Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saving money by cutting services

As a follow up to the post from a week or so ago about saving money, we did a couple things around the homestead that will be saving us a lot of money.

First thing up, I cancelled our home phone and long distance service. I figured that, since we have two cell phones, having the home phone land line was overkill. Even though we were a little nervous about severing an emergency line, I figured we could always add it back if we felt like we needed it. In the meantime we are saving $40 a month for phone service and $15 a month (on average) for long distance.

Next up, I tried to cancel our cable TV. Since we have a bundled discount with our Internet, cancelling our cable wouldn't save anything, but I did get a 6-month discount on both, reducing the cost by $25 a month. We have a dedicated IP address that I will be dropping soon that will be saving us another $5 a month.

Onto our cell phone. I dropped texting (or rather blocked it since it's a service I never use) which will save $5 a month (on average) and cancelled my mom's cell phone service which will save us $15 a month. I got her phone switched to a pre-paid cell phone and they loaded $10 on it for free, which will probably last her a year, at least.

Last, but not least, we are cancelling our NY Times subscription. We can just read it online, although my husband does enjoy reading it when he eats. I rarely have time to look at it, so it's no skin off my back. This is $60 a month. I also let a couple other magazine subscriptions lapse, which totals another $40 a year or so.

So, as of this week, all tallied, we are now saving over $2,000 a year on services we really won't be missing.

Are there any services you feel compelled to keep even though you don't really "need" them?


Su said...

Our cable is bundled into our rent, and how we wish we could cancel it! My husband often says we should cancel my cell phone, since most of the time it's a glorified alarm clock, but the thing about that one is that it's a godsend when I do need it.

Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate said...

We canceled our garbage service and now share with our next door neighbors. We were already on a once-a-month plan, so this saved us only $5 per month, but it saved them around $12 per month. This now weekly pickup means that our cat litter and occasional meat bones won't sit around for a month.

That was nasty.

We also recently cut our home phone service, however we started getting cable for the 1st time ever. My husband REALLY wanted to be able to watch soccer games, and in exchange he's now riding his bike to work and back.


Brad K. said...


A couple of years ago I switched my long distance from AT&T unlimited at $30/month plus the usual creeping AT&T fees and upcharges and stuff -- to a lower cost service (ECG). Now my 30-200 minutes long distance per month usually run $3 to $8/month, with one month peaking at $17.

My hardwired landline phone still works when the lights are out, even when the cell towers are down. And landline modem is my backup Internet channel (last breath, dire need only!), for my web maintenance stuff.

As for the dedicated IP, that comes to $1.50/month for me and my customers, with I have been with them since 2002, a noticeable speed, reliability, and features upgrade at the cost of trouble-ticket driven customer service. Most response times have been more than adequate, from 15 to 45 minutes.

That is, if you are interested in a moderate cost, shared or dedicated server plan.

louisa @ the really good life said...

I dropped from a contract mobile/cell phone to a pre-paid one a few years ago - it saved me around $8 a month but as frugal as I am, it wasn't worth the saving. I'd previously taken full advantage of my inclusive 'free' minutes and texts but once they became pre-paid and I was consciously paying for every one, I stopped communicating as much with friends + family -- silly texts or 2 minute chats about nothing, gone. It took me a while to realise why I felt cut off.

Wendy said...

We cut cable years ago, and last year we got rid of the TV. We're saving 40 kwh/month by *not* turning on the television/VCR/DVD. The amount of money saved, for us, is around $50/year, but will vary depending on one's electric rates (we pay around 13 cents/kwh here in Maine).

I had a cellphone many years ago, but the only one who ever called me was my husband. His employer paid for his cellphone. I have a landline at home (and I work from home). We have DSL Internet through our phone and a fax number, and so, for us, it made sense to drop the cellphone I never used, and keep the landline. I was paying $120 for my cellphone package. I pay $80 for my landline, including a separate phone number for the fax line (not a separate line, though) and Internet. I figure I'm saving and I get more features with my landline ;). Plus, when there's a power outage, I still have a phone line without having to worry about a battery and an Internet connection (as long as my laptop battery holds out ;)

I'd like to cancel my electric service :), but that will have to wait until we're generating some (at least enough for the freezer and the computers ;).

