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Tips to Cut Your Cable Bill

Sept. 27, 2012
3 mins
A family cuddling up on the couch to watch TV

Does your monthly cable bill fill you with ire? Chances are, you could probably save a lot of money by taking a second look at your TV expenses.

According to a study conducted by the CRTC in 2011, the average basic (as in bare bones) cable bill comes to $61.86 monthly, with the average household spending $181 a month for all communications services. Pack on specialty channels, pay-per-view movies, HD perks and time shifting, and you could be paying hundreds of dollars on your prime time entertainment. Fortunately, there are a few ways to trim down those costs.

Be choosy about your channels

How many of those channels do you really watch?

If you’re signed up for a more-than-basic package, you’re probably paying through the nose for hundreds that you barely glance at. It’s said that the average TV viewer regularly watches 16 channels -- less than what’s included in a basic cable package. The rub is which channels you wish to watch; if you love premium sports coverage, specialty networks such as The History Channel or the antics of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, you’ll be looped into packages at higher price points.

Go a la carte

To cut down on excessive channel consumption, check out the “a la carte” offerings from your cable provider.

While the pickings are from a preselected list, you may get lucky and find your favourite channel there. For example, Rogers' selection includes 186 a la carte options, ranging in price from $2 to $25. Paired with a basic cable package, you could be watching the same content for less.

Watch online

If you don’t mind trading your big screen for your laptop or tablet, you may be able to watch your favourite specialty channel for free -- many stream the latest episodes of their shows for a limited time. For example, Slice, a popular specialty channel, has full seasons for over 50 of its shows online, as does the Food Network, History Channel and TLC -- so it’s well worth checking out a channel’s site before committing to an order. Keep an eye out for “Video” tabs when on the hunt.

Stream your shows

The advent of subscription streaming services like Netflix have led many former cable junkies to cancel their packages altogether.

Introduced in Canada in 2010, the service was initially lambasted for its limited selection compared to the U.S. But that has significantly turned around this year, with hundreds of TV shows and movies available at the monthly rate of eight bucks. Keep in mind, though, that streaming will significantly up your Internet bandwidth usage, and going over will cost you big time -- it's worth it to consider increasing your Internet services to account for this.

Internet TV

As computers and TVs become increasingly synonymous, product hybrids are hitting the market.

These offer a truly merged Internet viewing experience, complete with surfing and downloadable apps for shows (Netflix included), games and more. Apple TV ($109), one of the first on the scene, introduced the concept of connecting TVs to mobile advices, enabling viewers to access their iPhones, iPads and Macs on the big screen.

For those who prefer the Android experience, Sony offers the Internet Player with Google TV. At a $199 value, this gizmo will connect viewers to a slew of apps, and enable them to fully surf the web via Google Chrome.

Penelope Graham

A first-time homeowner and newbie investor, Penelope Graham is the quintessential millennial, navigating the world of personal finance and wealth management. A self-professed monetary policy nerd, she follows the often-controversial housing market closely and specializes in mortgage, credit card and personal finance news.

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