Ask for a better deal. If
you really like to channel-surf, keep cable, but see if the provider
will better its offer. If the company stonewalls, tell it you want to
cancel. You should be transferred to the retention department, where
they'll work with you to lower your bill because they really want to
keep you as a customer.
Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. If you've simply added on each new entertainment technology as it came along-maintaining a generous cable package with DVR, ordering movies from Netflix, streaming shows on Hulu, even buying digital episodes of Top Chef for $2.99 apiece-then you're surely paying for much more than you could ever possibly watch. "Utilization is the key," says Kay. "People tend to overbuy."
Track your family's watching patterns for a month. If you find that you only watch specific shows and only occasionally seek out a movie on a lazy night, you might want to drop down to basic cable or opt out of cable altogether and sign up for Hulu for television shows and Netflix for movies. Do the math and see what makes sense.
Related: Check out 9 bad habits that are actually good for you.
Skip movie subscription plans. On the other hand, depending on how many movies and TV shows you watch and how expensive they are, it may be cheaper to order à la carte. In order to make good use of a typical Netflix plan, for instance, you need to watch at least four movies a month, since comparable rentals on Amazon, iTunes or On Demand run between $4 and $6 apiece. Or you can head to a grocery store like Giant, a drugstore like Walgreens or convenience stores such as Turkey Hill and rent a movie from Redbox for $1.20 a day.
Dump premium channels. Having HBO and Showtime costs you between $10 and $15 each, per month. Unless you watch multiple series, you're better off waiting until they come out on Netflix if you have a subscription, or on iTunes or Amazon where you can spend $18 to $60 for the season, which, even at the high end, is still less than half of what you would pay over a year for the channel. In short, unless you must see Boardwalk Empire as soon as it appears or you'll feel behind the times, you're spending too much on premium channels.
Related: See the surprising things you can get for free.
Watch, then cancel. If you are addicted to a premium channel show you want to see in real time, cancel the channel after the finale. If you miss it, you can always add it back on.
Buy a simple HDMI cable. No need to pay big bucks-the $5 one works just fine to connect your computer to your television. This allows you to watch free shows from the network websites on the big screen or rentals you've downloaded. Many recent episodes stay online for a limited time. That way, you can save by not spending money for DVR service or using On Demand.
Related: Turn your clutter into cash.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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