Budget-Friendly Home Entertainment

One of our biggest budget items (besides rent) is our internet service. We don’t even have the “super fast” option and yet we’re still paying nearly $75 per month for internet and basic phone service through AT&T.  When I called AT&T to transfer our services to the new apartment, I was surprised to find that they did not offer the home phone line there (which is perfectly fine with me). I was more surprised that they wanted to charge me $49 for the privilege of packing up my own modem and reinstalling it at the new address. I politely declined. That leaves us just one other option in home internet service – Comcast. I almost can’t bear the thought of that either; but at the very least, we’ll be saving 50% for the first year over our current AT&T bill.

I’d forego the internet altogether if it weren’t for the fact that I work remotely and we access most of our home entertainment options via the internet (rather than through a cable or satellite subscription). I figure it’s a trade off. Pay for cable, get 200 channels you don’t watch anyway or pay for internet and get TV, movies, books, and more for free (or cheap).

In addition to leaving AT&T behind, we’re ditching our Tivo OTA DVR too. Don’t get me wrong, I love this little box. It has been great to be able to record shows through our TV antenna. It’s also been great to have our streaming apps all in one place. But Tivo service costs $14.99 per month (unless you buy the new OTA which comes with lifetime service included) and their apps are limited. They don’t have Sling TV, for example, or any of the network apps like ABC, NBC, or CBS.

We’re opting instead to go with Sling TV and a Roku 2 (free with a 3 month prepaid subscription). Since we cut the cable cord in 2014, the only channels we’ve really missed are ESPN, HGTV, and the FOOD Network. Sling offers all of those and more starting at $20 per month with no contract. Since we pay $14.99 for Tivo and $11.99 for Hulu, we’re actually saving a few dollars per month switching to Sling.

Besides Sling TV, here are a few of our other favorite places to find great deals on home entertainment, including e-books, video games, television, and movies.


Book Gorilla – Book Gorilla sends you a single daily email alert with the best deals on books that match your reading preferences, including bestsellers and freebies. Though not every book in my daily list is of interest to me, I have been able to score about a dozen free DIY books, travelogues, and memoirs over the past few months; making it well worth the 15 seconds that it takes to skim the email every day.

Lendle – Lendle is a book-sharing site for owners of Kindle books. Not all e-books are lendable but there’s still a decent selection to choose from and the process of borrowing and lending is really easy. If you sign up for Lendle, use referral code ND7C8EAN. I don’t make any money off the referral but I do get 2 extra borrow requests.

Overdrive (Online Public Library Access) – I’ve always loved browsing the library – so many great books to choose from – and now I have that same experience right from my living room! Most public libraries have an online lending program and can be accessed with your library card. Audiobooks may require the free Overdrive app.

Amazon Family Library – Two adults and up to 4 children in the same household can share their Kindle books, apps, and audiobooks across all of their Amazon devices and Kindle reading apps. Angie is a Prime member so I now have access to whatever book she downloads for the month (luckily we have similar tastes in reading) and she gets all of my BookGorilla finds. While the Family Library works with Prime sharing, it does not work to share books checked out through Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited – Speaking of…Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service similar to Netflix (but for books). You can read as many KU books as you want for $9.99 per month. While you won’t find many (if any) current NY Times bestsellers, there are plenty of books to choose from. I recently signed up again (after a 2 year break) so that I could read some of the books I have on my wish list, including Ruth Soukup’s 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero.

Video Games

A brand new X-Box or PlayStation game costs around $60, can be played through from beginning to end in about 15 hours, and has a trade-in value of less than 1/3 of the original cost within just a few days of purchase. That means your cost is about $2.67 per gaming hour. While that might not seem like a lot, I think free sounds a whole lot better – especially if you’re only a casual gamer (like Angie).

Redbox – You may know Redbox already for its cheap movie rentals but did you know that they also offer games? By enrolling in text and email alerts, we get a lot of freebies and discounts on both movies and games. Angie has successfully played through two newly released games in the past few months, using only free game rental codes. If you don’t want to wait that long to complete a game, an additional day will only cost you $3…still way cheaper than the scenario above.

**Another way to get free Redbox codes is to enroll in Kellogg’s Family Rewards

Movies & TV Shows

Streaming Services – I can’t say enough good things about Netflix streaming. I’ve had the service since way back when there were only a few 2-star movies and a handful of old TV shows so I have to say that I’m really impressed by how far they’ve come. I’m also a fan of Hulu, which now has the no-commercial option for $11.99 per month.

Your Public Library – I dare say, the single best source of any type of media – digital or print – is your local public library. We are fortunate to have a great library that has a selection of movies and TV episodes that rivals any old-school video store and they are all free to check out (with a library card, of course).

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