I don’t keep my frugal ways a secret at work. Recently a coworker challenged me to lower his internet and cable bill. I asked him what he paid and then I bet him I could cut it in half. I accomplished this even with his DVR and multiple sports channel requirements. Of course, it remains to be seen if he makes the phones calls to implement the plan.
Cutting your phone, internet, and cable is one of the easiest way to reduce your expenses. It really all adds up! A couple hours of phone calls and/or filling out forms on the internet can save you a ton. For example, my coworker is currently paying $150 for internet and TV through Comcast (xfinity). He could get digital cable and DVR through Hulu with Live TV for $40/month and internet through RCN for $30/month. That’s a $80/month saving or almost a thousand dollars a year! Or as I think of it, the equivalent of an extravagant long weekend trip – including airfare and hotel!!
Below are some tips and suggestions for lowering your bills. Some are focused on the Chicago area, but the key is to research options beyond the main providers. There are always discount alternatives that are not well advertised even if you think “I’m stuck with x because it’s the only company that provides service in my area or building.” Management for one apartment I lived in listed Comcast as the only service available, but when I called RCN they said they could connect us, it would just take an extra day to connect the building. One day wait for half the price? Yes, please! And remember, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. You should almost always be able to negotiate away installation fees, especially with major companies.
Challenge yourself to spend next weekend researching your options to lower your bills and let me know how it goes!
Cell Phone (bring your own phone plans):
Need coverage in the middle of nowhere or only get service at your house with Verizon? Total Wireless has a $60/month plan for two lines, unlimited talk & text, and 15 GB shared data. It runs off of Verizon’s network, so your cell service should be the same.
Need Verizon’s network but only need one line or don’t need that much data? Go Red Pocket has plans starting at $10/month per line if you don’t need a lot of data. The $30/month per line for unlimited voice and text and 3GB of data is also a good deal.
Just need coverage in major cities? Mint SIM has a $15/month per line unlimited call, text, & 2 GB data ($20 for 5GB, $25 for 10 GB) plan and runs on T-mobiles network. Mr. Dove has the 2GB plan and I have the 5GB plan. We used to be with T-mobile, and I haven’t notice any difference in service in last 3 months.
All the above should work with iphones. If you don’t have an iphone and are moving to a different network, you want to check to make sure your phone will work on the new network (i.e. switching from Verizon to Mint Sim). They are all no contract plans. If you switch and don’t like it, you can just switch back to your old provider a few months later. (And then probably be eligible for new customer rates.)
Really the best is to cut out cable all together. Think about how much time you waste watching TV that could be used for other, more productive or relaxing activities. Mr. Dove and I have Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions, which my parents and little brother also use. And we bum HBO off of Mr. Dove’s mom’s subscription. Between the three subscriptions we waste enough time watching shows and movies.
Not convinced you’re ready to drop cable? There are several ways you can cut the cord and reduce your costs without actually giving up the channels. If you already have Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix, you can supplement your subscriptions with a cheap digital antenna to get local channels free (CBS, PBS, NBC, Fox). The local channels are what most people end up watching anyways, so why pay for cable when they’re free with a digital antenna? And you can add HBO $15/month or Showtime $11/month directly through their website, no need for a cable package.
Otherwise if you don’t think you can live without CNN, MSNBC, HGTV, ESPN and the like, you can use a streaming TV company to get all (or almost all) of your must have channels for less than cable. Here’s some options.
Absolutely need DVR? Hulu with Live TV is $40/month, can stream on two devices at once, and comes with 50 hours of DVR. Channels include CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, HGTV, National Geographic, ESPN, BTN, FS1, and many more. You can add HBO or Show time for $15/month.
Don’t need a DVR? Direct TV Now is $35/month, can stream on two devices at once, and you can add HBO for only $5/month. Channels are similar to Hulu with Live TV, but I think includes a few more. (DVR is in beta, coming soon.)
Again, both are contract free. So worst case scenario if you’re not happy after a couple months you can go back to your cable provider, but get better new customer deals when you do.
Internet is more dependent on what’s available for your location. But it’s worth calling these places to see if you can get service. In order to stream multiple videos and browse the internet at the same time, you will probably want at least 15 mbps. But you shouldn’t need much more than that, and if you’re only streaming one video at a time you could use less mbps. Unless you’re downloading a ton of high data documents anything over 25 mbps is most likely overkill. Also after 25 mbps, you’re not going to get better video quality by having higher speeds. Read this or this if you don’t believe you can get by on less than 25 mbps.
RCN has a $30/month one year deal for 25 mbps. Coupons for free installation. You’ll have to renegotiate after a year.
Toast.net runs off of the AT&T Uverse network, but is a discount company. It’s $50/month for 18 Mbps or $60/month for 24 Mbps. The prices are higher than RCN, but probably cheaper than either RCN or Comcast once their year promos are gone. Requires a contract, whereas RCN doesn’t.
Earthlink I couldn’t get actual quotes for Chicago without entering all my info. But rumor is you can get 50 Mbps for $35/month in certain locations. It might be worth calling to get a quote, especially if you can get 25 Mbps for less than $30/month. You have to buy their specific router, but the intro 3/months at $15 covers most of the cost for their router.
American Wide Broadband doesn’t advertise rates either. We have them through the condo building we live in and pay $30 for 30 mbps (lowest option). That probably includes some multi-unit discount. They do provide service to single family homes, but I’m guessing the rates will be somewhat higher.
Comcast is the worst. But they have a $45/month for 25 mbps option for new customers. Better yet, if you’re not streaming multiple videos at once, they have 10 mbps for $25/month. The $45 plan comes with 10 TV channels. Don’t do it, don’t get the cable box. Or at least don’t hook it up. That’s how you slowly get sucked into to higher rates.
You should be able to get this rate as an old customer too if you threaten to leave altogether. A phone call to negotiate is always worthwhile. Customer service reps don’t know if they’re the only available service in your area (but see above about low advertised discount providers). And you always have alternatives such as mobile hotspots. For lazy negotiators, look for a section in your my account called something like “retention incentives” or “retention offers,” where you can a select lower rate online. (Or at least they used to have something like this.)