Believe it or not, I remember a time when television was black and white and the channels stopped airing programs for the evening and didn’t resume until the next day. Yes, I was very young as it was a looong time ago, but it happened, I swear! Now we have a gazillion channels to watch round the clock with more programming than we could ever hope to watch in a lifetime. Along with all that content comes a hefty price tag, as having a monthly cable or satellite bill has become fairly universal. “Cutting the cord“, or ditching cable altogether using a combination of newer services and devices, has become a popular way to save money, and it certainly is a viable one. But there may be some good (and not-so-good) reasons for not wanting to cancel your cable package, and there are still ways to cut your cable bill to keep more of your hard-earned money.
First, if you’re considering whether to cut the cord, plug your numbers and selections into this calculator to see whether it makes financial sense. Perhaps your internet costs will increase so much without a “bundle” that it isn’t worth dropping your TV package. Or maybe you watch so many different types of TV that it wouldn’t save you money (in which case you might want to evaluate whether watching all that TV is really good for you). Or maybe your internet service isn’t fast enough for reliable streaming. Or possibly you have a spouse or family members that are unwilling to make a change. Or perhaps you’re just a little lazy and don’t want to switch things around.
Whatever your reason, that doesn’t mean you’re locked into spending a small fortune each month. Here’s how to minimize your cable bill while getting the most value for your entertainment.
Evaluate what you watch
How often do you watch TV? Is almost all your television viewing limited to a few channels? Have your viewing habits changed over time? Knowing what you use and what you don’t is the first step. Some households subscribe to channels they used to watch, or never watched, and keep paying for it, every month.
And where do you watch what you watch? Do you have 4 televisions in your house? Do you spend most of your time watching on your smartphone or laptop? A big drain on the monthly bill is equipment, so if you have 4 set-top boxes in your house with DVR’s, you’re probably paying monthly rental fees for every one of them. Do you really need cable TV in every room of your home?
Consider your provider and your package
If you’ve had cable (or satellite TV) for awhile, you probably don’t even know what packages are currently being offered by your provider, and what alternative providers may be available. Time to get on the web and research what’s out there. You may find a less expensive package by eliminating channels you don’t watch. Or you may find a less expensive provider and decide to switch.
Even if neither one of those happens, at least you will have the information you need for the next step.
Negotiate with your provider
Before you decide to switch or make any drastic changes, start by calling your current provider to negotiate your monthly bill or contract terms. When you call, be prepared to spend awhile on the phone and be armed with pricing information (what you’re paying and what new customers pay) as well as any competitors’ offers available in your area. Always be friendly and polite…customer service agents are people too, and if you approach them in a positive way, they will be more likely to help you get what you want.
Tell them you have been a loyal customer and would prefer to remain one, but you are not willing to pay your current rate (or new rate if it’s just gone up) for your television service. Ask what offers they have available, whether you can get a different promotional rate or match a new customer rate, etc. Sometimes you will be offered freebies, such as an extra premium channel at no additional charge. That’s great if it’s something you want, but don’t get sidetracked from your main goal of saving money. Likewise, make sure any package deal they offer you is actually better, service-wise and financially, than what you have currently. If you are not making progress to your satisfaction, tell them if you cannot get a better rate you are going to switch providers (assuming a competitor is available in your area) or you are going to eliminate cable and go to a streaming service instead. You may need to speak to several individuals in different departments, but be firm.
Ultimately, you may not get the savings you wanted, but you can always call back another time. A different customer service agent may be more helpful than the last one you dealt with.
Many people are uncomfortable negotiating with their providers. Some are not willing to ask for what they want, avoiding confrontation at all costs, while others simply feel that they aren’t very good negotiators. If this is you, then consider using a service like BillXperts to negotiate for you. It’s a great way to gain significant savings on your cable and other monthly bills.
Switch providers if necessary
Finally, if you simply can’t get an offer for a better rate, consider switching to the competition. I know, no one likes to go through the hassle, but if you switch every time your contracted rate is up, you could save big. Sometimes the cable company will realize you’re not bluffing and come back with a last minute offer, but be prepared to see it through if they don’t.
So there you have it. If you want to save on your cable TV, you can cut the cord, change your service package, negotiate, or switch providers. It may be a bit of effort, but it’s worth it if you can start funneling some of that money from your cable bill to the goals that are truly important to you.
Do you subscribe to cable television? Have you tried to negotiate? Or have you cut the cord?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)