5 steps to cut­ting your ca­ble tele­vi­sion costs

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Brett Molina Con­tribut­ing: Eli Blu­men­thal

Each week, USA TO­DAY will look at one of your monthly bills and of­fer tips on how to cut that bill down to size and save you money.

There’s per­haps no bill ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing peak frus­tra­tion more than the one for ca­ble tele­vi­sion.

Ca­ble TV com­pa­nies re­port av­er­age spend­ing per sub­scriber of about $85 a month, while the av­er­age among satel­lite TV providers tops $100 a month, Le­icht­man Re­search Group says.

Five things you can do:

1 As­sess what you watch: Get rid of ex­tras, down­size plans

Re­view your cur­rent plan and what chan­nels you get. Cut­ting pre­mium chan­nels and sports pack­ages is an easy way to rack up sav­ings. There’s a good chance you can drop down to a smaller, less ex­pen­sive pack­age and still get most of the chan­nels you need.

2 Ex­am­ine those ex­tra fees

Some fees and taxes are re­quired, but some could be cut back. Do you have one or sev­eral set-top boxes for watch­ing TV through­out the house? Those rental fees for boxes can add up.

If you pack­age your ca­ble with In­ter­net, con­sider buy­ing a com­pat­i­ble mo­dem in­stead of pay­ing the monthly rental fee. When buy­ing, make sure to con­firm with your op­er­a­tor that it works for your provider and is cer­ti­fied for the speeds you want.

3 Skip the two-year con­tracts

Yes, the pric­ing can be very at­trac­tive. How­ever, you’re bet­ter off stay­ing with a month-to-month com­mit­ment, Swann says. “You are bound to that com­pany,” he said. “You have no lever­age dur­ing that two-year pe­riod.”

Swann said con­sumers will usu­ally pay as much or more com­pared to a plan with­out con­tracts. Also, most ca­ble com­pa­nies will re­quire you pay an early ter­mi­na­tion fee.

4 Call your ca­ble com­pany and ne­go­ti­ate

Con­tact a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive at your ca­ble provider. Check out the lat­est deals that they are of­fer­ing to new sub­scribers and com­pare them to what you’re cur­rently pay­ing.

“Knock­ing down the price is as sim­ple as tak­ing the time to call and ask — po­litely,” per­sonal fi­nance writer An­drea Woroch says.

If there’s a com­peti­tor, threaten to can­cel your ser­vice and switch. Woroch sug­gests ask­ing for a su­per­vi­sor or man­ager if nec­es­sary.

5 Con­sider a leap to stream­ing ser­vices

Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlaySta­tion Vue, Hulu and YouTube all of­fer skinny bun­dles with a solid core chan­nel lineup. The cheap­est op­tion among the group is Sling TV’s Or­ange plan for $20 a month and fea­tures chan­nels in­clud­ing ESPN, CNN, Dis­ney and Food Net­work.

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