When it comes to saving money on your cable, Internet, and phone bills, everyone has a different "can't fail" method for cutting costs. Your best friend may resort to crying on the phone every time she asks for a discount. And your uncle swears he has a secret universal promo code that helps him secure price cuts from all vendors.
These approaches may (or may not) have worked on occasion, but we wouldn't blame you for seeking out more reliable methods for scoring significant savings.
To help, we've spoken to actual consumers to learn the most tried and true (and tear-free) ways to cut back on your monthly costs without eliminating the services you love.
Don't Sign a Long-Term Contract (So You Can Switch Providers with Ease)
Providers are always promoting super low rates, but what they fail to advertise is that these low rates are just temporary and are usually only offered to new customers.
So, how can you score these low rates on a more permanent basis? Well, if you have multiple providers in your area, you could simply switch providers whenever you find a great offer from another cable or satellite company, says David Bakke, contributor for MoneyCrashers.com.
And when he says "whenever," he means it.
"I've never had a problem with switching companies," says Bakke, who notes that the trick to continuous savings is to never sign a long-term contract with any provider.
Bakke says that switching between cable companies has enabled him to get savings of 10 to 20 percent off regular pricing, free premium channels, and gift cards. In one instance, after he switched to AT&T U-Verse, his discounts, gift cards, free months of service, and other perks added up to over $400 of savings and deals.
Buy Second-Hand Equipment Instead of Renting from Your Provider
If you think your bills are high now, imagine how much it would cost to rent your computers and televisions from your provider on a monthly basis. We're not sure what the exact figure would come out to, but our estimates put it somewhere at around an arm and a leg.
And while this may sound like a ridiculous scenario, doesn't it seem equally ridiculous to pay rental fees for equipment like DVRs and wireless routers? Buying your own equipment and cutting out these extra rental charges is one of the best ways to enjoy long-term savings on your entertainment packages.
Marc Kruskol of Palmdale, Calif., realized he could save money on his Time Warner Cable package with this technique. Instead of continuing to pay $22.99 each month for DVR equipment and service fees, he purchased a used TiVo Premiere DVR.
For his Internet service, Kruskol also ditched his Time Warner Cable wireless router and cable modem, which were costing him a total of $8.50 each month, and shopped around until he found reasonably priced models of his own.
Even though purchasing equipment means "there is an initial outlay of money," Kruskol says he "will make it up in the long run."
By shaving off more than $30 in equipment related fees each month, Marc will save over $360 a year.
So, where should you look for used equipment? The first places that come to mind are probably sites like Ebay, Amazon, and Craigslist, which often allow you to view images and receive details on the condition of the product. With these options, however, you’ll want to pay close attention to the ratings and feedback given to the seller from other users they’ve done business with. This will help you pick a reliable seller, and in turn, a reliable product.
Another good option for finding used electronics is freecycle.org, a community forum where people can either give away used products for free or ask for the products they want.
Make Sure Your Cable Plan Isn't Outdated
If you're unhappy with the amount of money you're paying on your cable bill, check in with your provider to see if there are any new plans that may be available to you.
This step saved Pearblossom, Calif. resident, Brenda Avadian, a good chunk of money on her monthly bill.
Avadian was paying more than $60 each month for a cable package that included unlimited long-distance calling, even though she rarely used her landline. So, she decided to give her provider a call to see if there were other packages that fit her better.
When she spoke with a representative, Avadian learned that she was actually on an old plan that was set in place before her cable company was purchased by a different company. Since the change, the company was now offering better plans, which was news to Avadian.
After learning about the change, Avadian switched over to the company's new plan, which had a better price tag.
"Turns out I'll save about $20 a month," says Avadian, who recommends that people check in with their providers every few years.
If you're serious about cutting back on your Internet, cable and phone costs, try out one or more of these techniques. They've worked for countless other frugal consumers and there's a good chance they'll fit the bill for you too.
- Banking & Budgeting