Today we’re going to talk about TV options! There are oh, so many options when talking about
what you spend your free time viewing.
It used to be that everyone had cable, that was the premium way to view
television. But times have definitely
changed. The amount of options are so
varied now that it’s impossible to say there is one, definite best way to view
content. But even more than that, most
people choose to combine the various ways they view television programs. Here is a rundown.
First, let’s talk about cable. Cable may still be a good option for some
people, but I gave it up years ago.
Raising my kids on a single, limited income, I had to find ways to be
creative and stop paying for cable. First
of all, I should say I still like to have the basic channels, if for nothing
more than to watch the news every day!
And I still have that. I did it
through purchasing an antenna, and using it to connect to the basic channels
for free. I might only get 10-15 channels
this way, but I get the main channels where I can view the news, the regular
nightly TV shows, and even sports (if I was ever inclined to watch any). I don’t think I spent more than $20-$30
purchasing the antenna, and I’ve been using it for years.
Second, let’s talk for a minute about satellite. For awhile before I found the joy of internet
streaming, I indulged in the options of satellite. With satellite, I was able to get a myriad of
channels for a relatively low price.
There were a couple problems I found with this. First, I was still locked into a contract,
and that didn’t make me happy. Second,
at the time I lived in the country, and found that if there was a storm going
through….well, the storm would so greatly interfere with the satellite reception
that I simply didn’t get any television at all!
This was a problem for me in a number of ways. I’m sure that things may have changed by now in
the world of satellite, but I’ve never had the desire to try again. Mainly because other options became more
appealing to me.
Finally, let’s talk about streaming. This is internet streaming, and I use
streaming in several ways. I use
Netflix, Hulu, and sometimes even Amazon Prime.
I’ve also purchased add-on options at various times, but only for
certain shows that I couldn’t get any other way – and which I watched, and then
discontinued the extra options to save money.
But you see, that is part of the beauty of the internet streaming options. There is no contract, you pay for what you
want, and you can cancel part of certain streaming options at any time if you
no longer need them. You can even get
different price points according to things such as how many TVs you want to be
able to stream at one time. I know there
are many, many more streaming options available. Do your research and find the ones that work
the best for you!
What I’m trying to get across on this blog, more than
anything, is that it’s okay to be creative when talking about the many ways you
spend your money! You can be comfortable
and get the things that you want, while still spending much less than those who
don’t do their research to ensure they are getting the best deals. Anyways, hope this post has been helpful for
someone out there! And as always,
remember it is possible to be a thrifty, yet fabulous mama.
I used to be tied down to one of those standard cell service
plans. In my younger days, these were
the only plans available….but now, we have so many options! And why spend more than you have to? I’m all about saving money. Of course I realize that sometimes you have
to spend money to get something worthwhile.
But I also understand, as a single mom, that sometimes you have to make
do with what you can afford. And when
what you can afford works out just as well as those more expensive options,
then you’re in a really great place!
Anyways, might as well get straight into it…
When I entered into my first cell phone contract, I used the
same company my parents used. I found
this to be the case with many things I eventually signed up for…insurance
company, cell service provider, banking institution. It’s easy to go with what we know, what we’re
familiar with. But that’s not the prudent
and economically efficient thing to do!
And when you find that you’re in a spot where perhaps you can’t afford
those things you’re comfortable with, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone
and use your brain. Use your research
skills. Use your ability to
differentiate between “cheap” and “less expensive”, and to decide for yourself
what works in your life and what doesn’t.
When I hit this point I was utilizing a cell service company that was so
expensive, that even with using an 18% employee discount I was paying over
$100/month just for basic cell service (and just for me!). With two young kids in the house and limited
income, this was no longer feasible for me.
It was time to start looking into other options.
There are multiple companies that now operate on a “pay-by-the-month”
basis. There are no contracts, you are
bound to no one to provide the service.
I thought this would work out well for me, because it would allow me to
switch companies if I signed up and then found out (for whatever reason) that I
no longer wanted to use this company. I
researched the different companies and found out some interesting
information. These companies, in fact,
utilize the same cell towers as the “standard” companies that exist. It should be noted that often these companies
are also owned by the larger companies (they fall under the umbrella of the
well-known companies), although this is not always the case. At any rate, you have to look at the boxes on
the phones they sell, typically, to know what cell towers they utilize. Or, you have to know the company itself, as
sometimes a company might utilize cell towers from one carrier
specifically. But the truth is that they
do, in fact, use the same towers. Now,
the difference is that users with these “pay-by-the-month” companies might be
throttled in circumstances where customers utilizing the actual carrier are so
prolific that they are overwhelming the cell towers. This might happen, for instance, in very
large cities or during high volume times.
