How to Save Money on Communications in 2019
Dec 27, 2018 10:25AM
By Elizabeth Buckingham
Have you committed to revamping your finances and saving more money this year? Reviewing your communication accounts – cellular, Internet, and television – can be a great place to start. Many people are overpaying for these everyday services, and an hour or two of research and a few phone calls might well result in hundreds in savings every month.
Wireless Phones and Service
First, focus on the device you use most: your smartphone. Whether you’re on your own account or a family plan, it’s likely that you’re paying for services you don’t need. Analyze your usage over the past three months, accounting for data, texts, and talk; in most cases, you’ll find out that you’re not using everything you’re paying for. If you’re happy with your current carrier, investigate their other options and consider switching to a lower-priced plan. If you’re not happy with your provider (and surveys indicate that most of us aren’t), shop around. You’re not obligated to stick with the major carriers; there are now Internet-based cell providers, like Mint, Ting, Republic, and many others, who use Wi-Fi for most of their connections. When no Wi-Fi is available, these carriers use major provider towers. It’s worth checking the coverage available in your area; you might be able to pay as little as $30 or $40 a month for cell service if you’re not streaming a lot of video.
Remember the days when cell phones were frequently offered for free in exchange for a new contract? Those days are long past, now that we consider the latest, hottest phone to be a must-have accessory. If your phone still works, there is no need to upgrade it every six months; cellular providers reap huge profits convincing you that your phone should be upgraded. Most phones can now be easily unlocked and used on different carriers in the U.S. and around the world, so you’re no longer required to stay with one provider. Check Craigslist or other secondhand marketplaces for inexpensive used phones; these can often be had for a great price because someone else has chosen to upgrade. And don’t forget to recycle your old phones; billions of devices are carelessly thrown away each year, contaminating land and water with heavy metals.
Cable Television, Landline, and Internet Service
If you currently have cable TV service, ask yourself honestly how often you watch every single one of those seven thousand channels. Is that worth a hundred bucks or more every month? It might be time to ditch the cable TV if you watch mostly Netflix and Hulu; if you decide that you absolutely must have cable, then negotiate with your provider for lower rates. Companies like DirecTV and Comcast are struggling in the wake of on-demand services, and they’re often willing to offer existing customers sweet deals just to stick around. And if you still have a landline, and for some reason feel the need to keep it, definitely consider bundling your services – this typically results in a discount, too. Don’t forget to examine your Internet costs too. No matter what service and what provider you’re using, never be afraid to politely ask for a lower rate, and if you’ve been a customer for some time, always let them know that you’re looking at other options and ask to speak to the customer retention department. Being friendly and polite to people who don’t usually receive this sort of treatment can work wonders.
While Netflix and Hulu are definitely the biggest players in the on-demand streaming market, a number of smaller companies are appearing, too. Choosing which service is best suited for you depends on what you watch – are you interested in Netflix’s original programming, like The Crownor BoJack Horseman? Or are you after The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Game of Thrones? Most of these services offer a free trial, so if you’re not using them yet it may well be worth your time to investigate their options thoroughly before signing up.
When it comes to saving the most money possible, nothing out there beats your local library. From DVDs to music to current magazines to audiobooks to actual paper books (remember those?), your library has enough entertainment to keep you occupied for decades. Plus, they offer great children’s programming too, to keep the young ones away from screens! It’s been said for years that the Internet would spell the death of the local library, but instead libraries find themselves busier than ever. If you haven’t been to the library in a while, check it out. You’ll be surprised by how much you find there!