By Anisha Sekar
Chances are you're paying way too much for your monthly services – everything from cable to phone service to Internet. And in times like these, we can all use a little extra in our wallets –- so why not start by cutting the cord on services you pay for but could be getting for free?
Here are five subscriptions you're likely overpaying for:
- Internet. How much are you paying your Internet provider? The answer is probably "too much." Whereas Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK) and AT&T (T) often charge upward of $30 a month, many lesser-known companies provide plans for half that amount. Unless you're under contract with your current Internet provider, you should consider switching to a company you've never heard of. 4G wireless Internet providers such as NetZero and FreedomPop have tiered pricing based on how much data you use, and you can even get Internet for free. Also, low-income households might be able to qualify for $9.99 a month broadband access through a government initiative.
- Phone data plans. If you're shelling out $30 to $50 a month for just 2 gigabytes of data, you can cut down your smartphone bill substantially. Check out mobile wireless hotspot plans, which allow your phone to use Wi-Fi instead of gobbling up expensive 4G data. Karma has a pay-as-you-go plan of $14 per GB of data used, but you can also get free data by sharing your network with someone else. Moreover, services such as Yuilop, Skype and Google Voice let you make calls and texts for free.
- Cable TV. Are you still paying to watch TV? Do you really need to see "Game of Thrones" the night it comes on? Start using services such as Hulu (or Hulu Plus, if you're feeling fancy) and Netflix (NFLX) to get your fix, or buy a la carte with iTunes or Amazon Video. Many network channels such as Fox, ABC and NBC post episodes online as well.
- Credit monitoring. It's important to keep an eye on your credit score, and your legal rights only extend to one free copy of your credit report (not score) a year, which you can get through AnnualCreditReport.com. However, one report every 12 months isn't enough when your credit score can determine your insurance premiums and place of residence. So instead of paying monthly for a credit monitoring service, sign up for one only when you need to check your credit score and cancel during the grace period to avoid paying a fee. Next time you need to check your credit, go to a different service, rinse and repeat.
- Magazines. Instead of paying $10 each for The New Yorker, Time, Vogue and Wired, simply sign up for an aggregator service such as Next Issue and get all the issues for less than $15 a month. You can then read the magazines on a tablet, smartphone or computer.
Anisha Sekar is the chief consumer advocate at NerdWallet, a website that offers expert advice on everything from tax credits to travel tips.
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