But I will tell you this: Even
though I live near a very large city, I have never once experienced throttling
of my cell service due to this issue. In
fact, I’ve actually never experienced any problems with my cell service
I will tell you that the company I currently use, and have
used for years, is Total Wireless (https://www.totalwireless.com/). While this is the only company I’ve used,
I’ve done the research to understand that most of them operate in similar
ways. While this is the company I’ll
discuss in this post, I’ll provide links to other pay-by-the-month companies
below, so you can do some of your own research.
Total wireless allows me to set up a family plan for myself and my two
kids, and for unlimited talk and text with 21GB of data, for less than
$100/month. Now, I have to tell you that
to pay this amount I did set up a monthly billing process. However, I will also tell you that I can
cancel this set-up and switch to a different company at any time that I choose. As said before, I’ve never experienced any problems with the
actual service on my phone…the talking, texting, and web surfing seems to work
flawlessly. But these aren’t the only
things that matter.
So, I want to make sure I share the cons as well. First, the customer service, in my
experience, has not been great. I used
to hate when my kids wanted to switch to a new phone (or anything else that
required me to call customer service) because I knew when I called, I would be
on the phone for an hour or two trying to get things set straight. The customer service agents were not always
very knowledgeable. For instance, when I
got divorced and tried to remove my ex-husband from my account (and it was my
account, I had it set up prior to getting married and it was set up under my
name, with my billing information attached)…they first tried to tell me that I
needed his permission to remove his line from my plan. Then, they even tried to tell me that they
had switched the plan to his name, even though my billing information and
credit card were still attached! It took
days to sort this out, and I almost gave up on them then, but it was finally
corrected. This was almost the kicker
for me, but I also knew that I could only afford so much and in other respects
this company had been a good fit for me, so I gave it another chance. It’s worth noting that I have recently had to
reach out to customer service, and have been able to speak with agents who were
a bit more knowledgeable. But I have yet
to see if this was a fluke, or if the agents are now being better trained.
Another con is that you have to purchase your own
phone. When utilizing the larger
carriers and signing a contract for the monthly plan, I often was able to get
the phone included for free. However, I
soon realized this was not good financial practice. I was paying so much per month for the
service, that the free phone didn’t really matter…as long as I stuck with the
less expensive phones on the pay-by-the-month service. For instance, I never pay more than $100 for
a phone. I try to keep the phone for a
year, but sometimes I may switch out at 6 months instead. But for me, this works. I know the phone is less expensive, and I’m
not as afraid of dropping it in water, or my kids getting ahold of it and doing
something to it. I’m not as afraid of
how “fragile” it is, the way I would be with a several hundred dollar
phone. And regardless, those types of
accidents rarely happen in reality. I’ve
never dropped a phone to the point of breaking it. I have dropped one in water, but I was okay
with getting it replaced. Either way,
what I’m saying is that getting less expensive phones is entirely okay with
me. If all you like are the higher end
phones, you may have to do a cost-benefit analysis to know if this type of
service (and buying your own phone) is worth it. But if you’re truly a penny pincher as I am,
I’m doubtful you will “only be okay” with super expensive phones. After all, if it does what you need it to do
and you can get things accomplished at a lower cost, that’s really what this
blog is all about. How can you live
comfortably while still spending less?
This is the question, and I’ve been very happy with my cell service choice.
Now that I’ve gone through all the info, what do you think
is right for you? It is up to you to
decide, but I will tell you that I still surprise people with my cell phone
bill. People have difficulty believing
me when we discuss it, maybe because they are so tied to conventional practices
that they’ve been embarrassed (or simply haven’t taken the time) to look into
other services. They often ask me for
more information, and sometimes they even change over to plans similar to
mine. But the most important thing is
that once they have the knowledge, they are more empowered to make the
decision. And I hope you all are now,
Just as a note, the large carriers often have no-contract plans now as well. But I’ve found that they are still often more expensive than the companies discussed in this post. However, if you’re more comfortable utilizing these service providers then you should definitely check out the options they have! Below are some additional links to companies that provider cheaper, pay-by-the-month service. This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you a place to start the research: