3 Budget-Friendly Alternatives to Home Security Equipment

When struggling with debt or making ends meet on a budget, it can be a bitter pill to swallow a monthly subscription fee for your home security needs. Sure, automated alarm systems can help deter home invaders and have been shown to limit the time they spend inside once they’ve broken in. But for those who want to make ends meet first (or supplement their home security measures already in place,) following simple home security tips and investing in cost-effective alternatives to traditional home security measures can save you hundreds of dollars.

Don’t buy: “Pick-proof” or “bump-proof” deadbolts

Deadbolt LockAs far as deadbolts go, everybody knows that the keyhole is its greatest vulnerability. As long as someone is able to pick or bump your lock (which is increasingly common knowledge thanks to the internet,) they can access your home. What this logic fails to account for is that your lock is not your whole door’s weak-point. In fact, the majority of break-ins occur due to brute force. An elaborate lock worth hundreds of dollars is practically worthless if a door can be busted with one swift kick or shove.

Instead get: Jamb reinforcement plates

Depending on the brand that you choose, jamb reinforcement plates can reinforce your door for a fraction of the cost of high-end deadbolts. Following this simple guide, anyone with a few common tools and access to a home supply retailer to find a kit can make their door far sturdier in about half an hour. These additions to your doors can make forced entry nearly impossible at an low cost.

Don’t buy: Shatter resistant window film

Shatter Proof Window FilmYour windows are another key vulnerability to your home’s defense. Burglars will often break in to gain entry to a house or to a door’s lock in order to bypass a sealed door. Shatter resistant film might seem like a common sense answer for this problem – but there are two caveats. First, these are usually advertised as a cheap and easy alternative to installing tempered glass but fail to meet a similar level of durability. Secondly, there’s a much cheaper way to prevent entry into your home that doesn’t require applying expensive films.

Instead get: Window screws / anchors

The problem with entry through windows isn’t that the panes can be broken. In any case, this is difficult to solve in an affordable manner. The real problem is that criminals are able to gain access through them in the first place. In other words, limiting access through your frame is the much more cost effective route, and this is easily done with a window screw or anchor. This simple modification simply limits access through your window to just a few inches − making entry impossible even if the glass is easily broken. For a few dollars and a few minutes of installation, you can easily make your windows safer against trespassers.

Don’t buy: Security cameras

Home Security CamerasWhen it comes to safety for our family, haven’t we all wanted an extra pair of eyes at some point? Here comes the appeal of security cameras, an essential part to home security systems. These devices can be a great deterrent to the occasional would-be thief, but there are some serious drawbacks. First, they mostly function independently of your alarm system unless paired with a motion sensor. They’re also easy targets of vandals and thieves; many companies have started created “vandal-proof” models to help the issue. Lastly, the added expense to your energy bill and home security subscription can be a little too steep for what they provide.

Instead get: familiar with your neighborhood!

Editor’s Note: I actually own a camera and I love it (Dropcam).  I can see what is going on around me and the cost is negligible. I also don’t pay a subscription fee because I am notified of any movement, not the alarm company.  I recommend them just for the piece of mind that they provide.

While technology can be an excellent tool in defending our homes, there are few assets more useful to you than the trust and attention of your neighbors nearby. Becoming friends with your neighbors creates a neighborhood watch that provides more coverage and attentiveness than any mechanical eye can give you. Further benefits include the availability of future house sitters when you need to leave your home for an extended period of time, available witnesses for when something does happen on your property, and a sense of comfort and familiarity with your neighborhood. While technology can help with your piece of mind, nothing beats the mutual trust and help of your neighbors.

Author Bio: Naomi Broderick is a full-time mother (and a part-time writer) who manages to find time to write on parenting, home renovations, and finances. She enjoys reaching out to others online to learn and advise others to reach debt freedom and professional success.

Editor’s Note: These are great tips Naomi.  I do think there are alternatives to paying for the high cost of home security systems.  Having said that, I have heard really good things about SimpliSafe.  It is a cheap alternative to the typical alarm system, but with all of the bells and whistles.  If you want it monitored (which is not required), then you can get it for as low as $15 per month.  That is cheap.  Check them out at www.simplisafe.com.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mandykoh/4594911593/

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  1. I know several people who just have fake cameras with a blinking red light instead of paying for the full CCTV install. You can’t really tell that the thing is fake so I imagine it works, at least for first time visitors.

    1. I have seen those fake ones and they are a great deterrent. Some are less than $10 on Amazon.

  2. Interesting ideas. I’ve never given much thought to home security but I’m sure I will once I have my own place. As with almost anything, it seems like there are relatively simple ways to do things effectively yourself without the big expense of the conventional products.

    1. I have given a lot more thought especially when my son came around. I am serious about some security.

  3. I actually wouldn’t mind having cameras set up outside because I think it would be a good deterrent to burglars. Why would a burglar approach a home where there is a camera when they can just go to another house where there isn’t one? This is another reason why dogs are the best security – burglars would rather go to a house where there are no dogs.

    1. What I would do is put up a dummy camera outside. They will focus on it and some burglars will try and break that camera. Then you put up a real camera inside looking outside at that camera. Catch them in the act!

  4. I was never really able to understand why people even bothered with security systems. I grew up in a town where we didn’t even lock our doors!

