Slash your monthly expenses by $1,000 (or more) per year
You can pay for TV, Internet access and anti-virus protection or you can get them free. Here's how to eliminate or slash your monthly subscription fees.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
According to The NPD Group, the average pay-TV subscription service cost $86 a month in 2011, and that number is expected to climb to $123 by the year 2015. If the research company is right, you may be on track to spend more than $200 a month for the privilege of watching television in 2020.
But here's the good news. There are ways to cut your cable bill, as well as many other burdensome monthly expenses.
Let's start with the big one: your television service. Now, I know paying to watch TV seems to be the American way. After all, in 2012, Nielsen reported more than 90 percent of the nation’s households paid for a TV subscription either through a cable, satellite or telephone provider.
So I get it if you think pulling the plug is a bit radical. But it is also smart. If you have an HDTV and a roof antenna, you can get free over-the-air channels with a picture quality that puts standard-definition cable TV to shame.
In addition, if you have a newer TV, Blu-Ray player or gaming system and a high-speed Internet connection, you can use these streaming services for a fraction of the price:
- Hulu or Hulu Plus
- Amazon Prime
There may be a slight delay in watching new shows but ask yourself if it is really worth $1,200 a year just so you can be in the know for the office water cooler conversation?
Next to television, Internet is the other big monthly expense for many families.
If you are a basic Internet user and simply need service to check your email and Facebook, you may want to check out the ultra-cheap Internet available through Freedom Pop and NetZero.
With Freedom Pop, you can get up to 2 gigabytes of wireless service at 3G and 4G speeds, while NetZero offers a DSL hook-up. NetZero is as cheap as $9.95 a month while Freedom Pop is free to start, and then charges as little as $3.99 a month. However, both services might require you to buy their modem and/or router equipment.
If you have a tiered data plan with Verizon Wireless, you can use your phone as a tethered hot spot for free. The company settled a complaint with the FCC in 2012 and agreed not to charge these customers for hot spot access. Depending on your plan, you might need to download a third-party app first.
If you are grandfathered into Verizon’s old unlimited data plan, you're out of luck with the free hot spot service. However, you can pay $30 a month for 4 gigabytes of hot spot access, and that may be cheaper than what you are currently paying for DSL or cable. Other mobile carriers offer their own hot spot plans as well.
Moving right along…let's talk about your cell phone. Signing a contract can be the best way to snag the latest and greatest phone for little or nothing upfront. But you’ll be paying for that phone in the form of higher monthly plan fees over the next two years.
If you aren't particular about your phone, try a prepaid plan that will give you access to good service with a decent, although not flashy, phone. All the major carriers offer prepaid plans, but PC Magazine reports some of the smaller providers offer even better deals.
Check out what is available in your area from the following companies:
- Consumer Cellular
- Total Call Mobile
- Page Plus Cellular
- Ready Mobile
Be sure to compare a couple of different providers before signing up. Most run on AT&T or Sprint’s network but Page Plus Cellular offers access to Verizon’s network. In addition, some providers, such as Total Call Mobile, may be a better choice if you need to call internationally.
We've covered the big three, but there are still plenty more ways to save. Sometimes, we get so hung up on our major expenses that we ignore the little fees that nickel and dime our bank accounts down to nothing.
Take credit monitoring, for example. You could pay a company $15 a month or more to watch your credit report or you could do it yourself. By law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. Request yours at annualcreditreport.com (the only government-authorized site) and review them for errors.
For additional peace of mind, you can add a fraud alert to your file, which requires lenders to take additional steps to verify your request before extending any credit in your name.
In short, there's no reason to pay for credit monitoring.
Along the same lines, why are you paying for virus protection and cloud storage when free options are available?
I am an AVG fan myself, but there are plenty of other good free anti-virus programs available. Again, we'll defer to our friends at PC Magazine to help identify the best free programs on the Web. The following are among their recommendations:
- Ad-Aware Free Anti-Virus
- AVG Anti-Virus FREE
- Comodo Internet Security Premium
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
Cloud storage is also easily found online. If you have an MSN account, you have access to their SkyDrive. Google users can back up documents to their Google Drive. Then, you also have Dropbox, iCloud, MediaFire and the list goes on and on.
Confession time: I love magazines. My perfect morning involves sleeping children, a cup of coffee and a home and garden magazine.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get cheap magazines without paying newsstand prices. I've personally used the free magazine section of ValueMags for consumer publications and Mercury Magazines for business titles.
While many free magazine offers are for digital editions, you can also find print subscriptions for free.
Speaking of digital editions, you can typically find much of a magazine’s content on its website for free. I know, it’s not quite the same as flipping through the pages, but you can’t beat the price.
If you must have the magazine in your hand but can’t find a free subscription, a trip to your local library is probably in order. In addition to checking magazines out, some branches have racks of old issues free for the taking.
Last but not least, that gym membership you've been clinging to in the hopes you really will begin working out any day now.
If you really want to belong to a gym, look for free or low-cost options. Students may have free access to their school’s facilities. Your health insurance plan may get you a discount. Or if you belong to Costco, you could take advantage of their arrangement with 24 Hour Fitness. Other chains such as Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness specialize in no-frills, low-cost gyms.
Finally, it probably doesn't need to be said, but you do know it's free to walk on the sidewalk, right?
More on Money Talks News
Ditching cable TV is one of the best things I did! Cox Communications charged $24 for locals and a couple other channels, but quite frankly, the most important channels I have are my PBS channels. I bought my digital antenna for $25, cancelled cable, and sent 1/3 of the savings to my PBS affiliate. And I can avoid having to watch so many political commercials at election time!
Also, my internet connection through Cox again, was supposed to get 20-ish MBPS speed, and it did, if I wanted to use the internet at noon. During the day however, I only got 1 MBPS. THAT'S ONE (1) MBPS!!!
I found that my iPhone 5 tethered at significantly higher speeds than that, and just use it for my internet connection.
We're too used to paying too much for things like internet and TV here in America. And the programming is crap! I don't need 5 shopping channels, even if they're free! Things like this are faster, better, and cheaper in other countries, and I'm happy to vote with my money for better value.
First, I shut off full cable, just kept basic, save a bundle!
Second, I had the highest MBPS speed going, and I was paying $15 per month more for that privilege? Cut that down to $10 per month.
This is my last month of year of Norton Protection!!! Going for the ADWARE!, and MALWARE that are free.
So far, so good!!!
Then comes an outside, or digital antenna!!!
BEWARE of free cloud data storage services, I've seen these go away overnight and your precious data evaporates with them. 1 and 2TB USB portable storage/backup drives are cheap nowadays, and if you don't need to have all your data available every minute of the day and everywhere you go, (let's face it, most of you could live without it...), they're a safe, reliable alternative to cloud storage.
I didn't have cable/phone/internet, and tried to plug into free wifi, but found that important emails were not going through (like for job searches, etc.) Just to get internet service alone was 50 bucks. If you get DSL, now you have to pay for a monthly phone bill. But just to hook up the phone is 30 bucks and then you have to pay per minute to use the DSL, so you end up paying more for DSL than if you just get the whole package.
Cable companies know exactly how to price these things because they KNOW the average person who goes another route will find it's more of a hassle with minimal savings.
The bottom line is there are better ways to save money. And life is meant to be lived!!!! If I am saving 20 bucks a month is not going to justify the aggravation and sitting in my apartment staring at the wall and having emails bounce back because the wifi signal isn't strong enough.
Most peoples' biggest expenses are too much house and too much car. It's rent and buying more house than we can affford and car payments for SUVs that make a huge difference in our wallets not these petty little savings.
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