I’ve been meaning to write a post for probably a year now on how much I pay all together for my communications and entertainment services on a monthly basis and while reading this post over at Add Vodka earlier today I was inspired to finally get doing it! I’ve written a lot here on how to save money on your monthly bills but I’ve never actually broken down my own costs as a real life example and I think that’s worthwhile, so here goes. All prices include taxes and fees.
$66.61 – High Speed Internet (20mbps Down / 15mbps Up)
Here in Atlantic Canada we have some of the best high speed internet service in all of Canada. We don’t have much competition or low cost providers, Rogers and BellAliant are pretty much it for choices, but Aliant has always been an early pioneer for high speed internet in Canada. My parents actually had 8mbps fibre optic high speed at their house all the way back in 1997! Unfortunately, it was before its time and they later discontinued it in favour of much slower and cheaper DSL, but since 2009 fibre has returned with even higher speeds in their new FibreOp service!
I’m actually on the lowest speed at 20mbps, which is more than enough, but they also offer download speeds of up to 250mbps! Even better, there is no download cap so I can stream and download as much multimedia as I want. By calling and negotiating a better deal, I was able to get a $10 monthly discount off the regular rates. Keep in mind, I have no other services with them but internet so they don’t usually like to discount things too much unless you bundle multiple services together, so I think I did pretty well there to even get a discount.
Cost Breakdown: $68.95 – $10.00 + $7.66 tax = $66.61
FREE – Unlimited On Demand TV
I’ve been preaching about watching TV online for a long time now, but in case you haven’t heard it yet you at least need to consider all the ways you can save money on TV even if you aren’t ready to go with an online-only solution.
People are quick to come up with excuses why internet TV isn’t as good as cable, but with the right setup I actually think it is better because you can get all of the popular shows legally right on the network websites on demand. It works just like a PVR that you never have to set up to record, manage, or worry about breaking and it has unlimited hard drive space! The only downside is that you can’t skip the commercials, although you can fast forward, pause, and rewind, but it hardly matters because the commercials are far fewer and much shorter than on cable TV anyway. 30 seconds is the norm as opposed to the 3 minutes of commercials you typically get with cable.
The key pieces to the puzzle are having a good home theater PC and high download cap on your internet service. If you’ve got that, then you might as well call the cable company right now and cancel!
Cost Breakdown: FREE
$30 – Two Smartphones With Features and Data
My wife and I have our cell phones with PC Telecom (President's Choice) on a prepaid plan that is pay per use for the amount of minutes and text messages you use. To keep the accounts active we need to buy a $100 top up card every 12 months with the unused balance carrying over. So theoretically we could each spend $8.33 a month if we didn’t talk or text that much but I’ve upped it to $30 to be more typical of our actual usage.
The prepaid service comes with free Caller ID, Voicemail, and 3 way calling. Local minutes are 20¢/min, long distance minutes are 45¢/min, and text messages are 15¢ outgoing and unlimited incoming. We use WiFi on our android smartphones that we got brand new and super cheap through Koodo with no contract for most of our data needs, but I also have 100MB of data on my phone which depletes $10 from my balance monthly.
Finally, there is no need to add tax to this total because I’ve been buying our top up cards at Superstore on the no tax weekends to save on that extra expense and it works like a charm!
Cost Breakdown: Min $8.33/mth per phone + $10 data + actual usage = ~$30
$3.33 – Home Phone With Unlimited Long Distance + Calling Features
With the amazing internet connection we have mentioned above, it only makes sense to use Voice Over IP for our home phone service instead of a typical landline that you would pay $30/mth or more for. There are literally hundreds of VoIP options out there, and some of them are even less expensive than magicJack or even free but even for a tech savvy person such as myself I found magicJack to be the best combination of cost and ease of use. When it costs so little, paying a little more to get a better product is easy!
In my review of magicJack I go into all the details about the service, but it is basically a small device that plugs directly into your router as well as your cordless phone system. You get a local Canadian number and it works almost identical to a regular phone except for it comes with unlimited long distance anywhere in North America. It also comes with voicemail and caller ID along with a bunch of other calling features at no additional cost. Note: I now have magicJack Plus, which is better than the original magicJack because it doesn't require a computer to operate.
Cost Breakdown: $29.95/year + $10/year for Canadian Number ÷ 12 months = $3.33
$7.99 – Unlimited On Demand Movies & TV Series
I have been a subscriber to Netflix in Canada since a month or two after it launched and I’ve found it to be a great service! We already have more free TV than we can handle as mentioned above so this is a definite luxury that we could cancel any time to reduce our costs but at $7.99 it is still uber cheap for what you get. I currently work from home and a family member looks after my young daughter here at home during the day so just the enormous supply of kids shows for her and movies for the sitter during naps is enough to make the service worth it.
My wife and I also enjoy watching entire TV series together when we get the chance and the odd movie. I honestly can’t see cancelling the service any time soon because I think it’s great! I’ve actually got a post coming up really soon reviewing Netflix Canada, so stayed tuned for that!
Cost Breakdown: Straight $7.99/mth (tax inc.) for unlimited content = $7.99
TOTAL – $107.93
How Much Do You Pay?
Based on my reading, even most savvy internet users pay more than I do for these services so there’s definitely no shame in that. I’m curious what you currently pay and if you would consider doing any of the things I’ve done to cut your costs or maybe do something else I haven’t thought of yet. I’m sure there are some readers who pay even less than I do, so let’s hear about that too!