According to Nielsen, 90 percent of Americans shell out for TV service each month. But let’s face it: times are tough. And when you have to cut spending in your home, cable is often the first to go. That’s because while you might love your precious Game of Thrones, it’s not exactly a necessity for your family. But before you go completely cold turkey from cable, try lowering your cable TV bill instead. You might be surprised at how affordable your service can be with the right tactics. Some serious negotiation skills and common-sense budgeting techniques work together so you don’t have to go without all of your favorite shows.
1. Ask for a Discount
Here’s where your amazing negotiation skills need to come into play. First, check around and see what deals your cable provider is currently offering new customers. Then, call up your provider and instead of pressing the button for customer service, push whatever button gets you to “cancel service.” The reps in this apartment are authorized to give steep discounts to stop customers from leaving. When you get through to someone, don’t yell or lose your temper. Explain that you’re cutting back for budget reasons and can’t afford your plan anymore — hey, you can blame it on your spouse if you want. The rep will start by offering you some free movie channels for six months, but don’t budget. Continue — calmly — saying that it’s just too expensive and slowly but surely the discounts will happen. After all, it never hurts to ask. In the cable TV world, it’s cheaper for a provider to keep a customer than to nab a new one, so they’ll bend over backward to keep your contract going.
2. Ditch the Gadgets
While you might consider your DVR part of the family, having high-priced gadgets as part of your cable TV bill can definitely take a bite out of your monthly budget. Many receivers cost $10 per month to rent and if you have more than one, it can seriously add up. If you think you can handle it, switch back to a basic receiver. You could also change one of your TVs to an antenna to save money as well. You might not get the crystal-clear picture or the ability to record shows, but you’ll get more money in your wallet. Or, if you can’t imagine life without the ability to pause live TV, call your cable provider and ask if they can waive the rental fees for your receivers instead.
3. Bundle Up
If your cable TV provider is affiliated with an Internet or phone provider, ask about bundling your services for a deeper discount. You use Internet anyway — might as well score money off your bill each month by keeping the services together. Added bonus? There’s just one bill to pay each month.
4. Drop Premium Channels or Reduce Your Package
Premium channels like HBO and Showtime are usually thrown in as promotions when you first sign up for your cable provider. Then you get totally addicted to shows like Enlightened and forget to cancel the programming when your promotion runs out. Most premium subscriptions can add about $12 to $20 to your monthly bill, so it pays to finally cut the cord and cancel your premium channels. The same goes for bloated TV packages that include channels you rarely watch. Scroll through your program guide and make a mental note of the channels you spend the most time watching. You might be able to cancel premium channels and switch to a more basic package for huge savings. Still missing your favorite shows? You can watch them online, via an Internet streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, or — if worse comes to worse — buying the box set at the end of the season and having your own TV marathon at home.