How to Slash Your Monthly Expenses

You can pay for TV, Internet access and anti-virus protection or you can get them free. Here’s how to slash your monthly subscription fees.

“Game of Thrones” may be entertaining, but is it worth the $100 or more you may be shelling out for cable each month?

According to the Leichtman Research Group, the average pay-TV subscription service cost $99.10 a month in 2015, up 39 percent from 2010. Meanwhile, if The NPD Group is right, you may be on track to spend more than $200 a month for the privilege of watching television in 2020.

If that sounds outrageous to you, it’s time to cut your cable bill. And while you’re at it, slash other monthly expenses from your budget as well. In fact, a little bill trimming could put an extra $1,000 in your pocket this year. Here’s how.

Cable or satellite TV

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, the Leichtman Research Group found 83 percent of all households pay for some form of TV service.

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:

There may be a slight delay in watching new shows, but ask yourself whether it is really worth $1,200 a year just so you can be in the know for the office water cooler conversation?

If you are ready to cut the cable, you will be in great company. See: TV Viewers Cutting the Cord in Big Numbers.

And for more information, check out:


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 FreedomPop and NetZero.

With Freedom Pop, you can get up to 500MB of free wireless service each month at 3G and 4G speeds, while NetZero offers a paid DSL hook-up. Both have pricing plans that vary depending on your location, but they have historically been only a fraction of what you’d pay other providers.

For more, check out this popular post: You Can Now Get Free Internet at Home and Away.

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.

Finally, if your kids qualify for the National School Lunch Program, you can get $9.95 Internet access through Comcast’s Internet Essentials. The company is also piloting cheap Internet programs for Pell Grant recipients enrolled in eligible community colleges as well as those age 62 or older who receive public assistance and live in Boston, San Francisco County or Palm Beach County, Florida.

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  • Lisa Rice

    The only thing that I choose to differ about is the fact that in some areas of the country, you NEED cable in order to get local TV channels. I got around that by ONLY subscribing to getting Internet service. $100 versus $23 – I am on an extremely limited income.

  • Bob Lee

    I pay $69/month for internet only, I watch local TV using an antenna, internet phone, and Netflix etc… If I want to go with NetZero or Clear, then I will pay $49.99 plus a landline phone to connect to the internet which cost is $25(tax included)minimum, so my total will be $74.99. To stream you need a constant fast enough speed and with 6mbps it’s not enough.

  • Dena Kelley

    We cut the cord on our cable and now view TV show only via internet- Hulu, Netflix,, etc. I pay $14.98 a month now for TV (the Hulu and Netflix subscriptions). However, because of that we did have to bump up our internet to avoid overages. It’s still a savings, though.

  • Nan Bostick

    What about having net zero? Is it a good deal. Are there any other company better?

  • Setsunafse

    There are reports that sites such as Hulu will soon be tied to cable subscriptions, allowing only individuals who have cable subscriptions to use Hulu:

    I live near the mountains, making over-the-air antenna difficult to use. The USA should catch up to the rest of the world and adopt GSM as the international convention for cellular communications to increase competition among the carriers. It’s inconceivable that I can’t take my perfectly functional cell phone away from Verizon to another carrier because it uses a different signal type, forcing me to buy a new phone with a new carrier.

    • bren

      I agree, libraries are great, generally free and wonderful resources and technology and a great social time out of the house. Most librarians are just fabulous.

  • Emily

    I appreciate your mentioning going to the library as an option for reading magazines. But you should also mention that many libraries now offer free access to Zinio, a digital magazine service. The selection of magazines isn’t always great, but there are some gems there and the major bonus is being able to access the magazines from home (sans car drive to and from library facility).

  • Nora Reeves

    Don’t get freedom pop, I had it and after I canceled they kept taking money out of my bank account. I had to change my bank account info. to stop them from taking my money. I had called and sent about 20 emails.

    • bigpinch

      Sorry you had such a bad experience. I’ve been using the service for about a year, now, and it is one of the better decisions I ever made. Better service and more functionality for less money than the flip phone I gave up.

  • Dachs_dude

    Wow!! Save $1000 per year? That can be achieved by cutting $20/week out of your expenses. Switch from Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts Monday through Friday and you’re done.

    • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

      Save even more by brewing at home.

  • Vince Ryder

    Drink only water, filtered at home cheaply. You save buying juices, milk, beer/wine, coffee, etc., don’t have to lug home all of the heavy stuff (and don’t have the plastic bottles to recycle), save a lot more money than you would guess, and your body will thank you.

  • Georgia Wessling

    I cancelled cable 4 years ago. Haven’t missed it at all. Watched my 4 favorite shows (all on CBS) the next night on my internet. I pay $92.00 a month for home phone, internet and $5.99 a month for CBS. I can watch thousands of their shows, past and present. I can get hundreds of movies, music, etc. on you tube. All included in the cost of my internet. I have a cell phone on my daughter’s account that costs me about $12 a month. Just got a new go phone that saved me $60 over what AT&T would have charged for another one. I have saved a lot in the last 4 years. Will keep doing all I can.

  • bren

    Great article and tips! Thankyou.

  • Having my last television stolen in 1987 has brought to my attention the myriad of things to do that are more entertaining than television watching ever was. It is interesting that sleeping burns more calories than watching television.

  • “83 percent of all households pay for some form of TV service” – does that count the ones who are only paying $8 a month for Hulu or Netflix?

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