By: Juliana Weiss-Roessler, Quizzle.com
Consider this: if you save $100 every month for the next ten years, you'll have $12,000 extra in the bank. Not too shabby! And after all, you're only able to catch a few of the many shows that are piped into your living room, so why pay for things you aren't watching? Before renewing your cable contract, consider these alternatives.
Go to the public library. You may be surprised to learn that you can check out many of your favorite TV shows on DVD. In fact, the HBO and Showtime shows that you pay premium dollars to watch are common finds. Best of all, it's absolutely free, and even if you end up incurring an overdue fee, it's usually much lower than the rental fees at your local video store, let alone their late fees.
Buy it on iTunes. If you only watch a few shows, you may find that it's cheaper to simply subscribe to them on iTunes. A season can be as cheap as $15 - $30, and you'll get to watch as the episodes are released. If you subscribe to 10 seasons at $30 each over the course of the year, you'll spend $300, saving you $600 annually compared to the average monthly cable bill of $75.
Check out Hulu or IMDB. Without paying a dime, you can watch your favorite on-air shows and also catch entire seasons of old shows. But be aware that many currently airing shows only keep their last few episodes up, so stay up-to-date to avoid missing anything. Mess up and missed an episode? No need to panic; just purchase a single episode from iTunes for $2 and you're caught up!
Visit TV network websites. Often, they also share the latest episodes of their shows - new and old - for free. Plus, you'll usually find a host of extras to check out, such as interviews, behind-the-scenes features, webisodes and previews for next week's episode.
Connect your computer to your TV. Maybe you're unwilling to give up the viewing experience on your nice large-screen television. No problem! There are many ways to connect your PC so you can use your TV as your monitor. That way, you get the best of both worlds. Invest in composite AV cables for as low as $3 to $10 at your local electronics store.
Take advantage of Netflix Streaming. The cost of signing up for the service is only $8.99 per month and you'll have access to a wide TV library as well as movies. With your Wii, PS3, or Xbox 360, it's easy to watch on your television, but even if you don't have any of these video game systems, it's available through your computer too.
Still can't get on board with the idea of losing cable? Find ways to pay less for your current package. It's easier than you think. Simply give your current cable provider a call and ask them if you can negotiate a lower price since you're a loyal customer. Most are quick to work with you rather than risk losing your business.
If they're not forthcoming or the deal isn't as good as you were hoping for, compare the packages that other cable providers in your area are offering. Be sure to take into account the start-up deal as well as the price once the special ends. A good way to see if it's worth making the switch is to compare the amount that you'd pay for an entire year for both services, including any cancellation fees you'd pay to leave your current provider and any set-up fees from the new provider if you decided to make the switch.
Once you know your options, call up your current cable provider again to cancel. Tell them why you are leaving and the number they'd have to match for you to stay. Often, they'll find a way to make it work and you'll be able to forgo the hassle of making the switch. But be prepared to walk away if they aren't willing to work with you. It can be worth the trouble if you're saving enough money in the long run.
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