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How to pay less for TV and get much more

Bill Snyder | Dec. 23, 2015
Why continue to pay for cable or satellite TV options you never use? This eight-step strategy can help you significantly reduce your TV bill without giving up the services you really want.

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How much money do you spend on TV each month? If you're an average consumer, you probably funnel a $100 or more to Comcast, DishTV or another similar provider. You could "cut the cord" and go all in on streaming video, though that route has some notable drawbacks. A better option may be to get your current cable or satellite provider to charge you less — or switch to a competitor.

Sound unlikely? Perhaps, but it is still possible. I recently knocked my TV bill down by about $40 a month, or nearly $500 a year, which is the the price of a new TV or a ticket to Europe. Of course, you'll need to do some homework and haggle a bit, but the efforts can really pay off.

8 ways to lower your current TV bill

Step 1: Take a close look at your current cable or satellite TV bill. It should include an itemized list of the features you pay for and specify your programming package, as well as the cost of extras, such as DVR service.

While you're at it, check to see if you are bound by a contract that includes a penalty for early cancellation. (You may have to call your provider for this information.)

Step 2: Most cable companies give you some sort of channel list. It's a good idea to keep it close by while you consider your next move.

Step 3: Do an online search to find out which companies provide TV service in your area. The list is likely a short one, but if there are multiple options, check out the various offerings. After you find the most attractive options, keep the pages open in browser tabs while you continue the research. If you're not familiar with a particularly provider, check out Yelp or another social media site to gauge its reputation.

Step 4: Before making any switch, take a hard look at the service that caught your eye. What channel packages does it offer? Most channel bundles include lots of junk you'll never watch, so think about what you really want to pay for and what you can do without. Does it offer DVR service? Can you hook it up in more than one room?

If you're a new customer, there are often introductory offers. To take advantage of the offers, you sometimes need to sign up for a set period of time. When the introductory period ends, how much will the charges increase? Some cable companies sock you with price increases close to 100 percent after 12 months.


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