With the economy still on the rocks, many people are looking to lower expenses in the new year. There are all the traditional ways of saving money – eating out less, taking public transportation – but this year a new trend in cutting costs has arrived: canceling cable.

I know, I know...it seems unthinkable. What will you do without 700+ channels, most of which you never watch?

Well, I have a few ideas...

  • Sign up for Netflix. Netflix had a rocky year in 2011, but that doesn't mean it's obsolete quite yet. If you love the video-on-demand or pay-per-view features on your cable, Netflix may be the perfect alternative. The subscription costs only $7.99 per month for either the mail-order DVD service or the instant streaming option. Watch Netflix through your TV via a game console, Roku box, Blu-Ray player, or through a laptop or iPad connected with an HDMI cable.
  • Try Hulu Plus. Like Netflix, Hulu Plus offers streaming content for $7.99 per month. The paid service goes beyond Hulu's free offerings to bring you a larger selection and more HD content from popular cable and network channels like NBC and Comedy Central.. Devices like the PlayStation, Xbox, or Roku let you watch Hulu Plus content directly on your TV.
  • Split the difference. If cutting out cable cold turkey sounds like too much to ask, you can still lower your monthly bills without giving up the service entirely. Cancel premium channels that you don't watch, like Showtime or HBO, or pay for them only when your favorite shows are in season. You can even call your cable company and threaten to cancel you service – you may be surprised at how willing they are to lower the cost of your subscription.
  • Go old school. Remember antennas? Those weird metal poles that stuck out of the top of your TV or your roof like alien communication devices? If saving some extra cash is a priority for you, it may be time to consider embracing old technology and returning to watching network TV via an antenna. There's a surprising amount of quality programming – even some in HD – that is available using cheap antennas, and if you're worried about the quality of service in your area you can search online for sites that will estimate the reception you're likely to have based on your location.

It's time to cut the cord (um, I mean “cable”).