7 Tips for Cutting Cable Costs
March 14, 2012
Thanks to Andrea Woroch for sharing some tips on cutting cable costs in this guest post.
When I was a kid, cable television was a luxury. It was a rare treat only found at hotels and friends’ houses. My parents didn’t want to take on the extra expense and they worried all of the extra channels would turn my brain to mush.
Though it seemed like a grave injustice at the time, I now understand where mom and dad were coming from. When the monthly cable bill shows up I have to seriously question how much HBO means to me. If you feel like you’re spending way too much to watch your favorite shows, try a few of these tips for cutting the cost of cable.
1. Cancel Quickly
Cable companies use special promotions like free trials of movie channels to lure you in. Their hope is you’ll forget it’s only a preview and they covertly start charging you full price when the promotion is over. Your provider isn’t required to send out a notice when the trial is nearing its end, so the responsibility for cancelling on time falls on you. Otherwise you’ll find an unpleasant, expensive surprise in the mail the following month. Set a reminder on your phone or jot the promotion’s end date in a calendar.
2. Don’t Forget the Box
Surprisingly, the cable box is a prime culprit when it comes to running up your electricity bill. This article from The Consumerist notes that your cable box can use more electricity than your refrigerator or air conditioner. Instead of leaving it idle while you’re at work, power the whole thing down. Otherwise, use a lamp timer to program your cable box to turn on when you generally return from work and power down around bed time. This won’t do anything for your cable bill, but this will cut $40 a year per box off your electricity bill.
3. Switch to Streaming
There are lots of options for watching shows and movies online. Devices like Apple TV or Roku allow you to stream movies from the Internet directly to your TV. While streaming service from Netflix only runs $7.99 per month, the shows you want to watch aren’t always available. If you find yourself in this predicament, you can always order digital versions with a discount Amazon gift card from sites like GiftCardGranny.com to reduce costs further.
4. Eliminate HD
Getting high-definition channels can come with an extra charge as well as an extra equipment rental. If you casually watch a couple hours of TV each week, consider sticking with the standard definition package. Your friends might not want to watch March Madness at your place, but they’re not chipping in on the bill anyway. If you don’t even own an HDTV, check your bill closely to make sure you’re not paying for channels you can’t watch.
5. Ask for a Better Rate
There’s nothing to lose from calling up your cable company and asking for a better rate. They’re not going to start charging you more, and with a little hassle they’ll usually put you on one of their current promotions supposedly reserved for new customers. For a few negotiation tips, see this prime example of cable-bill haggling done right from Get Rich Slowly.
6. Swap Service
Sometimes a relationship has run its course and there’s nothing left to do to save it. When your cable provider is unwilling to budge on better price, it’s time for a break-up. Switching service is a hassle, but worth the savings in the long run. If you’re fed up with your current cable company, BillShrink.com has a helpful comparison tool that lets you view standard rates from top providers in your area.
7. Back to Broadcast
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the same can be said for TV today. Though there are still broadcast channels that don’t require a paid subscription, they do require a digital converter box or HD antenna. Picking these accessories up is a one-time expense of around $30, but provides unlimited access to major networks like NBC and FOX. Shop online at sites like Amazon.com to find the cheapest options and read product reviews to ensure quality.
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All posts by Ben Edwards