13 Smart Tips For Saving Money on TV & Internet
Cutting the cord on Cable TV is probably something you’ve thought about in recent years, and even now, you’re at least thinking about saving money on TV and Internet. But every time you call your provider, you end up believing cord-cutting won’t end up saving you that much money, or that you won’t get enough entertainment online.
My goal is to share some smart tips on saving money on TV and Internet with you, but to also explain why some things cost more than others.
What Are Digital Services Resellers?
For four years, I worked with a company that has now become Bridgevine.com, which is a digital services reseller. What’s that, you say? If you were to search “cheap cable tv in atlanta” – you would find a few paid ads at the top from companies like Dish, DirecTV and Comcast (Xfinity). But then underneath that, you’ll also find search results for websites like lowincomecable.com, allconnect.com and get-broadband-internet.com. It’s the latter group that are considered digital service resellers. When you go to their sites, you’ll see available services like Dish, DirecTV and Comcast, along with dozens of other companies. If you end up buying your service through them (which is perfectly fine), either online or calling them on the phone, then they’ll get a bonus paid to them from whichever company you bought from.
Many times, when you use these secondary sites, you’ll be offered a special incentive to buy through them, like a $250 Amazon gift card or something similar. While those are real deals, you often have to wait several months, jump through a couple hoops and then maybe even bug customer service a couple more times before you actually get that card. I’m not that diligent, so I know I’ll never, ever, ever get that bonus.
Since I worked for the company that became Bridgevine, I wrote for one of their sites, often about getting deals on Cable TV, cord-cutting and streaming, which then turned into me creating this tvUPstream.com website for streamers. I am a cord-cutter, and with my background, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for saving money on TV and Internet – so that’s where this article comes in!
13 Tips For Saving Money on TV and Internet
Use some of these tips or all of these tips, but know that these are tried and true, and they are meant to help you save on your budget’s bottom line. If you have some tips of your own, please add them in the comments section at the bottom! We’d love to hear them and our readers would love to see them, too.
1. See What You Can Get on Antenna First
Most people make the mistake of just trying a set of rabbit ears to see what channels they get. Most likely, you’re only going to get a handful of channels that way. But if you buy an amplified antenna, put up high in your house, on a window, or even outside, then you’ll get many more channels. I wrote a piece on buying an antenna last week to help you understand what to do.
If you’re near a city, and their TV broadcast antennas, then you’ll likely get a good group of channels, including the following:
- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW – all in HD – all for free
Go here to see which channels and TV stations are nearest to your zip code.
Here’s a TV guide you can bookmark for broadcast TV listings in your area, just make sure you set your broadcast stations for your area in the top middle area. (I was able to add both Orlando and Tampa, and I could delete the Cable TV stations I don’t get through Sling TV.)
2. Over-the-Air Antennas Deliver Tons of Old TV Shows and Movies
I helped set my aunt and uncle up with an antenna this weekend, and when I asked them what they like to watch, they said they go on YouTube (through Roku) and they watch “Murder She Wrote” and old black and white movies. I showed them that “Murder She Wrote” was on every day at on a local channel called Cozi TV, along with “Hart to Hart,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and others, they were super happy! And it’s all free! There are several over-the-air channels that run old shows like this, including MeTV, and others. And then there’s Ion Television, which runs mini marathons every day for shows like, “Law and Order,” “Criminal Minds” and “Blue Bloods.” Again, all for free.
3. Find Alternatives For What You Watch the Most
If you watch mostly network TV, then your antenna has you covered. If you get Hulu, you can consider it like a DVR, and watch shows the very next day. (You can buy a DVR for your antenna, like TiVo, but then you’re paying a monthly fee anyway. You can spend a little extra up front and buy a better DVR, though.
Are you worried about losing out on sports? I wrote an article on another site that showed you could get every single out-of-market MLB game, NBA game and NHL game, and dozens of NFL games, for just $36.75 per month for 12 months. Sports fans have to like that!
Are you always watching movies? Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Now, I have way more movies than I can handle. Or you could even rent on-demand movies on Amazon or Vudu, if there’s a newer movie you want to catch. It’s like going to Blockbuster back in the day, without the rewinding.
4. Find Alternative Prices Before You Call
Before you call up your Cable TV provider, find some prices on deals in your area first. That’s where companies like the one I worked for come in handy. It’s quite possible you’ll see your current provider in the results, along with a satellite TV provider and maybe a telecommunications provider, like AT&T or Verizon, which offers U-verse and FiOS for TV. Find some prices you like, then make note.
