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Not sure where all your money goes every month? If you’re like most people, a good chunk of it goes to regularly-scheduled monthly expenses – and you’re just barely keeping up. With a little tech savvy, though, you can get those expenses down and save thousands every year.

Yes, thousands.

Cable TV, data plans, landlines – they’re all nice from time to time, but do you know how much they’re costing you? Because it’s likely more than you think.

Lots of companies, in their marketing, try to make a monthly expense sound manageable by dividing the total into days. For example: instead of a phone plan costing you $60 a month, they’ll advertise it as “only $2 a day” or (my personal least-favourite) “less than the price of a cup of coffee”.

You can see why this works: smaller numbers sound manageable.

You can turn this approach on its head: every time you see a potential monthly expense, multiply it by 12. For example: a $100 monthly phone bill costs you $1200 a year. Compare that to your annual income and you’ll have a much better idea of how much that plan is costing you.

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Thinking this way, it’s easy to see how keeping monthly expenses down can help you balance your budget. And if you’re tech-savvy, there are a lot of ways you can do this. Figuring out how can even be fun, because if there’s one thing geeks love its working around arbitrary restrictions and making something work. That’s half the fun of video games, and it can be fun in this case too.

Let’s go over a few ways to save money every month. None of these ideas are particularly original – you’ve probably heard most of them around the web. But add them up and you’ll save a lot.

Cut Cable; Save $1000 Every Year

The average American cable bill is $86 a month, or $1032 a year, according to Consumer Reports. That cost just keeps rising: some estimates say it will be well over $100 in the next couple of years.

So if you can live without cable, you can save yourself a lot of money. And thanks to online streaming, living without cable is easier than it’s ever been. For many services like Netflix have already replaced most TV watching – switch over completely and you’re done.

Sure: you might not be able to watch the latest episodes of your favourite shows right now. But you’ll get to eventually, and you’ll have no shortage of things to watch in the meantime. And there’s a lot of free entertainment to be found online, from YouTube to Hulu, to keep you entertained – set up an XBMC media center How to Set Up Your XBMC/Kodi Media Center How to Set Up Your XBMC/Kodi Media Center Discs on your shelves. Files on your computer. Websites around the web. You, the modern media consumer, don’t get your entertainment from just one place: you get it from many different sources. Read More and you can access it all from a nice interface.

“But what about sports,” you ask? Well, depending on what league you follow there are online-only services you can use for streaming – I use NHL Gamecenter to watch hockey games. But there are other options. If you’re paying $100 a month for cable just to watch one football game a week, for example, consider going to a sports bar every week instead. A pitcher of beer might cost you $10, but that’s a lot less than $100 a month – and you get beer.

And it’s not like all TV costs money. You can use an antenna to get free over-the-air TV Enjoy Free Over-The-Air TV Shows in HD with Mohu Leaf [Giveaway] Enjoy Free Over-The-Air TV Shows in HD with Mohu Leaf [Giveaway] The Mohu Leaf is a paper-thin TV antenna you can hang on your wall to get HD-quality television, for free. We're giving away one Mohu Leaf Plus and two regular Mohu Leaf antennas valued at... Read More . In the US this includes the “big four” stations – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox – alongside PBS, the CW and a number of other local stations. You might be surprised how many of your favourite shows are available without cable.

Cutting the cord isn’t for everyone, but there are a lot of options. Check out our cord cutting guide Cut That Cord! How To Ditch Cable Cut That Cord! How To Ditch Cable Have you been thinking about cutting your pay-TV cord? I want to show you some of the pros and cons of cord cutting: it's not all major sacrifices. Read More to learn more about the gadgets and software you can use to entertain yourself without a cable bill.

Ditch Your Mobile Data Plan, Save $1000 Every Year.

The average American mobile bill is over $100 a month, or $1200 a year. That’s a lot of money – and you might not even need it.

