Updated on 10.20.10

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Netflix Streaming Edition

Trent Hamm

I just wanted to mention something that I think is a great value for those of you who own a Wii or a PlayStation 3 – you can now get a free Netflix streaming app from the app store on your console. If you have a Wii, just visit the Nintendo Store; if you have a PS3, it should have magically appeared in the Video section of your system menu.

Netflix streaming is pretty much replacing cable for us at this point. For $9 a month, you get access to a huge library of titles that you can watch at your convenience, plus you get new releases in the mail on DVD (or BluRay, if you have a PlayStation 3). The selection of movies and television shows on there, in conjunction with what you can watch in terms of new programs on the web, leaves us almost without any need for cable at this point.

Technologies I Live Without – and Save Big Eliminating these technologies certainly can be a money saver. (@ saving advice)

Experiences Are Worth More Than Stuff I agree strongly with this idea. I’m looking far more forward to traveling to Seattle next summer with my children than I am looking forward to any sort of material item I might acquire. (@ one million and beyond)

Taking Extra Jobs This is actually a comic, but it illustrates a great point: a side job (like delivering pizzas) can help whack down your debt and make your life a whole lot easier. (@ credit card finder)

It’s Your Fault That You’re Still Unemployed There’s a good point here, but I think there will be some rage at the conclusion. I agree with the idea that many people are often going into job hunts with unrealistic expectations and refuse to “settle.” (@ yes, i am cheap)

Where’s Frugal Dad? Some great reflections on what really matters when it comes to careers and moeny. (@ frugal dad)

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  1. Joanna I. says:

    I second the Netflix comment. We’ve had streaming for months & it’s wonderful. We also don’t have cable and don’t miss it. We rarely watch network tv at all. :-)

  2. Wesley says:

    Just as a small clarification, the Blu-Rays will cost you an extra $2 per month. Worth it for me personally, but I know it probably isn’t for some people.

    I canceled my cable this year due to a combination of Netflix, Hulu, and NHL Gamecenter. $11 a month for hulu and $160 a year for NHL is much better than the price of cable. About $25 a month compared to $45 I was paying before.

  3. Eric says:

    Netflix also showed up on my TiVo, and for the price of a gold membership ($60 a year) it is also available on the Xbox 360.

    Also a company called Roku makes a dedicated Netflix streaming player which plugs into your TV. It is only $60. I have recommended it to some of my older friends who don’t have any interest in a video game console.

  4. Johanna says:

    “many people are often going into job hunts”

    Weasel words. How many people, how often? How does their number compare to the total number of people looking for work?

    And if these people are so contemptible, why do you want to help them, even a little bit? Why not let them stay unemployed so that there are more green-bean-picking jobs available to the people who *are* willing to take them?

  5. SP says:

    We use the streaming much more than the regular DVDs that come in the mail. We also don’t have a PS3 – most computers can hook up to most newer TVs these days. We just needed an s video and some sound cables

    Like above, we don’t have cable, just netflix, hulu, and the occasional “season pass” of a show (mad men).

    Love it!

  6. Raffle Dog says:

    Well I just had to cancel my Netflix to save for my wedding. :( I was very sad but will definitely renew it after the wedding. I was paying about 20 bucks a month, I guess I could of just lowered my subscription?

    Anyway I watched the whole Dexter Series and streamed it. It rocked!

  7. Almost there says:

    I agree with #4’s comment. From years of following this blog I recognize that you have no inkling of what it is to face long term unemployment. I settled for a lower paying job after 4 months of job search and it took over a decade to work back up to the previous salary. Look at it this way, if an NP settles because there are no jobs in his/her location and takes an RN job then all the higher education and training is discarded/wasted. It is worse for people without as much education to settle for a lesser job. You can’t look at how job prospects are today and compare them with previous years. Our economy has changed and will never be what it was. Almost all TV shows have a “jump the shark” moment and blogs do too, I suspect.

  8. valleycat1 says:

    Trent – thanks for the links to these articles – I always enjoy finding additional blogs with a different slant on things. And from Yes I Am Cheap & Saving Advice I surfed on over to some additional ones!

    The settle vs. hold out for the perfect job topic is yet another example of the “lifestyle inflation” mindset that’s so pervasive today – or maybe just good old American optimism that you keep moving up, getting better stuff, etc without any steps backward.

    If you read the linked post on the jobs topic, the woman in question made an active decision to not take advantage of what sounds like some good options when she was laid off, and then turned down legitimate job offers due to her unrealistic expectations. That is totally different from someone who simply does not get any job offers anywhere for whatever reason (and to that I say, really?).

  9. MikeTheRed says:

    Working in the tech industry, and living in Michigan, I know a lot of people who have been laid off in recent years. In my own limited experience there are generally two groups of unemployed people:

    Seekers and Waiters.

