Monday, December 17, 2007

Getting rid of cable/satellite

I admit it....I like TV. I like it a lot. I use it to relax late at night, to start my mornings with a cup of coffee and the news, and to stay current on the latest hit shows like The Office. But it kills me to pay over $50 a month for this privilege.

This week, I've been thinking about how I could reduce my expenditure on TV programming, while still having enough channels to scratch my TV itch. One caveat: I won't even consider a solution that doesn't include a DVR.

Here's what I have now:
Dish Network "America's Top 100" with Locals
HD enabled w/ DVR
Total monthly cost: $55.

After exploring several options, here is what I have decided to go with:
  • Samsung SIR-T150 (HD tuner/receiver) - bought for $35 (including shipping) on ebay
  • Silver Surfer HD Antenna - Included as part of the ebay deal, but these can be found for about $10 on amazon.
  • DVR subscription - $6.95/month. ReplayTV 5040. (The normal monthly rate is $12.95, but I get a discount since I also still have an [inactive] Panasonic showstopper 2020 on my account qualifying me for the multiple unit discount.)

This solution will allow me to receive 6 channels in HD (for watching live) or to record them in Standard Definition (via my DVR).

My Total Savings: $48/month

If you are not a gadget geek like me, and don't have a couple of DVRs sitting in the closet, I saw plenty of Tivo Series 2 machines on Ebay/Craiglist in the $50 range. Those will require a $12.95/month service charge.

Had I started from scratch, it would have been:
$35 ebay for tuner and antenna.
$50 ebay/craigslist for Tivo
$12.95 monthly for Tivo

Curious as to whether you could receive HD channels over the air? Check out your address at and find out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Using a credit card for purchases less than $1

It seems that I'm always given weird looks by store clerks and friends when I pay for an inexpensive item (something less than a dollar or so) with a credit card. I understand, of course, that the store owner may have to pay a flat fee + % on the transaction, but I doubt the clerk knows or cares about that.
To me, using a card on these types of small transactions makes perfect sense from the consumers' perspective. Here are some advantages:

  1. I don't have to get back a handful of coins.
  2. It slightly reduces the purchase price (via cash back bonuses).
  3. I don't have to go to the ATM constantly. ($100 in cash can last me months!)
  4. Keeping all of my daily purchases on the same card can help answer the question, "Where did all of my money go?"

That being said, this only makes sense if you are paying off your "daily spending" card at the end of every month. If you aren't doing that, you're probably better off paying cash.