On July 4th, Declare Tech Independence

July 4th doesn't have to stop at barbecue food and Will Smith kicking extraterrestrial butt: it's a great opportunity to declare tech independence, too. Whether it's free trials that you signed up for and forgot to cancel before they started charging your credit card, an old cellphone plan that's now looking less than competitive, or your unwatched cable box sucking down cash every month in return for a thousand channels you ignore, there are plenty of ways to make today a more rewarding Independence Day.

Cut the Cable Cord

Be honest, how many of those hundreds of cable channels do you actually watch? The options for cable-cutters have been improving significantly over the past few months, above and beyond the go-to options like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Hulu Plus.

HBO NOW, for instance, may only be available on a couple of platforms right now (best known being Apple TV), but if you're primarily using your cable box to watch high-profile shows like True Blood and Veep then its $14.99 per month could be a big saving.

Meanwhile, if you're missing the new blockbuster releases, an Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV offer straightforward ways to on-demand content. You might not get them bundled in with your monthly Netflix or Hulu subscription, but $4.99 for a new release doesn't dent the pocket like a cable bill does.

Even if you're secretly attached to your cable box, just ringing up the cable company and threatening to leave in favor of one of the streaming providers might be enough to get them to slap a discount on your monthly bill. Call 'em up and play hardball.

Ditch your Carrier

If you're reading this then you may well be wedded to your smartphone; in fact, just keeping it in your pocket and focusing on family at your July 4th celebration might be a real challenge. Our advice would be pretending you're putting together a touching photo gallery of everybody getting together, to at least justify checking your phone every sixty seconds, but it's also a good time to see what everybody is paying for their service.

The war between the big US carriers has been heating up, and they're all hungry for network switchers. T-Mobile USA is probably best known for its fighting talk, offering to pay off your old phone and even any early-termination fees your existing carrier might threaten you with, but its rivals haven't been too slow to react. Verizon, for instance, will give you up to $300 for every phone you trade in on a new line.

There are potentially even bigger savings if you're willing to go prepaid, though you'll probably have to do a little math to figure out whether it's in your best interests.

Oh, and the same advice for tough-love stands for carriers just as it did for cable companies. Ring customer services and tell them you're considering leaving, and see what magic they can suddenly deliver to your monthly subscription.

Check your family's digital empire

Sure, nobody likes to be the equivalent of an unpaid Geek Squad member for their family, but while you're visiting parents or in-laws for a July 4th celebration it doesn't hurt to do a quick run-through what their digital hang-ups are.

That might be trial services that never got cancelled, and with Apple Music launching this past week, streaming music services may well be a topic of conversation. They're also a good start for service consolidation: we've already run through the cost of family accounts, and moving several people onto one account might lead to big savings rather than having different users spread across platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and more.

Meanwhile, companies like AOL are still making millions from households paying for dial-up internet they don't need, while people often pay over the odds for cloud storage. A quick scan through your latest bank or credit card statement should flag up the biggest culprits.

You could even cut photo storage down to nothing with something like Google Photos, while many people don't realize that if they're already subscribing to Amazon Prime then they get access to movies, TV and music streaming, not to mention online photo storage, along with their free shipping.

Who knows, you might even save enough to buy some fireworks. Happy Independence Day!