    The Seekers maybe take a few days to a week off after losing a job to gather themselves, realign their finances etc in case they have a long-term period of unemployment. Then, they hit the ground running. They treat job hunting as if it were a full-time job itself. They take whatever interviews they can get, they hustle for contacts and they are open to almost anything that comes along. If they have to work part-time as a burger flipper in the meantime, they do it. I rarely hear these people complain.

    The Waiters on the other hand take a longer period off, then only put a half-effort into the job hunt. They will in the meantime complain that there aren’t any jobs, and when suggestions are made for places to look, or options to consider, they toss up excuses as to why they can’t or shouldn’t do something. Very quickly, it becomes the fault of everyone else that they aren’t employed. They don’t want to take work that’s below them, or at a lower pay. They pretty much wait until the perfect job comes along and reject anything approaching, but not quite reaching, it.

    Now, Seekers and Waiters both may be out of work for very long periods of time, especially in this economy. The difference is in the mindset and how they approach the problem. Generally, Seekers I know will often find work far faster than the Waiters, even when the Waiters have superior talent and experience.

    To those who say “But once you reset at a lower pay, it takes ages to reach your former level!” I ask them is the years of no income better somehow? Is living off of savings and unemployment somehow going to put you further ahead if you eventually get a new job at that old pay?. I always figured some salary is better than no salary.

  10. Bob S. says:

    Netflix is great…About two years ago we reduced our cable to basic/internet…this reduced our cable bill by 100/month. And the Roku box works perfectly.

    As far as the unemployment article goes…my interpretation was that it was meant for that particular situtation…I don’t think the writer was making a comment on all unemployed people.

    As far as anecdotes go I remember my dad being laid off from a job(middle manager at a big computer company) of 25 years…he spent a year looking for a job that just was not out there…so he got a job at a clothing store and went back to school to get his teaching certificate. Once he completed his education he continued at the clothing store while looking for a teaching job.

    Also, I’ve been a freelancer(film and video business) for 17 years (holy crap!)…in the business I’m in, we joke that we are “semi-retired” or only employed for today. Even when I’m busy part of my job(not the job I’m booked on but my job as a self-employed person) is to be cognizant of my calendar and to do what it takes to keep the income flowing. Sometime that means taking lower paying gigs or taking a different position on the crew. And when things have been really slow I’ve done construction work. I remember a shoot I was on not too long ago and a group of us on the crew were talking, turned out that ALL of us on the crew had side jobs, or some type of job that was a backup.

    I think that what I’m saying is that “can’t find a job” and “can’t find a job I would like” are entirely two different things.

  11. Jackie says:

    I didn’t realize netflix on the wii and Playstation were new. Hasn’t that been available for years. Also, keep in mind this relies on having a high speed internet connection, which isn’t exactly free!

  12. Bob S. says:

    “#9 MikeTheRed @ 10:46 am October 20th, 2010

    Seekers and Waiters.”

    Great comment!

    I’ve been both!

  13. Chet says:

    Folks that got rid of cable TV – how do you get your Internet connectivity?

    In my case, cable+Net costs almost the same as Net alone – due to the multi-service discount

  14. Johanna says:

    “when suggestions are made for places to look, or options to consider, they toss up excuses as to why they can’t or shouldn’t do something.”

    Not every suggestion is helpful, or worth acting on. Many people often (heh) offer suggestions without having the first clue what they’re talking about. In such cases, what the recipient of the suggestions is doing is not “tossing up excuses” but rather “providing more information in the hope of actually getting some helpful advice,” or perhaps “telling the person offering suggestions to shut it.”

    I’m not saying that this is what’s going on with the people you know, MikeTheRed. But there is a fine line between “offering suggestions” and “hovering over someone’s shoulder and telling them they’re doin it rong.”

  15. Johanna says:

    …but thanks, MikeTheRed, for acknowledging that even people who do everything right can be unemployed for a long time.

  16. Interested Reader says:

    @13 I have internet through Comcast and opted to get the cheapest basic cable option (appx $12/mth) because internet alone would have been more expensive.

    I save about $4/mth which isn’t huge but I get the main networks, a few other channels, and then a bunch of digital channels as well — most of the networks in high def, and a few other cable channels.

    I also access Netflix streaming throgh my blu ray player and they just added hulu plus. As well it has amazon, youtube, podcasts, videocasts, Pandora, slacker Radio, videos from epicurious, eHow and a bunch of other options.

  17. Pnut says:

    Question on Netflix – we have both HD cable and Netflix, which for us add up to our big entertainment splurge. Streaming Netflix does not replace HD or digital cable, from what I’ve seen. And to get HD cable, we have to pay for the big package (cringe). Is anyone particular about video quality of streaming TV or streaming movies? How have you cut expenses without sacrificing quality? I HATE HATE HATE paying for cable, I just haven’t been satisfied with any replacement options.

