In these difficult times, with COVID and thousands of job losses around the globe, I’ve been looking at making changes in my life to save money. With changing service providers and negotiating deals, I’ve managed to save myself hundreds of dollars each year. I’ll share these tips with you – so you can start putting more money in your pocket.
Cutting the cord
I finally “cut the cord” as the cool kids say and cancelled my cable on a permanent basis. I did the math. I was paying about $75 per month (Canadian) and hadn’t turned my tv on once in the past six months. It didn’t make sense when most of my shows – I can stream online and have been happily watching on my computer.
I signed up for three streaming services and am content with my choices. Services will depend greatly on where you are – as some streaming services like Hulu and the CW aren’t available here in Canada.
I’m still miffed at Netflix Canada for removing shows like Supernatural and Bones.
Here are my top 5 choices for streaming content legally in Canada with paid memberships:
- Netflix: $10.00
- Crave TV: $10.50
- Amazon Prime: $7.00
The great thing about these services is you can cancel them at any time and restart again. I often flip back and forth between Prime and Crave when I’m watching specific shows. Netflix however, I’ve had for years and love it. My favorite shows are on there – like Lucifer and Animal Kingdom. My only beef is that they removed all the CW shows I liked – The Vampire Diaries (it’s a guilty pleasure), Supernatural – are available on Prime.
CraveTV has fewer options but it is great if you want to binge watch older shows like Senfield, Fraiser and even Southpark – which is why I signed up.
Now you can take a chance and stream content on pirated websites (which is legal in Canada for PERSONAL use) – but unless you have a really good anti-virus program like Malware Bytes, I’d recommend against it. There are some free and legal sites that allow you to watch older movies – which I will post about in a follow up article.
I regret not signing up for Spotify sooner as I spent way too much money over the years on Itunes music and movies. I have a couple of beefs when it comes to Apple.
- Lack of support
- Overpriced product
- Not being able to use products on non-apple devices
I also found Itunes to be very slow and would often make changes to my saved library. And don’t even get me started on the time last year when I accidentally DELETED 12,000 songs from my external harddrive. I literally cried.
Even with the support of a tech savvy friend via remote connection, he was not able to recover my music. I spent hours re-downloading what I could from Itunes and had to re-burn all my CD’s. The rest I got from youtube.
Youtube – while I love the platform for discovering new music and use it as an artist to promote my own music – is my least favorite site for streaming music on my cell phone. I refuse to pay for premium on principle – there are just way too many ads. Even with ad blocker on my phone – I still get ads every video.
Spotify – hands down – wins top vote for me. Itunes is a close second – though I won’t give Apple any more money. I’ve spent thousands on music and movies over the years.
Top 3 music streaming services for me are:
- Spotify $9.99
- Apple Music
- CBC Music (radio – Canadian)
Soundcloud has turned into a cess pool trolls and “let me buy you free followers” bot accounts. I can’t remember the last time an actual person followed me there.
If you’re a musician like me, there are tons of websites you can join and discover new music for free (with ads) – instagram, facebook, youtube, LIVEfm, bandcamp – and many more.
I’ve been doing a lot of research into streaming devices that I can hook up to my Smart TV. My TV is on the older side – from 2013- but I’ve barely used it in the last couple of years and it still works great. I do plan on upgrading to 4K during boxing week sales. The prices of good quality tv’s have come down a lot in recent years.
Ideally, I’d like a streaming device that I can connect directly to my Wifi by cable. I’d also like to be able to plug wireless headphones in to watch movies. So – my top five choices for streaming devices in Canada are:
- Roku ULTRA -(don’t pay more than $100 for it)
- or Roku Streaming Stick + (you need good wifi for this)
- Android Box
- Apple TV (higher price)
PROs to the Roku box for me are – less costly than Apple TV, and you can play Apple content without an Apple device which is the appeal. I have a ton of movies purchased from Itunes that I want to watch on 4K.
Top Pick – Roku
I spent a long time – the past year – searching for the perfect streaming device. I realized there is no such thing. My friend Wally picked up an Android Box last Christmas and he swears by it. He also said the set up was a pain – he had to call in for help.
Roku devices support HD tv and 4K and is easy to connect to your computer. The only con to Roku is that not all content is available in Canada and there are some ads.
Check out price comparison with Roku Canada
I’m going to pick up an Ultra once prices go down. Amazon currently has it listed at $209 – which is double the normal price. I think this is because of COVID. The Streaming Stick+ is the next best deal at $69.99 CDN.
I discovered the Roku box while staying in an Air B&B in Toronto last year. I had no idea what it was and it was fairly easy to use. You can manage your content with an online profile as well.
So, you might be thinking to yourself – how is this going to save you money? It took some negotiating with my Internet provider but this is how I managed to save my self hundreds of dollars each year.
I upgraded to Shaw Cable’s Internet 300 plan and now only pay $95 per month (that includes taxes) for Internet. There are other companies out there like Telus, Rogers and TekSavvy that can offer you deals. But I’ve been with Shaw for years and they have been good to deal with.
Here’s a breakdown of finances:
- Cable: $70.00
- Internet: $75.00
- Admin Fees and Taxes: about $20
- Total monthly cost: $165.00
- Total annual cost: $1980.00
Total monthly bill: $165 – sometimes it would go up to $175 as admin fees rise. This was the same for my power bill (water is included in condo fees) – I finally got on a fixed rate plan so pay consistently each month.
New monthly cost since “cutting the cord”:
- Internet: $85.00
- Admin fees & taxes: $10.00
- Spotify: $9.99
- Netflix: $9.99
- Crave TV & HBO: $16.00
Total costs: $131.00 monthly or $1572 annually
Total savings: $400 annually
It doesn’t sound like much at the end of the day. But now that pretty much everything is switching to monthly fees like gaming services, and even using programs like Adobe – keeping track of your monthly expenses is crucial.
Even if you spend $100 on a Roku device – that’s a one time fee. You don’t have to pay your cable company monthly rental fees or admin fees for cable service.
I’ll be sharing some more tips and tricks with you including comparing some items I recently purchased for my kitchen – like the Instant Pot and Rice Cookers. Stay tuned!
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