Utilities

How to Save Money on Your Cable or Internet Bill as a Senior

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The 65-and-up crowd has lived through the most incredible media revolution in history. They’ve seen television go from a handful of major networks to a sprawling array of hundreds of specialty channels. That’s not even mentioning the digital upheaval created by the internet, with YouTube and Netflix fighting for viewers too. Navigating today’s complicated cable and internet landscape can be challenging for older consumers who are used to fewer, simpler options. Factor in rising prices to the fixed incomes of pensioners and you’ve got a set of complex issues to solve.

Most seniors want to hang onto their legacy TV service and package it in with their home internet. This can make things easy to understand and manage. However, telecom companies often have complicated offers, with short-term promotions, that can be confusing.

However, there are several ways to save money while keeping services that are important to you — and not paying for unneeded extras. While some of them require a bit of outside-the-box thinking, the end result usually includes the familiar service you already have at more affordable prices.

Stop Paying For Channels You Never Watch

As television matured, it evolved past the original large network model into a system built around specialty channels. Sports networks were first, but special interest and lifestyle programming soon followed. Over the years, cable companies started to bloat their services by packaging more and more of these specialty channels together in bundles. As a result, most people now have access to hundreds of channels with their default cable plans.

The problem is most people only watch a handful of the hundreds of channels they pay for. If you’re in that boat, check with your service provider to see what other options are available. The most affordable packages still deliver dozens of popular channels. While you may need to sacrifice a couple of channels you watch infrequently, the savings may be worth it.

Ask For a Better Deal

One of the simplest and most effective things you can do if your cable and internet bills are too high is call your service provider and ask what you can do about it. In almost every case, there will be a less expensive option available. For instance, you may be paying for unlimited data on your home internet plan but never use more than 10 gigabytes a month. Or maybe you’re paying for fast internet speeds more suited to online gaming or high volume video streaming, but you only really use Facebook and email. This is the internet equivalent of paying for cable channels you never watch.

For everyday internet browsing, you don’t need the fastest available network speeds. You also don’t need massive amounts of data unless you’re streaming a lot of video and music. A capped bandwidth plan will be cheaper than an unlimited one.

However, if you do choose to scale back your internet plan to capped data limits, remember that many service providers charge high rates if you go over. Make sure you know what these overage rates are, and ask about getting set up with notifications that inform you when you’re approaching your monthly maximum. You can likely ask your provider to tell you how much data you use per month, on average. From there, you can scale back your usage to make sure you stay within the confines of your plan and avoid those hefty extra fees.

Shop Around With Competitors

Have you received a promotional mailer from a competitor offering a better price than you’re getting from your current provider? Did you see a TV commercial for a cheaper cable and internet package than the one you’re already using? If so, get on the phone with your service provider and tell them about it. In many cases, they will match the offer to avoid losing you as a customer.

The telecommunications landscape has become extremely competitive since the turn of the century. It’s crowded with rivalries (in most places, anyway). These businesses have to work harder than ever to attract and keep their customers. They’d hate to lose you. So if that becomes a real possibility because of a better offer, chances are they’ll offer you a special discount to keep you on board. Most providers will even give you a lower price on your current package, so you may not even have to lose any channels to enjoy the savings.

Get a Seniors’ Discount

A few major U.S. service providers offer discounts to older customers, with eligibility ages ranging from 55 to 65-years-old. All you need to do is call and ask, and you’ll get it if you qualify. Some of these offers extend only to customers with AARP membership, which carries a low annual cost but delivers excellent savings. When used correctly, your AARP membership dues will pay for themselves many times over. Members enjoy many special perks and bonuses that can deliver hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual savings.

Switch to Satellite

Satellite TV has come a long way since it was first introduced. Today’s satellite dishes are compact, powerful, and deliver highly reliable service that delivers all the channels you already enjoy. If your cable company can’t or won’t give you a better offer, look into satellite. It typically delivers comparable service for a much lower price. It could also be just the tonic to get your current provider to change their tune about offering you a discount.

Check for Internet Discounts for Low-Income Households

If you’re on a fixed income, you might qualify for special internet offers intended for low-income households. Internet has become so essential that subsidy programs are now available, which deliver basic services for very affordable prices. However, you will have to demonstrate that you qualify. However, it shouldn’t be a problem if you receive any form of government assistance.

Final Thoughts and Words of Advice

If you do renegotiate your services to a new, lower monthly price, be sure to go over your first few bills with a fine-toothed comb. Some less ethical service providers make up for the lower price by adding additional charges, which could even be for services you never ordered. Make sure there’s no monkey business involved by checking every line item in your bill for accuracy. Call and demand an explanation for any unexpected charges that appear.

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