My colleague Christian recently pointed out that you probably don’t need a mobile data plan Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet How much are you paying for calls and mobile Internet? Is your iPhone really worth that type of outlay? Do you use your Android tablet enough to justify paying over $50 a month? Read More . It sounds crazy, but think about it: how often are you actually away from WiFi? And how much of that time are you spending online?

At this point most restaurants, hotels, libraries and even grocery stores offer free WiFi. So even without a data plan, your phone can likely access the Internet wherever you are most of the day.

Being offline for a bit might suck, but there’s plenty you can do on your phone in the meantime. Many games work offline, and you can load up your device with podcasts and ebooks if you really need an information fix. Think to yourself: do you need to be online constantly more than you need an extra $1000 a year?

If you’d rather not ditch your phone completely, you’ve got options. Republic Wireless, for example, provides a $10/month plan with unlimited talk and text. Combine this with WiFi at home and you’ll be pretty much covered, but if you find yourself needing data you can switch a month to an upgraded plan: $25/month for unlimited 3G. You can switch twice a month, so you’ll only pay for data when you actually need it.

Look around and you’ll find lots of options, so think outside the contract. It could save you $1000, every year.

Replace Your Overpriced Home Phone Line, Save $200 A Year (Or More!)

Fewer people still pay for landlines, and this makes sense: one phone bill is enough. But there are reasons to still have a landline: long distance calls tend to be cheaper, and you can give someone a phone number to reach you at that’s not your cell.

But there’s a downside: a landline often costs $20 a month, alongside possible long distance charges. If you’re paying for this, consider using VoIP instead. I personally like Skype phones, because for $30 you get unlimited long distance in the USA and Canada. You can find similarly priced plans for calling to Europe and Asia, and it doesn’t matter where on earth you live – the prices are the same. If you regularly need to call people abroad, there’s a lot of potential savings here – especially if you’re currently paying for long distance by the minute.

I showed you how to use Skype as your main home phone line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line It's 2013 - stop paying for a land line. If you've got broadband Internet you can set up Skype, pay for a subscription and and keep your total home phone bill under $5 a month... Read More . It has gotten a lot easier since then, with a variety of apps now allowing you to make and receive phone calls on any Android or iOS device.

How Do You Shave Monthly Expenses?

These are just three tips I thought of, but I’m sure there’s a lot more. What monthly expenses can you make disappear with just a little bit of tech knowledge? And what are you going to do with the money you saved? Let’s talk it all through in the comments below.

  1. Chris
    December 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I've realized long ago that cable and home phone are a waste. I simply could not do without a mobile data plan though. It helps me stay on top of emails because I can deal with them when I get them and it's actually rather annoying to have to figure out where the safe WiFi is and get the passwords, etc. Probably the biggest savings that I'm missing out on is related to food. Eating out is incredibly expensive but it's difficult to convince yourself to cook everyday.

    • Justin Pot
      December 29, 2014 at 4:14 am

      I'm blessed, in that I find eating out way more stressful than cooking for myself. Cooking relaxes me, but having to read a menu and pick something knowing that it might not be the best thing...I don't really like it as much as just making exactly what I want. Maybe I'm weird.

  2. mikep345678
    December 22, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Cut our cell bill from $90/mo to $40/mo with PagePlusCellular, a prepaid provider that uses Verizon's network. Decent reception, number porting, reasonable pricing and customer service. I "brought my own phones"; have had no problems activating anything "used Verizon" (even a wonderful Palm Pre i picked up off eBay...)

  3. Mike Fendt
    December 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I use Obitalk voip adapter($30, on sale) and Google Voice(free) to make & receive calls. No monthly charges at all!!!! :)

  4. WAShere
    December 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    ObiHai coupled with Google Voice is a great free alternative to traditional landline. Currently, they are having a sale on Newegg till Dec 21, 2014. Go to their FB or Twitter page to get the promo code to get the Obi200 for $29.99. That's the only payment you will be making if you connect your free Google Voice number to the device. Currently, Google Voice is offering free calls to US & Canada. I have been using it since August with no problems. Depending on your device, you maybe able to add more than 1 Google Voice number to the device.

