How to Cut My Cable Bill – The 8 Step Guide.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – The 8 Step Guide to Saving Hundreds per Month: There is no bill more frustrating to me than the cable bill. In my area, there is only one choice when it comes to cable/internet: Comcast. The most annoying part of a cable company having zero competition in an area is that they get to charge whatever they want and provide below adequate levels of service.

So how do we deal with this situation where we are clearly at a disadvantage? Almost every home has cable and internet. It is nearly impossible to get by without internet access in this day and age. Did you know that the average cable bill is over $100 per month according to a study from the Leichtman Research Group? I can’t really believe that. The average person I talk to in my area spends anywhere for $150 to almost $300 a month on cable/internet/landline service. That is absolutely crazy. If you think that is just as insane as I do, let’s talk about ways to bring that number down – way down.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 1:

Landline? Who has a landline anymore?!

How to Cut My Cable Bill

Our local cable company likes to advertise a service known as the “triple play” – cable, internet and landline, all from the modem. While this may seem like a deal, is it really? This is when we need to look at ourselves and examine what we actually use vs. what we think is a “good idea” to have or “might” use someday. In our case, having a landline is a waste of money. My wife and I take all our calls through our cell phones and a landline would really serve no practical purpose. This service wasn’t even a consideration of ours when we moved to our first place five years ago.

However, if you are still interested in keeping your landline:

If you want to pay way less per month, consider looking into a service called Ooma Telo. This device works as a voice-over-IP phone. At the time of this post, it costs under $80. But here is the best part – after buy it, your telephone service is free. Ooma does not charge a monthly fee at all, only the upfront cost for the device. Ooma also offers the same telephone adapter with a Bluetooth connector which you find here: Ooma Telo Air (FFP) Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service with Wireless and Bluetooth Adapter (which is also a one time charge).

Landline savings:

  • Average landline cost = $15-35 depending on provider
  • Cut out landline completely = $0 per month
  • Using Ooma Telo – $79 up front, $0 per month after purchase

Summary: If you purchase Ooma Telo, you will have a free phone service in 2-5 months with the money you would have otherwise used to pay your landline service charge. For the more hardcore savers, cutting a landline out completely is easy savings.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 2:

What do you watch? Like actually watch?

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

Here is another area of opportunity to trim down some serious costs. Cable companies like to add in plenty of channels, plenty of these channels that you really will never watch. This is usually done in the form of channel packages. For this exercise, think about which channels you actually watch and then next time you are speaking with the cable company negotiate down to the appropriate package. Of course, it may be fun to brag about having 500 channels but if they’re all junk – does it really matter?

In our situation, we are not TV watchers at all. We had almost no interest in carrying any sort of cable service when we were setting up our utilities from the most recent move. However, due to the specials that the cable company was offering when we moved into our home, it actually made more sense to go with a “Double play” package. We wanted an internet only package.

The problem was this: internet only was $79.99 per month. The Double play package was $59.99 per month with the same internet speed and basic cable. In our specific case, going with the Double play made the most sense. The only issue was that we were locked into this agreement for 2 years. The only other issue being that after those two years are up, our cable company will begin raising the prices once again.

Potential to save:

If you’re in for an extreme cost-cutting approach for your cable bill, consider looking into the Mohu Leaf 50. This is a device that functions as an indoor TV antenna but it receives HD stations which means it supports HD quality television. I didn’t even know this existed until I started doing research for this post. It’s only $55.96 which is just to purchase the antenna itself and there is no monthly charge.

The only issue I have seen with the Mohu Leaf has to do with the variation in its reception. Since everyone lives in houses and apartments all over the country, the quality of the reception is going to vary quite a bit. Some reviews written on the Amazon page are from very clever people that managed to hack their channel amount from 4 to 40 just by playing around with the location and adding some wire to improve the signal. If you’re patient enough to modify and tweak this system, you can come out ahead with tons of free channels!

Television savings:

  • Average TV cable bill: $107 per month
  • “Double play” package: $59.99 per month
  • Mohu Leaf 50: One time cost of $55.96, $0 per month (at the time of this post)

Summary: If you’re going to go for the free cable route, try the Mohu Leaf 50. Although there is some work that needs to be done to calibrate it to your liking, the savings will quickly add up. Considering that the average cable TV bill is $100, the Mohu Leaf could be paid off in less than one month of ownership. Impressive!

