Budgeting & Savings

7 Super Easy Budget-Friendly Options Besides Cable TV

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Inflation is at a 40-year high, and rates have been climbing throughout the month. Many Americans are cutting the cord to cut back on their monthly expenses. The average bundled cable bill in the US is now well above $175 each month when you factor in all the fees. Therefore, cutting cable could remove about $2,100 each year from the average American family’s budget. These costs only promise to increase in the future, and the average bill for cable or satellite coverage is expected to increase to around $250 or more per month in just a few years as content providers look to squeeze more money out of cable companies and their subscribers. Publicly available data by DecisionData.org found the average cable package costs $217.42 per month right now.

Just because cable services are expensive does not mean that those who decide to “cut the cord” need to go without entertainment. Some of the leading entertainment options are free, but others will cost a few bucks each month. Regardless, it’s possible to save money by looking for other options. If you’re on a tight budget, then your cable and telephone bills should be the first place you look to make some cut-backs.

Whether you have cable or satellite, chances are you’re paying a lot for those services. It might seem like there are no other choices out there, but there are! We’ll share with you some alternatives to the big cable and satellite companies in this blog post.

Different Options To Choose From Besides Cable:

  1. Internet TV – You can watch many of your favorite shows and channels on Internet sites such as Disney+Sling TVHuluNetflixAmazon PrimeCBS.comYouTube, and Crackle to name just a few. Most services like these show advertisements at the beginning of shows instead of throughout the show, and most of them are free or have low membership rates that you can cancel at any time. With a good internet connection (at least 1.5 Megabits per second), a Smart TV, and a little setup time, you can watch Hulu and these other services right on your TV.
  2. Video Game Consoles – Over the past year, research has revealed the gaming console as the method used by a large diversity of US consumers to connect a TV to the Internet in order to watch online content such as TV shows, TV channels, and movies. Some consoles that allow this are the Xbox, and PlayStation. PlayStation Vue is an excellent service that’s been gaining momentum and has some pretty good reviews. The cost is much cheaper than even basic limited cable packages.
  3. Streaming Internet Devices – There are some streaming internet devices out there like the Nvidia Shield TV, Apple TV 4KD-Link, or Roku Express that bring everything from the Internet into one place on your TV. The dashboard conveniently groups everything into categories, so your favorite shows or movies are easy to find. The prices are a one-time fee and range from $35 to $150. There is usually NO monthly fee associated so that you can save on average around $800-$1,000 a year. Amazon Fire TV Stick is also pretty amazing and super easy to set up. If you are an Amazon Prime member, then you should check out the Fire TV Stick. You plug it into your TV (USB port), and you’re pretty much ready to go!
  4. DirectTV Now – This service feeds over 40+ channels including high definition directly to your TV. With just an Internet connection, DIRECTV NOW lets you watch your favorite live and on-demand shows, plus the top premium channels. No satellite or cable box required. DIRECTV NOW plays the top live and on-demand entertainment on tons of popular devices.
  5. Screen Sharing Devices – Google Chromecast is an excellent example of a screen sharing device, and it’s pretty cheap. It usually runs about $35-$39 There’s no monthly fee or hidden costs. You can also check out the Microsoft 4K Wireless Display if you prefer Microsoft products over Google products. You can also use an HDMI cable and a computer with compatible ports. Many new televisions are smart TVs with streaming apps built right in. You can watch videos from ANY streaming website on your TV using Google Chromecast!
  6. Laptop, Tablet, or PC – If you already have a laptop, tablet, or even a PC you can hook that device up to your TV, and use that to watch all of your video content. If you want to get a bit geeky and don’t want to physically hook up the laptop using an HDMI cable, you can use a gadget like the Net Gear Universal Push2TV HD-Wireless PC to TV Adapter to wirelessly stream HD video from the laptop to your TV. Apple’s IPad, as well as a host of Android devices, can all access your streamed content via PlayOn. In addition, you can download a variety of free apps like the ones from Hulu, Netflix, and more.
  7. Library Videos – Another option for accessing quality entertainment may be as near as a local public library. Many small towns maintain a library, and just about any city of any size will have a repository of books. Libraries do not just maintain collections of books and periodicals, however. These public institutions provide the public with a variety of media options, and most libraries will have a collection of video content that the general population can borrow for a few days at a time. Many libraries offer great DVD and Blue Ray options to library cardholders.

Conclusion – 

While signing up for EVERY streaming service that’s available will not save much money (those fees do add up), it is possible to save over a traditional cable or satellite service by picking and choosing. Those who are interested in only free entertainment should be able to access enough content to fill up many hours of free time. If you dig a little deeper, you might find that there are many free or low-cost options out there.

If you’re looking for more ways to cut expenses and set a realistic monthly household budget, contact Advantage Credit Counseling Service today! The certified credit counselors at Advantage CCS can work with you on a variety of budgeting strategies to help you make the best financial decisions for you and your family.

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Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for AdvantageCCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.