    Oh, and I can’t seem to get over the comfort of channel-surfing either, but one thing at a time.

  18. Wesley says:

    @#17 Pnut

    For me, most of my stuff streaming comes HD, between 720p and 1080p. The 1080 is a new feature I *think* only available on the PS3. As in the update that allowed it came out yesterday. I think it looks as good as a lot of the HD cable stuff I have seen, granted you have to have a pretty snappy internet connection which can be more expensive in some locations than the HD Cable itself.

    Also, if you aren’t dead set on streaming, the Blu-rays that they have of a lot of stuff will look better than anything you are getting streamed via TV, but that incurs the additional cost of a blu-ray player. But that could be quickly paid for if you stopped getting the expensive cable.

  19. MikeTheRed says:


    Like I said, this is based off of the people I know who have been in these situations. True, not all suggestions are helpful. But automatically dismissing suggestions such as “Have you checked Company X’s website for job listings instead of just using Monster” without even trying it, is putting up unnecessary roadblocks.

    I also feel that there reaches a certain point where unless the answer is “Yes, I’ve already tried that” if you’ve been unemployed long enough, any new suggestion is at least worth considering. When you’ve run out of all of the options you can think of, pretty much anything coming from outside your own head should be entertained at least briefly.

    The words “Nothing”, “Never” and “Can’t” don’t belong in the vocabulary of a job hunter. They’re defeatist words.

  20. Greg says:

    I have a question about Netflix. Is there a list somewhere of what shows are available for streaming? I’ve tried to find a list of shows to see if the ones my wife watches are available, but can’t find it anywhere.

  21. Matt says:

    I’m also in the camp that has opted for Netflix over cable TV. But this brings up something that’s important to keep in mind: net neutrality.

    At least in my area, everyone that provides residential high-speed Internet service also offers a TV service: Comcast is obvious, and AT&T has U-Verse.

    It is possible, that without net neutrality regulation, these combined TV+Internet service providers could deliberately give your Netflix stream lower priority, to the point that it becomes unusable. In other words, it’s borderline extortion: “if you don’t use our TV service, you’ll find your Netflix stream unwatchable. But our TV service is guaranteed.”

    Note that the same risk applies to wired phones. There are many alternatives to the traditional landline that can be significantly cheaper and more flexible, but all require reliable Internet access. Roughly in order of decreasing cost: Vonage, Skype, MagicJack, and generic SIP providers. Again, Comcast and AT&T both provide a phone service, so if you only have Internet access, the absence of net neutrality regulation could mean that your phone network traffic suffers.

    Trent, I’m sorry if this starts a political flamewar. To be fair, the Net Neutrality issue isn’t as one-sided as what I have so far suggested. In fact, in the presence of ample competition, I don’t think it would be necessary. But my arguments are based on the fact that in far too many areas of the country, you generally only have one or two high speed Internet providers.

    For three years, I lived in a Chicago suburb, and Comcast actually owned the wiring inside my building. That means Comcast was the only option. Now I live in a house in the city of Chicago, but still Comcast and AT&T are my only two reasonable options for residential Internet. (I am aware of WOW and RCN, but they are not available in my neighborhood.) I’ve lived in two other mid-size towns outside of the Chicago area, and Comcast and AT&T are consistently the only two options.

  22. Interested Reader says:

    A lot of the Netflix streaming is HD – at least a lot of the newere programs.

    The connection is really good on my blu ray player as long as my wireless router is on top of the computer (my tv/player is downstairs, router upstairs) if the cats knocking it on the floor my signal drops to about 50%.

    Also recently I was having interuptions in service I thought were router related. However a few days later I got an email from Netflix apologizing for the problem and prorating my bill. It was about $1 off – not huge but it’s the customer service that counts.

    That said I miss having digital cable and a dvr. I watched a lot of tv – mostly old movies, documentaries, and cable programming. I would record on my dvr and then watch later and fastforward through the commercials. I loved having the HD content (esp hockey in HD).

    However, I incurred some expenses this summer and cable had to go. So I dropped all the digital cable. I did bump up my internet connection by 1 level through comcast. Even doing that my current cable/internet bill is about half of what it was.

  23. Matt says:

    When I got rid of cable, my wife complained a bit. But I explained it this way: we were paying over $60/month for Internet and basic cable. Now we pay $20/month for Internet-only. That’s almost $500/year in savings, with which we can buy and own a LOT of DVDs or Blu-Rays. For example, a whole season of a popular TV show can usually be bought used on Amazon for $20 or less. So not only is it cheaper, but we now own it, can watch it whenever we want, AND commercial-free (not to mention, you sometimes get special features like bloopers, director/actor commentary, etc).

