In the past I’ve given a few tips on saving money on television. One of my more popular articles in the past suggested that it may be possible for people to cut their cable television completely. To recap here where those tips in nut-shell:
- Pay More for Television – Sounds counter intuitive, but if it saves you from paying $20+ at the movies every night spending a little more on television can be a savings. I paid around $150 last year to watch all the Red Sox games on television (I live in San Francisco, so I had to by the MLB Extra Innings package). I would have easily run up a much bigger bill going to sports bars for 6 months. Another example is to get DVR if it allows you to watch shows in less time and get you back to being productive. Time is money… and that can be money well spent.
- Get an HDTV Antenna – This should be easier with television stations being required to upgrade soon. Most that I watch are already in HD… except for those pesky out of town sporting events.
- Look into a Sling Box – I’ve found that baseball is very watchable from my brother’s Slingbox. Football isn’t as watchable in my opinion. The players are too small when it’s zoomed out – especially with the less than 100% resolution. Note, I’ve heard this against the terms of service with Slingbox. I have to be honest, I don’t really read the terms of service when I buy an electronic product that bills itself as not requiring a service payment. I don’t really understand how it can be as watching out of town sports was the reason it was invented (if you’ve read about the founders).
Save Money on Your Cable Television
- Call up Your Cable Company and Threaten to Switch – Often times they’ll give you a cheaper rate if you pretend like you might switch. I hate using it like an empty threat, but fortunately the cable company sets me up perfectly. I ask them if they are going to carry every Patriots’ game this year. I know they can’t because DirecTV has an exclusive license with the NFL for out of market games. They know this isn’t an empty threat since I pay for the MLB package. I have strong incentive to switch to DirecTV – the only reason I don’t is because I’m Lazy. I don’t tell them that I’m lazy, but I ask them to give me a price worth staying for. It usually gets me a good deal for a year.
- Check for Promotions – A lot of the time a cable company will have a promotion for acquiring new customers. On one hand it makes sense for them to dangle a carrot to get someone from another provider to switch. On the other hand, you should get something for your years of loyal service. I play the loyal service card when I can.
Even More Ways to Save Money on Your Cable Television
- My Two Dollars has 35 tips for watching television without cable or satellite
- Christian Personal Finance also lists resources to find free and legal TV and Movies online
Enrique S says
Definitely get a DVR. You can cut at least 15 minutes of commercials from your TV-watching time. The extra cost of $10/month is worth the time saved if you watch a lot of shows.
kosmo @ The Casual Observer says
One alternative to TV would be audio/radio. I’m a huge baseball fan and I’d love to see all of my Rockies games on TV (I live in Iowa, so only see them when they play the Cubs), but it’s hard to bite the bullet and pay $150 for the MLB package on TV or even the $80 to watch on my computer. The Rockies play a lot of west coast games (because that is where their division rivals are), and since it’s hard for me to stay up past midnight when I have to wake up at 5:15, it’s hard to get full value out of those products.
But for $15, I can listen to audiocasts of my Rockies games. I’m a farm kid who grew up listening to sports on the radio (wasn’t inside very much during daylight hours), so I can get nearly as much enjoyment (75%?) listening to the game as I do watching it. The NFL has something similar, but I think they charge something like $40? for 1/10 the number of games. I forget the exact amount, but it seemed like a ripoff.
I multi-task like crazy, so this works great for me. I pop on my wireless headphones and pay bills, wash dishes, read – or even watch a TV show (listen to the game with one ear and the show with the other).
I definitely second the DVR/TiVo that the first commenter mentioned. I’m in the TiVo business, and I constantly hear from customers who are able to actually reduce their cable or satellite package because they basically harvest so much more programming by using their DVR.
You could also cut TV all together and just utilize hulu.com and the internet to stream shows, also could use Netflix for older series.
Not bad thoughts. I do like the point about paying more on television if it allows you avoid expenses elsewhere. It’s always worthwhile to consider your alternatives when pondering how to spend your money.
I’ll have to look into Sling Box, though; I can’t say that I’ve ever heard about this before.
Chad @ Sentient Money says
I’m more in line with Craig. If you have internet access you can watch almost every major show on Hulu or that network’s website. Plus, you might watch less TV and get more done.
Don’t watch tv, the internet is wonderful.
Might have to sign up for the MLB package this year for the Sox too; you signing up again?
Lazy Man says
I think so. I probably won’t be able to watch nearly enough games with my new job.
Ditch television and get your entertainment online. :P $15 a month gets you unlimited access to World of Warcraft!
Seriously, though, if I needed to pinch pennies, I’d sell my TV and get rid of cable altogether. Entertainment? Books are free from the library. :)
My wife and I made the decision to give up our premium channels and go to basic cable. We are saving $100 a month without even thinking about it. I have a blog where we tell people how to do it and save money on cable!