by your smartphone. There’s a reason that Siri responds when you say her name. It’s because the phone is always listening.
Leaving your phone at home when you don’t need it won’t cost you a dime and will keep advertisers (and others) from getting their hands on what stores you regularly shop at. The stores around you collect the data on the phones that are within reach of their radio receivers. That data is then sold to data harvesting companies. Do you remember the movie Minority Report, where the tailored ads accompany shoppers through the store? That’s very much what is happening here.
Much like using cash, this, in turn, allows you to protect yourself from targeted ads that will manipulate you into spending money on products and services you would have otherwise not purchased.
So not only is this privacy hack free, but I would argue it will actually save you money in the long run. People lived with only landlines for years. I don’t see why we can’t return to it in many cases. Not all, but many of them.
Are there other free ways to protect your privacy that you know about?
The world of privacy is constantly changing, and there are always new things popping up that cause security breaches and new technologies to combat these breaches. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on identity protection services, VPNs, and other privacy tools, though, to give yourself some base level of protection.
Are there some other free or inexpensive ways to protect your privacy that you want to add? Let us know in the comments!
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, The Faithful Prepper, What School Should Have Taught You, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.