Are you ready to cut your cable bill and save money?
I have yet to meet a ridiculously wealthy military family, but I have met countless military families living on a budget. Whether you are working to reduce debt or just wanting to have more of your money for things you love to do, one strategy is to cut your cable bill.
1. Lower your bill with a Military Discount
As a military family, the first thing you can do to lower your cable bill is to make sure you are receiving any available discounts. Many of the large cable companies offer a military discount.
Each company is different with what they provide for military families in the way of a discount. Some offer free add-on services or products (like free DVR) where other companies will provide you with prepaid gift cards or discounts of up to 15% off your total bill.
If your bill does not show a discount, it does not hurt to call and ask if the company offers a reduced rate for military members. Worst thing they can say is no – which may lead you to see if other companies in your area do offer a discount and better pricing.
2. Downsize Your Services to Cut Your Cable Bill
When you initiated cable service at your current home you likely were upsold services at a lower rate only to have the promotional period end, leaving you with an inflated cable bill. If this is your reality, you may want to reconsider what services you actually use.
Check your channel package
Recently we took time to look at the channel packages that were offered by our cable company. We quickly found that most of the channels we pay for we do not really watch. There are a few that were “must haves” – mostly kid channels if we are being completely candid. Immediately we knew we could drop down to one of the lesser channel packages and receive the same programming that we wanted to see.
Drop the DVR
Another option for some families may be to get rid of the DVR. With the rise of Netflix and on demand channels, you may find that your DVR isn’t really being utilized for things you watch.
For example, a couple days ago our DVR signaled that it was full. How could this be? We hardly watch shows from the DVR as we catch new shows through On Demand. We went in to see what was recorded and found it was full with 72 saved episodes of Wild Kratts, 124 episodes of Thomas the Train, and countless other kids shows that we started recording years ago and the auto programming just continued. Could we drop the DVR at our home and be fine, we sure could!
Get rid of extra cable boxes
Count the number of cable boxes you actually use at your home. You may find that number to be less than the amount of cable boxes you are paying for.
For example, if you originally planned to have a TV in the guest room but no one watches it in there 95% of the year, do you need to pay all year for a cable box that is used so rarely? Or maybe you have a child who is off to college 10 months of the year, do you need to retain a cable box in his room? Is there a TV in the playroom that would be better served with just a DVD player?
You may find there is an opportunity to cut out a cable box in your home that will help cut your cable bill. You be thinking, oh that’s only $10/month. I get it, that’s not a lot, but when you start adding up your services it quickly builds. So save yourself the $120 a year on a dusty, unused cable box in the guestroom and spend it on something your family enjoys!
3. Bundle Your Services to Cut Your Cable Bill
Bundling services has been a way to get a deal – at least a promotional deal – for many people. In theory, the more services that a company offers you the more savings they can give.
When you bundle television, Internet, and telephone, there are often great deals and perks that go along with cable service pricing. Some companies will offer you things like free DVRs and free installation with your bundle. In our personal experience with service bundles, there have been times we had a bundle that included telephone service we never used simply because it was cheaper than paying for the services without it!
One benefit that is sometimes overlooked in bundling is the fact that you only have to pay one bill for all of these services: this may help prevent any late fees if you forget to pay one bill but not the other, and can help streamline your household. Remember that late fees are essentially throwing your money away so be sure to pay on time!
By letting one company manage the support of cable, phone and Internet services, you can save money, time, and sometimes avoid frustration in dealing with multiple customer service departments.
If you are considering bundling your services, make sure the rates you are paying with the one provider for all of your services is cheaper than you’d be paying separately for services from a variety of companies as a bundle deal will lock you in a contract for a specified time period. Bundling is not beneficial for everyone, so make sure you thoroughly research prices in your area for each service before making the jump!
4. Negotiate a Lower Cable Bill
One key factor in negotiating a lower cable bill is having proof of overpaying for your services. We all feel like we are overpaying, but researching how much the local competitors charge for the services you have (and use) is vital to any conversation about lowering your bill.
You simply cannot make an argument for a lower bill without knowing how much less you would pay someone else providing similar service to your address. Work with the facts and you’ll get farther!
Do not threaten to leave if you aren’t willing to!
If your cable bill jumped recently – likely because you are no longer paying the promotional rate – you may be angry about what you are expected to pay for your cable service. This feeling may lead to you calling and angrily threatening your cable company that you are going to leave.
