Wednesday

how to lower your cable bill

when i worked at the housing authority, people facing eviction came to my office every day to apply for assistance with overdue rent. the application required listing income and expenses, and i'd venture that nine out of ten of my indebted clients paid small fortunes in cable tv (and cell phone) bills. i'd try to convince them to get rid of all unnecessary expenses, but none were amenable to cancelling cable, no matter how limited their budget. (the american sense of entitlement and our inability to distinguish needs from wants is a whole other post in itself!) my next suggestion involved down-grading to "below basic" cable, an option many companies don't advertise.

my husband and i have never paid anywhere close to fifty dollars for "basic" cable, the advertised rate for most companies which includes one hundred or more channels. that never sounded very basic to us (or our budget), so we asked our cable company what their unadvertised "below basic" package was, and that's what we've subscribed to for the past six years.

our package is basic, that's for sure--we get ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX, CW, and a few others thrown in for good measure. it is no-frills--no MTV, ESPN, or HGTV--but we also pay less than twenty bucks. do i sometimes wish we had more channels? absolutely, but what's good for us about this package is that sometimes there is literally nothing on tv, and then we turn it off! the times when we had free trials of more channels, we watched a lot more junk, and we're honestly thankful to have fewer options.

it has occurred to me that the downside of this scenario is that we are paying twenty bucks a month for channels that, in theory at least, we ought to get for free, but we've never lived in a place where we knew anyone who successfully got much reception with rabbit ears. i'm wondering if that might change with this whole digital switch; my sister-in-law in nashville gets close to twenty channels for free right now with rabbit ears and a converter box. we will probably be trying that out soon, but if we can't get decent, reliable reception, we'll come back to "below basic." it has served us well:)

6 comments:

Martia said...

Good idea. We actually completely got rid of TV a little before our daughter was born. My son has a television/DVD combo in his room, and he watches occasional movies. Other than that, we just say no. It's enriched our lives so much.

suzannah said...

However, I sure do miss the weather channel and sitting in on steve irwin expeditions.
-the husband.

Diane Cipa said...

Good tip. I've never heard of "below" basic.

annie said...

Have you tried an antenna? We tried using rabbit ears with no success and then moved into a house with an antenna and it's amazing the difference. We get pretty much the same channels you do (depending on the weather) completely free. We haven't gotten a converter box, yet, though. I got the coupon but I'm not sold on the idea. I'd never heard of the below basic plan, though! That's pretty neat you can ask for that, even if it's not advertised.

Trisha said...

When we went down to one salary we downgraded to basic cable and I grieved the loss of the Food Channel and being able to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8 and Deadliest Catch! :) But I do feel much better about paying less than $20 a month in cable like you. We were also thinking of trying an antenna and converter once they make the switch to digital to see if it worked. You will have to post again with the results once you try it.

otownmommy said...

thats a great idea! didn't know it existed. we went from $135 a month for all channels to $0 - we just stream the stuff we want to watch. especially if you live in the states there are more options for you. (we don't) just go the websites of the networks and you can watch your favorite shows. but really, you should just turn it off and go outside.

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