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Frugal mans paradise

As I shared in an earlier blog post, I am the proud owner of a 46″ flat screen HDTV. It’s pretty much the most glorious thing I’ve ever owned and it was definitely my favorite wedding gift. But with a great TV comes great responsibility. One of those responsibilities is ensuring I’m putting that television to use. Only problem is, I’m not a huge TV guy. In fact, now that I think about it. I haven’t turned the thing on in over a week.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t figured out how to put it to work for minimal cost. I thought I’d share with you all, a few ways I try and get the best bang for my buck.


Like I mentioned, neither Mrs. Ninja or myself, are the biggest TV fans, but that doesn’t mean we don’t poke in from time to time to see what’s on. I called the local cable companies and the cheapest “decent” package I could get (with ESPN, HGTV, MTV, etc) was $60/month. Even if I wanted just the basic local channels it would still cost $15/month. So instead I spent $20 to buy an HDTV antenna. It’s awesome. I still get all the major local channels, in high definition, with absolutely no monthly cost. It’s seriously legit. Sure, I may not get the cable channels, but I bet I could find them online if I really wanted.


I’ve known about Netflix for a real long time. In fact, Mom Ninja bought their stock a long time ago because she knew they had something good going for them. I never really felt like I needed it because I could rent at redbox for $1/day. But then Sister Ninja got me a sweet Blu-Ray DVD player that streams Netflix, Pandora, Blockbuster, etc. Since I can watch a ton of movies via Netflix streaming, I figured it is worth the $9/month cost. I signed up yesterday for a one month free trial. I hope it is as awesome as I’m thinking it will be. Any suggestions on what to add to my “Must watch list?”


Goodbye landline and expensive cell phone plan. Hello MagicJack. This thing is legit. It plugs right in to my computer and operates like a normal phoneline. I have a cordless phone plugged in to it and can make unlimited nationwide calling! The best thing about the MagicJack is the price. The service is only $20 for the year. That’s right. For the year!!!! That’s less than $2/month for unlimited calling anywhere. The local cable companies land line plans start at $19.99/month. You’re probably thinking “I don’t need a landline, my cell phone works just fine,” but I’d be willing to bet you would be able to lower your cell phone plan minutes, which in turn would save you a ton! MagicJack isn’t the only internet phone option, but it’s the only one I’ve tried, and I like it a lot.

I’m sure these three things are nothing knew to you, but I can’t help but share how awesome they are. They truly are a frugal man’s paradise. Now if only I could figure out a way to get internet for cheaper. Perhaps steal the neighbors? Just kidding.

Are there any other services you all know about that help save ya’ll a buck? I don’t want to be missing out on some sweet deals. And I’m serious. I want to know what movies are on your “Must watch” list, so I can add them to my Netflix queue.

p.s. I was not paid by Netflix or MagicJack for this post, however, if they wanted to pay me for it, I would gladly accept contributions in the form of burritos or tacos 🙂



  1. Your list is pretty cool. The streaming netflix feature is definitely convenient. Good idea for a Xmas present.

    We like Skype for our international video calls which are free. And if you want to call a phone and another computer, you can buy skype minutes for like $0.02/minute.

    We have family and friends overseas, so it’s super cool.

  2. oops, for the skype thing I meant, if you want to call phone number AND not another computer. See if you’re trying to reach someone who’s not online, sometimes you have to call their phone first and say..hey jump on your computer. Or sometimes, it’s your 77 year old aunt and she doesn’t have a computer.

  3. I signed up for the Netflix free trial through my credit card reward point screen and I received 2000 reward points.

  4. Netflix is absolutely amazing. The Godfather Trilogy just became available to instant stream! Also Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shakespeare in Love, Goodwill Hunting, Memento, La Vie en Rose. There are some seriously great movies out right now that you can watch instantly. (This whole Amazon/Apple movie feud is really awesome for the consumer isn’t it?)

    Also, get yourself into some TV while you’re at it! Arrested Development is a must watch tv show. It’s just amazing. Netflix is the shiznit buddy. You’ll never be able to go back!

  5. If you’re looking for some good TV shows on instant Netflix, I can recommend a few. They were there last I checked a few weeks ago:

    Weeds (Showtime)
    The IT Crowd
    30 Rock

    If you’re in to Family Guy and South Park, those are both on instant view in full.

    The movies change so frequently it’s hard to keep track of, but they’ve been getting better about getting “newer” releases available. For $9/month, you can’t really go wrong!

  6. One thing about the Magic Jack or any of the VOIP style systems, is don’t plan to call 911 from it. Some of the systems have websites where you can register your locale and get routed to the closest 911 system but others just send you to an answering point in India which then tries to route you back. I work in 911 in the technical side and this has become a growing trend and growing problem for us. It’s best to keep a land-line phone hooked up to the phone jack in the house. Even if you don’t have service, it can still dial 911 or at a bare minimum use your cell phone. I know most people don’t think they will ever have to call 911, much less in a crisis situation, but the day you do & grab the wrong phone and wind up trying to tell someone in broken English where you are is a scary prospect.