5. Figure Out If You Actually Need Super-High Speed Internet
There are big differences between downloading and streaming movies. If you’re downloading them, then you need faster Internet or else it will take a couple hours for a movie just to download onto your hard drive. But if you’re streaming them, you won’t need as much time, but you still need some pretty good speeds – but not necessarily great speeds. Here’s a good site that explains which speeds you’d need for the different tasks you might be doing every day:
- Streaming Movies: Up to 5.3 mbps
- Streaming Music: Up to 2 mbps
- Using Email: 0.075 mbps
- Skype: 0.3 mbps minimum
- Facebook: 0.03 mbps, unless streaming videos
- Online Gaming: 5 mbps
Also, remember that if you have more than one person streaming or using the Internet, then your speeds will be slowed down a bit. Sort of like multiple people using multiple hoses off the same water spigot outside your house.
Is getting “Lightning 50” mbps Internet necessary? It’s pretty doubtful. Get slower Internet and test it out for a month to see if it’s something you can live with.
6. When You Call Your Provider, Go to Sales Department
Once you call up the customer service department for your Cable TV and Internet Service Provider, you’ll likely get an automatic recording, as it tries to route you to the right department.
While you’d naturally want to go to “Change or Cancel Services” – that’s a bad move. Those people are already on the defensive, and they already know they’re going to be battling you each step.
Instead, choose “Sales or Add Services,” and your phone call will get picked up sooo much quicker than the other way. It makes sense that they’ll get your call quicker because they don’t want to lose a sale! Plus you’ll get a much friendlier person – because they think they’re going to be selling to you.
At worst, this person will reroute you to the “Retention Team,” but by then, you’ll have already asked her for their best promotional deal on Internet and Basic TV.
7. Use Your Customer Service Agent’s Name
Once you talk to a person, take note of their name on a piece of paper, and use it often. It sounds silly, but just understand that a person’s name is the most important word in the world to that person. All day long, they’re answering phone calls and dealing with mostly unhappy people.
A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
Be in a good mood, use their name, and even if they say it when they answer, ask for them to repeat it, so they understand that it’s important to you.
8. Explain Why You Might Have to Drop Your Service
While these agents have heard every sob story in the world, let them know that you’re not just shopping for a better deal. Let them know that you recently lost a job, or that you had some medical issues you have to pay for, or your parents moved in or that you have a new baby. Whatever story you have – and be truthful – that made you call in, share it with them so they understand you are desperate to a) save money, most importantly, but b) keep the service because you like them as a provider.
9. Pull the Customer Service Agent Over to Your Side
Once you’ve explained your story, ask the agent to help you figure something out because you definitely don’t want to switch providers.
If the agent feels like he/she is helping you, and not that you’re just a whiny customer trying to pull one over on them, then they should be able to talk with a supervisor to see if they can make an exception on a price. It’s quite possible, as their deals are all fluid.
10. Ask For Promotional Prices
If you’ve done your research, you’ll probably see introductory prices that this company is offering to new customers. Ask for that price, which they can certainly extend to you if they choose. You might have to sign a deal for a year or two, in order to keep that price, but you’ll be happy to do that if you get a good deal.
11. Understand That They Actually Do Want to Keep You
There’s no reason to be adversarial with the agent as soon as you call. In the end, you both have the very same goal – keep your services with that company.
Your problem is that you might not be able to afford to stay there any longer.
Their problem is that it costs them more money to replace you as a customer.
It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, as it does to keep an existing one. — Invespcro.com
So they want to figure out a way to keep you with their company, so give them a reason to do that, by being polite, honest, and show them that you’ve done some background research. That tells them you already have one foot out the door, and this might be their last chance to keep you.
12. Set a Reminder In Your Phone To Call Frequently
If you don’t get the deal you want, then set a reminder to make a phone call in a month or two to see if they have any new deals. Persistence is key until you finally get a deal you’re happy with.
13. Make a Goal: Cut the Cord For Three Months This Summer
With the summer coming up, school is letting out and the days are extra long. Now is the perfect time to convince the family to do a cord-cutting experiment for three months, until school starts.
Say you drop Cable TV altogether, use an antenna and keep a few streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV or HBO Now, you could save up to $100 per month.
Summer TV is usually pretty bad, so you’ll avoid bad programming before the great shows start up again this fall. Plus, many people are going on vacations in the summer, so you’ll be away from your TV for a week or two anyway. Maybe you can even convince your kids that if they agree to try a cut-the-cord summer, you’ll give them $50 each to spend how they want on their vacation! You still come out ahead!
By the end of the summer, who knows, your Cable TV provider might be offering a great sign-up package once again! And if they’re not, your family might realize they didn’t need all those extra channels anyway.
Hopefully, these smart tips for saving money on TV and Internet will help you reduce your monthly entertainment costs. If you have some good ideas of your own, please share them below in our comments section!