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Saving Money on Your Cable Bill

Category Utilities
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Cable TV service is a commonplace, but expensive part of many household budgets. This is a guide about saving money on your cable bill.

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By 4 found this helpful
July 16, 2011

I stopped watching broadcast and cable television about a year ago, and it has been an interesting experience.

First, the obvious benefit is that I have saved a lot of money. I paid for both Internet access and television over cable and my bill has been cut in half since I cancelled the television side. I'm saving about $50/month.

I find that I have filled up the time I would normally have spent watching television with watching DVDs I own and movies or TV shows from Netflix or other services. I'm not necessarily watching less television on a day to day basis, but I am watching a different mix of movies and shows.

I find that I actually enjoy watching TV shows in season form a lot more than I did on broadcast. Rather than waiting a week between episodes, I can watch several a night if I want to. It's easier to follow the story arcs throughout the season. I don't watch a lot of other shows just because they are on between the shows I really want to watch. I've been able to watch older classic shows like the Avengers, the Rockford Files, and others rather than watching just what's on now.

I thought that I would miss most of the shows I was watching as their new seasons were introduced, but an unexpected benefit of not watching commercial television is that I hardly see any commercials. A good portion of commercial time is spent advertising other shows on the current channel. Making show premieres seem like "events" and teasing the plots of other shows. Without this constant reminder of what's on I quickly lose the urgency to watch new shows. Shows I really care about I can get on DVD in the next couple months anyway.

I actually think the greatest benefit of unplugging is not being inundated with the endless commercials on every channel. It frees me up to do research into the things I want to buy rather than trying things simply because they are advertised repeatedly.

It can be a challenge to unplug from cable television, but I've come to think it is well worth it. Now I'm trying to wean myself off of Netflix and the other broadcast replacements. I spend my working days online so it's nice to see something other than a screen for a while at the end of the day.

About The Author: Fletcher Sandbeck is one of the founders of ThriftyFun. You can usually find him feverishly typing code to make the site more responsive and stable. He is crazy for Legos, has a degree in mathematics, and is always trying to be more frugal.

Have you unplugged from cable or taken other steps to reduce the amount of television you watch? Let us know in the discussion.

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By 4 found this helpful
September 29, 2011

In an effort to cut costs to the barest amount, I called the cable company and asked them to turn off our service. I told them I only watch the local channels. They offered me a new plan of only the local channels. My bill dropped from $89 per month to less than $15. The new plan is good until February 2013.

Thanks to ThriftyFun, I am inspired to find other ways to cut costs to the bone. Thanks to all the contributors to this great site.

By grandmaearth from Cameron, IL

Comment Was this helpful? 4

By 1 found this helpful
April 21, 2010

If you are not locked into a price for cable, check on a regular basis to see if the cable company is offering a special promotion. You would be surprised at the promotions that they have and sometimes it is only for 3 months but this savings can add up.

By Susan B. from Columbia, SC

Comment Was this helpful? 1

By 1 found this helpful
March 4, 2013

When you contract is up with DirectTV, even if you don't plan on switching providers, give them a call and see if they have any opportunities to lower your bill.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
November 14, 2009

I take home $620 per month after taxes. My two biggest bills are home phone and cable how can I downsize them without getting rid of them. The phone service includes the internet which is dial up, and equals $110 per month. The cable equals $80 per month and no movie channels. Any help will be useful.

By Felicia from GA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 14, 20090 found this helpful

I live in a two bedroom apartment and became friends with my neighbor who lived upstairs. She had to move away and find a cheaper apartment. She didn't have a land line phone but instead used her cell phone for all her calls. She subscribed to Time Warner Cable for her TV and internet service.

I hope that my suggestion will help save you some money.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

When I wasn't online for a couple of years, I had to get online to save money for the same issues that you have now, and we were paying $120 for our cable tv, and had just a few premium channels, and most of which we didn't watch. Our phone service was $80 a month too, and I had to do something, NOW, this was getting ridiculous.

Various people told me that I could call the cable, and basically every 3 months, ask for the better deal, and I thought that would be a big hassle too going through that every few months.

I'll tell you what I did, and I'm not sure if it would work for you, but, I got the $200 a month for the two, down to $55 a month for both, which made a big difference, that's about $1700 not having to pay for the phone and tv for a year. I got rid of the tv cable, and I changed the cable company to just High Speed Internet, which cost $30 a month for 2 years. I needed to have the high speed, to still keep my land line, and I used Vonage, which is $25 a month, and it is now unlimited calling, and it is now global too, so it is still all $25 for Vonage, though, I believe Magic Jack, and others are similar, and it could be cheaper, but, those I had to have high speed internet to use them.

