Cable/Satellite/Phone/Internet suggestions?


#1

I need some ideas from other families who have made these sorts of changes.

In trying to create a budget, it appears that I can't afford my life :o Well, this is actually good news because it gives me somewhere to start -- lowering expenses.

Right now I'm spending about $150 a month for satellite/phone/internet service, and I'm looking to reduce that number as much as possible. I got the "bundle" of services because it's supposed to save money, but it's just outrageously expensive. The contract is up, so I'd like to "un-bundle."

I think we're just going to get rid of the television stations. We hardly watched any of them, I constantly had to change the channel to avoid the most dreadful commercials (I have a 6yo son), and we mostly just watched movies or a small handful of shows anyway. I'm considering a subscription to Netflix ($8.99 a month), the type that is hooked directly to the TV. Anyone ever tried that?

I'd like to keep my l*and-line phone* for emergencies (so 911 knows exactly where the call is originating). I had to call 911 when I injured my hand in March, and considering I couldn't even dial 911 correctly (I had to do it twice) because I was in shock, it's a darn good thing the operator already had my address. So the land-line stays. And I would love to have unlimited long distance -- a girl can dream... Right now, my unlimited long distance land line is costing me $50 dollars a month!

So, suggestions to reduce that phone bill would be much appreciated.

And last of all, the internet. I have high-speed wifi that's connected into my land line. I need the wifi at home for work and my doctoral studies. I don't have the numbers in front of me for what I'm paying for that, but again, any suggestions for low-cost options would be much appreciated.

Thanks for any help you can give!

Gertie


#2

Getting rid of TV is great! Between Netflix + Hulu.com, I've seen everything I've wanted to in the last two years.

Have you tried Skype for long-distance calls? It's an internet phone service that costs around three dollars a month for unlimited calls out to any U.S. phone number. You need a headset with a microphone for your computer, but you can get one for about $20. I used it extensively while living in Europe, and it works really well.

Internet is the tough one. Around here, you can get plain DSL for $20-$30 a month, but it's not particularly fast. If you need to stream high resolution video, for example, it won't cut it.

Good luck with your budget!


#3

When we moved we had Verizon phone and fios internet, we were able to include unlimited long distance for $5. I know our time warner cable phone/internet/tv is similar. If you don't have cable (and sometimes even with cable) your bill should be under $100 with these major companies (they might offer better deals than some of the local providers). Good luck with your budget.


#4

Many large companies will have incentives in place to keep a customer threatening to cancel services. It isn't dishonest to take advantage of these discounts- they want to keep you as a customer! Many people will call in every 6 months and get a new discount. Call your internet and phone providers and tell them you are seriously considering canceling your services and what are they willing to do to keep you? You have to actually say that you will cancel to be transferred to a department that has power to give you special rates/discounts.

(My husband works in a call center for a major service provider.)


#5

Call and ask to speak to a retention specialist. They are the ones who can negotiate lower prices for you. See if you can make promotional rates permanent.

For more info, search this site: consumerist.com/

They are consumer advocates (sometimes pretty vehement), but their advice can easily land you some great deals!

Hope this helps!

(Also keep in mind that depending on where you live, you may have a decent amount of TV channels you can receive over the air. reception map: fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/)


#6

[quote="Gertabelle, post:1, topic:206673"]
I
I'd like to keep my l*and-line phone* for emergencies (so 911 knows exactly where the call is originating). I had to call 911 when I injured my hand in March, and considering I couldn't even dial 911 correctly (I had to do it twice) because I was in shock, it's a darn good thing the operator already had my address. So the land-line stays. And I would love to have unlimited long distance -- a girl can dream... Right now, my unlimited long distance land line is costing me $50 dollars a month!

So, suggestions to reduce that phone bill would be much appreciated.

[/quote]

If you have high speed internet, you can go to VoIP for much cheaper. If you have high speed internet, Vonage is a good choice. For about $33 / month (when you include all taxes), you get unlimited calls anywhere in the US and to 60 countries. 911 works fine on their system. You can go to 500 minutes/month (no international) for about $25/month or 200 minutes/month for about $17/month.

