Trim The Fat Tuesday: The On-Screen Entertainment

A little over a year ago, when we had to deal with all kinds of utility companies to take down wires for some tree removal, we ended our relationship with Verizon and switched to Comcast for our cable and internet. Their service is marginally better, and their internet was way faster than what we could get through Verizon, since Newburyport doesn't get FiOS. 

We had been enjoying a discounted rate, but that ended back in December, which prompted me to see if I could find any better deals for our various screen-time needs (er, wants).

Shop for better cable, internet, and online streaming deals.

First, I did a little research before calling Comcast. Lots of sources online articles suggested that it's pretty easy to get a discount on cable service from them if you just ask nicely (and maybe toss in the idea that you're thinking of switching to Verizon). 

We have really cheap cable to begin with: Basic Limited costs us just $11.48 per month for the bottom 20 channels or so. I was concerned that because we didn't have a huge package deal, there wouldn't be much wiggle room on those bundling prices or whatever, and it's true that our cable is about as cheap as it can get. 

But there was a little room for a discount on the internet, and the gave me a $10 per month break (they call it a "Loyalty Discount"), which is locked in for the coming year. I'm pretty sure when that runs out, I just call back and politely ask to speak to someone in "Customer Retention" again to re-up that discount code on our account. 

Alas, that $10 per month break doesn't actually save us any money — it just breaks us even on what we had already budgeted in the heady days of our please-pick-Comcast-over-Verizon-and-we'll-give-you-the-first-year-cheap phase.

I also did some research on getting an HD antenna to get rid of cable entirely, but it turns out we are getting our tiny cable completely subsidized anyway. If we get rid of it, Comcast will increase our monthly internet rate by $13, which would actually end up costing us more than the $11.48 we spend on it now. So I guess we should feel good about free cable? If the price ever goes up, installing a $40 attic antenna doesn't seem too hard to pull off, and if you are interested, you can check what kind of reception you can expect at your house here.

On to the streaming. We have Netflix and HuluPlus, because Kirk likes movies and I like The Daily Show. I think the whole reason we shelled out the $7.99 a month for HuluPlus was because we wanted to stream it to the TV through the kids' Wii. Well, guess what? That only worked for a couple months, and then was so spotty and terrible that we gave up, and have been using the laptop anyway. Just about everything we watch is also on regular old (the one exception is Key and Peele, I think), so we've been paying for not much added value. 

Reader, I canceled it.

Netflix, though, is something that I like for Orange Is the New Black, and Kirk likes for a wide range of stupid sic-fi stuff. And the kids watch it too. So that's a keeper, but I did scan our services to see if we could cut it down somehow.

Did you know they have a limited plan for the DVDs you get in the mail? Me neither. It's at the bottom of the list of choices:

I thought one disc at a time ($7.99 per month) was the cheapest, but you can cut it back to only getting two discs per month for $4.99, which I totally did. The last DVD we had lying around for nine months, so this definitely qualifies as an easy budget trim that we won't feel at all. 

Savings per month: $11

Total savings for February: $154.50 (this month's new savings plus the savings already in place from last month!)

Total savings in 2014: $302


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