|A common response to finding ways to save money includes staying in on the weekends, instead of seeking entertainment outside the home. But having a low-key night among family and friends can be costly, especially if you are overpaying cable TV and cell phone service providers.
If no other factors change, the NPD Group projects that the average pay-TV bill will cost viewers $123 by 2015, and that by 2020, this entertainment expense will soar to $200 a month.
The second installation of March’s “Lower Your Monthly Payment” series explores where and how customers can save on phone and cable costs, without sacrificing the services they regularly use. GOBankingRates got real talk from experts in the telecommunications space to share their two cents about how to save money on these services.
1. Ditch the Land Line
“Why do you still have a ‘home line’?” asked Michael Bremmer, CEO of Telecomquotes.com. ”You don’t need it, and don’t let your provider bundle you — it’s not cheaper.”
With 91 percent of American adults using a cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center, the need for land-based telephone lines has dwindled. Bremmer said the only time a land line might be needed are during the following conditions:
You have a child in the home who doesn’t have their own cellphone
Your home’s security system requires you to have an operation land line
Your home has poor cellular service
Those who still insist on having a home phone are encouraged to try alternative phone services like Vonage, which Bremmer said can cost as little as $10 per month.
2. Play Hard Ball With Service Providers
“Call your provider BEFORE the promotional pricing goes away, and have their competitors’ pricing handy,” Bremmer said. “[You should] be willing to cancel if they won’t negotiate.”
Before playing a game of chicken with your service provider, doing your research is necessary. Have a list of demands ready, as well as a back up plan in case the conversation doesn’t fall in your favor. Don’t allow providers to feel like they can call your bluff.
3. Stream Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows
“For home users, take five minutes and REALLY look over your bill,” Bremmer advised. “For example, if you’re paying for HBO and Netflix, choose one service and cancel the other; you probably don’t need both.”
Subscribing to the premium programming channel HBO can run your TV bill up by about $16, depending on your service provider and your location. This cost also doesn’t include the price of basic cable that is typically required.
On the other hand, streaming services are also serving up a new breed of original programming, with popular shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black that keep viewers glued to the screen. An added benefit: A Netflix streaming-only subscription currently starts at $7.99 a month – that’s 50 percent in savings alone.
4. If Streaming Isn’t An Option, Look to the Skies
“One of the easiest ways to save money is by switching from cable to satellite TV,” said Ryan Grier, vice president of sales and marketing at Satellite Internet Pros. “Cable TV fees across the country average over $60 per month, whereas DISH, for example, has the lowest all-digital price in America with packages, starting below $20 per month. Sometimes saving on your bill is as easy as taking some time to shop around.”
Grier said that satellite television is often a more affordable option than cable TV because of the negotiating power that satellite providers exercise on a regular basis.
“By passing along these savings directly to our customers, we’ve been able to maintain very low industry prices,” Grier said.
These recommendations can help dramatically reduce the amount of money lost to beloved TV shows without losing out on quality programming. Come back next week to learn how to lower your monthly payments on transportation and auto loan bills.