Some monthly bills are unavoidable: gas, electric, water, phone. But the cable bill? Avoidable.
No, we're not suggesting you forgo Lost, 30 Rock, American Idol, or any of your other favorite shows. (After all, you need something to take your mind off the fact that you can no longer afford cable!) But if you're willing to make a few changes to how, when, and where you watch TV, you can tell the cable company to take its ever-expanding monthly fees and stuff 'em.
Well, for TV, anyway. Much of our free-TV plan involves streaming video, which means you'll need broadband Internet. For most people, that means cable. DSL will do, but streaming video requires all the bandwidth it can get, and most DSL pipes are relatively thin. Thus, DSL subscribers should test the waters before pulling the cable-TV plug.
Either way, it's not uncommon for TV service alone to run $100 per month, meaning you stand to save up to $1,200 annually. That's a serious chunk of change. So whether you're strapped for cash or just tired of Big Cable charging more when you're earning less, read on to learn the tricks of the nearly-free-TV trade.
Break Out The Rabbit Ears
Once upon a time, TV was free. Really! It traveled through the air and arrived in your living room without that big, fat cable bill attached. Well, guess what: It still travels through the air, and now does so digitally, in high def, and in some cases with 5.1-channel surround sound.
In other words, with little more than a decent antenna, your HDTV can tune in local HD channels (which for most folks means ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and possibly The CW), and the cost to you is zero dollars. That's the good news. The bad news is that digital signals aren't available in every corner of the country, so if you traditionally got a snowy picture on your old tube, you might get no picture at all on your HDTV.
The deadline, by the way, for broadcaster to transition to digital television (DTV) signals has been delayed until June. For more information, go to the Government's DTV website: dtv2009.gov.