Watching television, browsing the Internet, and communicating with friends and family over the phone are all core activities in everyone's lives. The money you spend on these cable services, however, can make your household budget hurt, so it's a good idea to minimize what you're paying for in order to have an efficient financial plan.
You can save on your average monthly spending each month by bundling services together, finding cheap internet and television plans, and by changing how you surf the web and watch TV. And we're here to help with all of that.
In this article, I'm going to discuss some tips on how to cut your cable bill, which will help you save money on essential services. You'll find not only information on the comparison of cable and internet providers but also on the biggest tips that will help you save dough (and possibly remain a loyal customer).
Compare Cable & Internet Providers In Your Area
As of December 2015, there are 53.22 million US cable service subscribers. Keep in mind that in June 2005, just ten years earlier, there were 65.4 million US cable users. One factor that lowered subscriber numbers? The cost. In fact, according to Fortune, the average monthly spending on a cable TV bill is $103 per month. That's rather high.
Saving money on cable TV, phone, and internet providers may require some technological savvy, an eye for what's going on in the television and internet industry, and the patience to explore the different service providers and determine which one is the best for you.
Comparing options is part of the homework you must do before determining whether you can save money on your cable TV, Internet and phone bill, and if yes, how much cash you can spare.
And now without further ado, you'll find out how to cut your cable bill.
Related: Use our comparison tool to look at the major cable providers side-by-side.
7 Ways to Reduce Your Cable, Internet & Phone Bill
1. Monitor Your Billing History Closely
The first days are always the best for new subscribers. Along with your high-speed internet access and/or HD channels, you will mostly likely enjoy the low costs that are offered with any new subscription. This will not last.
As months go by and you begin to notice charges piling up on your bill, nip it in the bud and contact your provider's customer service representative immediately. Explain that you wish to keep the rate you started with, and ask them what they intend to do about your rising costs.
2. Combine Your Services
TV, Internet and phone service providers have caught up to what's happening in the market, especially what consumers want. Most providers now offer a 3-in-1 package, so talk to your provider to learn more about offerings and how you can save money by bundling your services. Internet and TV bundles often offer the best of both worlds: fast Internet and all your favorite channels on one neat bill.
Don't immediately fall for low-cost introductory offers that providers may throw at you; these introductory offers, while originally more cost effective than standard package prices, somewhat end after the first year; after, you will most likely face a rate increase.
Furthermore, the packages typically increase prices each year. A rate increase can be between $10 to far more - in other words, enough to hurt your wallet. Remember that besides cable and DSL, you have satellite TV services and internet options like these Dish Internet packages and DIRECTV packages – which may have better deals – and comparing prices before switching can save you as much as $100 per month.
Read More: To see how the two stack up when head-to-head, check our comparison article of Dish vs. DIRECTV.
If you don't feel like switching to another cable TV service company, whether a satellite TV service or not, then contact your cable provider's customer service representatives every 6 or 9 months and threaten to downgrade or leave; if you've been a loyal customer, the provider might recommend you discount plans or ways to reduce your existing bill. The bottom line here is to always have a best-value plan.
Overall, bundles are more cost effective. Don't need a million TV channels? Opt for an Internet and phone bundle instead for a reliable connection online and over the phone.
3. Reduce or Cut Unnecessary Services
I always wonder why cable TV providers always lump so many channels in my package instead of giving me the strict minimum number of channels – meaning those that I really need and love watching. If you are like me and don't understand why you should have 350 channels rather than the five or 10 you constantly watch, talk to your TV company and have them downgrade your plan so you can save some cash.
If you plan to switch your cable TV service provider, then shop around for great cable deals that offer you the channels you love for a fair price.
ProTip: Looking to increase your good credit score to an excellent credit score? Unfortunately, you won't be able to raise your score to an excellent credit score if you pay your monthly cable bills on time, but if you fail to pay those bills, your credit score will be impacted negatively.
4. Go Mobile
It is possible to save money on your TV, Internet and phone bill by going strictly mobile. Smartphones and tablets with data plans already allow you to access the web, watch TV shows and movies, and carry on phone conversations (via mobile minutes or through VoIP services). With 4G networks expanding rapidly (faster than cable networks in some cases), this option is becoming viable for more and more people.
Of course, many of us are accustomed to oversized flat screens, but for the rest of us who are constantly on the go, we may be able to do with having our phone, the internet, and TV on single (albeit much smaller) device.
5. Pick Internet Only
I recommend that you choose the internet only if your job or social patterns do not require that you have a landline. Some financial institutions, such as credit card companies and banks, ask for a home phone number before activating new cards or the related Personal Identification Number (PIN) codes.
Don't be scared of the "Internet only" choice because you still can watch TV online and talk to your friends and loved ones via Voice Over IP and chat platform tools, such as Skype and Yahoo Messenger. We have a guide that details Internet-only plans if you would like more information.
6. Switch Plans and/or Providers
Do not hesitate to switch plans and/or providers if you feel that your current plan is too pricey. Talk to your provider and ask what plans are available along with the terms and conditions pertaining to each plan.
Some 3-in-1 package providers have plans like basic, premium, advanced, all-in-one, and something in between all of the above that providers call "family plan."
7. Cut the Cord and Stream Your TV
Another tip to lower your monthly cable bill is to eliminate, or severely cut back on, your cable subscription entirely. These quality streaming sites and stand alone services house a huge variety of television shows and movies for an affordable price for you to watch whenever you feel like it.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video offer a large selection of popular television shows and movies that aren't available on cable for a significantly lower price. For instance, Amazon Prime Instant Video is included for Amazon Prime members, though if you don't have a subscription, you can purchase the service for a low monthly fee.
ProTip: The Amazon Prime costs are incredibly cheap for what you get. You can save money if you pay for a yearly subscription, but if you're a student, Amazon Prime costs far, far less.
What is also at a much cheaper price are live streaming services like PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV Now (which is a stand alone service of DIRECTV), YouTube TV, and Sling TV.
With these services, you'll not only be able to watch live TV, including popular networks like Cartoon Network, Food Network, and more, but you'll save a lot more compared to typical cable access. For instance, Sling TV packages start at $20 per month. If there is any time to cut the cord, now would be it. The New York Times has more information regarding the live TV streaming services. The New York Times even covers the recently unveiled Hulu Live service.
If you don't have a video game console or a smart TV and want to watch live TV on your television set, you can always pick up a streaming stick such as the Roku Streaming Stick, ChromeCast, or Amazon Fire TV stick. All of them, even Amazon Fire TV stick, are affordable and include thousands of apps, like the Watch ESPN app (Watch ESPN app allows you to stream sports events away from your TV), for you to access.
In fact, some cable providers, like Verizon, are already planning their own "cord-cutting services" to keep subscribers.
If you're anxious about cutting cable out of your life, then reduce your cable plan to only the essential channels like news and live sports. At the moment, those two areas aren't offered by non-live streaming services.
Related: Don't know how to stream? Our handy guide will show you how to connect your phone to your TV.
Watching television, surfing the web, and using the telephone may be necessary parts of our daily lives, but that doesn't mean we need to break the bank to get the service we want. To save money on these essential services, a good place to start is with a budget of your expenses and a detailed account of your internet and TV preferences.
The goal is to find the best cable providers in your area that meets your needs without you having to make drastic lifestyle changes.