Most people assume that to save money on cable, you have to drop services like DVRs and premium channels. But that's simply not the case. In fact, there are strategies you can take that will allow you to lower your cable bill, while increasing services.
It might take some creative thinking, but the most important piece of advice for savvy shoppers is to do the work to find out what deals are out there.
"To get the best cable service at the best price, it's important to review all the options," advises Jon Lal, money saving expert and founder of free coupon site BeFrugal.com. If you're willing to do the work, the pay off could be well worth your effort.
Here are some ideas to try if you'd like to lower your cable bill, while upgrading the services you want.
Look for "Teaser Deals" Every Six Months
How long have you been with your current cable provider? If it's been more than six months, it might be time to find a new provider, says David Bakke, consumer-savings expert at the financial fitness site, MoneyCrashers.com.
"It makes sense to switch to a new cable provider whenever you can get a lower monthly rate," he explains. "This is one of the best ways to save money on cable without losing services. Switching providers allows you to sign up for teaser deals that are significantly lower than regular rates."
But low rates aren't the only reason for switching providers. Oftentimes, freebies and service upgrades are also included.
As an example, Bakke recalls that "Comcast had a deal running through July 7th for $89 per month for the first year with free HDTV for the first six months, high-speed Internet, and telephone (new customers only). A $100 Visa gift card [was] included."
Bakke does offer this cautionary advice, however: "Make sure you're not under contract with your current provider, as early termination fees can negate potential savings."
Use a Competitor's Offer to Get the Price and Service You Want
Daniel Packer, owner of personal finance website, SweatingTheBigStuff.com, wasn't afraid to call his cable company when his promotional price ended.
"In the first year of service with Time Warner Cable, I had a pretty good deal, but that recently ran out," explains Packer. "So I gave them a call and asked them to extend it. I used a competitor's offer I had received in the mail to negotiate and was prepared to actually switch if I couldn't get the same or better price."
As a result of this strategic play, Time Warner Cable extended Packer's initial offer for another six months and upgraded him to faster Internet service.
"Having the competitor's offer in my hand went a long way in terms of giving me the confidence to go to the edge and be willing to cancel service if need be," says Packer.
Packer's total savings: $30 a month - and that doesn't even include the upgrade to faster Internet!
Buy Quality Products Instead of Renting from a Provider
Marc Kruskol, owner of MJK Public Relations in Palmdale, CA, recently decided that it was no longer worth his money to rent out equipment from his provider, Time Warner Cable.
Kruskol's package consisted of TV, standard Internet (speed up to 15mbps) and phone, which totaled (after taxes) approximately $117. Included in this price was the equipment he rented: DVR, cable modem, and wireless router.
To save money, he decided to go the buying vs. renting route.
"I ended up purchasing a Tivo Premiere DVR with a lifetime subscription (to replace the cable company's DVR). It uses a cable card, which is much cheaper than renting a cable box," adds Kruskol.
And because Time Warner Cable also allows you to use your own cable modem for Internet, Kruskol did some savvy-shopping and found one of the top models on eBay (brand new) for a "great price."
"My cable bill is now around $60 less per month. There is an initial outlay of money, but I will make it up in the long run - some of the elements within a few months," says Kruskol.
The best part? In addition to saving money, he now owns his own premiere products.
- Time Warner Cable