  5. Patricia Hawn
    December 20, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Has anybody tried the mobile phone plan offered by Walmart? It runs on Verizon towers here in Virginia and is about half the price.

  6. Leah
    December 20, 2014 at 2:50 am

    When one's favorite sport is baseball cutting the cord just isn't feasible. What am I going to do? Go to a bar or restaurant every day? Blackouts mean I can't watch the local team via the internet (and check out the odd blackout regions). For people who don't watch sports, I can see how going this route could be a good idea, though, what with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

    As for the mobile data plan isn't that a "requirement" with a smart phone from major wireless networks?

    • Justin Pot
      December 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Yeah, baseball is rough – though from what I understand things might change in that sport before the other majors ones. MLB is pretty good at Internet, to the point where HBO is hiring them to run their online presence. And they're thinking of ending blackouts:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/08/22/mlb-on-the-cusp-to-relaxing-blackouts-for-streaming-baseball-games-online-or-mobile-devices/

      So good news is on the horizon for you.

      As for data plans: yes, usually it is, which is why I recommend you don't buy your phone from a major wireless network. But really it's all about finding something that works for you, just keep in mind how big the expense is and decide whether it's worth it or not.

  7. Sam Le Marnais
    December 20, 2014 at 12:48 am

    To save money... I just live in France ;)
    - ADSL 28Mb + Land line phone (105 international countries for free) + 100 TV channel = 45$
    And
    (- Cell phone: 2hrs + SMS illimited + 50MB data = 0$
    Or
    - Cell phone: illimited calls + illimited SMS + illimited 4G data = 20$)

  8. ed
    December 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    No land line, no cable TV, just internet and saving $70 per month by using NimbleTV and Amazon Prime on my Roku.

    Unlimited pre-paid smartphone plans with 8mbit LTE for two now saves me $100 per month.

    So, happily saving $2040 per year.

  9. Warren
    December 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    In my case it may sound strange, but I require a solid internet line. At the moment our home has a 50gb business class bundled with a phone (we have to keep a phone because some people in this house don't know how to keep their cell phones charged or turned on period, plus I have a medical disability that could an EMS at any given time of day).

    Until recently we had our regular cable bundled with the service but then discovered it was cheaper to simply go with another company for the service. Also, I need the fast line, but I don't need it 24/7. So on Black Friday I looked around for some deals and found a decent wifi router that all provide service for any of the mobile devices and other computers in our home. Considering the fact there are 12 devices that could be running on wifi, 3 devices plugged into the router itself, and my device running straight from the router, all at close, if not the same speeds (according to speedtest.net anyway), first we saved $200 in the purchase of the router, plus we saved the need of getting another internet plan for the house. The plan and cable are still not cheap, but sometimes you simply have to consider price vs value, and we are getting full value for what we not have

  10. Don Esposito
    December 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    My understanding of NHL Gamecenter is that you can't watch live games in your local market. If that's the case, it's a deal breaker for me. I want to watch my home team when they're playing, not two teams I basically don't care about.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      I'm a Leafs fan living in Colorado, so the out-of-market thing works out for me pretty well most of the time. But yeah, there are downsides. I would love to see the blackouts going away...here's hoping this happens.

      (I hear Tunnelbear is a decent workaround, though).

  11. jdroost
    December 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Internet(4mbs/40M cap) & POTS from same company $146.00mo,cell $130.00mo AT&T,no free WIFI,no free TV.Welcome to small town Alaska.

  12. Chahk noir
    December 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Agreed with everything except for getting rid of land lines.

    During a natural disaster, POTS lines are usually the only things that work, even during a power outage when Internet is inaccessible and cell service is down or overwhelmed. If you keep an old wall phone that doesn't require external power, it will be pretty much your only way of communicating with the outside world, save for the smoke signals.

    If you have an elderly person living with you, inquire with your local telephone company for discounts. They often have programs such as LifeLine for seniors that will cut your costs to ~$10 per month.

