Have you been watching your cable bill rise, while features and channel offerings are falling? Nothing is more frustrating than paying more for less.
But you don't have to sit idly by while the cable company raises your rates.
First, look over your bill. Do you know what you're paying for? Do you use all of the services you subscribe to? If not, cancel them. Premium channels come with a premium price. Can you live without them? Cutting out those expensive networks could save you a bundle. Do you watch all of the channels your package includes? If not, you may be able to downgrade to a less-expensive cable plan.
Next, call the cable company. Ask them how you can save on your cable bill. Talk about alternative packages, or a la carte services. If this conversation doesn't lower your bill, you may want to consider switching providers. (And sometimes just the threat of switching will be enough for the cable company to offer you a discount.)
Explore packages and options from competitors. Watch out for package deals and bundle prices - TV, phone and Internet for just $99 a month! - which are often introductory rates and come with a hefty price increase after one or two years. when comparing costs from different cable providers, don't forget to consider taxes and fees, installation costs and possible penalties for ending your current contract early.
Skip the On-Demand features, unless they're free. A quick trip to a RedBox kiosk will cost you $1.27 for a 24-hour rental, compared to $3.95 and up for the convenience of renting from the couch.
If you find yourself mostly watching local networks, you may be able to get rid of cable all together and watch online. ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC all stream recent episodes of prime-time shows online (ABC and NBC even have apps to stream on-the-go), and some local news stations stream broadcasts live.
Other alternatives to Cable
Netflix - For about eight bucks a month, you can stream a large library of TV shows and movies on your computer or TV through gaming console (Wii, PlayStation, XBox). There's no limit to the number of entire seasons and runs of shows and movies you can instantly watch each month. For an additional fee, you can have DVDs shipped right to your house. One drawback: Almost all of the the TV series' are past seasons, not current.
Hulu Plus - You're probably familiar with Hulu, which offers streaming of free content on your computer. With Hulu Plus, you can stream additional content, and watch on mobile devices like iPad and iPhone, as well as watch on your TV through gaming console or participating Blu-Ray player. Unlike Netflix, with Hulu Plus you also have access to current episodes of TV seasons, in addition to previous seasons. The price is competitive with Netflix, $7.99 a month.
Apps like Crackle and TV.com offer free content on your laptop, mobile device, gaming console or Internet-connected television. Watch a limited selection TV shows, movies and original content, all free.