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Six Ways to Save on Your Cable Bill

Gasoline isn't the only thing increasing in price these days - when was the last time you looked at your cable bill?

Cable TV prices have increased 77% since 1996, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released earlier this month. That's close to double the inflation rate.

The average cable TV user is now paying $60 a month for the privilege of having cable sent into their home.

While cable TV prices continue to rise, you don't have to sit on your couch and do nothing about it. In fact, there are a number of easy steps that you can take to help bring the price of your cable TV bill down to a more reasonable level or eliminate it all together.

Here are six hints on how to do that.

Negotiate

One of the easiest ways to lower your cable bill is to negotiate with your cable TV company for a lower price.

The cable TV business is quite competitive in some areas, and in many instances it's much less expensive for them to keep you as a customer, even if that means giving you a discounted price, than it is to let you go to the competition. Call your cable TV provider with a less-expensive competitive offer in hand, and explain that you are considering changing to the competition. In many cases, this single phonecall is all you need to get a nice discount on your cable TV bill.

Bundle services

As cable TV operators offer more services beyond cable TV, they are making a concerted effort to get new customers to try these new services. One way they are doing this is by offering big discounts if you are willing to bundle all the services they offer together. By choosing to pay for not only cable TV, but also for high-speed Internet and phone service through your cable company, you may be able to score a hefty discount compared to getting each service separately from different companies.

Downgrade plan

When first signing up for cable TV, many people are lured into premium packages because the appeal of having so many channels to choose from seems like a great deal. But even if people have over 100 stations to choose from, they on average only watch about 15 of them.

Since most people aren't watching many of the channels they are paying for, it's worthwhile to take a close look at what you actually watch on TV. Doing so may show that you don't need a deluxe cable TV package. If you only watch the channels in a premium bundle a few times a month, is it really worth the extra cost?

Give up cable TV

If you really want to put a dent into that cable bill, opt out of cable TV altogether and stick with basic free network channels. Not only do you eliminate the cable TV costs, but fewer channels can mean fewer hours spent in front of the TV. The extra time can make you more productive in other areas of your life. That change could be worth a million dollars or more to your net worth.

Rent Movies

If a big part of your cable bill is the result of premium movie channels, consider replacing them with a subscription to NetFlix. This will allow you to rent and watch the exact movies you want, and not what the cable TV subscription channels happen to be offering. While NetFlix is not free, it can be a much better value than premium cable TV channels depending on how you watch and should be an option that you evaluate and consider.

Use the Internet

Many TV programs now are available on the Internet as both the broadcast networks and cable channels begin to experiment on the best ways to distribute their programming this way. The trend is likely to continue to increase with more and more shows being available to consumers by computer. If your favorite shows are available over the Internet, you can opt to watch them this way rather than by cable TV.

Taking the time to incorporate one or more of these ideas into your cable TV watching should allow you to watch the programming you want at a reduced price.

So, the next time you talk to Time Warner Cable (TWC), Cablevision (CVC), Comcast (CMCSA) or Charter Communications (CHTR), think about these tips - and see what how much less you can pay.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.

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