Best way to get cable bill down?
Right now we are spending $260 a month on Verizon for internet and cable and 2 phone lines. We don't have premium channels (eg no Showtime etc). This includes my mom's apartment (she has 3 TVs, don't ask). Any way to get this $ down??
For us, we have Verizon FIOS double play (internet and tv), only the local channels. I thought it was an ok deal at about $90/month, but realized that having a DVR/cable box was costing an extra $30 per month. I realized that I could connect the FIOS cable directly to my tv since it has a digital tuner, so I sent the DVR back, and now the bill is about $60.
Maybe check how much each cable box costs per month, and if possible, get rid of a few if the tv has a digital tuner. Also, if you can cut out DVR (something I didn't think I could do until I did it), that probably saves some cash.
We cut our Verizon bill by switching our boxes from Verizon boxes to Tivo boxes. Verizon charges you a monthly fee for the main DVR, the DVR "service" and each secondary television. If you buy Tivo boxes for everything you only have to rent one $5/month cablecard from Verizon and you can have as many Tivo boxes connected to your house as you want without increasing the monthly bill. Yes, you have to buy the Tivo boxes up front and pay a $150/year subscription but it still has paid for itself many times over. My bill went from $170+ to $106 when I did this. Buy Tivo when their stuff goes on sale...
Focus on reducing the cost of internet service. If you have decent service at a decent price, your options for entertainment content are very flexible. You can also use that internet service as your home phone service, if you still have one. For that, buy an Obihai VoIP device on Amazon for $50 and hook it up through Google Voice to get free phone service.
If you don't have a smart TV, a Roku box is very flexible and economical. With it you can connect to a number of sources. Some are free, others have a subscription. Don't overload on subscriptions or you'll be back where you started with cable.
If sports is important to you, consider SlingTV. Among other things, that can get you ESPN and there's now an online DVR option. We don't have Sling so I don't know the details but you may find it worthwhile.
We use a TiVo Bolt connected to basic cable. The latter is also our ISP. Combining that with Netflix provides everything we want (we're not sports fans) and a significant discount over our previous costs. That includes the cost of the TiVo hardware with lifetime subscription. If our cable costs or options changed we can switch the TiVo to receive OTA digital broadcasts instead of cable TV content, as long as we still have an internet connection.
Well, I won't ask, but if you're paying for it, you should be able to ask. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't see why anybody needs more than 1 TV. I guess maybe two, but that's pushing it in my world.
Do you actually use the phone lines? If so, fine, but if all they're for is so you can get the annual political robo-calls, I'd highly recommend cutting them out of the situation. Sometimes because of bundling and discounts and such it's cheaper to keep them in play, but I'd ask some pointed questions.
I also second the questions about DVR and cable boxes. How many do you have? Are you actually using them? Are they actually worth the money to have?
First of all, why isn't your Mom paying for her own cable? There's one place to cut.
I cancelled cable when I moved and then intended to install satellite (but never got around to it). With about almost 3 years of nothing but youtube or tv channels websites, we got Netflix. Tons of shows for like $11/month. We have VOIP through our DSL provider. For $62/month, we have unlimited local and long distance North America (and cheap rates international, but we don't call international so I don't know the details).
SlingTV is great; I'm currently trying out Google TV which includes cloud-based dvr and really like it. I cut my cell phone bill significantly by switching to Google's ProjectFi - I had to get new phones (you can only use PIxels and certain motorolas & I think Nexus phones), which was significant upfront cost but the reduced monthly cell phone bill has already paid for those phones & then some (with the added bonus of no Verizon bloatware on the phones & Google was running a promotion at the time so I got a free Google home with purchase).
From time to time, I call and threaten to cancel service because it's too expensive -- and once in awhile they'll cut my bill down by $10-$20 a month to entice me into staying.
But now that they're the only providers in my area (unless I want to go with satellite), they are basically running a monopoly and feel they can jack up their rates whenever they want. (Our cable company was bought out by another one to eliminate competition.)
