Mama Bear Blog
Guest Post: Looking for More Ways to Save Money? 5 Ways to Lower Your Cable Bill
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Saving money is hard. Other than refinancing your car loan with Outside Financial, there aren’t many ways to cut costs without a downside. The bad news is you are most likely paying too much for TV and internet. The good news is that with the right techniques, you can pay less. It doesn’t matter whether you have cable or satellite or just internet service. There are lots of ways to keep the services that matter, lower your cable bill, and save money at the same time. Here are the 5 best ways to start:
1. Audit your bill
If you want to lower your cable bill, first you have to know what you’re actually paying for. If you haven’t looked at your bill in a long time, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Cable companies know you won’t look every month, so they raise the price over time. Now’s your chance to catch them in the act.
Look over each of the services you have. Are they all things you use? Do you still use that landline other than when your great aunt calls? Why do you have three cable boxes when you only watch TV in two rooms? How many channels do you really ever watch? What’s this fee for paying late or using too much data? Have you ever actually called a technician with your “protection plan?”
Often, you pay for services you rarely use. Dropping those is the easiest way to lower the bill and keep it down for good. But what do you do when your services are what you want, but you still need to lower your cable bill?
2. Negotiate your bill
Cable companies charge more than they have to, expecting you to negotiate and pay less. When you pay whatever they ask, you’re basically giving them a tip. And with billions in annual profits, they don’t need it.
The absolute best way to lower your bill is to call and negotiate a better rate. To do it yourself, follow the BillFixers Guide to Negotiating Your Bills. If you don’t feel like a lot of reading, here’s the quick version:
- Research the competition
- Call your provider and threaten to cancel
- Be friendly, but skeptical
Negotiating your own bills can be hard, frustrating work and it sometimes takes hours. If you do a good job, though, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year. Don’t want to wade through menus and wait on hold? You can hire expert negotiators like BillFixers to lower your cable bill for you. Signing up only takes a few minutes and you’ll save more than $300 a year on average.
3. Buy your own modem
If you’re renting a modem from your internet provider, stop. You can likely buy the exact same modem online for $60 (or $20 if you’re okay buying it from Facebook or Craigslist.) Since modem rentals cost $10+ a month, you’ll start saving money in less than a year.
Installing a modem yourself can seem scary. The truth is it’s simple. Plug it in, tell your provider the info printed on the bottom, and you’re online. The only advantage to having a rental modem is that your ISP will say they provide tech support on a rental. But the main thing they do is send a refresh signal, which they can do with a customer-owned modem anyway.
For a $20-$60 investment, you can save an extra $120 every year. That’s some very good return on your money.
4. Drop the cable boxes
While you’re saving money on equipment, take a look at your cable boxes. First off, you might have too many. Often, people will have a TV hooked up that they realize they never actually watch. Disconnecting that is easy savings. But let’s say you want to use all your TVs, what then?
Almost all cable providers now offer streaming versions of their channels. Let’s say you have Comcast. Instead of paying monthly for a cable box, log in to your Xfinity account on your smart TV and voila! Okay, let’s say you don’t have a fancy new smart TV. For $30, you can buy a Roku that does the exact same thing and plug it in to any TV. For 30 bucks and the cost of having to learn a new remote, you can save yourself hundreds a year.
5. Cut the cord
This is the big, scary one. If you’re still paying for cable or satellite TV, you’ve heard about cord cutting. The short version is you drop all TV service and only have internet. Then, you can use the internet to stream video via a smart TV or a streaming device like Chromecast or Roku. If you still want to watch TV shows and movies, you have two options. You can either use content services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, or you can watch live TV on platforms like Sling or YoutubeTV.
Cutting the cord is the biggest way to make a huge dent in your bill. If you’re already paying for streaming services, you can often cut your bill more than in half with no new costs. Most folks who cut the cord love it and never look back. Still, be careful of the costs of streaming services. If you start adding subscriptions you never had before, you can eat up those savings quick.
Now, Go Get Saving!
You’ve now got the tools you need to lower your cable bill. It can seem daunting if you’ve never tried before, but facing your bills head on can be the difference between building debt and building savings. The next step is to make sure you do these every year, at least. Your cable company will keep trying to sneak up the price and you have to keep knocking it back down. But it’s worth it to keep saving year after year. If the whole thing sounds too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask a friend (or an expert) for help. Set aside some time to deal with your bill. Then, once you’ve lowered your cable bill, you get to just sit back, relax, and watch the savings roll in.
About the Author:
Ben Kurland is a Co-Founder of BillFixers, which helps consumers and small businesses save money on their monthly bills. BillFixers has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and on the NBC Nightly News and has saved people more than $4,000,000.