If you have a computer with high speed that's always on, and you don't need a dial tone (for example, for an alarm system or fax machine), you can look at MagicJack which only costs $20/year.

Vonage works like a regular phone (you plug your phone into the router, then the router into your modem, and it's always on - use like any other phone). MagicJack requires you to use your computer to make a call (and it flashes ads on the screen while you're on the phone).

Unfortunately internet and television depends on who is in your area (unless you want to look at satellite).


#7

Thanks so much to everyone for the great suggestions and ideas! I’m not on the computer as much in the summer, so I apologize for the delay in getting back to my own thread.:blush: I’m looking into Netflix for TV options (we mostly only watch movies and kids’ shows anyway) and am still looking for internet and phone options.

Thanks again!

Gertie


#8

We have a blue ray disc that allows computer connection. We do the streaming video from netflix. My kids love to sit with me at the computer and pick out their videos... and lately those are the only things they watch, inclusive of a few DVD's... NO COMMERCIALS.

I'm actually looking to drop my cable and land line (have cell phone, will travel)

You can also watch tv programs on hulu.com (I think there are some other sites... I just don't watch that much tv anymore)


#9

Our solution:

Cable Internet. I need it for my job so I don’t have to use sick days to be home w/ DH and the baby when they are sick (when the older kids are sick, DH can handle it - but sick babies need to nurse). When we’ve been out of work, we’ve needed it for an effective job search, cheap phone service, and wanted it for cheap entertainment. You might be able to go with DSL or even a modem for cheaper. We have our own wifi router at home, so we aren’t charged for that. It’s possible, depending on where you live, that Clear (Clearwire) might be cheaper, also. Look also at cutting back to slower cable service; do you really need 15 Mb/s (or whatever you’re getting)? However, IME this is the biggest piece of the communications puzzle. We got a $20 discount for 6 months when we (honestly) were looking at switching to a cheaper DSL service that let us keep our good level of service while unemployed. $62, including fees; $42 when we had the discount.

Phone: Magic Jack + pay-as-you-go cell phone. Magic Jack costs $20 / year, and is an Internet service that works with your normal phone. Unlimited long distance in the US, cheap long distance rates to other countries. The audio is slightly lower quality and it is not problem-free - we’ve had a number of “WTHuh?” instances where thigns weren’t working right. Also, 911 may not be as reliable as normal 911. You may want to go with a VOIP service that costs about $30 / month instead. They pretty much all have unlimited long distance in the US. Just make SURE you update your address on record if you move, or 911 won’t work right. We used AT&T a few years back, and they made us confirm our address every time our internet got disconnected for some reason (which taught us that Comcast has lots of small outages . . . it was actually quite annoying). We also use an AT&T cell plan where we drop $100 whenever we get low on minutes, both as back-up and for when we are out-and-about. We chose one with a $1.00 a day access fee on days when we use the phone, since we usually use it less than one day a week, with cheaper minute-by-minute rates. Total: $28 / month on average, YMMV depending on your cell phone habits.

TV / entertainment: We use Netflix streamed video, but on our computers since we don’t own a TV. I like the service, and we don’t miss cable. However, we also don’t really follow TV series or sports. Hulu.com is also good and is free - it’s a website where they post TV shows with some advertising (less ads than a normal episode on cable TV, IME). Total: $15 / month for 2 CDs at a time and unlimited streaming.

Total: $62 + $28 + $15 = $105

Hope this gives you some ideas.


#10

[quote="CoffeeHound, post:6, topic:206673"]
If you have high speed internet, you can go to VoIP for much cheaper.

[/quote]

Agreed. We just switched to Ooma (purchased through Amazon.com), so now we don't have a monthly phone bill. The way I understand it, there are 2 kinds of Oomas you can get. The old one (it's a white unit) is totally bill-free, but with the new one (it's a black unit), you pay for applicable taxes associated with phone use, which is only like $2-$3/month for us. It's pretty nifty.