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 3:

Beware of added “fluff”

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

Now when I say added fluff, I mean all those extra things that a cable company will “give” you for free in order to pad a deal and get you to sign on. Examples of this are: “Free HBO for 6 months” or “Free STARZ for one year”. Beware of these tricks! These services are “free” until the term is up and then you are being charged for these channels as well! Even the cost may seem low, such as with HBO in our area being $16 a month, these costs add up over time and when you add other channels in.

For me personally, it has gotten to the point that I will refuse free channels out-right and explain to the company why I am doing so. Of course they are trained to reassure you that “they will never charge you for this channel once the term is up, etc” but from my experience this is a huge lie. Avoid the fluff that you do not want and do not get baited in to the quicksand of free offers.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 4:

Internet savings – Yes, they’re out there.

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

Although my wife and I could deal without a landline or cable TV, having quality internet access was non-negotiable. Not only do we want/need for just streaming movies and browsing the internet but also for work. As I mentioned previously, I was able to get a deal from my cable company for $59.99 per month with basic cable and internet. The internet speed was okay, at 25 mbps. After some research, I found that this speed was more than adequate for our needs. The cable representative cautioned us that such a low speed would be very inadequate for the amount of devices we would be running. Thankfully, they’ve been wrong for years. Do your research and once again don’t get baited in with lies.

Look at your actual internet needs:

If you’re trying to trim down your own cable bill and want to optimize your internet service for what you actually need, take a look at your internet speed. The cable speed you choose should be based on the amount of devices you have in your house. Here is a quick test to determine the appropriate speed you need, check out this link here: High Speed Internet Test

The minimum recommended speed in my case was 20 mbps. My wife and I each have computers, one smartphone per person and one iPad for each of us. With all of those items, 20 mbps was the recommended speed.

If you really want to pursue getting free internet, this article on 11 Totally Legal Ways to Get Your Internet at Home Without Paying for It might be worth looking into. In this article, they give you countless ways to find sources of free internet service.

Summary: Do your research before believing the cable company on a recommended internet speed. They will almost always prescribe way more than you really will ever need or use. Believing their nonsense and not doing your own research is a great way to throw away hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 5:

Extra fees – Avoid that quicksand.

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

Modems:

You have to hand it to them. Cable companies are brilliant in the ways that they will find to nickel and dime you every month. One of the most apparent that comes to mind is “renting” a modem. Although the fee seems relatively harmless at only $10 per month, let’s do the math over time. $10 per month x 12 months per year puts us at $120 for the first year. Now we’ll take $120 times however many years you choose to have that internet service. For the sake of brevity, let’s say you need this internet provider and their rented modem for 5 years. At the end of those 5 years, you would have spent $600. Ouch! So there is the motivation. Basically, we’re talking about spending hundreds of dollars on something you could buy for yourself for a one time fee!

Now, instead of going with their rented router, purchase your own. Something like this Linksys EA6350 Wi-Fi Wireless Dual-Band+ Router can be purchased. Prices vary but it is typically under $100. The best part? That’s a one time fee. Within 7 months of using the cable company’s router, you would have paid this one off entirely and saved yourself hundreds in the long run.

Cable boxes:

Another way cable companies can really hike up your bill is through rental fees for set-top cable boxes as well. The set-top cable box is the part that let’s you access cable. After doing some quick research, our local cable company charges customers $9.95 per box. This may sound cheap but this is per box/per month. Those fees can really start to add up! Did you know that the cable equipment rental fees for the average U.S. household are close to $230 per year? Considering the average amount of TVs per home in the U.S. is currently 2.3, it makes sense how those fees can really add up! Depending on the amount of televisions that you have in your house, you could be paying rental fees on multiple boxes.

How can we improve:

Naturally, “renting” a cable box is not good enough. If you really want to have a cable box and not bother with reception or any issues from an HD antenna, consider purchasing your own cable box. Why rent when you can own and pay no additional fees per month? According to the Federal Communications Commission, cable subscribers have the legal right to purchase their own set-top cable box device. The one tricky part about this is that the cable providers have a provider-supplied cableCARD that they run their service through.

Legally, you are allowed to use your own cable box. The cable company is obligated to allow this and provide you with the cable service you are paying for. For purchasable TV cable box options, TiVo offers compatible cable boxes that work with this cableCARD system. The prices range from $169 to $300 depending on how many additional bells and whistles you would like.

Extra fee savings – internet modem rental:

  • Rented modem fee – $10.00 per modem/per month
  • Linksys EA6350 Router – One time charge. Much more affordable in the long run.

