Smart Spending

Go Contract Free?

The frenzy over “cutting the cord” may have hit its limit as a harder question emerges.  Which of the monthly contracts should I cut or should I go contract free?  The contracts being referred to here are the cable, internet, and homes phone bill.  The problem is whether or not having these amenities at home is necessary.  This question has become increasingly relevant as many people are trying to find way to lower their bills.  Is cable relevant in the era of internet streaming?  Should I have both home internet or mobile internet?  Do I really need a home phone when I have a mobile phone?  In today’s world, many have gone contract free.  It offers the greatest financial and entertainment flexibility.

The average triple play package (cable, phone, and internet) in the US costs $160 a month and nearly $2000 a year.  The problem with this number is its absurdly high cost, especially compared with other nations, and that there are alternatives that are simply as good.  This is because our national infatuation with TV has created a situation where many people cannot seem to live without having TV.  However, this is not simply true.  If you take a month away from cable, you will soon find other ways to replace what you were watching.  The problems, as with most addictions, is acknowledging that there is a problem and simply taking the first step away.

Going contract free may seem rather ridiculous, but eventually it may become the smartest move you make as the money you save can go towards saving more for retirement or building a larger emergency fund.  Think about it, cable prices have doubled over the past decade.  Furthermore, the services that are being received are vastly inferior than what is around the world.  Therefore, the cable companies are skinning most people alive for their poor service.  The only action that can be actively taken is to opt out for an alternative and go contract free.

To replace your cable service, there are options such as internet video streaming sites, sport leagues’ online streaming subscriptions, and there are streams of sporting events from sites based outside the US, but are of questionable legality.  The  most common internet video streaming sites are Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, and Netflix.  The cost for any single one of these sites is around $8/month.  Most sports leagues, such as the MLS, MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL offer some sort of video streaming.  Of the five, only the NFL doesn’t offer live events.  Finally, there are several “free” sports streaming sites which can help you get your fix of sports, national or international if all else fails.

Replacing your internet service is a little trickier.  However, it is entirely possible to completely replace your internet service and get internet for free.  This is easier if you live in a city as opposed to living in the suburbs.  The proliferation of free wifi hotspots in places such as Starbucks, bookstores, McDonalds, or can be found using a wifi database.  Finally, if you already have a smartphone with a data connection do you really need home internet service?  If your phone data plan is large enough, you can potentially use it as a wifi hotspot, or, if you have an android phone, you can purchase an app to turn your phone into a wifi hotspot.  With all of these options, you can safely go contract free and still have plenty of internet access.

Finally, the home phone seems to be an outdated idea.  If you truly value the peace of mind that a home phone offers, then drop the contact from the cable company in favor of a VOIP (internet phone) provider in conjunction with a low speed internet connection.  Providers like Vonage, SkypeOoma, and Magicjack offer different levels of service at prices either comparable or far better than what the cable and regular phone companies are offering.  Furthermore, your mobile phone should be more than enough of a replacement for your home phone.

With all of this, you should have enough ideas to go contract free.  Taking the first step is the most difficult, but once you do, it’ll be the first step to greater freedom and a greater signal to the cable companies of your dissatisfaction with their monopolistic behavior than any amount of angry phone calls could ever produce.