Last month, you made your budget, and (gasp) realized how much you actually spend! You might be thinking, I pay HOW MUCH for that?!? I know the first time I went through the exercise one line item that jumped off the spreadsheet for me was cable. I remembered signing up for the ‘Triple Play’ to save all this money, but what used to be an $80 monthly bill was now well over $200! Why is cable so expensive??? Learn 3 tips to cut cable costs, two of which can be applied to all your bills.
Why is Cable So Expensive?
At $200+ a month, cable is the most expensive discretionary (i.e. optional) bill we pay every month. It used to be that cable companies were like other utilities, local monopolies with no competition. They laid down the line all the way to your house and then charged you a monthly fee for service. With no alternatives, you paid whatever they asked. But today, there are plenty of alternatives, and if you learn anything from this series, know that ALL bills are negotiable.
[bctt tweet=”Every bill is negotiable – sometimes you just have to ask! #familyfinances #FSFriday”]
Hear Out Competitor’s Offers
I take after my Grandmother – she used to hang a sign on her door that said “I don’t bother you, so don’t bother me!” She was famous for her signs. I never answer the door if I am not expecting anyone. But last winter, I was wheeling out the garbage when I saw the telltale sign of solicitors walking between houses on my street. They saw me, they knew I was home, and despite it being the middle of the kids’ dinner, I could tell they weren’t going away until I came to the door.
“Good evening, ma’am.” (Ugh. They called me ma’am!)
“Are you happy with your current cable provider?”
Turns out, a competing provider had just rolled out fiber optic cable in our neighborhood and to attract customers was offering ridiculously competitive rates to switch. And while we had no intention of switching, I was now armed with a quote for service comparable to ours for less than half the price. The very next morning, I picked up the phone and called my current provider.
And yes, it was an introductory rate, but I threatened to switch, and my monthly bill was magically reduced by $50. That’s $600 a year. Even if there isn’t a competing cable provider in your area, there are alternatives to cable today. Threaten to leave, and see what they will do for you.
Re-Evaluate Your Services Every Year
You sign up for cable at some crazy low introductory rate. They bundle the services, and at first, it’s actually cheaper to sign up for phone, internet and cable than just doing cable and internet, or even just internet. Then, after the introductory 12 months, your bill goes from $80 a month to over $200. You didn’t want the phone service to begin with – call and cancel it, and save yourself $30-40/month.
Additionally, the cable companies are always changing their cable packages. Maybe you are paying for a premium sports package to access one channel just so you can watch your college basketball team that’s now included in the standard cable offering. Conversely, the premium package they included in your bundle may be way more than you use – there are likely less expensive packages available.
Do You Even Need Cable?
How often do you actually watch live television these days? Do you really need cable? For us, the answer is yes because of sports. Though if it were just up to me, I would say no. Today, with smart TVs and the internet, you can access almost any programming you like and stream it. No cable necessary.
Amazon Prime has streaming video included in its $99 annual membership fee. It includes full seasons of shows you love, as well as their own original series with membership, and you can choose to add access to content from premium providers like Showtime and HBO for a monthly fee. We recently discovered the cost to add access to this content via Prime was LESS than adding them via cable!
Other services like Netflix (as low as $7.99/month), AppleTV, Hulu, and others make streaming content a far more attractive option financially.
All Bills are Negotiable
These same practices can be applied to just about every line item on your spreadsheet. Compare competitors, and re-evaluate your services annually as part of your annual budgeting process.
[bctt tweet=”Compare competitors & re-evaluate services annually for savings on all budget items #familyfinances #FSFriday”]
Start with your largest line item – likely your mortgage. Have rates improved? Does it make sense to refinance? What bank will give you the best rate? Do you have home, car and life insurance with different providers? Ask each provider for a quote on all of them, and if there is savings for bundling them. Do you use propane or oil for heat? Shop around and see if there are better rates available. Poll your neighbors – there are often discounts for getting multiple houses on the same service.
Cell phone contracts and offerings change regularly. Scared to change your plan because you don’t want to lose unlimited data? The data packages today are more than reasonable, and with WIFI just about everywhere, you don’t need it all that frequently. You can cut your cell phone bill(s) by as much as 50% by consolidating your lines onto the same account and using shared family plans with limited data.
Go through the list and you will be amazed by how much savings you can uncover just by doing a little comparison shopping, and asking for a better rate.
This month, Financially Savvy Fridays is evaluating specific areas for cost savings. Be sure to check out Jennifer’s post from last week – 6 Ways to Save on Childcare, and don’t miss Melody’s post next week to find great savings on high fashion. Check in on our series landing page every Friday to find them all, and find your path to financial freedom!