3 Ways to Save on Phone, Cable, Internet

We are saving $140 per month on phone, TV, and broadband service as follows:

1. Give up your land line and go all-cellular. 911 can find you from any modern cell phone. Long distance has become free. Watch your usage and get a plan with the right number of “unlimited daytime minutes” that matches your calling patterns. Savings: $32 per month by dropping the Verizon landline.

2. If your broadband Internet service is from a cable TV provider and Verizon is offering FIOS in your area, call the cable company’s corporate office and threaten to switch to Verizon unless they give you a discount. I’ve been doing this with Charter Communications for years and am paying half what they normally charge for their 5 Mbps broadband-only service. Charter’s Cable TV service stunk, but their broadband Internet has been very reliable. Savings: $30 per month. I have to call them every six months to a year as the discounts they offer are for those periods, but just the threat of moving to FIOS does wonders to wring another discount period out of them.

3. Drop cable and satellite TV. Face it: most TV programming today is junk. The channels now annoy you with banner ads to buy their DVD or treat you like an idiot telling you want you’re watching now and what’s on next. They display persistent advertising for upcoming shows over their logos. There are too many commercials (20 minutes or more per hour of programming) and they are LOUD. We finally got so annoyed with all this that we dropped our DISH network service (saving $78 per month) and bought a RCA HDTV converter box from Walmart and an Apex indoor HD antenna from Best Buy for a total of $80. We watch far less TV now and don’t miss it. We watch DVDs, sometimes the local news, and spend more time talking as a couple. DISH never worked in heavy rain; living in Tornado Alley and with the conversion to broadcast HDTV, we needed an HDTV converter to receive the local over-the-air weather broadcasts during heavy weather.

Total savings from the above: $32 + $30 + $78 = $140 per month!

That’s $1,680 per year!

PS: I’m not keen on bundling. First, if you buy services from different providers, you can then pit those firms against their competitors to wrangle unadvertised discounts . Threatening to move your service to a competitor has a way of getting these companies to cough up discounts. Second, if you bundle and there’s an outage, all of your services — phone, Internet, and TV — are out! Some of my neighbors who have Charter’s complete bundle have been cut off from their phone, broadband, and TV for hours or days when there’s a weather-related cable outage. I lose my Internet service, but my cell phone and TV still work.

Editor’s Note: This tip was originally submitted in response to the newsletter question Any Tips for Lowering Cable, Internet or Phone Bills? Click through to find more money saving tips for your Cable, Phone and Internet bills.