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DIY Home Security For The Frugal Homeowner

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

According to 2018 FBI Crime Statistics, all forms of property crime declined across the United States between 2017 and 2018. However, homes without an alarm system are 300% more likely to be burglarized. So, let’s look at some DIY home security systems with no monthly fee.

So, while crime rates are down across the country, it is clear that homeowners must remain vigilant in protecting their home. Many of us are looking for DIY home security systems with no monthly fee.

There are a number of tips and DIY home security systems with no monthly fees that you can implement to secure your home such as setting timers on lights, knowing your neighborhood well, and securing the perimeter of your property.

DIY Home Security System Tips With No Monthly Fee

Monitoring systems or surveillance cameras aren’t the only security methods you can turn to. In fact, some of the easiest DIY home security strategies can be implemented for free or at low-cost.

Set Timers On Lights And Devices

Contrary to what you might think, leaving your lights on to give the illusion that someone is home attracts more burglars according to In reality, burglars notice homes that have excessive lighting because most homeowners turn off most of their lights when they are home.

If you want to mimic human activity to ward off burglars, set timers on your lights or smart electronic devices to match normal usage patterns. Keep outdoor lights off during the day and on at night. For indoor lights, set timers to go off in various rooms to make it appear as if someone is occasionally moving around. If you are away for an extended period of time, this simple change will make your home less appealing for a burglar scoping out your street.

Get To Know The Neighborhood

Getting to know your immediate neighbors is a simple and free way to improve home security. Find a trusted neighbor you can give a spare key to. If you are away, it is handy to have someone in the neighborhood to watch over your home and to stop by your house if you think something is wrong.

Outside of your immediate neighbors, getting to know the block is a wise move from a security standpoint as well. People feel a preference for people or things that are familiar. This is known as the mere exposure phenomenon. Meet people in your neighborhood and form a basic connection. This way, your neighbors will be able to spot if a stranger is snooping around while you’re away.

Secure The Perimeter

Burglars look for easy points of entry when raiding a home. Outside of installing home security systems, there are basic steps you can take to improve the security of your home’s perimeter.

For starters, ensure that all doorways, gates, and windows are secure. Use dowels to secure sliding doors or windows, and install stronger locks or reinforce your existing front door lock. Keep your garage door locked, as well as the door leading from your home into the garage. For gates and windows, remove any objects such as garbage bins that enable a thief to climb and access higher entry points. You can also install window security film that will make forced entry more difficult and noisy.

Outside of basic access point security, it is also a good idea to put security stickers on your backyard windows and front door to discourage burglars. Similarly, close your blinds and windows when you are out of the house to prevent people from peering into your home to scan for valuables.

You can also turn to the state of your garden and lawn to improve home security. Remove large and unkempt greenery near your home that enables burglars to sneak up to your home. Plant ferns, cacti, or other tough plants underneath each window to make outside access more difficult.

Finally, add motion detection lights to your property to improve nighttime security. According to additional FBI data, while most burglaries occur during the daytime, more than 20% occur at night. Motion detection lights help scare off trespassers and are relatively cheap DIY home security additions.

In The Home

There are additional security measures you can take inside your home to reduce the likelihood of burglaries and to mitigate damage. According to the FBI, the average dollar loss per burglary is approximately $2,400. Keep valuable items, spare cash, and documents inside a hidden lockbox to protect them in the event of a break-in. Owning a dog can also deter burglars according to a survey from Co-op Insurance.

Don’t Make Travel Obvious

Vacant homes are the ideal target for burglars. Therefore, it is important to not make any extended travel plans obvious. Ask your neighbor to collect mail while you are out of town alongside using previously mentioned tips, such as light timers. Additionally, don’t be afraid to leave a car in the driveway to make it appear as if someone is home.

Refrain from sharing your travel location and agenda on social media if you are out of town for a long period of time. A potential burglar probably doesn’t know you or follow you on social media. However, they can easily find out your name from snooping in the mail and then track you down online to spy on your activity. If you do share travel photos, wait until you are back home or ensure your privacy settings only show your content to people you have added as friends.

Related: How To Downsize Your Home: 9 Easy Tips To Help You Live In Less Space

Affordable And Free Home Security Systems

Once you’ve covered basic DIY home security tips, you can use additional measures to increase the security of your home.

Ring Doorbell

According to the home security system company Reolink, almost 35% of burglars gain access to a home through the front door. Thankfully, improvements in smart home technology make it easy to secure your front door.


The Ring video doorbell allows homeowners to monitor their front door with ease. Ring doorbells are battery-powered and replace traditional doorbells with a souped-up, secure version.

The cheapest Ring doorbell model is $99. Ring is also DIY installable. Here is what homeowners gain with a free membership:

  • Doorbell ring and motion alerts.
  • Custom motion alerts.
  • Ability to interact with visitors.
  • Live video on demand.

Ring offers monthly plans that include extra perks, such as video recording or professional alarm monitoring. Ring protection plans range from $30 to $100 a year and the ability to review recorded video if you miss a live alert or event may be worth the added price.

However, Ring is still a reliable home security system add-on without the monthly fee. For just $99, you can improve the security of the most common break-in point for burglars.

DIY Monitored Security Cameras–Blink Home Security

Tracking down the best DIY wireless home security system is no easy task. There are a myriad of systems on the market, each with its own set of features and pricing models.

However, if you’re looking for an affordable security camera that is DIY installable and has no monthly contract fees, it’s hard to beat Blink. Blink security cameras start at just $79.99, and there are a number of useful features, including:

  • Live HD video.
  • Motion alerts.
  • Night vision.
  • Weatherproof design.
  • Free cloud storage.
  • No monthly contracts.

According to Blink, their cameras also have a battery life of around two years under normal use. You will likely need multiple Blink cameras to surround the perimeter of your home. However, the modest unit price and lack of monthly fees make Blink an affordable DIY security option worth considering.

Check out Blink here.

Going The Extra Mile–SimpliSafe

If these DIY home security tips and systems aren’t for you, SimpliSafe is a slightly more expensive alternative to secure your home.

SimpliSafe is a comprehensive home security solution that provides professional monitoring for the entire home. SimpliSafe relies on sensors to monitor each room and entry point. The SimpliSafe monitoring center calls homeowners if there is trouble, and will even contact the police if there is a break-in.

Basic SimpliSafe systems range from $229 to $259. Larger homes with more entry points and rooms will need a more advanced system, which starts at around $450. In terms of monthly fees, SimpliSafe states their home security package is a mere $0.50 per day. This is true for the base package, which costs $14.99 per month. The interactive monitoring service, which provides remote management, SMS/email notifications, camera recording and storage, and security alerts is $24.99 per month.


So, can you use SimpliSafe without paying a subscription?

Well, it depends.

Without a monitoring plan, it’s free to access your security camera through the app or desktop dashboard. You also receive alerts when motion is detected, so there is some basic, free functionality. However, to make the most of SimpliSafe’s monitoring and dispatch capabilities, $14.99 is really the bare minimum.

Check out Simplisafe here.

Final Thoughts

Burglary rates are declining across the United States. However, it is imperative that homeowners still take responsibility for protecting their homes. By using basic home security tips, it is easy to improve the overall security of your home and reduce the likelihood of a break-in without spending a dime.

There are also plenty of DIY home security systems with no monthly fee on the market, so protecting your home does not have to break the bank. A few reliable security cameras and taking basic precautions to make your home less inviting to burglars will truly go a long way in keeping your assets and family safe from harm.

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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