  24. Matt says:

    For those of you noting that your standalone Internet bill is higher than a bundled package: I assume this is with Comcast, as I was facing the same thing. When I first signed up with them, it was $60/month for high speed internet (HSI), or cheaper to get HSI+basic cable (can’t remember the exact amount). But that lower rate was promotional, and expired after six months. Then my bill was about $75/month. My wife and I called Comcast several times to try to get the promo rate re-instated, but they wouldn’t budge.

    It just so happened that AT&T was offering DSL service for $20/month (no equipment fees, no contract, no setup fees). This service *is* slower than our Comcast HSI, but it’s fast enough to stream HD Netflix, which is enough for us. We’ve had the AT&T DSL for about a month now, and haven’t had any problems.

    So, to all TSD readers in a similar boat, I suggest looking to see if AT&T has a similar offer in your area.

    Before taking the plunge, I found a great resource: the forums at DSLReports.com. I asked in a general forum if people were using the service in my area, and actually got a few responses. The site also has a dedicated, private forum where you can ask tech questions to actual AT&T staff. I used this to make a “prequal” request, and got a positive response. I found these forums to be a *lot* more efficient than calling their 1-800 number (i.e. it puts you in direct contact with an actual tech person). The downside is that you might have to wait a day or two to get a response.

  25. Matt says:

    One final comment (maybe :)

    For those of you wanting DVR functionality, there is a free alternative, if you’re tech-savvy, and/or willing to put in some effort. There is a free DVR software package called “MythTV” for Linux. It’s not trivial to set up, but once you get past the setup, it’s wonderful. It has a million features, but highlights include scheduling TV recordings, commercial flagging, and playback with automatic commercial skipping. Loosely speaking, it only works with over-the-air (i.e. broadcast) TV or unencrypted cable TV (depending on your provider this could be everything, or only the national networks). Although I haven’t tried them, there are Linux distributions designed specifically for deploying a MythTV quickly and easily. Check out MythBuntu, KnoppMyth, or MythDora.

  26. Interested Reader says:

    @20 Netflix has a tab called Watch Instantly and you can click on that get lists broken down by recommendations.

    You can also just search for the tv show and you can tell it is watch instantly because it will have the play button & the add button. Whereas disc only options have only the add button.

    If you want to add to your Watch Instant Queue just mouse over (I think it’s mouse over) the play button and Add to Instant Queue pops up and you click that.

    Any movie that’s available streaming will have the play & add buttons, so no matter how you search you’ll be able to find it. But not all movies are watch instantly and most new releases aren’t.

    If you have different profiles set up only the main account will have Watch Instantly. For example I have 2 profiles set up (note you have to have at least the 2 disc option to do this) – my main profile where I have my Watch Instantly queue, and the normal queue for movies and then a seocnd profile I set up and that’s where tv shows (not on streaming) go. This way I always have 1 movie and 1 disc of tv shows in circulation.

  27. Greg says:

    Thanks for the reply, but I’m not currently a Netflix member. Can I click on all that stuff without being a member? I can’t decide if I want to join if I don’t know what they have.

  28. Pnut says:

    @27 Greg,

    I had a nice friend who let me log in under her id so I could look. I don’t know what it’s like right now, but at the time that was the only way to browse that I knew.

  29. Interested Reader says:

    Greg, there are free trial offers for netflix all over the web and the customer service is some of the best so I don’t think it would be hard for you to cancel a trail offer.

    Understand, Netflix does not have current tv episodes available for streaming (well, except in some select cases) but they have a big range of hsows with previous seasons. And new release movies generally arent’ available streaming but the turn around time is very quick.

    I sent a movie back yesterday and I’m expecting to the next one in my queue tomrrow.

  30. Camille says:

    “If they have to work part-time as a burger flipper in the meantime, they do it.”

    My company is hiring for a short-term assignment right now. Yesterday a guy came in to personally drop off a resume. I noticed that at the top of his employment history there’s a small note that “due to the economy” he is currently an assistant manager at a Burger King. But then it goes into his relevant work experience, credentials, etc. I totally have to respect that. He may not have the perfect job but at least he has A job, and more importantly, he’s showing himself and others that he can take constructive action even in difficult circumstances. We called him today to schedule an interview.

  31. SLCCOM says:

    The woman who was not taking advice sounds to me like she may well have started out in a clinical depression. A job that makes you miserable can just suck the joy and life right out of you.

    Or she might just have been oblivious. But for those with “friends” (or themselves!) in a similar situation, you would do well to suggest the possibility very early on so they (or you) can get help ASAP,

  32. Brittany says:

    A $10 monitor cable saves the need to have a gaming system or XBOX Live subscription… Netflix on my TV for free through my computer. It also works with Hulu.

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