AP said...

You may need to rethink the NY Times subscription: they put up their "paywall" in March. No subscription limits you to viewing 20 articles a month (including blog posts). There is an online only subscription, and of course there are ways to get around the paywall.

Anonymous said...

We had a fire at our house a couple of years ago and were without power there for 6 months while the reconstruction was completed. We were very happy that we had a landline that worked throughout this situation. I think I will always keep a landline.

We have been able to save some money recently by changing our cable and internet service and optimizing our bundled phone service.

Dogs or Dollars said...

I've gone rounds with the cable company for years, with their stupid bundled discounts and promotional pricing. I'd call to cancel, and they would talk me out of it. Finally I decided it was more (or just as much) about getting the advertising portal out of my house, as it was saving money.
When I was persistent with them on the phone, they finally consented to drop my cable to basic basic basic (like 25 channels or something ridiculous). This kept my 'bundled' pricing for the internet, and was cheaper than cancelling outright. We dont even have the cable plugged into the television anymore. In fact, I dont think my husband even knows we have access to those 25 channels. I think I'll not mention that.

amy said...

It's amazing what some people think you just have to have. Two years ago while I was pregnant, my husbands grandmother visited us from california (we live in TN). Whe she found out we didn't have cable she was shocked. We tried to explain to her that we felt it was an unnecessary expense. She thought we just couldn't afford it, so in what I know she considers to be a loving gesture, she paid to have it installed and has instised on paying the monthly bill ever since. When we tried to refuse she acted hurt, so we gave in and let her have it installed. She just couldn't fathom what we might do with ourselves if we didn't have TV to watch!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Katy - We use the tiniest garbage can and even still rarely have much in in. I'll have to reconsider our yard waste container and see if we can go smaller since most of our food waste gets eaten by the chickens.

AP - Good point, although I'm sure whatever my husband ends up reading *has* to be cheaper than $60 a month.

Dogs or Dollars - We downgraded to basic, basic cable a year or so ago and get something like 15 channels, which we don't watch.

Amy - Some people think they are really helping out, don't they? But, they are doing it more for themselves. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

AT&T DSL. $50 for wireless router. Highest speed for $15/mo. (I called, and coerced them into this price.) In my state, stand alone DSL has no taxes, so it's $15 flat.

NetTalk VOIP device. $80, which includes the hardware and first year of service. After that, service is $30 per year. Again, no taxes. Includes all N. American long distance. Prorated, it's $2.50/mo.

iPod Touch. $200 each. With free Google voice app, becomes a wifi phone, though we don't use voice much, we mostly next with them. Prorated cost $0/mo.

TracFones. $10 each. These are our backup in case we aren't under wifi cloud. Good for road trips, because they work in every ZIP code. They each cost us $80 per year in service, and we have more minutes than we'll ever use at this point. Prorated cost $3.33 per month x 2 = ~$7/mo.

Roku. Cost $80. Most of our channels are free, we do spring for Hulu+ and Netflix, but only have them September through May, or a prorated total cost of $12/mo.

Unlimited TV, internet, and telephony for a family of five costs us $32/mo. This will go up somewhat when the littlest two get cell phones, but that will only be a good bday gift each (iPod) and $5/mo more.

Beats the heck out of $80/mo for home phone + DSL, $60/mo for dish, and $80/mo for the cheapest family cell contract plan. The equipment we bought when we did the great switchover paid for itself in three months.

Joan said...

Canceled our land line with AT&T last week. I had heard about it but they denied a dial tone remained. It only allows 911 calls to be made. Sure enough I tried calling another number & recording said only 911 calls. Makes me a little angry I just found this out. Emergencies were 1 reason we kept phone as long as we deal.
Other thing I did was get new quotes for our auto & homeowners insurance. Saved $500.

dlb said...

i wanted to do the same thing with my mom's cell phone but couldn't find any prepaid cell phones that didn't expire every 6 months.

