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$108 – My Cost For High Speed Internet, TV, 2 Cell Phones, Home Phone, Long Distance, And Movies

Paperwork by kozumelI’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 (50mbps Down / 30mbps 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 50mbps (they upped it for free), 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!

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Micah Peterson's picture

Great article! Are there Saint John, NB VOIP numbers available yet?

SavingMentor's picture
After reading Lee's comment below, I checked on les.net and they only have Moncton area numbers and I also looked on magicJack's site and they only have 506.803, which is again Moncton so it doesn't look like things have changed yet.
Lee's picture

Yes, great article! Would like to see a simple calculator so readers can compare and save!

@Micah Peterson - les.net and anveo offer NB 506 voip numbers.

SavingMentor's picture
I'll have to check out those 506 number Lee but the thing is that 506 covers all of New Brunswick and a few months ago I could only find Moncton area numbers. There may be Saint John area numbers now too. New Brunswick was pretty much the last province to get on the VoIP bandwagon as the numbers were much too costly for VoIP providers other than Vonage to offer.
Robb's picture

I dropped my landline a few years ago because we have two cell phones. My employer has always paid my cell phone bill, even when I switched jobs I made sure to negotiate that into my contract.

I complained about my internet to TELUS on Twitter and got it for $15.95 a month. My wife's cell phone costs $65 a month. Bell XPressVu Satellite is $60 a month. We borrow movies for free at the library.

So, in total we pay $140.95 a month.

SavingMentor's picture
Using the employer to cover some of your costs or claiming them as a business expense when possible is a great way to get some of these costs lowered even further! That's pretty sweet to get your internet for $15.95 I must say. I don't think I'd have a chance of that around here. Can I ask what your internet connection speed is Robb? I've been meaning to check out the library for some free stuff. I wonder if they would have new release movies not available on Netflix? :)
Robb's picture

Internet connection speed? I thought the only difference was between dial-up and high-speed? ;)

Ok, my wife tells me to go to speed test dot net, and it says my internet connection speed is 16.17 Mbps.

SavingMentor's picture
Well that's smokin' fast for what you're paying!
Joe's picture

Wow, Robb and SM, you totally have us beat on total cost!

#1 problem for us: we live in the country. Bell is the only internet provider. We pay MORE than in TO ($40-something after taxes; I negotiated a lot to get this price on the Rogers Extreme package) but instead of getting 120 gigs of bandwidth and an insane upload speed, we now have DSL quality service. Canada's oligopolies suck. And it's even worse when it's a local monopoly!

We definitely live/die by our computers when it comes to entertainment. There's something deeply satisfying about hooking your computer up to a 51" flatscreen with an HDMI cable. Soon enough, I can keep my HDMI permanently plugged into my XBox, because we're getting a free Sony Internet Player from the credit card deal :) actually we're getting 2 cause my partner got her own card. Good Xmas gift methinks.

As for local TV, we've been using free UHF/VHF for our TV but after the digital transition we get like one channel. We just got a free satellite receiver in the mail and we've got an installation scheduled for tomorrow. Shaw, under an agreement with the CRTC, has been running a program called the LTSS. If you live in an area with service degraded by the digital transition, look into this free program. It's like getting a very basic TV package for free :) I haven't paid a cent, they've never asked me for a credit card, it's awesome.

The real killed on our bills is our smartphones. I have a BlackBerry Bold 9900 and my girlfriend just got hers. We each pay $50 + HST monthly. Here's our packages:

-200 minutes local
-ultd calling to My10 (helpful when we have family members across the country)
-100 minutes long distance (my girlfriend only gets 30, this is the only difference in the packages I was able to negotiate)
-ultd texting
-1 gig data (the BlackBerry beats Android and iPhone re: data compression. I use the BB a lot yet I've never gone over)
-voicemail/call display

So our cellphones are the real kicker at $112.50 in total per month.

