Frugal Entertainment: Thanksgiving 2017

A PS3 with a 32 inch TV is just fine for some co-op gaming
Getting value for your entertainment dollar

As the number of internet content providers expand, the choices for how to spend money on entertainment have gotten dizzying; Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Amazon. On the path to FI it’s critically important to minimize recurring costs, so just signing up for all the subscriptions is not an option. We cut cable 7 years ago and haven’t looked back. But we still want to watch some TV including college and NFL football, Game of Thrones, American Pickers and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Over the Air Network TV: Upfront ~$323, recurring zero

We are about 60 miles from TV transmitters in Spokane. It took a lot of trial and error to find an antenna array that worked for our difficult location. As a starting point you can use the address tool here. We have a HTPC but if I was starting from scratch I would purchase a TIVO Roamio OTA (300$) which has 4 tuners, 1 terabyte of storage, and does not require subscription fees for TIVO scheduling. If you are lucky all you might need is a $23 small indoor antenna in which case the upfront cost is $323. We get ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and a few other stations. This got us this year’s Apple Cup (possibly the worst college football game I’ve ever seen) and a variety of network content.

Sling TV: $14/month

With our rural location our internet choices are limited and we use T-mobile. This has gotten us a year’s worth of Sling TV for the reduced rate of $13.99 a month. I use it for American Pickers and DW has several shows she likes.

Amazon Prime: 99$ a year or $8.25 a month

I don’t consider this an upfront cost because over the course of a year using Prime eliminates multiple trips to stores, saving fuel and time. Because I can get products with 2 day shipping I can almost always order and just wait the 2-3 days, rather than get in the car. Since it is a 30 minute round trip into town Prime probably saves us more than $99 a year. Prime has a pretty good selection but lately we haven’t used the video selection so much. Game of Thrones Season 7 wasn’t available yet.

HBO trial on Amazon. Free for 7 days

I noticed we could now watch Game of Thrones Season 7 using HBOs free trial. 7 episodes in 7 days won’t be a problem. OMG how could you wait? Not a big deal.

Amazon music unlimited. Limited time trial 99 cents for 3 months

OK this is starting to sound like an Amazon commercial. What can I say, their service is outstanding. I have been organizing my music collection and the unlimited lets me listen to some albums to see what I’d like to purchase.

Amazon CDs and autorip

Going over my music collection I have several albums I used to own on vinyl that I no longer have. I purchased 4 CDs from Amazon priced $3.99 to $6.99 that come with the bonus of “Autorip”. Once you purchase the CD, the MP3 versions are available for download from your Amazon account. The bitrate is 256 kb variable and I prefer 320, but for the convenience I can deal with it. I still like to have the CDs so that I can pop in a CD to listen to, or rip it to MP3 if I need to.

Video games behind the curve. Cheap.

Now that its winter, there’s some time for video games. I have no need for the latest and greatest games. Hauling out the PS3 and firing it up with the DW we play some couch Co-op Diablo III and Borderlands. Since we bought them several years ago they are now free to us. If I wanted to purchase Borderlands 1, 2 and the Pre-sequel for the PS3, they would only be $24 shipped. That’s going to be less than $1/hr of entertainment.

Summary

In today’s a la carte entertainment world, flexibility is good. We use network TV less than we used to, but it’s still worth it to have that content recorded and waiting for us to watch. For Sling TV we have to watch commercials, but it’s good enough to fill in. And a few free/cheap trials will save us some cash.

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