    • shooter
      December 28, 2014 at 12:00 am

      I had Verizon for land line about 6 or 7 years ago and that ran $74 without long distance, If we had a power outage they had NO back up in their central office so the line were dead in 3 - 4 hours.

  13. Aquariuzz
    December 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I live i n DFW area. Over the air channels are plentiful . I get 40-60 channels. 15 are religious programming, 12 are Spanish only, 10 are Infomercials. 1 is Vietmnamese. 2 are Hindu.

    BUT, I get 10 channels I can watch for free. And One is always the weather.

  14. Patrick ziccura
    December 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Chrome extensions like Invisible Hand, Honey save you a bit of $$$ when shopping online.

  15. Nate
    December 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I've shaved a few dollars here and there. Changing light bulbs, hey I count it as tech cause they look cool lol. We've dropped our Verizon data plans to just over what our averages are from the bills. We've been enjoying Netflix and anything else online and we don't really watch the latest shows, so cable TV is the next, albeit major, thing to go next.

  16. frank j
    December 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    magicjack... keep your long time home phone number for about $1/month...works great

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      How does this work for long distance? Can I call Canada without paying extra?

  17. Roger Caldwell
    December 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    $20/mo for a home phone? Here in Illinois with AT&T you'll pay more like $68/mo.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      Whoa! It's worse out there than I thought!

  18. TerryM
    December 19, 2014 at 6:51 am

    We use Ooma for our VoIP and it costs us under $3/mo. For our son we use FreedomPop cell phone services which use the Sprint cell towers. That costs us $2.50/mo. It's limited to 200min voice, 200 texts and 500/mb per month but he knows about its limits.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Well done! I might need to check out Ooma in the near future.

  19. Bronzit
    December 19, 2014 at 6:39 am

    I keep landline w/an analog (pulse dial) phone handy. It is powered only by the phone line. When power goes out (no cellular or satellite service), I still get a dial tone & have an emergency phone. I may want to use numbers other than 911 as well & I can.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      My grandfather still had pulse dial on his phone, it was the bane of the phone company's existence. They tried so hard to get him to switch, and he wouldn't....I think it drove them nuts.

  20. gary
    December 19, 2014 at 4:16 am

    i get my mobile phone service from TING
    you pay for what you use
    i am a light user - so for $15 / month
    i get 100 minutes 100 messages and 100 mb of data
    on an iPhone 4s i bought for $100
    be sure to get a referral from somebody - this saved me $100
    i use Magic Jack for my "landline"

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      I think I need to look into TING. I'd love it if I could bring my own phone to a low-cost carrier. Interesting.

    • Eric
      December 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Prepaid plans can be cheaper for a light b.y.o.d user like you depending on how much of that allotment you use. I buy my minutes in bundles of 1000 from TMobile at 10¢ per minute. Most carriers have a similar deal.

  21. Jessica C
    December 19, 2014 at 3:43 am

    How does cutting the landline affect your access to 9-1-1 emergency service phone calls? Can you trust that a skype phone or whatnot will be reliable in that situation?

    • David B
      December 19, 2014 at 3:52 am

      Any phone jack in your house still can dial 911 without phone service, that is what the 911 fee is for on everyone's bill. If you keep an analog phone around you can always dial 911.

    • Eric
      December 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      In many areas cell phones can also dial 911.

  22. David B
    December 19, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Cable inernet at 40+mbs but 2 years ago it was $29.99 and this year they raised it to $54.99 (thanks cord cutters) I haven't paid for TV since 1992. An antenna on the roof gets over 60 channels, lots of good OTA movie channels these days. Ooma voip phone with $3.50 a month for 911 and others fees. $10 every 3 months for 200 minutes that carry over for a strictly emergency cell phone. (i just don't make calls away from home or the office)

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      There are OTA movie channels where you are? Where do you live? I haven't heard of this magic...