I've never had a landline phone. I could switch to a VOIP MagicJack but, for me, there are too many drawbacks e.g. keeping my laptop on all the time etc. I just like the convenience of my cellphone (latte factor?)

If either of us needed a ton of long distance, we both have the access phone number for a calling card company in our "My10". We'd just purchase a $5 card online using our phone and make calls.

So our total telecom bills are about $152.50.

SavingMentor's picture
That's still pretty good Joe! Paying for the smart phones with data is definitely something that a lot of people do and is worth it for a lot of people. Nothing can beat the convenience and ease of use. I've tried to combine some of that with a reduced cost by going with the magicJack solution but there is no doubt that going 100% cell phone, as we used to do, is more convenient. One thing though, with the (relatively) new magicJack Plus, you no longer have to have your computer turned on to use it. It plugs directly into your router and the wall electrical outlet. Although, it probably wouldn't be ideal for you in a more rural area with a slower connection possibly with a higher delay anyway. There are other options nearly identical to magicJack that don't require a computer either like Nettalk Duo, and Ooma. Using a standard ATA coupled with a standard VoIP provider like Voip.ms also wouldn't require a computer. Does your TV only have 1/2 HDMI ports? Not sure why you'd have to swap it? Check out Monoprice.com for high quality and uber cheap HDMI cables if you haven't before.
Lee's picture

Hi Joe, have you checked out the Koodo Canada wide plans, for example, you can get unlimited Canada-wide calling with 1GB of data for $60. It's about the same as you're paying now, but you don't have to worry about local minutes, long distance minutes, calling cards, and MY10 or whatever. Just enjoy the latte factor :-)

SavingMentor's picture
Koodo is definitely the way to go for postpaid plans with no negotiation. They're almost always on top! I've been seriously considering their $30 75 minute plan with 250MB of data actually.
Steve @ Grocery Alerts's picture

Great breakdown of the price.

We use RingCentral (toll-free number, unlimited long distance and fax line and local number for $40 /month) for our business and pay $19.99 for Shaw Extreme (could be cheaper with Telus) and don't pay for cable (watch everything online).

We had a guest post that discussed a great free tool that shows all the shows available for Canadians online (great search engine) - http://www.streaming-guide.com/?src=ga

SavingMentor's picture
That's a cool site Steve, thanks for sharing the link.
30kto30million's picture

Cool post sounds like getting some good deals, especially on your phones..

As for me.. I am with Primus for $55.25/month (unlimited download cap) and have a speakout pay as you go sim in my smartphone which averages $10-$15 a month... for about $70/month..

Thanks for the handy info!

SavingMentor's picture
Love the avatar man, great idea you had there!
30kto30million's picture

Thanks! Glad you like..

Tracey H's picture

We pay $127 to our cable company for a bundled package of internet, phone, and television. And we pay $8.33/month for 1 cell phone that's seldom used. We're thinking of cutting out the TV part (we do watch some of our shows online), but there are lots of shows we like to watch that we can't get online or on Netflix so I think we're going to stick with it. $135/month seems like a lot, but I use the internet about 8 hours/day, have CBC Newsworld on in the background (and flip to the Weather Network as needed and watch HGTV home shows in the evening), so I guess it's not too bad for all that (plus we get a landline and a cell phone).

With Magic Jack, you can't keep your current phone number, can you?

SavingMentor's picture
When they launched magicJack Plus they added number porting to their service. I don't know if I'd trust them with an important number you've had for decades or anything but the option is there. I mostly use my magicJack for long distance calls and calls to friends and family so if I ever lose that number I don't really care. I protect my cell phone number and use that for all things of extreme importance. You'd have to check with magicJack if they can port your number specifically, because there are some restrictions on it. You're doing pretty well at $135/mth. Some people pay that just for 2 cell phones!
Sustainable PF's picture

TV - $0 (we watch tv and movies online at no charge)
Netflix - $0 (search for Netflix Sucks ;) )
Phone - $2.67 (magicjack plus - our annual bill was $32 this year)
Internet - $52 (100 GB cap)
Cell Phones $16.67 (2x Virgin $100 per year top up each, no data unless I plan to travel - so $10 so far)

Total $71.34 per month.