As for the tv, we just watch hulu, or others like NBC, we get most shows that are usually about a day later, and the shows can be watched whenever we want to, instead of worrying about the time the shows are on, so that's another advantage. The shows are only on the computer, but, others have told me that the shows from the computer can be sent to the tv's too, and when my son is here again, he said he would fix it so that we can see the shows on our tv too.

I'm thinking that you don't want to lose your tv programs, so, perhaps if you go with just the cable for your internet and tv, and you can get your phone through your computer. Try to get them to agree to prices for 2 years, rather than the 3 months, those you would have to call and keep calling until someone will give you a better deal, and have to keep on top of that, because otherwise the next month the price is way high again. I like the transparency for these to be like that now, and I firmly tell them that too that I want to relearn to trust them, and I only want to deal with their businesses that say what they mean, and mean what they say.

The link for Clark Howard has a lot of info. for saving money, http://clarkhow  e_and_cheap.html

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

Also, if you want to use a cellphone, and for the phone, it's an advantage of not being stuck in a two year agreement, Boost you can choose buying the minutes for 3 months, or it's $50 a month, unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and Boost has internet in there too. Boost also is unlimited walkie talkie for the $50 a month, otherwise, others using it, it's $1 for all day, so no worry about minutes, just as long as others have the walkie talkie too.

I like the two year agreement for my landline phone, and cable, but, I don't like two year agreements for a cellphone. :) I use the Boost, for only for emergency, so, I just buy the minutes, which are .10 a minute. I do like the idea that if I need a cellphone more often, I can pay for the unlimited month. Also, another thing nice about Boost, is that all BP gas stations will put your minutes into your cellphone for you, so, no need to do that yourself on the phone or online to recharge your minutes. Some BP stations charge a nominal fee, but, some don't charge anything for it either.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

Some extra tidbits. Verizon has a basic plan for their cell phone usage that allows free calls to any other verizon customer anytime. And free calls to anyone anytime after 6 or 8pm (not sure) and on weekends.

In regard to the 2 year contract on a cel phone. Buy the phone out right when you but the service. And this is for ANY cell company just about. I went to the Verizon store and asked if they had any used phones for sale and bought one fairly cheap compared to new phone prices. And especially compared to what you pay for a phone over 2 years.

Use the local library for your internet needs. Or make friends with someone who can get you time in the local Univerity/High School computer lab.

Instead of cable TV use half the money you pay for cable to rent videos. Spread them out over your month. You can also get videos at your local library. If it's news your after guess what. You can't rent news on videos but you can turn on a radio. Radio is still free (with the exception of satelite radio). And then there is the best entertainment in the world that you can't even GET on cable TV. Read a book. Free at the library and cheap at a used book store.

Cable, satelite, internet and phone. They're like belly and thigh FAT. You can do without them but it's too much WORK to get rid of them. Lordy, how did people ever live before they were invented is beyond me.

Oh but there is something you can do to afford these luxeries. Get rid of your car. The money you save on maintenance and gas should cover these things.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

I get a land line through T-mobile for $9.95 a month. Unlimited long distance. I wouldn't have that at all, but my apartment complex is a dead zone for cell phones. So I have to have it. I got rid of all my cable except wireless internet. There are so many websites to watch tv for free online. So that is what I do.

I stripped down my antiquated desktop computer and made it pretty much into an internet machine for my 4 year old son. I stream Batman and scooby doo on that for him (he is not allowed to touch my laptop.- I'm in nursing school- if he broke it it would be devastating!)

I found a tv with a built in VCR for $10 at the thrift store. I find movies sometimes for 10/$1.00 at the thrift store. The most expensive I have ever seen them is 99 cents. My son loves going to pick out movies- they are so cheap!

You may also consider using Skype to make phone calls.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

I just want to take a second and apologize to Felecia. I was rude in part of my post. Goes to show you shouldn't visit message boards when there is something on your mind. Kind of like you shouldn't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Anyway, I'm sorry.

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November 17, 20090 found this helpful

Hardwired home phones are really dying out. Many people are just dropping them and using their cell phones.