  23. Tom Abbott
    December 19, 2014 at 1:40 am

    The Republic Wireless plan sounds interesting but I tried something similar about a year ago and it also used the Sprint network which was absolute junk. I went crawling back to Verizon begging them to take me back. Surprisingly, they did. Hmm. :)

    Seriously, when I saw Sprint my experience was so bad with them I closed down that tab immediately.

    • Bruce Ocala
      December 19, 2014 at 2:03 am

      I don't need a smart phone, but collegiate daughter and working wife needed one. There is a substantial upfront cost since you're purchasing the phone, not financing it within monthly payments. The women got Moto X but there are cheaper models now available. My monthly total for both phones is $55.85, unlimited talk, text, and data. Both are typically using their phones for data on a wifi network. Calls and text are fine on 3G. Neither have complained once. It's worked great for us for about a year.

    • Will B
      December 19, 2014 at 2:57 am

      Was it FreedomPop? I want to try it out and it seems to have mixed reviews.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Part of this is going to vary from region to region, so you should probably do your homework before jumping ship. Googling the company you want to try and the city you live in is generally a good first step.

  24. Caroline
    December 19, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Look around for a cheaper landline plan that suits your needs - check if their will be any early termination charges firstly.

    Also if you love drinking coffee - would it be cheaper to make it at home instead of standing in a queue waiting to be served and pay for it in a store?

    What about your lunch? Do you buy it or make it at home?

    • dragonmouth
      December 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      With regards to coffee - for the price of one 16 ounce box of single serving Keurig cups, you can buy 33-42 ounce bulk tin. Of course the tin will not offer as many flavors but for the money you save you can buy flavoring in bottles.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Dragonmouth: Yeah, K-Cups are almost as bad a deal as going out for coffee in my experience, especially if you stick to name brands. And making coffee with a mocha pot isn't particularly hard, I actually quite enjoy the ritual.

      Caroline: This is a great roundup of tips. Eating out is a huge recurring expense, if you make a habit of it.

  25. John
    December 18, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Suddenlink cable and internet was running us $130 a month. We shut off cable services but kept the internet and picked up Netflix and Hulu. We pay $50 a month for 30Mbps speeds. We are saving $720 a year.

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Well done! Any reason why you need both Netflix and Hulu? Not judging, just curious if there are particular shows or something...

    • Thor Nankivel
      December 20, 2014 at 3:00 am

      He have Netflix and Hulu as well. We use both because they offer complimentary selections. Hulu has newer shows and lots of anime, Netflix is, well, Netflix. We have tried Amazon Prime as well, but prefer Netflix's selection, but we still use Amazon to buy or rent movies to stream.

    • Jackson
      December 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

      I run both Netflix and Hulu Plus as well. I hold on to Netflix just for House of Cards.

  26. Rob
    December 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    We had a similar issue, where we had a deal with our ISP who gave us a phone, internet connection, and TV for $x per month. We tried to downgrade to 'just' internet, and they said due to our deal, 'just' internet would be more expensive, so we ended up sticking with having TV and Phone even though we pretty much never used it! Now I'm traveling a lot though, Netflix and a VyprVPN subscription is more than enough for those boring evenings :)

    • Justin Pot
      December 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Yeah, sometimes the bundles actually are good deals...you just need to make sure, at the very least.

  27. Prosthetic Lips
    December 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Here's my issue with "cutting cable" -- how are you getting your Internet? Where I live, most of the cost is just giving you any service to your home; adding TV on top of it is pretty cheap. And, no, I don't bundle with a phone line to make it look cheaper. Those phone line fees (even VOIP when hardwired to your house - 911, FCC, etc.) are most of the monthly cost there.

    • Justin Pot
      December 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      I get my Internet from the phone company (I don't pay them for a phone line). But even if Internet is cheaper with a cable TV bundle, you usually don't need the super-expensive cable package to get that deal.

      It's not about absolute rules, it's about working out how to spend as little money as possible month after month – especially if you're not using the features you're paying for. If a cable TV package is cheaper for you, great!

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