The economy is rough, your dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, and cable companies consistently rank as some of the least liked companies in America so it should not surprise anyone to know that more and more people are cutting the cable cord. While cutting the cable cord obviously reduces the amount of money you are sending those unpopular corporations, there are less drastic ways to reduce the costs of your monthly cable and internet bill.
Say No to the Phone
Many customers have added home telephones to their cable and internet services as a way of reducing their monthly bill by “bundling.” Often times, cable providers will sell the landline phone service by pointing out that a phone will give you access to a free EMTA modem that comes with the phone. Remember that those landline telephones also come with pricey FCC taxes and surcharges which can add up to $10 to your monthly bill in addition to the charge for the phone service itself and that a modern DOCSIS 3.0 modem can be purchased outright for as little as $50.
Bring Your Own Equipment
If you forego the landline telephone, your cable and internet provider will offer to rent you a modem and wireless router for between $5 and $10 per month. The sales pitch will highlight the ease of replacement in the event that either piece of equipment breaks. Modems and wireless routers tend to be reliable for many years, making the purchase of this internet equipment a wise long-term investment that will save you money. DOCSIS 3.0 modems can be purchased for between $50 and $80, while wireless routers equivalent to those leased by your cable company are often sold for between $30 and $60. After one year of service from your own modem and wireless router, you are saving money that would otherwise be going directly into the pockets of your cable and internet provider.
Keep Track Of “Freebies” and Promotional Offers
Cable companies often add free perks for new customers. While those free six months of HBO or that free year of DVR service are enticing, you should keep track of the duration of those promotional offers by marking them on your calendar and evaluating their value to you before paying full price for them. Also take note of how long your introductory pricing period lasts so you are not shocked to see a ballooning monthly bill for cable and internet on your 25th month of service.
Don’t Overbuy Internet Speed
There are many misconceptions regarding internet speed and people frequently purchase more speed than they really need. Are you into streaming movies? I bet you heard you need a connection of 12-25 megabits per second in order to stream Netflix and your cable company is not likely to do much to dispel such myths. Netflix utilizes excellent video compression technology that allows you to stream a movie in full HD on an internet connection running at just 5.0 megabits per second. Evaluate what you use your internet for and how many devices you use at one time and adjust your level of internet service accordingly.
Monitor Speed Increases From Your Provider
Note that providers often increase their internet speeds over time, meaning that your internet service package likely delivers you a faster speed than it did a year ago, giving you the ability to move down a speed level depending on your surfing habits. If you are a light internet user who does casual web surfing and occasional song downloads you should ask yourself if there is a big difference between a 13-second song download and a 5-second song download. As internet speed increases, there is often a law of diminishing returns for most users.
Do You Really Need ESPN in Your Cable Package?
The difference between basic cable and expanded basic cable can be between $25 and $35 per month. Most cable providers offer a basic cable package that includes channels like the big three cable news networks, AMC, TCM, USA, and FX without sports programming like ESPN, ESPN 2, and Fox Sports 1. Sports channels, especially ESPN channels, have the highest carriage fees in the industry, making them a costly addition to your cable bill. If you are not a sports fan, consider a basic cable plan to cut your monthly expenses.
You Don’t Need A Cable Box on Every TV
Some cable plans will allow you to watch basic and extended basic cable channels on your household’s additional televisions through basic cable cords. You will lose HD programming, the on-screen programming guide, and video on demand, but you will still have access to SD channels in your bedrooms without needing to rent cable boxes for each of those additional televisions.
Streaming Movie Services Bring Lots of Value
Premium movie channels like HBO can cost as much as $15 per month. If you add HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax to your cable bill, you will be paying $50 per month just for those channels and that is in addition to your standard cable service. While these channels offer plenty of brilliant original programming like “Nurse Jackie” and “Game of Thrones,” you often find yourself having to schedule viewing appointments in order to catch the movies you want to watch if you don’t rent a DVR to record them when you’re not around. Netflix gives you instant access to thousands of movies for less than the cost of a single premium channel package.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Shopping Around
Does the competitor offer a great introductory offer for the same services you are currently paying full-price for? Feel free to shop around and switch services once you are out contract. Using your own internet equipment and keeping the number of rented cable boxes to a minimum allows you to switch to the best deal as conveniently as possible.
Consider “Flexwatch” Programs
Many providers are realizing that the old cable and internet business model does not suit the needs of savvy modern customers. These new “flexwatch” packages offer high-speed internet and HBO without requiring customers to purchase basic cable. These packages are great for people who rely on the internet for entertainment but still want access to HBO and the glorious HBO Go pass. The savings can be big over traditional cable and internet bundles and you can get access to what you really want without all of the fluff channels.
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