Our bill has eventually increased to about $178 a month for basic cable, mediocre internet speeds, and a landline. When the last bill I got said they were increasing everything again within the next month to almost $200, I was ready to cut the cord and go with Roku instead.
My fiancé wasn't ready to go that route just yet... So we looked and saw that the old cable company offered better rates for new customers under the "new" company name. So instead of cutting the cord, I called and cancelled service while my fiance signed up as a "new" customer to take advantage of the deals. We currently get almost all the available channels plus all premium channels, a landline, and internet speeds that's more than triple our old one, with a total bill of $146 a month.
The price is a little better considering we are at least getting more for our money, but the customer service is sorely lacking. My fiancé and I agree that if they do jack up the rates during the "first year special" (even though we don't have a contract), we would go ahead & cut the cord and be done with them.
FWIW, our Comcast bill is $199 for internet plus HD/DVR service for two TVs. No premium channels or add-on packages. Yeah, it makes me want to take a large stick to Comcast every time I see it. Our city has given them a monopoly on cable service, so it's Comcast or Comcast if we want cable TV. We have no phone lines.
Aside from calling them up and threatening to "cut the cord" (which is usually the most effective way to get your bill down), you might find some smaller stuff to trim.
It sounds like a big piece of it might be cable boxes for so many TVs. If you can't cut back on some of the boxes, make sure that you're at least being billed for the right boxes. We have HD and DVR service, and when we upgraded to HD, we had to swap out the boxes. The main one is $20/month and the other is $10, but they nearly gave me two of the main boxes--and would have charged me for it, too. You might be able to buy your own boxes and then just get a card as Paul mentioned. If you don't have DVR, you won't even need the alternate subscription. Though, I hardly ever watch anything I haven't DVR'd. Before we got it, the cable was basically there to serve my news junkie needs, which are pretty well served by the internet these days.
Can you get rid of the phone lines? Most people I know have gone to just using their mobiles. If you can get rid of both, that will take out a whole swath of the bill, though with the way the services are packaged, probably not a windfall.
A while back, I got a message from Comcast that they'd upgraded the baseline speed on our internet service, so that it's faster. This was just the new standard, not something they added and charged us for. The internet speed was more than sufficient before that, so I've been thinking about downgrading the service to save a few bucks. Also, you can buy your own modem and router, and send back the one you're renting from the cable company. This is even easier than buying your own cable boxes. I spent maybe $150 three years ago and have saved $15/month during that whole time. 36 months x $15 = $540 - $150 = $390 in savings and counting.
You might need to do a bunch of these to make it feel like it's worthwhile on the monthly bottom line. Hope all that gives you some ideas.
Month into YNAB here, tons of non-secured debt and looking for some low hanging fruit to throw at it. Family of 5 and we don't really watch TV (Olympics was an exception), but the kids stream Netflix shows on the weekends.
We used to be Verizon employees, so we had the employee plan which basically gave us free TV. We've never used the phone service. The Verizon Triple Play was $80/mo. But then our equipment was $41/mo and the taxes and fees were $12.50/mo. So we were essentially paying $134 for internet.
I looked online and Verizon had a great offer for 100/100 Mbps internet for $50 and only $0.60 in taxes & fees, for a total of $50.60/mo total for the first year, and $65 after that. And 100/100 is way better than the 50/50 internet we have with the Triple Play and would better serve my husband who works from home. When I called to down grade, the 100/100 offer was not available for existing customers. They could give me 75/75 for $95/mo. !??!
A very helpful rep said that what we could do was cancel the current service that was in my husband's name and get the 100/100 internet in my name as a new customer. But we'd be without service for up to 48 hours potentially. Well for a compounded savings over the next ten years of $14,675 (math thanks to Mr. Money Mustache), we can suffer through 48 hours of internet blackout. And now we'll have an extra $80/mo to throw at paying down debt.