Why Your TV Service Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

by Guest Contributor · 17 comments

tv service

I’d be lying if I told you that I think TV is an essential expense. In my household, we cut the cable almost two years ago, and after the initial whining the kids figured out how to entertain themselves just fine.

Still, for most families this solution seems radical, so let’s look at ways you can cut your bill, without abandoning your service.

tv service expensive1. Consider an Antenna

If you are not a huge watcher, and you do have that all-important HDTV, you can get local channels by using an antenna. Yes, it is old fashioned, but it works just fine.

You will still be able to get the news, public television and a few other selections, but you won’t have the “benefit” of premium service. Of course, you won’t be paying anything other than the original set up expense of purchasing that antenna either.

2. Cable or Dish

It really doesn’t matter if you choose to use cable service or dish service. They both offer a ridiculous number of channels dependent upon how much you are willing to pay. Basic service isn’t too prohibitive and should be plenty for most households. Cable is less influenced by weather patterns but even with that potential advantage, satellite based transmission is considerably more reliable.

Choose whichever option gives you the channels you want for the best price. This means taking a look at the channel list and based your decision on your own situation. For example, the satellite provider may provide 150 channels of which you watch eight and costs $20 per month while the cable provider offers 200 channels where you watch the same eight at a price of $25. In this case, you will want to pick the satellite provider even though you get fewer channels.

Combine and Eliminate Services to Cut Costs

Once you have figured out which service is the best for you, price wise, enroll in the most basic plan possible. Granted you have few channels to surf, but frankly, the savings are more than worthwhile.

Get rid of extra receivers by returning them to the local office. Consider removing any DVR you got, especially if you rent it on a monthly basis. Your VCR will do just fine for recording missed shows.

If you sign up during a promotion period and get some premium channel free initially, mark on your calendar to terminate those services a day before they run out. It is just incredible how high that bill will jump if you miss by even one day.

Try to bundle services. For example, many phone companies now offer internet and cable along with the land line service. Bundling often gets you a discount, at least for some period. Calculate your savings and decide if it is worthwhile switching to that company rather than staying with the one you currently use.

Consider watching programs online instead of on TV. Several websites offer episodes of the most popular shows, free of charge. If your favorite show doesn’t appear on your new broadcast arrangement, you may be able to pick it up this way.

We all know that we spend too much time in front of the TV and the cost, added up over the year, is significant. If you can’t imagine cutting the cord with TV completely, like I did, cutting back is a great way to save money, and still lets you have your fun.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Anna says:

    I only cut the cable if I can watch everything on one platform without region locking. Also with coax, I can have high bandwidth internet for 16 dollars. HBO Go is just a 6 dollar extra

  • sedna says:

    Very informative post. Many focus on cable replacement. The smartest advice I have heard recently is to look at shows and not channels. The good resources provided hadn’t seen those websites. Thanks

  • carry says:

    Hello, I think you have a good idea. We use the only antenna. Cable is not that important to us because we are always busy, we just want the everyday news. Thanks for the share. Great point.

  • MaryAnn says:

    I’m a senior & not very techno savvy so please bear with me. I recently bundled my phone,internet & tv service with Comcast with a savings of about $50.00 over previously paying $165.00 for just tv & internet alone. So I’m happy about that but have realized that we now don’t get the American Heroes Channel(love the history footage)Is there any way to get this without signing up for another $20.00/month? If I buy & install an antenna -would that help get me that one channel?

  • Margaret Hill says:

    Local cable, no one person to talk to. Must talk on phone. Local company right here in my area. I bundle but my internet just went up 35.00 mo. Ads say bundle for savings but no dice for old customers. Pay for each box. Ads say free? How can FCC let them get by with this????

  • Ann Wood says:

    I pay 150.00 a month for lousy TV programming; 100 religion stations (NONE of which I watch) , 3 QVC sales stations, have no idea how many exercise equipment, food advertisements, and really offensive “entertainment” venues with fake fights between guests.
    At my age, I really want programming that is informative and challenging for the intellect.
    Actively searching for a way to keep HBO documentaries and Bill Maher.

  • Julio says:

    I appreciate your points of how to
    Save money. Thank you all.