Robj98168 said...

"Saving money by cutting services"

Isn't that the republican answer to the deficit?

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree about losing the home phone. We dropped our home phone about a year ago. We went to a dry loop DSL service since we do use internet. We lowered our cell phone plans and called to cancel dish. Dish ended up giving us a $10 plan which still gives us 200 channels and they didn't want to lose us. Go figure. That's more channels than we had before.

Unknown said...

People are always so shocked I don't have cable- my TV isn't even plugged in 99% of the time.

PS- unrelated, but starting Sept 1 all the apartments in Seattle now have food/yard waste bins like houses! (though I have yet to hear about it from my property manager, argh) Super excited, but now trying to figure out what container I have that is big enough to fitfood scraps in!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Joan - Oooh! I'll have to check on this one. That would be great if we still had 911 service. I'll report back when I get a moment to check.

Rob - No comment.

Jenn - I know, that's so cool! It's about time!

Brad K. said...

@ Robj98168,

"Isn't that the republican answer to the deficit?"

Just a note of doubt, here. The Democrats seem to say, "Here, let me buy that for you so you will remember me next election."

But the Republicans talk like they want to fix what is broken, except they seem to act, many of them, like they don't want to disappoint anyone that might remember they didn't pay for something, come next election.

It seems to me that there is a reason that the Tea Party doesn't label itself as part of the Republican Party. Where the Tea Party is still focused, mainly, on civil rights, properly constrained government, and fiscal prudence, the Republicans still haven't acted as if they care at all. The Republicans want to sound good; the Tea Party wants to do good.

To me there is a big difference between the Republican Party and it's 'conservative' philosophy, and an actually conservative political philosophy.

It may well take AT&T, plastic bag makers, and oil refineries to lose too many customers and go broke a time or three for various special interests to lose their clout with Congress, and enable actual change.

You are right about what Republicans say, and about what people believe the Republicans intend. I just want to actually see the leaders deliver this time, before I start cheering them on.

Unknown said...

I think we're out of things to cut. I'd like to cut internet but we need it for school (distance MS) and work plus I've found it very entertaining during this pregnancy in which I've had to spend so much time in bed. We haven't had a TV for a decade (which freaks my husband's students out). I'm going to look into the prepaid cellphone thing. I don't know how that compares to what we pay now. I also find it helpful to remember to renew my contract with the electricity company. Once that fixed rate expires it floats and I forgot about it for an entire year onetime. The only thing we can really do is try to use less gas and electricity to save money but I don't know how much we have left to conserve there either (until we move and have more efficient appliances, solar, etc.)

Brad K. said...

@ Annie,

I lived in California during the mainstream "solar" wave of the 1980s. My boss at work told me that the only form that actually paid off, commercially, was preheating the water to the water heater with solar panels. At the time there were no serious government payments, incentives, discounts, rebates, subsidies, or deductions (after all, government payments are one of the fundamental forms of unsustainable economics).

I am into my third year since the hot water heater didn't light; I kept putting off having it fixed, at first. Then I noticed that my propane used dropped by two-thirds.

What you might look at, is fire up the water heater on Monday, get the washing done and a hot shower in, and leave the thing to rest the rest of the time.

I regularly read reminders to vacationers to turn the a/c and hot water heater down to the minimum while gone. I guess some people turn their water heater higher than the lowest setting; I never have. Anyway, it is a luxury to return from a trip away or vacation to find that water steaming hot and ready for resuming life. But there is a cost in keeping the water hot when you aren't about to use it.

Besides, with the water heater off, I notice the changes in ground water temperature more closely as the seasons change. There must be some reason that is important, I can't think of one off hand, and I kind of look forward to summer (water temperatures) more than winter. Funny thing, that.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

We didn't sign up for a curbside recycling subscription. We take it for free to a nearby city recycling dumpster.

