Instant streaming of hit movies, sharing selfies on social media, and information straight from Alexa and Siri...Technology has become such an innate part of our day, it's hard to imagine life without our laptops and cell phones. While internet, cell phone and cable may feel more like necessities than luxuries, these bills can take a huge chunk out of your monthly budget. Fortunately, there are ways to cut costs that don't require living like a Luddite.
1. Save on Internet
Buy Your Own Modem and Router
Owning your modem and router will save the $10 to $15 a month that you are paying your internet service provider to rent equipment. Shop around for the best price on each, generally $100 and up. Despite the upfront cost, it will pay for itself in no time and you won't be subject to the inevitable rental increases.
Know Your Options
Enter your zip code on Broadband Now to determine the internet providers in your area. If you are lucky enough to have options, comparison shop and threaten to switch; some agents may offer a special deal or discount to keep your business. If only one ISP services your neighborhood, check out any promotions. You may save by bundling services.
2. Cut the Cord
Consider a TV Antenna
Go old school and get yourself a TV antenna to access over-the-air broadcasts. These are not your Dad's rabbit ears! Today's antennas are small, lightweight and easily mounted indoors against a window or wall. Caveat: your location is key to reception. Head to TV Fool to input your address and determine which, if any, broadcasts are available in your area.
Stream Your Favorite Movies and Television
If a smart TV is not in your budget, you'll find a wide selection of streaming devices at affordable prices that plug right into an HDMI port. Google Chromecast and Amazon Firestick are under $50, while Roku offers a range of products and prices. Gaming systems like PS4 and Xbox One are another streaming option.
Live streaming services like Sling TV and Direct TV Now will allow you to stream many of your favorite channels for a monthly fee. Do your research to find the channels, options and price that suit your needs.
If you don't care about live TV, access movies and TV shows with a monthly subscription to a streaming service such as Netflix (starts at $8.99 /mo.) Hulu ($7.99 and up). An annual subscription to Amazon Prime costs $119 a year, with the included perk of free shipping on Amazon purchases.
3. Save on Your Cell Phone Bill
Choose your cell phone plan wisely. While unlimited data sounds ideal, how much data do you actually use each month? Log onto your current account to determine whether you are paying for more than you need. Be sure to use WiFi whenever possible in lieu of using data; wait until you are home or in a WiFi hotspot to stream music or video.
Opt for an Older Model or Unlocked Phone
Do you really need the very latest model cell phone? Comparison shop; you may find few differences from a prior model and you might not even care about the added features. The potential savings can be in the hundreds of dollars. Check out online sellers to buy a no-contract, "unlocked" cell phone. Just be sure that the phone works on your network, and then it's just a matter of switching your sim card.
Compare and Switch
When was the last time you really examined your cell phone bill? Time to compare prices and plans. Consider switching to one of the smaller carriers, which often utilize the major carriers' networks and offer substantial monthly savings. For instance, Cricket runs on the AT&T network and Boost Mobile runs on Sprint.
The bottom line? Knowledge is power: review your current plans, research your options, and make smart choices.