SavingMentor's picture
You're welcome :) How does your magicJack cost less than mine btw? Are you not counting the $10 canadian number charge or are they not billing you for it? I actually can't remember if I was charged for mine on the last renewal or not but I think they are supposed to. I'm also curious if you actually keep your cell phone usage to $100 per year or does your actual usage go over that? I was tempted to put mine at $16.67, but I figured that would be kind of like cheating because we sometimes go over that amount. Is your internet $52 tax-in?
Sustainable PF's picture

I will email you the invoice I got via email.

As per the cell phone - for the last 8 yrs I have put $100 on my phone, annually. It covers the year. My wife now has the same - so $200 per year. And we have "lost" money each year - we didn't use up our time. We never run out of this credit, lose it yes, stupidly, but never exceed it.

I paid $10 for "data" at the CPFC conference. So add about $0.90 to our monthly bill. I turned of that "data" before it expired.

$52 was the amount being deducted from my bank account.

I have been online since '88/'89 SM. Learned a lot of tricks to avoid the BS on the way.

SavingMentor's picture
Sweet! I think you win the prize for the lowest overall cost for the most services so far. You and I basically follow an identical plan but I can't get my internet costs down because I'm in a small city with no competition. At least I've got the high speeds and no cap to console myself with... If I could manage to keep my cell phone usage in line every month and I cancelled Netflix, I would be at $86.61 tax in.
Vanessa's picture

Wow, great breakdown! I love how you can save tax by buying your top-up cards at Superstore. I agree that internet TV > than real TV. The only problem I have is that there are 1 or 2 providers that offer unlimited downloads and neither of them offer high speed (well, they offer "high speed")

SavingMentor's picture
Yes, download caps are a pain. However, if you don't watch all that much TV, then it still an option to get all your TV through the internet. Where you do you live? Are there not many options in terms of internet service providers?
Deb's picture

I am In the Ottawa area. Our home phone and Internet is with Bell, at a cost of approx $90.00 per month plus tax. Then we have Shaw for tv at approx $93.00 per month incl tax, but no movies. One cell is with Bell (blackberry) - 3 yr term and $45 per month plus tax, and one with Koodo (no data but unlimited tax and 50 phone minutes for $25 plus tax).

Any suggestions how to cut these costs down? Thanks

SavingMentor's picture

I would definitely recommend reading through all the articles I've written in the Bills section of my site. There is lots of information there on how to cut your costs on all these services.

Just quickly I would try calling Bell and getting to the retentions department by telling them you are considering cancelling because of a good offer you've seen from a competitor (having a real offer helps). Then once you are speaking to retentions ask them if they can give you some sort of discount for being a good customer and to keep your business.

$93 seems expensive for TV. I would also call them and ask for a discount or consider switching to free internet TV. I have written guides on that in the same Bills section.

For your cell phone $45/month isn't that bad but I might consider going no contract with your phone after your term is up. Try looking for promotions just before Christmas at the end of November. That's pretty much the best time to get a cell phone plan or to purchase a new phone. I would look at Koodo specifically as they have been the leader in low cost awesome plans for the past couple of years. You might find a better deal by luck somewhere else, or at one of the discount providers that only serves small regions of the country, but Koodo isn't hit or miss like the rest of them.

Czechgirl13's picture

Hey there,

I wish I could use the internet to watch tv. I wish I could use it at all. I live in the country and the only options available are laughable. I pay close to $65.00 for $10GB! I've tried to call every service provider around, and so far am stuck with Bell who love to charge me for any additional mb. Anyone have other options? I live in a hamlet close to Durham, Ontario. (Not to be mixed up with Durham region near TO)

Thanks.

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