Mrs Mallard said...

We switched our cellphones to T-Mobile pre-paid and they cost us $100 a year now. You have a full year to use 1,000 minutes and I didn't even come close. We got a landline bundled with our slightly fancy cable and internet and the resulting arrangement saves us about $1400/year. When the introductory rate for the cable/internet/phone bundle expires, I call and tell them we can't afford the full price. Without fail, they renew the introductory price for another year and we're happy with that.

Canceling Netflix since we have DVR and On Demand saves us another $150/year.

Splitting garbage service with a neighbor is a brilliant idea. Our neighbors don't like us, but when we move, I'm going to scope out the new 'hood for a garbage share partner!

Sonja said...

I am curious about you cancelling your landline and keeping your cellphones. Aren't those way more expensive than the landline? Where I live, you can get a flatrate for your landline for about 25-30 € (including internet) per month, whereas every minute using the cellphone costs 9 cent for a call and more if I'd use it for internet browsing.
So how does it work if people call you on your cellphone, how much does it cost to call you?
(this isn't an abstract kind of question: I have friends in the States I'd like to call, but they only have cellphones and cut their landline...and I'm afraid of one horrible bill if I did call that number)

Last year I cancelled my subscription to a weekly magazine, but I did it to free money because I had to take up two subscriptions for work related magazines...ugh. Now I pay more and have less fun with those pages ;-)

I don't have cable, my cell phone service is basic, our landline is relatively cheap and is our internet line also, and the rest of the monthly bills are important insurances etc.

Brad K. said...


I had a horrible thought.

What if everyone cancels their newspaper and the papers go out of business -- how am I going to get my potatoes planted when the last of the newspaper is gone?!?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Brad - You better start stockpiling now! I think printed news is probably going to be gone in the next few decades. On the other hand, think of the trees saved :)

E said...

NYT charges to read online, so its only a partial savings.

It really adds up - $2,000 is a great savings!

Lola said...

hehe we did a similar thing. We chose not to have cable from the beginning, we let go of Netflix (Hello free Hulu and Redbox, we dont have a landline, we let go of the car and switched to an electric scooter. Now we are planning on having a baby so we will buy a Volt. About cell phones: I keep on threatening Sprint I am going to leave them and they keep on throwing freebies to me: free HTC phone, 20% discount on monthly bills, which brings unlimited everything to 50 bucks/month (tax included). not bad. With the extra bucks we purchased renewable energy from our electric company. About internet: we use our phones, which have a "bubble".

Hannah Elise said...

@Brad K -

"To me there is a big difference between the Republican Party and it's 'conservative' philosophy, and an actually conservative political philosophy"

It sounds to me like you are describing the difference between Republicans and libertarians. ;) I think more Tea Partiers are libertarians than they realize. Personally, I'm registered Republican, but I am honestly far closer to libertarian than anything else.

Hannah Elise said...

I'm always excited to see posts about saving money by cutting services ... until I remember that we really don't have services to cut. D'oh.

We don't have cable. (My parents invite us over for our respective sports teams' games, which are a family affair regardless... we rent movies via Netflix... and nothing else really interests us.)

We don't have internet. This is one thing we would like to change, but frankly can't afford at this point. I do some perusing via cell phone, and any other internet activity is done when I'm up at my parents' farm to feed the livestock.

We don't have a landline. We have a family plan with Sprint. Frankly, I would like to "downgrade" (we are on the Unlimited" Plan) and put the savings toward in-home internet, but I don't know if we can downgrade or not, and we've got approx 14 months left on our 2-yr contract. Ugh. On the bright side, our move from prepaid cell to a plan is allowing us to build credit, which neither of us had when we got married last year because we always saved up / bought used / etc to avoid debt.

Unfortunately, that means no credit score when the day comes that we decide to buy a home, so we bit the bullet and got a plan, and a secured credit card... ugh.

Anyway... maybe I can find something else we can cut. *headscratch*