    1. Well, when you live in a place where homes are burglarized every day, then home security is much more important.

  5. I have a friend that bought a few wireless cameras and has them recorded with his computer. It’s not a break-in deterrent (unless they see the cameras), but it’s evidence he would be able to turn over in case he needs to report something to the police.

    1. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

      A working surveillance system might lessen your homeowner’s insurance cost.

    2. I have a camera that notifies my phone when movement is detected. It is nice.

  6. Stuart@DailyMoneyBucket says:

    Great post, although I have to admit that I have a security camera. It didn’t cost much and it allows you to check who is at the door before you open it.

    I might be strange, but I only open the door to people who I know or people who have an appointment.

    In recent weeks I’ve also written an article about home security on a budget. And as part of the research I watched a few videos. It’s frightening how someone can bump the lock open on many of these upvc replacement doors and gain access to your property without leaving a trace.

    1. Naomi Broderick says:

      That’s true, Stuart. Lock bumping is scarily common. All that anyone requires is a special key designed for the purpose, which are legal and widely available with online retailers. But nonetheless, brute force is still the favorite method of trespassers.

    2. I only answer the door when it is someone I know. There are many people trying to peddle crap in my neighborhood and I don’t like that.

  7. We’ve never really considered using something like a camera before. We had such a hassle dealing with the security company when we moved into our house that I guess we swung to the other extreme. This is probably something we should look into.

    1. I had a really bad experience with our last security company and that is why I just got a Simplisafe system. Review coming soon John!

  8. I have always lived in low crime areas, keep my possessions simple, and never paid much attention to security. My possessions don’t mean that much. If someone wants to steal my fifteen year old television I figure he needs it more than me.

    We always have had a dog with a loud bark though.

    1. I don’t really care about my possessions either, but if I can make my house less of a target then that is better for me. I don’t want to deal with the hassle. It is not about the material things, it is about safety for my family, peace of mind, and not having to deal with the time it takes to get your life back together.

  9. Great info here as always! I never even thought about the majority of break ins being brute force. I guest those pick proof dead bolts really don’t make sense do they?

    1. It is easy to just kick down a door. Not that I have done it, but my friend is a law enforcement officer and they see it all of the time.

  10. I’m so happy to live in a relatively low-crime neighborhood! Out here in the country people just invest in a good, loud, mean sounding dog and a gun.

    1. Oh, I have two dogs and a gun. When I was in college, I lived in a house where we never locked the doors. It was in the country and everyone had guns around the house.

  11. I hadn’t thought much about home security as I live in an apartment and there always seemed to be people around plus a super who is there. But there were a string of burglaries and I looked into some type of alarm that didn’t require a monthly fee. I think there was one that goes off if the door opens and you don’t disable it. I would have gotten that but the property management installed surveillance cameras and changed the locks.

    1. Glad the property manangement company stepped up with cameras. People are less likely to do something if they are going to be on camera.

  12. Lindsey @ Sense & Sensibility says:

    These are awesome tips, Naomi, thank you. I would have gone for all the obvious things that you mentioned – like the video cameras – over the simpler, more cost-effective methods you proposed every time. I especially like the reinforced jamb plates for our front door, I can see that one being a good basic thing to have that’s not going to impact your life in any major way.

    1. I went with both. I feel much safer in my house now, but I also didn’t splurge on anything.

  13. Our neighborhood is pretty safe, but we still do a lot of little things so that we can keep our house safe. We keep the blinds closed at night and when no one is home. We like to keep a car blocking our garage (we have a classic car in there), and we have two dogs that bark at anything that comes near our house.

    1. The dogs are key. I have two as well and they are a great deterrent.

  14. I like having a security camera set up so I can see who is knocking at my door. I’m too damn short to see through the peep hole. 🙂

    1. I like having my camera, so I can see what is going on around me.

  15. I like the idea of a house being super locked down and secure. I’m already thinking ahead to the hubs having on call nights next year, and I’m not super thrilled with the idea of being home alone!

    1. It feels better when you have a secure home and it makes me feel better for my son and wife.

  16. Jamb reinforcement plates are a great idea! My brother’s home was broken into a couple years ago, and the burglars destroyed his door by kicking it down. The deadbolt was indeed useless. Knowing your neighbors is another good tip, but I have one more: dogs!! I wouldn’t call them “cheap,” but they do offer a deterrent for anyone trying to break in.

    1. Brute force break ins are the most common. Dogs are a great way to deal with it.

  17. Mark Ross says:

    Why not get a guard dog? They can be really useful when it comes to securing your home.

    1. Marissa @ Finance Triggers says:

      Absolutely. Dogs are very reliable.

  18. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    We have a steel front door with deadbolt and heavy jamb that would take a lot of force to kick open. Of course our back door is a flimsy piece of crap. I gotta do something about that.

    1. I reinforced out door jamb a year ago, and put a charlie bar on the back sliding door.

  19. Daniel @ Locksmith Services says:

    Thanks for letting people know about the budget friendly security alternatives. This will help people in securing their houses and offices. The advancement in technology has made possible to install gadgets that will help in securing your property. I do have a security camera in my house and a good quality lock that is superb.

    1. You are welcome. It is good to see people caring about securing their homes.