About 7 years ago, I cut the [cable] cord. I came home one day, decided to watch a show, but something odd happened, the cable box wouldn't actually boot up. Checked the connections, rebooted it, kicked it a few times. Nadda. The next day the cable guy showed up and asked, "when's the last time you turned the box on?"
I had to think for a minute- in the 6 months i'd had the box, it had never ever been turned on. Turns out- the old cable boxes needed to regularly update or the updates became too complex for the box to understand.. and it just died. I can imagine what the tech was thinking and that he'd probably never run into this problem.. yet. This got me thinking- why had I paid for something I almost never used anymore?
Then it hit me. Having been heavily invested in my iPad and iPhone, I had been consuming so much content from other services, I no longer had time for "normal TV". Between Audible, Netflix, iTunes Shows, the No Agenda Show and hours upon hours of TastyTrade, there was no more room in my life for content I wasn't really paying for. You could argue "you're still paying for the cable internet connection!", which is sort of true. However, if there's ad's, you're not paying for the content, someone else is paying for you. You're just paying for the delivery of the Ads. But I digress...
We killed the cable [tv] subscription and haven't really looked back. The only thing I really miss is live sports. Even then we've managed to spend more time with extended family by crashing their houses on Sunday afternoons. The kids get to spend more time with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. To balance things out- we usually bring the food, that way we're not mooching and people are usually happy to have us over. We do the work, they get to eat, it's a balanced relationship and everyone wins.
Over the years i've heard a lot of interesting suggestions that, if you don't charge for something people won't respect it's true value. Looking back at my own past consumer lifestyle, there's some truth to that. If shows were free (eg: Ad based), they weren't really worth that much to me. There was an endless supply of content out there, and if they didn't get the job done, i'd something else new and exciting is just a click away.
Then something funny happened, I got older, had kids and time became scarce. I stopped watching all-the-movies and only movies I thought were going to be good. I invested in shows that had a few years under their belt and I started PAYING for shows I hoped would continue into the 6th, 7th and 8th season. With Audible, Netflix and iTunes the model is simple and it has given me MONTHS of my life back in terms of wasted Ad time. All this for about the same price that I was paying for the cable subscription in the first place.
The NoAgenda Show and TastyTrade have slightly different models, in that both of them give away their content for free. The NA model, a show based on media deconstruction (this is the guy that invented podcasting) has been running for 10 years suggesting that- if you find value in our content, support us. Does everyone listen support them? Nope- maybe 5-10% on a good year. However, they've managed to strike the balance between open content and helping people to understand it's value in their lives. Those of us that find value in "feeling sane in an insane world", pay for this content religiously.
The TastyTrade model is more of a think-tank style model. If you learn and understand the math, you'll become comfortable taking risk and be a customer [of their sister brokerage TastyWorks] for life. What's the value of that? I spend about $5,000 (~5,000 trades) a year in commissions, which is bound to increase over my life time. Minimally i'm good for about $250,000 over the next 50 years to them. That may seem like a lot, but the value I GET from them has already exceeded that in other areas of my life.
Relatively speaking, if I didn't invest my time and money into TastyTrade, i'd spend well over $750,000 in fee's alone over my [passive] investing career. That initial investment is a savings of $500,000. This doesn't take into account the intangible opportunities i've been afforded by learning the math and how to actively take risk. Because of their model, i've been able to pay off all our debt, cars, house and get to spend more time with my family. It's made me a better business person and a faster decision maker, something I know my competition struggles with every day.
What's the Value?
They save you time.
They teach you lessons learned from all over the world.
You are better at your job because of them.
If the tools disappeared tomorrow, you'd have to start doing the development work yourself.
You don't work for free.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't pay for all the open-source software I use, then again I also take what I learn and create more open-source around it. I do shell out money for Amazon because they save me time and effort when it comes to cloud services. I don't pay for Ubuntu because the base subscription is too expensive for what I get out of it (these days I use more and more Amazon Linux anyway, which I pay for through AWS). I'm happy to shell out money to JetBrains for the All-Products-Pack, because they help me shift quickly between programming languages (and learn new ones) while the competition is fiddling around with VIM.
VIM is a great too, but JetBrains is like having a 2nd and 3rd programmer on your team. It not only teaches you new programming languages, but their nuances and style too as they evolve through the community. I have a couple of boxes that run postfix, but I pay for gmail so I can focus on the things I do well. As with the rest of life, we tend to pay for things that save us time, but only when we have to. It's not that we don't want to, it's that we forget or have trouble spending what little money we have on things we can't articulate the value of.
This isn't meant to be a debate between open-source tools and commercial tools, both have their place. Sometimes however, some commercial companies go too far in their business models. They hook you cheap and then gradually raise the price until you're locked in. The same vein you become less important and are unable to influence the direction of the product because "they've got other customers to manage". Even though you have the skills now to fix the problem, you're stuck. I think there's a balance.