I am a huge fan of streaming TV and movies. I love that technology has advanced to the point where this is an easy, affordable option in my home. However, with so many new streaming TV options, I find that I can easily end up with a huge monthly bill. I’ve had to refine my approach in order to stick to a budget. Here’s how I’ve done it.
I Don’t Own a Traditional TV Set
First of all, I don’t own a TV. I’ve almost never owned a TV in my adult life. Instead, I watch TV on my desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. That’s perfectly fine for me, and I’ve never wanted for a larger set.
This way, I don’t pay for an extra product; the TV itself can get expensive. I also don’t pay for the extra gadgets and accessories (remotes, smart voice activation, even extra energy in the home). I find that this saves me a lot of money in and of itself.
That said, some people love their large TV sets. And these days, there are many different options for using Internet-based TV on those sets. Apple TV is one of the most popular options. Roku is another good choice. When I did have a borrowed TV set, I used Chromecast, which was a particularly cheap option at the time. Therefore, you can be a frugal cord cutter even if you keep your TV.
Compare Services Carefully Across Companies and Within Them
I do a lot of cost comparison when I shop for streaming services. I compare what’s available from different companies. After all, I don’t want to pay for a service only to discover I don’t like the content that they offer. I compare the cost between those different services. I also don’t want to pay for multiple streaming services if they offer the same thing.
I also make sure to compare the available packages within a particular service. For example, I used to pay extra for “no ads” on Hulu, but I decided that it’s better to reduce my monthly fee and deal with the ads. Over on Philo, I opted for the cheaper of their two services because I didn’t think that the extra channels on the bigger package were worth the extra cost.
If you’re looking to stream TV frugally, my best advice is to shop around. Find what you really want. Get it at the lowest price. Make sure that you don’t add extras that you aren’t going to use. Review those options periodically and cancel the subscriptions that aren’t working in your favor. Be a smart shopper when it comes to TV.
Take Advantage of All Discounts and Rewards
I have worked carefully to make sure that whatever I’m buying in terms of streaming services works for me as much as possible.
First of all, I’ve taken advantage of various discounts. I was already a Spotify subscriber for my music, so when I learned that I could get a discount on Hulu by ordering it through Spotify, it was a no-brainer.
If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, then you already get their Prime shows included in that membership. Instead of paying to watch something on another service, see what they offer on the service you already have.
In addition to discounts, you can sometimes find rewards. For example, most of these companies offer a referral bonus. Let your friends and social media networks know which services you love. If they sign up with your referral code, then you both benefit.
Finally, I pay all of my streaming TV bills using a rewards-based credit card. Of course, I pay that card off monthly. It doesn’t cost me anything extra, and yet I get cash back. It’s a win-win.
Embrace Free Options for Streaming TV
I try to keep my number of streaming TV subscriptions at a minimum. Currently, I have Hulu, Netflix, and Philo. Plus, I occasionally get a series “a la carte” on Amazon. However, I also supplement those options with a lot of free viewing. Pluto TV, Tubi, and Vudu are just a few of the platforms that offer free streaming content.
YouTube Still Has Free Videos
While YouTube does have a TV viewing option that you can pay for, it also continues to have a whole lot of amazing free content. It’s annoying to sift through it to find the good stuff, but once you find the good stuff, it’s worth it. Tip: ask your friends on social media what they watch free on YouTube. You’ll likely get lots of great suggestions.
Free TV Through the Library
You might be surprised to learn that my very favorite way to view TV for free is through my library. My library card gives me access to tons of free online multimedia content. That includes TV shows, documentaries, and other videos available through Hoopla, Kanopy, Alexander Street Press, and special YouTube channels. Does your library offer free TV?
Sharing Streaming TV Accounts
I’m not currently doing this, but you can also often take advantage of friends’ and family’s memberships. For example, I have the Netflix plan that allows multiple screens to view content at once. Therefore, my family can watch Netflix shows on my account without paying extra. Find out if someone you know has a service that you can use for free or for a discount.