There's no greater time than the beginning of the year to check in with your in-home entertainment memberships and make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck and relishing the packages you have signed up for. The upkeep will not only help you maintain your resolve to live below your means, but it will allow you take stock of whether or not your services or habits are sustainable. Check in with the following before the end of the month in an effort to get organized.
- Video Store vs. Netflix: Ask yourself if you are an infrequent movie renter and would rather spend the $5 Netflix fee (for one rental per month) for the convenience, or have the option of popping into the quaint rental shop on the way home. If you are a real movie nut explore the Netflix three-at-a-time plan (unlimited rentals per month and unlimited movies downloaded to your PC), which is $17. If you research the right plan you can save on gas and time, and kill late fees. Similarly, if you don't watch the movies that show up in the little red envelope opt to put your Netflix account on hold for three months at no cost until you want it again. Remember the cost looks small, but even the $5-per-month plan adds up to $60 a year (the $17 plan is $204 for a year!). You can always rent DVDs for free — or a tiny fee — at your local library.
- Cable and Satellite TV: Do you get your money out of your HBO, Showtime, and an expanded sports package? If so, more power to you. If not, ditch them or call your service provider and let them know you are spending too much each month and would like a better plan for your lifestyle. Your provider wants to keep you as a customer so they will work with you, even if it's just cutting a couple of dollars.
- DVR Service and TiVo: Is your TV provider charging you extra for a DVR service you aren't using? Are you paying $13 monthly for TiVo when your cable provider offers a less expensive DVR service? Call them up and check. If you only record a couple shows a month cruise websites like Hulu or network websites to see if the shows stream online or if you can purchase the shows from iTunes for less than the DVR price. Single episode downloads from iTunes are generally $1.99 each.