If you aren't comfortable with that, check out "VOIP providers". They can provide a phone service that uses your internet connection. Prices vary, but typically, it's a fixed cost per month ($15-$40/month), and no extra charges for long distance. The downside is that it doesn't work when you lose power. But, with cell phones around, that may be less risky than in the past.

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November 21, 20090 found this helpful

Two ideas:

(1) check with your cable company to see if they have any cheaper plans that would meet your needs. In my town, they have an option called "limited" cable. They don't advertize it since they'd much rather sell a more expensive plan. It only has about a dozen channels.

(2) A Netflix account might be a good alternative to the cable TV.

Their plans range from 8.99/mo for 1 DVD at a time to 47.99/mo for 8 DVDs at a time. A 3 DVD plan ($16.99) or a 4 DVD plan ($23.99) might work for you.

You'd have to give up network TV shows and watch movies instead; but, it would save you a good deal of money over your current cable bill.

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November 22, 20090 found this helpful

If you have the option of using a digital antenna, then you might want to consider that. If not, then I would do as the others suggest and see if you can downgrade to a cheaper cable package. You can check out DVD's from your public library for free if you want to watch movies. I just recently switched my cell phone to Tracfone, which is prepaid. Their service dates are 90 days for most of the cards, while everyone else's is 60 days for most of the cards. The price you pay for minutes is the same, but in the end, you save money. Plus some phones will automatically double your minutes, so if you load 60 minutes onto your phone, it automatically doubles to 120 minutes. You can also buy cards that will automatically double your minutes or add a year to your end service date.

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November 23, 20090 found this helpful

Phone and cable bills are the worst. For the phone bill, you need to look at your itemized bill and call the phone company on ALL charges that you don't need. Most phone companies charge for service costs. Guess what...they aren't servicing you anything they aren't already charging you for. If you live in an apartment or rental unit of some kind, you don't need the insurance either. Your landlord is responsible for that. I've saved $20 a month after looking closely at all the supposed taxes and surcharges and have gotten a better deal with the same carrier I was using. It just takes the times to call them and ask them what they will do to keep you as a customer.

For the cable, really look at what you are watching. If it is mostly network shows and a couple of cable shows, go to antenna. If you have a cell phone, upgrade the $20-30 for the data plan and then use the internet through your phone. All carriers have that capability to offer you that without upgrading to an iPhone or a Blackberry. For about $10, you can purchase an adapter to transfer the data card from your cell phone to your computer's USB port. If you don't have a cell phone, you might want to consider purchasing software to watch tv from your computer. It's $50 one time fee and then you can watch all your shows.

Hope this helps!

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November 25, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with Suntydt and do not think those comments were rude. Spending nearly 1/3 of your take home pay on extras seems very frivolous to me. One can live without television and internet service via free wifi zones would suffice.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 21, 20100 found this helpful

Any ideas on how to reduce monthly cable TV bill? Are there any other options? Thanks.

By handyladi from Benton, AR

Answers:

Ask Cable and Phone Representatives About Special Deals

Call your cable TV provider, they run specials all the time but you probably won't know about them unless you call. (05/11/2009)

By Anonymous

Ask Cable and Phone Representatives About Special Deals

There's always the option of cutting off your cable. You can watch most of your shows online at sites like hulu (http://www.hulu.com) also, most networks have their own websites also, where you can watch their shows. ( http://www.abc.com for example) (05/19/2009)

By bailegirl

Ask Cable and Phone Representatives About Special Deals

Absolutely call your cable company! I had DSL and long distance (I don't own a cell phone) with the phone company and just digital cable with no premiums or tiers. I called the cable co., and they were happy to work with me. I call them every month or so to get whatever great deals are available and what they might cost. I've added and deducted so many options it makes my head spin, but they do it all from their offices and I never have to wait for an installation. At the moment, I've got high-speed (no more DSL), unlimited long distance, call waiting, call forwarding, voice mail, *69, and a couple of other goodies for $50 a month less than I was paying for just the phone, DSL and cable. My income is extremely limited, but the phone and cable are God-sends for someone who is stuck at home and disabled. (05/19/2009)

By pollylev

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May 11, 20090 found this helpful

Whenever you pay your cable or phone bill, check to see if you qualify for any better deals; customer service people won't volunteer this info, but I've saved plenty just by asking!

By Karen

Answers:

Ask Cable and Phone Representatives About Special Deals

I just tried that with Comcast high speed internet and they give me a 50% discount for 3 months. (07/26/2006)

By Irlande

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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