Frugal Options for TV and Movie Buffs

I’m not much of a TV watcher most of the time. I’m more of a computer addict. However, my husband and I love to watch movies together. And recently we’ve been barraged with thunderstorms in the evenings, which makes being outside in the evenings impossible…unless we want to get wet.

So lately we’ve taken advantage of some free and inexpensive options for watching things we like to watch, as opposed to whatever is available at the time on network TV.


Redbox is a relative newcomer to the DVD rental scene. Rather than a typical retail DVD rental location, Redbox is exactly as it sounds: a big red box, filled with DVDs. The boxes are usually located right inside or outside grocery stores and supercenters. Around here they’re located at Albertson’s and Walmart. You can find a full list of locations at the Redbox website.

All you have to do to rent a DVD is make a selection, either right at the box or online, insert a credit or debit card to pay, and your DVD is dispensed. Just remember to take it back before the time it’s due, or you’ll be charged for another day. Rentals are only $1 a night. And during the summer, Redbox will send you a text message with a free movie code on the first Monday of the month, if you sign up for text alerts. Movie selection is somewhat limited, but you can’t beat the price.


I’ve known about Hulu for a while now, but I just started using it. If you have a fast internet connection, you can watch movies and TV episodes, free of charge. You may not be able to find the most recent episode of your favorite TV shows, but I was impressed with their selection. Included in the lineup are shows like House, The Office, and Bones.

But what I really like about Hulu is their selection of older TV shows; the ones I watched when I was a child. My recent obsession is watching old episodes of Emergency!. It’s kind of corny, but I have good memories of playing Emergency! with my grade school friends.


My family recently signed up for a Netflix account, after having been without a DVD rental membership anywhere for years. I wanted to be able to supplement our homeschool curriculum with relevant movies throughout the year, and movie rentals (besides Redbox) are pretty expensive.

On the surface, Netflix isn’t super frugal. The cost is $8.99 a month if you want to have one DVD out at a time and $13.99 a month for 2. But if you watch a lot of movies, it’s a good deal, and here’s why. Netflix offers unlimited streaming of movies to your computer. So if you sign up for the $8.99 plan, you not only get one DVD sent to your house at a time, but you can stream multiple movies every day!

If you want to step it up a notch, you can stream movies to your TV by buying a $99 box that works with Netflix. You add movies to your queue in your Netflix account, and when you turn on your Roku box, you can select a movie to watch from those in your queue. I think that’s a pretty good option for the serious movie watcher. It’s certainly cheaper than the premium cable movie channels!

Technology has sure come a long way, when it comes to home entertainment. And I, for one, am glad for the options!

Are there any frugal TV and movie watching sites that I’ve missed? Let me know!

Photo by Luke Wisley.


By , on Jun 10, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. moooovie lover:

    I also have found some good movies at our local thrift shop. It probably helps that I live in a yuppie area and lots of people have tossed (OK, donated) their VHS tapes to replace them with DVDs. (Or maybe they just got tired of certain movies.) VHS tapes still work, even if they aren’t the newest technology. And for a buck or two, why not?

  2. Kate:

    I know this is an older post, but I am a new reader and just found this from your best of post today.

    You can go to almost any network site and stream tv for free on your computer. Of the shows they have available, they usually put the most recent show up about 2 days after it airs.

    Also, I found this site where you can find just about any show you want. The only problem is you are limited to a certain amount of time unless you sign up for a subscription.

  3. joe Simms:

    I found a couple of real neat sites to watch live TNT, SciFi channel, Movies, Spike, etc. Another site streams my favorite shows like Stargate (Atlantis), Star Trek, Sliders and such, all day long. I gave up my Dish Network about 2 yrs ago and haven’t missed it and I think I watch more stuff now on the net then when I had Dish.

    Try these sites and I pretty sure you will not be disappointed. and to name a few. You can also download a program called ReadonTV and there are TONS of shows on there from around the world in different languages.

    Justin & Fomny you can just watch on the Net but Readon you have to download. I watch all three as there are times one has something the others don’t but you can ALWAYS find something to watch.

    I also have mobile internet with a laptop in my car and a Sprint Broadband card so when I’m on the road, I can mostly listen to my favorite shows, not watching, as that is bad while driving but, when I stop at a light, I’ll watch, and then when the light changes, I go back to listening.

    Give it a try, you’ll LIKE it.

  4. Emily:

    If you go to a lot of tv websites, you get their latest epiodes. We use our computer as our TV and frequently visit NBC, ABC, A&E, Comedy Central, FOX, USA, MTV, HGTV, and Sci-Fi. Some require you download a free player, but most stream online. Between those, Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, we are more than all set.

  5. marci:

    Ditto on free movies from the library. You can “order” them from the catalog online and an email pops up to let you know they are available to pick up.

    Also $1 movies from garage sales.

    I do use netflix in the stormy winter months – but there just isn’t time for movies in the spring, summer, and fall, so I cancel it again :)

  6. Hey when we changed computers we put the older one hooked to the main TV, that way we could watch netflixs on the tv from the computer instead of the dvd player. Its fine, no box needed. My hubby is the techno guy and he likes to tinker with computers, building them so this was a good option for us.

  7. Lisa F:

    Not only the public library, but try the community college library as well. Mine has community membership card and I can check out books and their DVDs. Mine has a great 700 feature DVD collection for oldies and the lastest.

  8. We love our Netflix. The Roku is great. There are days we don’t even turn on our dish and just watch shows and movies off the Roku. I like that there are lots of good shows and movies for the kids that can be watched at any time of the day.

  9. You can also use your X-Box 360 to stream movies from Netflix, and the Wii to watch internet movies on your tv.

  10. Don’t forget the library usually rents DVDs.

    And the Roku box is good, but you need at least a cable modem.

  11. It only takes a little know-how (and a few cables) to output video from your computer to your TV (newer tvs are more capable of this). I recently set this up and I can watch hulu,, and netflix all on my big-screen tv while sitting on the couch with my friends. The cable I needed cost maybe $15 at Staples (I am using a VGA cable if anyone cares) and I can do the same thing as those Roku boxes can.

  12. Elizabeth Shepherd:

    If you can’t find your faves on Hulu try
    You can search for your show and Spreety will direct you where to find it all over the internet. Most are free, some you can buy for cheap at iTunes.

  13. Karen:

    You forgot the good ol’ public library, where you can borrow movies and TV series for free.

  14. Angie:

    I’m not much for movies here lately, but have been using the Video on Demand feature with my Verizon cable. They have some 10 min exercise programs that are really good and fast.

  15. We love Redbox!

    I didn’t know about the streaming movies at Netflix . . . might be worth another look based upon that.

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