Slashing Monthly TV Bills

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When Adam Fletcher moved into his apartment, cable TV was out of the question.

Adam says, "For the amount of things that we would want to watch, that we could get with the cable, it just was out of our price range."

Pay TV bills are going up - some six percent a year. Consumer Reports says one way to cut the cord - invest in a digital antenna. They cost between $8 and $80 - a one-time expense.

Jim Willcox with Consumer Reports points out, "Antennas pick up local stations, like CBS and NBC, for free. Of course, you're not going to get cable channels, and one drawback is that antennas don't work in every home."

You may need to test several antennas to find one that has good reception where you live - so make sure you can return it. Consumer Reports says this one from RCA is worth trying. It costs $32.

If an antenna doesn't do the trick, there's Aereo. It's been expanding across the country, despite legal challenges and an upcoming case before the Supreme Court. Aereo delivers broadcast TV channels to your phone, tablet, or computer for $8 a month.

If you have Roku or Apple TV, you can watch Aereo on your television as well.

Jim explains, "I tried Aereo at home, and I have to say that I was favorably impressed. I got about 30 channels, and I was able to record and save shows on a cloud-based DVR."

If you still want more to watch, streaming video services can fill in the gaps. The Fletchers stream movies from Netflix, plus they pick up about 30 local stations with digital rabbit ear antennas. Total cost?

Adam says, "We spend about, maybe around $20 a month for television services."

If you aren't ready to give up cable or satellite TV yet, Consumer Reports says it's worth checking to see if you can get a lower-priced plan. Paid-TV services are coming out with all kinds of special deals to hang on to potential cord cutters.

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