Don’t be surprised if the “threatening to leave” tactic to get cheaper cable no longer works, especially if you are only receiving television services from the provider. Many of the providers are willing to let go of their cable only subscribers and the profit margins of their internet only subscribers is higher.
When you want to negotiate your bill you should only threaten to leave if you are actually prepared to do so. Even then be prepared to present the facts about competitor rates and treat the customer retention specialist with kindness. Dealing with angry customers all day is exhausting, but speaking with a kind customer makes you want to work with them on a better deal.
My Recent Negotiation Process to Cut Our Cable Bill
We recently saw an increase in our cable bill at the end of a promotional period. Our monthly bill jumped nearly $100. My husband utilized the online chat feature with the cable company and was informed that there were no further discounts available for our account.
That response did not sit well with me. Especially when I pulled up the rates of other companies in our area.
I called our current cable company and to the initial robot-sorting machine that asked what my call was in regards to, I simply said I am considering cancelling my service. Immediately I was transferred to a live person with no wait time. (Clearly when you say you are going to cancel you bypass typical customer service and are sent to customer retention personnel.)
*Note: Do not bother using an online chat support feature, e-mail, or postal mail to ask for a better deal. You will not get one. You must speak with a customer retention specialists and the only way to get to them is on the phone.
The lady kindly asked me how she could assist me, and I politely stated that I have been offered the same or better services from another cable company at a drastic savings and that I was calling to see if there is a way to reduce my rate comparable to the competitor to continue my service with the current provider.
The customer retention representative began to look for deals and informed me that my promotional rate had ended so now I am seeing the actual cost of their service. She stated there were no other promotions available to me at that time but could switch me to a different service and save me $5-$10 per month.
Thankfully I had already done my research and knew the exact amounts the other company was charging. Remaining polite I thanked her for that information but we were not wanting to switch to a different (lesser) type of cable service, rather we were looking at switching to a better offering at the competitor that cost $75 less per month for a period of 24 months.
That is an $1800 difference for 24 months!
I quoted her the company name, plan name, and the pricing. She reminded me that it was just a promotional rate and that even with the competitor my rates would eventually go up.
I thanked her for the reminder, but added that a quick calculation of that savings over the promotion term would save me around $1800 per year and that I would gladly be inconvenienced by having to switch companies when we are talking about an amount sizeable enough to pay for a cruise for our family!
She asked to put me on hold to see what other offers may be available for me. During this time she clearly looked up the competitor information to see that it was accurate. She then came back on the phone and said she might have found something but needed to speak with her manager. Miraculously, a few moments later she returned and they were willing to cut our rate $67 per month but we would have to agree to another 12 months or face an early termination fee.
One call. It took less than 10 minutes. Saved $800 over the next year.
Will our rates go up again in 12 months? Of course they will. So at that time I will be calling back, switching companies, or ditching cable completely.
5. Find a cable alternative to cut your cable bill
Ditching cable completely and going with a cable alternative might be a best bet to save your family money. Depending on your TV needs you may be able to drastically reduce your monthly bill.
High speed Internet needed
Unless you are ok with only watching local tv channels, you will absolutely need high speed internet service to stream to your TV. So start by researching which internet plans are best in your area knowing that you must have download speeds at 10 mpbs or higher.
If your home is in an urban or suburban area, you may be able to receive many local channels through a simple digital antenna. When I hear tv antenna I immediately think of the two “rabbit-ear” metal antennas sticking up from the back of the television that had to be adjusted ever so slightly to keep the channels from being fuzzy.
Thankfully this is no longer a reality of television antennas! You can pick up a digital antenna, that is sleek to the wall that will help you pick up local channels for a one time purchase of less than $40.
Next consider your television. If you do not own a smart TV, or a television that can connect to the internet, you will need a streaming device. Luckily streaming devices are easy to use!
Our favorites for streaming devices are the Roku Express or Amazon Fire Stick which are both under $40 and simple to program. As with all streaming devices you will have to pay for additional channels or subscription services (Netflix, Hulu, etc) that come to your device, but unlike channels offered with the cable company, you get to decide what channels you’d like to subscribe to.
What I love about the options with streaming services is that you are able to watch from anywhere.
There are many choices when it comes to cutting the chord with cable. If you don’t research your options and purchase only what you need, you may find your bill runs just as high as cable!
Don’t overpay! Lower your cable bill today!
Most importantly, we want to make sure you aren’t overpaying for the services you use!
Whether you are working to reduce your debt or just trying to save more of the money your family brings in to spend on things you enjoy, we hope that one of these options helps you to cut your cable bill.
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