Home Hack

How to Save $$$ Without a BUDGET

Time to get a jump on Spring Cleaning by starting with our bank accounts! There are likely SEVERAL ways you are losing hard earned cash every month. The good news is; most of the items outlined below just require a closer look at your spending than sticking to a dreaded “budget.”

TV Streaming Services

If you are like us, you have so many streaming services you forget they are even there. Cable, this app, that app plus; chances are you do not need them ALL. UNSUBSCRIBE to the streaming services you rarely access. Don’t even go in and explore the app to make your decision; if you haven’t watched it in the last month or more, get it out of here. (Don’t worry, you can always reinstate your account in the future.)

  • Make sure you go into whatever settings and actually hit “unsubscribe.” Deleting the app does not stop it from charging you.

“FREE TRIAL!”

Many apps; like music, sports, audio books, certain cable channels; offer *so many months free,* then start charging you. If you ever took the free trial on anything, it’s time to see if you accidentally became a paying subscriber!

Cable Providers

Unfortunately, most of us need cable for the internet. That’s how they keep us from being completely cable-free, but many cable companies have accepted our streaming ways and offer streaming-only options that are lower in cost. They don’t usually talk about these plans, you have to inquire about them.

If you signed up for x amount of dollars a month and think cable keeps it that way forever; they don’t. Check your account to see how much you think you are paying versus what you are actually paying now that they “discontinued” your deal.

Ask for a deal. Sometimes, if you tell the cable companies you simply cannot afford to keep paying this high of rate, they will give you a discount for a period of time – but they never just offer it up, you have to tell them the bill is too high and ASK if you qualify for any discounts. This is especially true if you live in an area with multiple cable providers.

Shop around! Cable companies compete with each other, see if one will give you a better deal for longer by switching providers.

Your Cell Phone Carrier

Your mobile phone subscription might have freebies already included in your plan! Inquire with an agent to see what streaming apps might be free with your cell phone plan. For example, Apple TV+ was included with our new iPhone purchase, and Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ were included with many Verizon unlimited subscriptions.

This sounds odd, but check to see if your CABLE PROVIDER offers CELL PHONE SERVICE. Yep, you read that right, most major cable companies offer cell phone service now. In our experience, bundling our cell phone plan with our cable provider brought the bill down to less than 1/4 of the normal cost. The only catch is you have to remain their cable customer and live within their service area to qualify for their cell phone plans and service.

Streaming Music

If you have streaming radio, be sure to check the bill. They sneakily raise the subscription, sometimes MORE THAN DOUBLE, after a period of time. However, if you call and tell them you cannot afford to keep paying that rate they will often give you another deal for a certain amount of months. Then, you call again.

Stored Credit Cards and Saved Passwords

Go through a month of charges to see what charges are going to where for what. Check the apps you share with family to make sure nothing is a wry. Uber, Amazon, Walmart, Grub Hub, even Taco Bell has an app. If your card is stored in it, if you ever shared the password to it, chances are someone could be using it without you knowing or accounting for the extra costs from it.

Amazon

If you have children and family members who you have given access to your Amazon account, consider going in and tightening up those purse strings. We have a friend who, unbeknownst to her, was ordering over $200 of Amazon orders a month… only it wasn’t her, it was her teenagers treating it like a free shopping market and video store because they had total access to the account with the password.

  • Start by changing the password and see who comes a knocking.
  • You can share “Prime” with your family without sharing your password and credit cards.
  • Services like two factor authentication on your credit cards often sends a text or email to you to ensure you approve any cards trying to be added to apps or stored online. Check with your credit card provider for what safety measures are offered with your exact card.

Other Subscriptions

Especially as a small business owner, there were a few subscriptions I was unaware of were recurring. When you sign up for something for the year to get free or reduced shipping is a good place to start investigating.

Food Delivery Services

The services that run and pick up food for you and deliver it to your door cost a LOT of money. Even worse, they actually TAKE a lot of money from the restaurants you love. Often menu prices are inflated to cover the expense, then add on the fees and tip and you’ve turned a burrito into the cost of fine dining. You’ll be surprised how much money can be saved by simply calling or visiting your local restaurants for take out.

Dining Out

Now, we all love a good meal at our favorite spot. Things are more expensive theses days and continuous dining out costs A LOT. We’re talking new car payment “a lot.” It’s not just meals, it’s drinks, coffees, cocktails, desserts too. Daily cheap Fast Food off of the value menus cost us more in our overall health. Set a monthly dining out budget and try to stick to it. If you stop for coffee 7 days a week, try only 5, then 3, etc. etc.

“But I love restaurant meals!!!” Try a meal subscription service like Every Plate or Hello Fresh. It’s restaurant quality meals that you make at home, for less. Makes sticking to the budget easier too!

“For just the cost of a cup of coffee a day…”

This phrase is buried in our subconscious equating coffee with “inexpensive.” That’s because back in the day, plain coffee was about seventy-five cents. Now days a custom coffee order can easily reach $6 to $7 dollars for the MEDIUM. (This just happened to me!) Switch to cheaper coffee experiences. For example, opt for McCafe instead of Starbucks more often. Order a simple cup of coffee from your favorite place instead of lattes and mochachino-frappe-what-ies. Try to make coffee at home more enjoyable. Even office coffee can be delicious when you bring your own coffee making supplies like flavored creamers and/or syrups. Many major coffee chains even have grocery store options of their products that will make it easier to enjoy what you love for less money at home.