  • Kathleen says:

    I live in the Willamette valley in OR. My basic cable is up to 72 $. I’m part of a co op which I like but I just don’t want to keep paying more and more that’s not even a bundle just cable. I have ATT cell phone bundle with son and brother in law any suggestions would be great.

  • Ellen S says:

    I switched to over the air around March 2014. I receive a clear signal from 15 different stations using only a $36 slightly amplified antenna placed inside near a sliding glass door. The picture is great. Nearly all TVs have a cable connection, sometimes called a RF connection. To see what channels you can probably receive, go to antennaweb.org and enter your zip and street address. Also click on their resources tab for more info. You can always try this before you cancel cable or satellite!

  • Will says:

    I have cut cable TV back in 2010. Time Warner made a box a must to watch Government Access PEG Channels. They are a joke! Their channel lineup for Basic Basic is local broadcast channels, a music channel, C-SPAN 1 (Watch that online anyway) and WGN. That’s it. No more AISD channel, Travis County Government Channel, City Hall Channel 6, or Public Access without a digital converter at $8 a TV set. I bought an Netgear Digital Entertainer Live at Radio Shack back in 2009 for $100 and a Playon subscription $20 a year. I watch YouTube, Hulu, and a ton of channels on my set. I also bought a dedicated PC for the Playon server, for the local channels I use OTA DTV.

    The cable and phone companies need to stop it with the bundling crap. Nobody wants them. Cable phone service and digital phone is a ripoff, as you pay more taxes and fees than with Vonage, which is also a ripoff.

    Want to save money?

    Buy a Roku or BluRay internet enabled player with PlayOn
    Get cable or DSL internet along with a router.
    Buy an Grandstream ATA device (device that hooks up your phone network to your router)
    Get something like Oomla phone service with a US Number, Incoming calls are free, non toll free numbers are 1.9 cents a minute, and load whatever dollar amount you want on the account.

    I get Television, Internet and Phone service for under $40 a month!
    AT&T always wants to sell me digital phone, and I say my phone costs me $10 a month for the phone number and approx. $3 worth of calling at 1.9 cents a minute, after that the conversation about their digital phone is over as they cannot beat that deal.

    Along with the $40 a month, I have a Prepaid AT&T Go Phone which charges $2 per day on the days you use the phone, which I don’t use except 1 day out of the month.
    Tip: When refilling your GoPhone use a different billing zip code 70808 charges a whole lot less in taxes and fees than the 78247 zip code. Someone told me that was stealing, and I said the government swindles all the time! I am taxed enough already.

  • Norma says:

    I purchased an atenna, put up the pole, installed the antenna all by myself and I am 73! Had many trips up and down the ladder! It is about 25 feet high. This antenna has the rotor and if the station does not come in plain, just point the remote to the box until it clears up. I get 26 channels on my little antenna. This TV is in my office. I live in the tri-states area of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and my recption is coming from all 3 states!

    I still have satellite TV, but am planning to purchase a much better antenna that will pick up some of the cable channels for the big TV, and turn off the Satellite! It certainly will reduce some expenses.

  • Spirit says:

    Great article. I have been cable free now for over a year. I have Netflix, and Hulu online. More time to be creative.

  • Kristi says:

    I agree. Instead of paying for it, it’s better to jump off the couch anyways and spend time with your family. There are ways to cut costs.

  • Felicia says:

    I think you have a good idea..We use only antenna..Cable is not that important to us because we are always busy, we just want the everyday news. Thanks for the share. Great point.

  • The Best Money Blog says:

    We recently canceled cable TV and downgraded our cable internet. It saves us $40 a month and frees up a lot of time. Plus, 90% of the shows we want to watch are in HD through an antenna and the rest are available online.

  • Cd Phi says:

    Lots of companies now offer bundle services where you can get phone service as well as cable but I’ve found it to be cheaper if you just cut the cable so you won’t have to bundle. I mean if you MUST have cable, then I guess it’s better to get the bundle package but if you don’t really need it then it’s not really a good deal because you’re still spending on more than you’d need.

  • Lynn says:

    We enjoy having basic cable but it’s “free” in our complex. If it wasn’t free, we wouldn’t have it.

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