Cable bills never seem to get less expensive. Instead, they might jump $5, $10 or $20 without warning or a clear reason.
Those small increases can really hurt, especially considering the average cable bill already tops $100 per month, according to an annual survey by Leichtman Research Group.
But you can take control of your budget and your cable bill. Here are seven ways to lower it right now.
1. Get rid of extras
It’s hard to say goodbye to HBO, but doing so can shave as much as $20 off your monthly bill with some providers. Let go of Showtime and you could save another $5 to $15 per month.
Farewell doesn’t have to be forever, though. If you can’t live without “Game of Thrones” or “Homeland,” remove the channel when the season wraps.
Premium channels aren’t the only extras you can trim. Additional receivers often cost $3 to $12 per month. Maybe the receiver in your bedroom isn’t necessary after all.
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2. Nix the DVR
Miss your favorite show? There’s a good chance you can watch it on-demand the next day. Even local news segments live on via the stations’ websites. Trading in your DVR for a standard digital receiver could trim $10 or more off your monthly bill.
3. Question your fees
Call your provider’s customer service line and question each fee on your bill. Some will be unavoidable, but you can sidestep others, such as those for HD technology, by tweaking your plan.
4. Downsize your plan
Trimming your cable package to include just your must-haves can save you as much as $40 per month with some providers — and you probably won’t even miss the extra channels.
A September 2016 report by Nielsen revealed that, on average, American adults watch only about 20 channels, though they get around 205.
5. Bundle up
Pairing your cable and internet service with some providers will save you more than $1,000 over two years.
Just don’t get talked into bundling services you don’t need, such as a premium cable package when you only want local networks or blazing-fast internet service that you only use to watch Netflix. These may indeed be great deals for some users, but that doesn’t make them great for you.
6. Negotiate a lower rate
Don’t be afraid to haggle with your cable provider.
“Knocking down the price is as simple as taking the time to call and ask — politely,” says personal finance writer Andrea Woroch.
Woroch practices what she preaches. She recently called her cable company to ask about new promotions. The result? “A $50-per-month savings by bundling my services and switching to autopay.”
Negotiating requires persistence. If at first you don’t succeed, call back and talk to someone else. Woroch suggests asking for a supervisor or manager if necessary.
7. Cut the cord
Still not satisfied with your cable bill? Eliminate it altogether. You can still watch broadcast TV with the help of a digital antenna and binge on your favorite series with Netflix or Hulu. Subscriptions for both streaming services start at $7.99.
Those looking for a less drastic option can try SlingTV or DirecTV Now. Packages start at $20 with SlingTV and $35 with DirecTV Now. Both offer access to live and on-demand TV without all the extra fees of cable.
Whether you go bold or make small cuts, the savings on your cable bill will add up over time — giving your budget more breathing room so you can treat yourself in other areas.