As much as you want to protect your family and property, a monthly charge for an alarm system can be a drain on your budget. You can do away with a monthly charge by having an unmonitored system. The sound of a siren going off on an unmonitored system can still deter a would-be burglar, since he doesn't know the alarm isn't monitored. If you prefer to have a monitored system, you can download free or inexpensive software that notifies you when an incident occurs. Because there's no monitoring contract, there's no monthly charge.
Do not purchase a monitoring contract. The amount of the monthly charge for monitoring depends on how complex the alarm system is.
Cancel your monitoring contract if one already exists. Some companies charge high fees for early termination of a monitoring contract, so factor that into your decision about the timing of the contract termination.
Arm and disarm your unmonitored alarm system just as you did when it was monitored. The operation of all functions of your alarm system remains the same whether it's monitored or unmonitored.
Download free monitoring software. It provides some features of a system monitored by an alarm company, but without the monthly charge. For example, PC-Alarm and Security System listens for fire and burglar alarms through your computer's microphone and notifies you by email or pager. SurveillizCam Lite uses alarms and live videos to notify you of abnormal motion. MobiGarda provides real-time video monitoring with the ability to view live images on your cell phone.
Download a free trial version of monitoring software. Use it until it expires (usually after 30 days) and download another one, or purchase it. An example of a monitoring software product with a trial version you can download is WebCam Monitor, which detects motion or noise, records video and audio of the incident, and notifies you by email or text message. Another example is AlertMe PC, which analyzes sounds, such as those of smoke and burglar alarms, and notifies you by a phone call, email, text message or a visual alert displayed on your computer monitor. Downloading and using trial versions on a long-term basis could require time-consuming research to find another version before the current one expires.
Purchase monitoring software, preferably after using its free trial version if one is available. Although you must pay the purchase price, there is no monthly charge. For example, as of 2011, the purchase price of WebCam Monitor was $69.95, and the purchase price of AlertMe PC was $19.95.
Mary Burgess has over 30 years experience as a writer. She wrote manuals and online help for software products and edited educational documents for online courses offered by a nonprofit organization. Burgess has a Bachelor of Science in Latin from the University of Memphis.