Dear Jill, Do you have any ideas for saving on television? We are back with cable right now, but it is so expensive, and it seems many of the shows I watch most often are moving to separate streaming networks cable does not give me access to. I am paying more than $150 per month for cable, and now each one of these other streaming channels wants another $5 or more per month.
I cannot be the only one frustrated with trying to save money on television. — Diana H.
Once shoppers become accustomed to saving money on groceries and household items, it’s understandable to want to apply a similar savings approach to other areas of life — especially entertainment.
I always have found the subject of paying for television an interesting one. When I was a child, my parents were adamant about not paying for television when it was free to receive with an antenna. The antenna option still remains my No. 1 choice for saving on TV, as the number of high-definition over-the-air channels available might surprise you.
In the suburbs of Chicago, where I live, we receive more than 100 free digital channels with an antenna. In addition to the main networks you likely would expect, we also receive movie channels, classic television channels and specialty channels devoted to topics such as history, home improvement, travel and cooking. In fact, our family spent far more years as an antenna-only household than not.
When we switched to cable internet service for our home, we learned it was less expensive to purchase a package with cable television access for one television plus internet than to simply buy the internet service alone. So, we became a household with one cable-connected television and others that receive an antenna signal for programming. (In fact, if you have internet access via cable or satellite, it’s worth seeing if a package upgrade might save you money and add subscription television to your internet service as well.)
Even if you’re not able to install an outdoor antenna, you might be surprised at the wealth of programming available with a small, indoor antenna. Our daughter is using a thin HDTV antenna that resembles a kitchen cutting board to pull in more than 70 channels at her current apartment. It clings to the wall behind her television and retails for less than $20. That’s a small, one-time investment to enjoy eliminating a television bill entirely.
If you switch to over-the-air reception, you also will free up funds to explore streaming services you might enjoy, too. For example, if your favorite shows are on three different streaming networks that each charge $5 per month, you’ll be paying $15 per month for access to them instead of what you previously paid for cable or satellite.
Here are some additional tips for saving on television. If you have a cellphone provider, see what streaming services might be included with your cellphone package. A friend of mine recently switched her phone provider because the new provider also offers free access to a large movie and television streaming service.
If you wish to watch a program exclusively carried on a streaming service, look into a free trial of that service.
Lastly, your access to free streaming television might be as close as your local library. Many libraries now will allow patrons to check out television streaming devices. The library pays the subscription, and you simply can plug it into your home television and enjoy the streaming content for the length of your device check-out period.