#11

To further the skype suggestion......it's free if you are "calling" someone else with internet. Basically, video chat. Most people have internet......my grandmother is now on skype (she's 77...hahah). I talk to my aunt who currently lives in Singapore about every month or so on skype. All for free. Definitely something to look into.


#12

Our landline is Verizon--we need it for the computer for some reason, when we move the number moves with us, long distance is $25 a month, including Valley long distance (local long distance) a huge savings since DH spends hours a day on the phone long distance with customers. The DSL is through ATT only wireless available here and it requires the landline, so we have two, no way to get around it, why I don't know, but that second line is dedicated to DSL, and that service is around $40 a month, also necessary for business also home computing since I do a lot from home.

Cell is a family plan that has my MIL, our 2 phones, my son, and a couple of grandchildren, unlimited minutes, internet access, and it is linked to the family plan DD and the other grandchildren are on so virtually all calls to all family members are free, which is huge since they are all over the country. That is about $50 a month, and so far all phones have been free, including new phones every couple of years, with the bonuses etc. that accrue. It was singular but ATT bought them, and DSL is also ATT

we just switched from Direct TV to Dish, the sports packages DH wants are much cheaper, so TV will go from over $200 to under $100. We don't subscribe to movie channels HBO etc or use pay-per-view at all. We have one satellite that covers 2 TVs (if we end up buying another TV) and the recorder with Dish is cheaper than the Tivo we used to have.

None of those prices I said include taxes and fees, which are whopping IMO.

from what we were paying when we moved into this house, we save hundreds a month, mostly on TV and long distance.

thing we don't like is when we find a good service ATT buys it out so we get stuck with them again.

internet is Yahoo which is also part of the ATT package, I think so it actually does not cost anything (but I am sure they collect for it somepace else.) that is also a necessity for business and for my work, and our many extra-curricular activities.

Our situation is peculiar because not all services and plans from most comm. companies are available in our area (deep south Texas) so we have to settle.

if we had extensive calls or email to Mexico as most families do here, we would probably have different plans. there are local cellular options that would be cheaper, but the plans are not nationwide, which we do need, so what is best for us is not the best for our neighbors necessarily.


#13

We paid about $100 for a huge antennae to put on top of the house. We get all the local and PBS channels and some foreign language channels on tv. We've never paid for cable tv. I put dvd's on hold at the public library and pick them up when they are ready. So our movie budget is included in our property taxes. ;)

We have a land-line phone for about $26/month including messaging and taxes, and use that for free dial up internet. I'd like faster, but we're waiting for more reasonable prices. (Reasonable for me would be $10 a month for high speed. :D)

I have a verizon pre-paid cell phone. I pay $30 at a time and it lasts me three months before I have to renew, and I always have roll-over minutes, but I'm not a big phone talker and I do zero texting or internet on the phone.


#14

[quote="JAGCath28, post:11, topic:206673"]
To further the skype suggestion......it's free if you are "calling" someone else with internet. Basically, video chat. Most people have internet......my grandmother is now on skype (she's 77...hahah). I talk to my aunt who currently lives in Singapore about every month or so on skype. All for free. Definitely something to look into.

[/quote]

The only problem I have with Skype is that the quality leaves something to be desired. I have pretty good high-speed internet (just a little faster than your average cable connection, a lot faster than the average DSL) and it gets choppy at times. It could be the other person's internet, though.


#15

We just moved and ditched our cable. We also paid to have an antenna put on our house...it's called Over The Air (OTA) and if you check into it you can find more about it on the internet. It's all perfectly legal too...now that all the stations are leaving analog, and are digital over the air, it's worth it to look into...you just don't hear much about it because it's like 'free tv'. We live near a big escarpment (a drawback) but still get some great HD channels...not as many as cable, but we also watch stuff online and get dvds from the library. The kids love their games too, which they play on our tv.
As for cell phone...we buy outright a cheap one and put pay as you go on it...cash only..top up every couple of months. We text as it's cheaper than calls.

Good luck.


#16

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