How to Save Money on Your Monthly Cable Bill

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Over the years, television has become an important part of our lives. But, unfortunately, the large cable companies figured this out some time ago and responded by steadily raising prices on us.

In fact, the price of cable has outpaced inflation for each of the past twenty years, and Americans today are spending an average of $100 per month on paid cable TV subscriptions.

For most people, this is too much of an expense, but no one is really considering completely cutting television out of their lives. We rely on it too much for entertainment and news for this to be a realistic option.

Fortunately, some alternatives have come onto the scene, mainly streaming services, and they present us as consumers with some more options when it comes to cable TV. However, switching to only using streaming services, a move known as “cutting the cord,” is not always the cheaper option.

To help you figure out how to save some money, here are some tips as well as a rundown of the streaming services that are out there that could be viable options for you.

  • Negotiate with Your Cable Provider

    If you’re unhappy with how much money you’re spending on television, the first thing you should do is call up your cable provider and let them know. This cord-cutting phenomenon has cable companies running scared, largely because they’re losing customers in bunches. We’re talking millions and millions of people per month.

    If you call them up and tell them you are unhappy with your service and are considering dropping cable or switching to another provider, then, in most cases, they will produce a counteroffer that either lowers your monthly bill or provides you with more value.

    For example, they might be willing to offer you a premium subscription channel, such as HBO or Showtime, for free for the remainder of your contract.

    However, should you call your provider to negotiate, you should first do a little homework to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

    For example, if you’re looking for a lower price, then look into how much it would be to change to a competitor and use this as a starting point for negotiations. Or, if you’re simply looking to get more bang for your buck, then have an idea of what you might want. Sports? Movies? News?

    This way, when they start throwing offers at you, you’ll be prepared and can push them to give you what you want.
    Of course, if they add on services to your plan, you’re not really saving money. But you will be getting better value, which for avid TV fans will feel like savings.

  • Switch Providers

    In the event you call up your provider and don’t get what you want, but you still think you want to keep cable TV, then the time has come to switch providers.

    Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to do this, as you will need to schedule an appointment with a new provider to change your service over, but if you can save a chunk of change doing this, then it’s more than worth it.

    When shopping around for providers, look out for two things:

    • Buyout promotions – Most cable subscriptions are two-year contracts, and if you’re trying to change but these two years aren’t up yet, you will need to pay an opt-out fee. However, many cable companies, in an attempt to lure new customers, offer to buy you out of this contract so that you will be free to switch providers. Not everyone does this, but it’s a good way to save some money and switch companies quickly.

    • Promotional pricing – To convince you to sign up for a new service, cable companies will often tempt you with promotional pricing, i.e. a deal that will only last for a certain time. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as it can save you a lot of money, but be sure to read the fine print. Some promotions only last for the first year of your contract, while others will go for the duration. Either way, when the promotional period ends, the price will go up. Make sure you know when this will happen and how much the increase will be.

    In general, the best way to pay less for cable is to be vigilant about these promotions. Know when your prices are going to go up, and if they increase too much, get ready to switch.

    Being an aware consumer who switches cable companies every two years, or who negotiates for a new contract regularly, can save you hundreds on cable each year.

    Of course, you will need to be ready to go through this process repeatedly, but if you’re serious about saving money, then it’s going to be well worth it.

  • Reduce Your Service

    Another thing you can do to save money is to simply downgrade your package. Look at what you are paying for and do an analysis to figure out how much you are actually watching the hundreds of channels that are a part of your plan. Chances are you don’t watch the majority of what you pay for, which means downgrading is possible.

    Even if you aren’t sure if this is the right move, it still might be worth it to try. Often, we think we can’t live without something, but then when it’s gone we don’t really miss it. This is true for a lot of the programming we get on cable.

    Of course, another option is to supplement, or replace, your entire cable subscription with streaming services.

  • Cut the Cord

    If none of these approaches are producing the kind of savings you desire, then it might be time to join the millions of people who have already cut the cord and say goodbye to cable companies altogether.

    Since going without any TV at all is likely not an option, you’ll probably want to get some streaming subscriptions. However, signing up for everything that’s out there will drive up costs and you’ll wind up spending just as much as if you still had cable.

    Here are the different streaming services available and a brief description of each:

    • Netflix – the current king of the streaming world, Netflix has a ton of content to watch. It’s the best place for avid TV fans looking for exciting and new original content, but it’s not a great place for those who want to keep up with network television. The most popular plan, which includes HD streaming, costs around $15 per month.

    • Hulu – a much cheaper option (with ads Hulu only costs around $7 per month, and the ad-free version is around $12), Hulu is great for those who want to keep up with network TV; new episodes are available the next day. However, while it has some original programming, it doesn’t offer anywhere near as much as Netflix, so it’s probably not the service for you if you’re looking for cutting-edge new programming.

    • Amazon Prime – You can get access to tons of movies, but TV shows are limited or cost extra. The real benefit to Prime is all the discounts and free shipping you get. But if you’re looking for something to replace cable, Amazon Prime probably can’t do it on its own. A subscription costs about $12 per month.

    • Disney Plus – The newest member of the streaming service family, Disney+ offers you all your Disney favorites, plus Pixar, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), and Marvel productions as well. .

    • HBO Now – HBO has long been the leader in original, creative programming, and while Netflix is catching up, HBO still has a lot to offer, and a subscription, which costs around $14 per month, gets you access to all their old shows too. Maybe not the best option if you’re only going with one streaming service, but it’s still a great option.

    Ideally, to save money, you could get together with some friends and get a few subscriptions and then share them. But if you can’t do this, use this guide to determine which of the many services out there is best for you.

  • Free TV

    Another option is to ditch cable and streaming altogether and buy an old-fashioned antenna. This comes with an upfront cost (between $50-$250), but once you have it installed, you won’t pay a dime for TV. And depending on where you live, you will still get around 50 channels, which isn’t bad for $0/month.

  • It’s Time to Save

    Now that you’ve seen the game plan for saving money on cable TV, there’s no longer any excuse for continuing to pay for a service you don’t want and find too expensive. Yes, going through all of this will take some time, but it’s well worth it considering the reward is that you get to keep much more of your hard-earned dollars each month.

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