Updated on 03.26.07

Five Minute Finances #16: Cancel The Channels You Don’t Watch

Trent Hamm

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

One thing I did recently that started saving us about fifteen dollars a month was that I made the useful observation that I don’t watch that many channels at home. We had a package that included Starz and I never watched it.

When we signed up for cable, my wife selected the package with the idea that we would have movies always available, but during the time that we have the television on, we’re usually watching specific shows or else watching C-SPAN or the news.

So, all I did was call my cable provider and simply ask what channels were on their most basic plan. They listed the channels and I discovered that 90% of the programming I watch was in these channels, so I simply switched to that plan. It took about four minutes and now I’m spending $15 a month less than I was before.

All you have to do is think about what you actually watch on television for a minute and then make a list of the “top” channels on a sheet of paper. Then give your cable or satellite provider a ring and ask for the cheapest plan that includes those channels. You can almost always save some cash each month by doing this.

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  1. Tkriger says:

    This is already on my list of things to do.

    My problem is all I want are the High Definition Channels, and maybe basic SD channels for Sci-Fi (BSG, stargate), good luck getting just those, from what I have found, if you want HD HBO, Cinemax and Showtime, you need to get a package that includes all those useless non HD versions as well.

    Anyone have any luck with Comcast just getting all the HD channels without the Standard Def ones?

  2. jake says:

    My cable bill at one time was $120 a month, during college. I had to have every channel, especially sports. I was a huge sports fan so I had all the packages.

    Eventually I came to my senses. What I did was that I sat down one day and really look at my watching habbits, and I discover that most of the times I didnt watch all the sports channels. I just watched a few games a week.

    I also realized that channels like HBO replayed things over and over so I watched it maybe once or twice a week.

    I ended up canceling everything and found free alternatives. For example there is a program called TVU which lets you watch channels like ESPN, and foxsports over the internet. I tried it out and it was good enough for me.

    The neat thing also is that for march madness all the games were shown over the internet at http://www.ncaasports.com.

    I also found it cheaper to wait for show to finish its season and buy the DVD, rip them to my computer and watch little by little.

    Fortunately for me my current apartment gives free basic cable, and free wifi. That allowed me to save a lot of money.

  3. Josh says:

    Drop the cable and watch everything on iTunes, DVDs, or the network’s site. Did that 6 months ago and have saved $300 so far.

  4. Rose says:

    When our only television bit the dust 2.5 years ago, I decided to not to replace it, and I cancelled the cable outright. I wanted to see what would happen. It’s been a wonderful experiment, and it will continue indefinitely. The savings have extended beyond the $70+/month cable fees. We are no longer aware of, let alone havering for, the latest McToys, McGadgets, or McProducts.

  5. I agree with Josh, I don’t have a need for Cable. With all the time I spend at work and the rest of my time handling errands, chores, etc. I hardly even have time for the TV. At the moment, I do have cable, and have had nothing but the basic plan, at the moment, I don’t see a big need for the movie channels, but it could be a great addition. And have been saving money from the other expensive plans since. If the time comes where I do finally decide to rid myself of cable completely, basic channels will do just fine.

    Trent, you may also want to mention (if you haven’t already) is ridding yourself of your landline phone, especially if you already have a cellular phone. Most cell plans are becoming cheaper by the day, and I have found that it is becoming cheaper than a home landline phone. Free long distance, nights & weekends, among other special offers makes a cellular plan more attractive than a home phone plan, and best of all it’s right available at your side wherever you go.

  6. PF says:

    We have not had cable since 1992. We have not only saved the monthly cost of cable, but probably our marriage too! We talk, hike, or work on house projects instead of watching TV . We made over 100K on a 45K log cabin investment by fixing it up, and now we are building a large, luxury log home that already has several hundred thousand dollars in equity. We could have never accomplished those things if we had TV. Rose hit the nail on the head too. When you don’t have TV, you aren’t subjected to all the advertising and you don’t know what you are missing.

    Now that I’m expecting and too tired to work on the house, I’m catching up on all the tv shows I missed over the last 15 years with netflix. No commercials and a lot cheaper than cable. I think everyone should kill the cable for a while, but most people find that extreme. LOL!

  7. corey says:

    I was able to drop to basic basic cable for 13 dollars a month. It only seems to be available by calling comcast directly but it includes channels two through twenty-nine. Bonus that it includes Discovery, bummer that it doesn’t include the Food Network. But there’s always DVDs and the library.

  8. Cable Gal says:

    Sometimes if you call Comcast and tell them its too expensive and you want to shut it off they may offer a reduced rate package for a few months. Just make sure you call them to have it shut off when offer expires. If you’re not watching certain channels have them removed. If your receiving the monthly cable guide call and have that removed they cost about $3. Also purchase a universal remote control read your bill they charge a certain fee for remote control usage.

  9. Christie says:

    I watch everything on the internet. It is much cheaper than cable. I tell all my friends and family about it but I cant get any of them to convert. oh well . their loss.

  10. al says:

    Well, why not go to netflix.. In most areas it is cheaper than HBO, Showtime and so on your cable bill..
    I think this should be the “real” saving tip ! If you save 15$ bucks for going down to the stuff you “really” watch you can easily get netflix.

    And the best thing is their roku player, it has a lot good TV Series on it for “Free”. Only thing is you have to go for the not so basic plan which is omly 9 Bucks.. ( well the roku cost 99$ one time, no rental or other sh*t )

    Netflix rocked before, but with the roku i think all cable plans beyond basic are doomed ..

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