    • With the magicjack you can update your current location so it automatically routes a 911 dial to the nearest call center.

  7. I also use the HD antenna, and free HD is the shiznit. I think you and I are equally frugal, so I thought you might enjoy this next idea.

    I moved my computer to the entertainment center that houses my HDTV, and picked up a discounted wireless keyboard and mouse. It was as simple as plugging the video cable from the back of the machine to the tv. Now I’m able to watch tv programs like the office, the gates, Rob Dyrdek, all archived on on the big screen. I also have the lowest tier internet speed and find it works well.

    Maybe you could write entries for a certain blog from your favorite recliner? Ohh yeah.

  8. We’ve had Netflix for a while and it resulted in a lot of unwatched DVDs sitting around the apartment. Then we got a Wii as a wedding present – streaming Netflix? LOVE. Obsessed. Can’t stop watching. We just watched “Men Who Stare at Goats” the other night – highly recommended.

    • Ditto – the movie was a bit odd, but since it’s supposedly true, it makes you think. It’s different than your usual shoot-em-up or romcom.

  9. Hey Ninja,
    I heard the MagicJack opens up security issues with your computer. You may want to check just to be on the safe side. Oh and if you sign up from Netflix through ebates, you can a certain % back too!

  10. I hear ya on the cell minutes! I telework 1 day per week, and conference calls ate up my cell phone minutes since I don’t have a land line. I just found out about Google Voice…it’s free! The only drawback with the way I have it set up is that I must initiate the call (I don’t route it thru my cell like some do, that would defeat my purpose). But that’s fine; except for scheduled conference calls, my office prefers email. Google Voice lets you call in the US for free. International the price varies, but I don’t do that anyhow. Same 911 problem, but that’s what the cell is for.

    • …unless you believe that Google is Evil or anti-privacy, which I kind of do, but I don’t do personal stuff on it.

  11. The antenna and netflix was and has been out source of entertainment for two years now. I have never missed cable. if you have more than one tv netflix streams through all current gen video game systems.

  12. I love cable and DVR, but I’m also really loving Netflix streaming through our Wii. I’m currently watching the whole series of X-Files. Dexter Seasons 1 and 2 are on streaming as well. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. I love Netflix! I never watch TV because I’m not patient enough to sit through commercials (plus I hate most shows and movies).

    If you have neighbors that you absolutely trust, you could share your internet service, split the bill, and save money that way!

  14. Netflix streaming is the shizzle! Things that I love that are on there: lots of TV shows (Southpark, Law & Order, 30 Rock, etc) TONS of documentaries, and an OK selection of other movies. It’s been getting better and better, but slowly.

  15. Ever since I got a taste of having a DVR with cable, I’ve been addicted. I’ve switch to Dish Network because they have the better price with a bad ass HD DVR. Recently I asked them how much it cost to add HBO because of True Blood, Entourage, and Hung, they gave me a free 3 months! Just need to remember to cancel after the 3 months are up. As for Netflix, I got the 9 dollar plan also, but I’m losing interest because I’m all about the HD quality and you don’t get that with streaming. If I’m spending my time to watch something it better be HD. It’s tough being frugal when your addicted to HD DVR.

  16. Honestly, my number one suggestion for Netflix Instant Watch is Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father ( ). Short version is that a man is killed, all evidence points to the girlfriend as his killer. She then announces she’s pregnant with his child, and the victim’s parents begin trying to get custody of their grandson away from his alleged murderer. Friend of the victim begins making a documentary intended to teach the kid about his father, emphasizing memories and such from his friends. It’s really well done, and there’s a point around an hour in where it escalates from interesting to one of the best structured documentaries I have ever watched. This thing makes everyone, absolutely everyone, cry. I’d suggest against reading much about it online before you watch it, though, because certain pieces of information will minimize the impact of certain parts of the documentary.

    On a lighter note, is a pretty decent site for getting an idea of what’s new/popular.

  17. Ninja what do you do for internet?

    No VOIP or WiFi calls on your cell? A good way to cut down on your cell minutes.

  18. Watch the following documentaries and thank me later:

    King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters

    Food Inc

    No Impact Man

  19. For those who want a landline connection without a monthly bill, you can try Ooma. It requires you to buy a piece of hardware up front. My wife and I started using ours back in November and have not paid a monthly phone bill since. Free calls to anywhere in the USA. I prefer it to cell calls since the voice quality is much better (I use mine for work).

  20. Have you tried Rebtel?
    Long distance calling via cellphone. Free when doing a smartcall. I call my BF all the time using it. I LOVE IT!

  21. I second the recommendation for Food Inc. It really helps you understand the unseen costs in our current food production system.

    You can also get The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo instantly. It’s the Swedish version, with English subtitles. The only downside is that the namesake actress is so good, I now have no desire to see the American remake.

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