Extra fee savings – cable box rental:

  • Rented cable box fee – $9.95 per box/per month
  • TiVo cableCARD compatible cable box: $169 – $300 one time charge, $0 per month following.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 6:

Avoiding contracts – The other quicksand.

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

Sadly I must admit, I am guilty of this one. Currently, we are in a 2-year contract with our cable company for our current cable/internet rate. However, I have seen the bad side of getting out of one of these contracts. When my wife and I were moving, we needed to cancel our cable service since we weren’t moving to another place in their service area. Due to this change, we were forced to pay an early cancellation fee which was $120.

Be mindful of any contract terms you sign with a cable company. You may forget but they certainly won’t.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 7:

The classic art of negotiation.

How to Cut My Cable Bill - The 8 Step Guide.

This is one of my favorite tactics in dealing with the cable company. If your bill is not what you want or what you were promised, call up a representative at your cable company. See what you are able to get. Sometimes the cable representatives can be challenging to deal with but it is worthwhile to push through. It’s important to remember too that they want to keep you as a paying customer. Sometimes it can be worth threatening to cancel your service all together in order them to listen and begin moving the discussion in the way you want it to go. The goal of calling the cable company is to get better terms and hopefully better service. Stay strong and stay persistent.

How to Cut My Cable Bill – Step 8:

The summary – Bringing all of these potential savings together!

In the three critical areas of cable provider service: landline, television and internet – there is a huge potential for savings. The only disadvantage here is that there will be some upfront costs, however these are outweighed heavily by the long term savings you will have. Let’s review:

Landline savings:

  • Average landline cost = $15-35 depending on provider
  • Cut out landline completely = $0 per month
  • Using Ooma Telo – $0 per month after purchase

Television savings:

  • Average TV cable bill: $107 per month
  • “Double play” package: $59.99 per month
  • Mohu Leaf 50: One time cost of less than $70. $0 per month.

Internet savings:

  • Average costs: $50 – $80 per month for internet service
  • Free internet options: $0 per month

Avoiding fees:

– Extra fee savings – internet modem rental:

  • Rented modem fee – $10.00 per modem/per month
  • Linksys EA6350 Router – One time charge less than $80, $0 per month following.

– Extra fee savings – cable box rental:

  • Rented cable box fee – $9.95 per box/per month
  • TiVo cableCARD compatible cable box – $169 – $300 one time charge, $0 per month following.

If you pursue the free HD TV route, your total upfront costs will be : $201.95. This includes the Ooma Telo device, Mohu Leaf 50, free internet and Linksys Router.

However, if you want your own cable box, your total upfront costs would be: $314.99 on the low end (more if you choose a better TiVo).

So that leads us to the next item:

Net savings (with the most frugal options):

This is why we do it, isn’t it? The monthly/long-term savings. Let’s see how much we save overall by purchasing these items upfront or trying to get their free counter parts:

Landline:

No landline at all: $0 per month

Ooma Telo: $0 per month

Cable TV:

No cable TV at all: $0 per month

Mohu Leaf 50: $0 per month

TiVo or purchased cable box: $2-4 per month to use your own box plus cable service

Internet:

Free internet service: $0 per month

Total charge per month (using the most frugal options):

$0 per month.

That’s right. You’ve just achieved free internet, landline and TV if signed up for/purchased the most frugal items of this post. You are now saving hundreds or even thousands over the course of the next few years. Good job! If you were asking yourself “How to Cut My Cable Bill” prior to this post, your question has been answered!

Following the post carefully, you could effectively get by with no cable/internet/landline fees at all. Think of the long term savings! If you do the minimum and do not bother with a cable company at all, your upfront costs would be $201.95 if you purchased the cheapest items in this list, which isn’t that bad considering the average cable bill of $150-$300 per month in my area. All things considered, this post qualifies as a massive financial hack, saving you thousands over the upcoming years!

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2 thoughts on “How to Cut My Cable Bill – The 8 Step Guide.

  1. Great info. Thank you. We are currently in a 2yr contract as well, after NOT having any service for several years, only because it was cheaper to take the new package then to get the internet service by itself. The whole cycle is infuriating. 

    I have saved this page to revisit and reference when our contract is near end. Sad thing is… we already have most of the parts you suggest buying. We just need to cut the tie and set them up! Thanks for the “How-to” and motivation to see that happen!

    1. It’s so hard to make that leap between the cable company and embracing the free internet/tv lifestyle. If you have everything ready to go, just wait for the contract to run out and then go for it!

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