Shop Around for Insurance Providers

It is a time consuming task, but take the time to compare rates at different insurance agencies (for auto, home, renters, business, etc.). When shopping, it’s important to make sure you are getting the SAME COVERAGE and with a reputable agency. We have found significant savings just by shopping our policies around.

D&CO. wishes you a prosperous 2023!

Home Hack

Cutting the Cable Cord

Thinking about getting rid of cable tv?

Switching from traditional cable tv to streaming television did take a small amount of time to adjust to. Here’s what to expect.

PROS TO STREAMING:

  • There’s always something “on,” because you are choosing what to stream at any moment.
  • There were a lot more on-demand options with streaming than we ever experienced with cable.
  • Ability to build your own programming content through a variety of subscriptions.

CONS TO STREAMING:

  • DVR options with streaming live tv aren’t as robust.
  • You also can’t skip or fast forward through a lot of commercials unless you’re on “ad free” subscription plans, which cost more.
  • If you watch a lot of tv you may need to subscribe to a few services to feel satisfied with the amount of content you can stream at any moment. So far, we have not found a one-stop sort of app that gives us everything we want, so we have a few.

Remember, getting rid of cable television doesn’t mean you won’t have a cable bill.

You still need an internet connection in order to stream tv, which means a cable company to provide the internet.

Streaming takes data, so be sure to watch closely over the first month to see how much data you are using and if you need to adjust your internet plan. Some cable providers allow you to adjust your data plan at any time BEFORE you go over your data threshold for the month.

Will I save tons of money?

That depends on how much content (streaming subscriptions) you want. If you have one basic streaming subscription, you will likely be saving some money. However, most people get several subscriptions as a way to build their own programming – so that something is always “on” vs. flipping through cable channels hoping for something good to watch. In our experience, having 3-4 basic streaming subscriptions and internet was about 10% to 15% less than our traditional cable tv and internet bundle.

What are the most notable “adjustments” to expect between traditional cable and streaming?

What I missed most at first was the plug-and-play of leaving cable tv on a channel in the background as I go about my day. I even missed commercials, if you can believe that. A Sling TV blue subscription remedied this with live tv streaming from the handful of cable channels we missed. (More details on streaming subscriptions later in this article.)

Every streaming service or device has their own way of doing things.

Whether it’s the type of device you are using to stream (a Smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.*) or the apps you are using on that device (Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, etc.**) – they all have their own apps that navigate in their own way. With cable, it’s one guide and one hub where you look for something to watch – but streaming will be one main hub (*your streaming device) with various guides from as many apps (**your subscription services) as you want to use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

What do I need to stream tv and movies?

You’ll need a streaming enabled device. If you have a “Smart TV,” you’re all set. If your tv is not a smart tv, there are streaming devices that you plug into the tv to enable it to stream: Fire TV Stick by Amazon, Roku, and the original Apple TV device to name a few. We have tried all of the above and prefer the Fire Stick by Amazon. It’s easy to navigate, had less bugs, great definition, and a nice intuitive interface. The other devices performed fine too, but the Fire TV felt more user friendly. Once you have a streaming device attached to your tv, you download apps (some of which require subscriptions) to it to watch tv and movies.

Can I have cable tv AND streaming?

Absolutely!

What subscription apps are the best?

For movies and series: You can’t beat Netflix. It’s like having your own Blockbuster Video store on your tv.

Disney+ is also great for movies and original series.

For the feeling of cable television, with live TV: We enjoy Sling TV for accessing cable channels live like Bravo, cable news channels, Comedy Central, TBS, etc. Sling TV was a reasonable price, and their lowest plan “blue” gave us the ability to have all the channels we enjoyed from cable. The subscription also includes a simple DVR type feature to record shows. Hulu and YouTube TV also have live tv subscriptions at higher price points than their basic subscriptions.

Are there free things to watch?

YES!

Amazon Prime has a lot of shows and movies for free with your Prime subscription. If you have a Fire TV Stick (made by Amazon) or their app, you can access them all very easily.

IMDB has a free app with a lot of free movies and shows on it.

The original YouTube app is also free, it’s the same YouTube where everyone looks up tutorials or reviews, just on your tv screen instead of your computer or phone. Many popular talk shows have their own channels and upload episodes to YouTube the day after they air on live tv. It’s also a great place to find music videos, or ambiance music to play in the background.

Pluto TV gives the feeling of cable tv with a guide and “live” channels. It’s free, so there will be a lot of shows you may have never heard of before – but we did find ones to enjoy and explore. Navigation is made easy with their selection of themed channels. Think: Comedy, Romance, Holiday, Reality, etc.

CHECK WITH YOUR CELL PHONE PROVIDER: There are several carriers offering yearly freebie subscriptions (Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+) with certain cell phone plans, for new customers, or when buying new phones, etc. Be sure to check with your cell provider for any promotions you might not know you have access to.

How can I get local channels?

You can get local channels with a modern over-the-air digital antenna. Antennas now days are not like the bunny ears or roof-mounted ones of yore, but thin plastic rectangles you secure in a window to pick up over-the-air programming. It’s probably best to first research online if you live in an area that has decent over-the-air broadcasting coverage.

In a nutshell, life without cable tv is different – but with all the content available for streaming these days, it’s not necessarily a sacrifice.