What was life like without smart phones, 1,000 TV channels and high-speed Internet access almost everywhere you go? I’m young enough to feel like they’ve been around forever, but just old enough to remember when a landline, basic cable and dial-up Internet were all anyone “needed.” I also remember paying maybe $100 for all three services, combined.
Today, the average American household spends $2,160 a year for home phone, cell phone and Internet services, according to a Wall Street Journal report ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323706704578227550932019178.html) — and this stat is probably even higher considering it was based on 2011 Bureau of Labor statistics. That comes out to $180 per month. Most people I know pay about $70 or more than that per month.
However, with all the options available today, from devices to unlimited data plans to cutting the cable TV and landline cords, staying functional and entertained in the Digital Age can be done for much less.
Most of us can no longer live without a smart phone or at least a cell phone. If that’s a given in your life, you’re probably locked into a contract. So aside from keeping data use in check and doing your homework to find the best possible deal next time around, the best opportunities to save right now are in home phone, TV, Internet service and the devices we use.
Do you need a landline? I know. The thought of not having a “home” phone can be a tough pill to swallow. But I don’t know anybody who really misses it. I know they certainly don’t miss all the telemarketers. Add $25 in savings per month and you’ll miss them even less. http://www.housebeautiful.com/shopping/gadgets/giving-up-your-landline
Watch what you watch. As life has gotten busier, my list of must-see TV shows has gotten much shorter. Why pay $75 or more for 1,000 cable or satellite channels? Online sources like HULU and Netflix let you watch what you want on demand for a fraction of the cost, or none at all. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/17/netflix-tips-netflix-instant-account_n_1780143.html
Deal or no deal. No, I haven’t been able to cut the cord on cable yet (my husband can’t give up his sports!). But we constantly play the game, jumping on the next “special introductory offer” that comes along. Sometimes simply threatening to jump makes a provider slash your bill to keep you on board.
Downsize devices. With the line between computers, televisions, phones and other delivery devices shrinking every day, it’s time to ask ourselves whether we need them all. We all know cell phones can help you cut out your landline, just as a computer with a can double as a TV, or a tablet can take the place of a laptop. It’s all about the content and functionality you need. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.
I can think of better things to do with $200 a month. If we only cut that in half, and put the savings into a college savings plan for Jack, we’re talking more than $26,000 by the time he graduates high school. Who knows what technology he’ll be using when that day comes, but I do know curbing our bills today will help pay for it.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.