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Take Stock of Your In-Home Media Memberships

There's no greater time than the beginning of the year to check in with your in-home entertainment memberships and make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck and relishing the packages you have signed up for. The upkeep will not only help you maintain your resolve to live below your means, but it will allow you take stock of whether or not your services or habits are sustainable. Check in with the following before the end of the month in an effort to get organized.

  • Video Store vs. Netflix: Ask yourself if you are an infrequent movie renter and would rather spend the $5 Netflix fee (for one rental per month) for the convenience, or have the option of popping into the quaint rental shop on the way home. If you are a real movie nut explore the Netflix three-at-a-time plan (unlimited rentals per month and unlimited movies downloaded to your PC), which is $17. If you research the right plan you can save on gas and time, and kill late fees. Similarly, if you don't watch the movies that show up in the little red envelope opt to put your Netflix account on hold for three months at no cost until you want it again. Remember the cost looks small, but even the $5-per-month plan adds up to $60 a year (the $17 plan is $204 for a year!). You can always rent DVDs for free — or a tiny fee — at your local library.
  • Cable and Satellite TV: Do you get your money out of your HBO, Showtime, and an expanded sports package? If so, more power to you. If not, ditch them or call your service provider and let them know you are spending too much each month and would like a better plan for your lifestyle. Your provider wants to keep you as a customer so they will work with you, even if it's just cutting a couple of dollars.
  • DVR Service and TiVo: Is your TV provider charging you extra for a DVR service you aren't using? Are you paying $13 monthly for TiVo when your cable provider offers a less expensive DVR service? Call them up and check. If you only record a couple shows a month cruise websites like Hulu or network websites to see if the shows stream online or if you can purchase the shows from iTunes for less than the DVR price. Single episode downloads from iTunes are generally $1.99 each.


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I'm with TidalWave and lawchick--we have the $9/month Netflix plan and we totally clean up on it. We watch the movies right away and we send them back right away..we average probably 8-10 movies a month. Plus, we can watch a lot of them instantly online, so we watch those movies when the other movies are in the mail.
verily verily 8 years
I've become addicted to the online videos from Netflix. However, it's pretty easy to save money just by using RedBox for new movies ($1 a day!) and the library for older ones.
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
netflix does have the one-per-month plan. i have no idea who would ever get that one, but it is available. the one-at-a-time plan is awesome though! basically, if you rent two or three movies a month, you're already saving over the video store!
lawchick lawchick 8 years
I agree with TidalWave and have the same plan. Does Netflix really even offer 1 disc per month plans (as opposed to one disc at a time)???
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
$5 for one movie a month? Why even mention this rip-off plan? Sugar, I don't know your stance on netflix but it sounds extremely negative and biased. I have the $9 plan for 1-at-a-time, unlimited monthly movies and if I watch two movies in a month, it is already cheaper than if I went to the rental store.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
This is actually a great suggestion! This little "extras" add up, and if you have auto-pay with a credit card, they're almost invisible. Sorry if this is a long post, I hope it will be helpful to someone. I've been reviewing my entertainment costs lately. I don't like Netflix, we are infrequent renters but tried it and had some frustration with damaged disks. Blockbuster (monthly or not) is better, we can always run to the story and exchange them if there's a problem. I am on a free second year of Rhapsody, earned when I switched to Yahoo Music 18 months or so ago and got it for using prepaying the first year with a Mastercard. They they were bought out by Rhapsody, which I had previously and actually prefer. (I switched because the Yahoo was cheaper.) I will re-evaluate as that ends. I was not happy with the XM merger with Sirius for many reasons, so I have cancelled that subscription, saving $12.95 per month. (I was month-to-month, which is pricier, but I didn't want to commit to a longer period with all the merger talk and uncertainty.) For streaming music online I've been sampling the many free services such as Live 365, The Dividing Line, Pandora, and Slacker. I've settled mostly on Slacker, due to their station line-up. Also, I was able to get an 8-gig Slacker G1 radio (it downloads their playlists and makes the online service portable) on woot, because they've advanced to the G2 model, for $70. (Current model is about $250). No charge for the service, just the hardware. I also have my husband reviewing our satellite TV options. We may switch carriers, and opt for a bundle, as our internet provider has been a bit quirky lately. Anyone else have helpful specifics?
katie225 katie225 8 years
i have blockbuster total access, and i think it is such a better deal than netflix! i have the freedom to go into the store to get the brand new movies right away, or wait for the older/rare movies that i can't find in the store to come in the mail. so if you want a good unlimited deal, but also don't want to give up your "quaint" movie store, total access really is great. also, you don't have to pay anything when you get the movies from the store!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
it's so frustrating to think about these things sometimes. for myself - i have the 3 at a time netflix and there are some months when i go through tons and some that i don't watch a thing - but it's cheaper than going to the movie store i think.
c-a-t-h c-a-t-h 8 years
I could not live without my Netflix!
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