Here is a quick post on how I’m trying to limit ads and tracking in my life and what it costs me. Is it perfect? Ha no, but this can be a pretty decent starting point for someone and get you a lot closer to diminishing returns on additional effort.

Quick Definitions: When I say ads, I’m mostly talking about non-curated/unsolicited advertising noise. A secondary goal is trying to actively change the incentive companies have with advertising-centric revenue models.

When I say tracking, I’m talking about unsolicited tracking that is sold and used against me. I use a number of GPS apps for mapping/trail routing (strava/trailforks,lyft) and I’m obviously ok with them tracking while I’m using the tracking-centric service.

Email: Fastmail - $45/year

I like that Fastmail is … well… it’s fast. It also doesn’t show me ads when I’m trying to complete my email tasks. I also like the calendar and other functions.

Books/Movies: Public Library - free/year

I has best as I can tell, my public library is only motivated to help me learn, be entertained, or generally have a better day. Because of that, I get a lot of media (movies/books) from the library and donate almost all my tech books to the library now. My library has a lovely online hold system; I just place my holds and pick up what I need on my bike ride.

News/Articles: RSS - $40/year

I get a good chunk of my news, release notifications, etc from the combination of Feedbin (syncing lists) and Reeder (viewing feeds). Having really simplified feed versions of what I want to read in a consistent interface has a lot of value for me.

Rando Convos: Mastodon - free/year

I used to be active on Twitter, however, that company has become a Massive Multi-Publisher Online Ad network. They are also pretty upside down on financing and it is hard to see how it won’t start to incentivise terrible behavior. Mastodon, for me, has been a reasonable replacement for following certain topics I’m interested in.

Streams: YT Family/Nebula: $350/year

This is potentially one of the worst feeling items in that is the most expensive thing on the list and not a great return on value. That being said, YouTube does get used a lot and the ad situation is getting pretty bad.
Nebula is $50/year and has a lot of videos in the model I like and it is solid value for me.

Searching: Kagi - $100/year

$100/year for a search engine you say??? I was skeptical at first, but I’ve been finding more and more that Google search involves scrolling to get past ads and into actionable results. Kagi, while appearing pricey, is really fast and actionable immediately. It is a lot more enjoyable for me to use in the same way that Fastmail is.

DNS Centric Ads: nextdns - $20/year

As a long time pihole user, moving to nextdns has been a delight. This is one of the cheapest ways to stop so much low effort blasting of ads/tracking at you. This is potentially the best value on the list given how much it stops the worst of the worst as well as having an cheap annual cost.

Misc: API Usage - manual labor/year

In the same way I use RSS to avoid hitting some sites directly, buying products that have a friendly API is fantastic for me to just have some scripts that pull the info down I want without having to use a site/service that is focused around trying to upsell a number of things I don’t immediately care about. This is a laborious item and I already have a variety of servers/databases to decrease the lift of this.