Between TV and internet, entertainment costs have become a predictable, and almost unavoidable, monthly expense. We’re dependent on the internet, whether that’s to pay bills, stay connected with loved ones, or do the week’s household shopping. And whether it’s good or bad, TV has become the go-to way many Americans relax. Be it on their TV, streaming device, or smartphone, the average American spent 6 hours a day consuming video content in 2018.
In short, it doesn’t appear that our use of the internet and the consumption of video content will slow down in the near future. However, the cost of those services can quickly eat away at your monthly budget.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these quick tips to save money on your internet and tv bills.
Cutting the Cord
If you’re still paying for cable or satellite TV, you should take a moment to consider your other options. For many, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have become the go-to for home entertainment. These brands, long-associated with cable cord-cutters, are joined by companies with cable networks like CBS and Disney as our streaming options continue to grow. It seems more and more likely that one day, cable television could be a thing of the past.
As these streaming platforms offer more and more content (some even including live TV), many people are opting to cut the cord to cable TV.
Cutting the cord is a simple way to save a significant amount of money each month. According to a 2018 report from the FCC, American households paid, on average, $71.37 each month for basic cable in 2016. That same report also found cable increases, on average, 5.7% each year. Compare that to $9 a month for Netflix or $5 a month for Hulu, and it’s easy to see where you can save money.
If you’re not willing to give up live TV, there are a few streaming options you should look into if you want to cut costs.
For a one-time cost of around $20, you can purchase an indoor antenna. The number of channels you’ll be able to watch will vary on your location and how close you are to a broadcast tower. People in urban or suburban areas can get 40+ channels for next to nothing. If you’re looking for more channel options, you may want to consider an outdoor antenna, which will be larger and more powerful. However, mounting outdoor antennas take a little more effort and know-how than indoor ones.
One of these options is Pluto TV. This streaming company offers live streaming options as well as thousands of hours of streamable content – completely free. All it will cost you is a few extra minutes watching commercials, which we do for cable TV, anyway. Channels available for live streaming vary on location and timing. Many popular MSNBC and NBC shows are included but may be on a 24-hour delay.
If you’re looking for more live TV options, Sling TV might be for you. For $35 – $45 each month, you can live stream content from all your favorite channels, cord-free. Sling TV offers three different monthly packages with popular cable channels such as ESPN, HGTV, and E!. This is one of the least expensive live TV streaming options.
Another option is YouTube TV. For $50 a month, you’ll be able to stream live and local sports, news, and shows from over 70 channels. YouTube TV also includes unlimited cloud DVR storage for free. And unlike cable providers, there are no equipment rentals or hidden fees.
Hulu Live TV
Hulu also offers live tv streaming options with sports packages in addition to their streamable shows and movies for $54.99 to $60.99 each month. You’ll have access to over 60 channels and can add additional features like premium networks and enhanced cloud DVR.
Pair Down the Cable Package
Maybe you’re not willing to completely cut the cord to cable. But are you paying for more than you need? Take a critical look at your package and evaluate how much of it you really use on a regular basis. That HBO subscription may seem like an essential item, but do you use it enough to justify the cost each month? How many channels do you pay for that you don’t watch? What about the extra fee for HDTV?
Opting for a smaller package could save you a good deal of money over the course of the year.
Many subscription-based services hook new users with great introductory rates. However, after a few months, those rates can shoot up. Depending on the agreement you signed at the beginning of your subscription, it may be worth it to shop around to get a lower rate for the same level of service. But beware of cancelation or early termination fees. Even if you find internet for a lower rate, the cancellation fee could eat up those savings.
When doing this, don’t be afraid to negotiate down the price. Many people have successfully gotten better deals for internet or cable than what is advertised. If this doesn’t sound like something you’re willing to do, consider letting someone negotiate down your bill for you!
Apps like Truebill allow you to securely connect your accounts so you get a complete picture of all the monthly subscriptions you are signed up for. They will also reach out to your internet or cable provider to negotiate down your costs for a 40% cut of the savings. 60% is better than nothing!
Pay Attention to Fees
According to a Consumer Reports survey, the average home gives an extra $450 each year to their cable company in hidden fees.
These extra costs can be hidden and hard to find on your monthly bill, if they’re there at all. They can be listed as things like Local Broadcasting, Regional Sports, or Network Maintenance Fees. When it comes to the internet, keep an eye out for overage fees or connectivity charges.
Give your cable or internet service provider a call to discuss if these fees are something you can better manage or eliminate. In some cases, they may be frustratingly unavoidable. Consumer Reports has launched a campaign for fair, transparent pricing. For more information on hidden cable and internet fees and what you can do about them, visit ConsumerReports.org/WhatTheFee.