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Save a bundle on your tech bills

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#1 Hum

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 00:18

The innovations coming out of this past month's Consumer Electronics Show, from new video-streaming services and ultrahigh-definition TVs to cable boxes with better search functions, might have you lusting after the latest gadgets and services.

But before you buy another product, consider this: Expenditures on home technology have to come from somewhere. All those bells and whistles—from data plans for smartphones to digital video recorders—are taking an increasing chunk of the family budget, even as household spending has been relatively flat.

The average American household spent an estimated $2,160 in 2011 for telephone, cellphone, Internet and telephone services, the most recent data available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is up 21% from 2006 and equal to 4.4% of the family budget.

Households with an income of at least $100,000 spent more than $3,100 on average, or more than $250 a month, up 17% since 2006—and close to the amount those households spent on clothing. In reality, your technology spending is probably much higher because those averages include people who don't use these services at all.

The first step is to coldly assess your needs and determine whether you really need a cellphone, a home phone, Internet and pay television all at once.

If you can ditch any of these—and the growing ranks of "cord cutters" living without home telephones and cable television suggest it is possible—you can save easily by paring back.

For instance, 36% of U.S. households were using only wireless phones as of the first half of 2012, up from 23% in early 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks phone use so that it can contact participants in its health surveys.

If you want the full gamut of services, you can save by bundling some of them together or, if you already bundle, by playing new offers against your current provider.

Simply threatening to change providers could get you a lower monthly rate, a free premium channel or free installation of a new service. Just take careful notes to be sure the billing is correct later.

For many families, the biggest—and perhaps the most essential—expense is the cellphone, especially as smartphones have become ubiquitous. The average individual plan last year cost $71 a month, up 6% since 2009, while the average family plan cost $139, up 9.4%, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Television is getting pricier, too. NPD Group says the average cost of pay TV, such as cable and satellite, has been climbing 6% a year, to $86 a month, and the firm expects prices to keep climbing.

Providers want to sell you as many services as possible, which is why they are bundling the pieces together or giving big discounts to customers who ask.

The savings can be substantial. Verizon Communications says customers buying a package of its FiOS phone, Internet and television services could save close to 50% off the cost of buying them individually.

At AT&T, a U-verse bundle of phone service, a 360-channel TV package and speedy Internet will save you 21% over two years, with a one-year contract; the company's wireless customers get an additional $5 discount.

How much speed do you need? If you just surf the Web and use email, up to three to six mbps should be enough. If you watch videos and download music, photos and movies, you will want 15 to 25 mbps.

Basic DSL at speeds of less than one mbps, adequate for email and Web surfing, can cost $20 to $25 a month at Verizon and AT&T, respectively (or less with a first-year promotional offer). Higher DSL speeds that are better for streaming music and watching videos can cost up to $30 a month at Verizon and $43 at AT&T. (Prices often vary by region.)

AT&T charges the same $43 a month for up to six mbps for its digital U-verse service, though for $5 or $10 a month more, users can double or triple their speed. Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS service, by contrast, is about $70 a month for up to 15 mbps, with a contract.

For those willing to negotiate or switch services, deals can be had, at least for a year or two, especially if you also are buying multiple services. Be realistic about what you need; there isn't a reason to pay for packages of channels you never watch.

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#2 nekkidtruth

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 00:42

This is all so very true. Personally, I ditched cable and home phone.

I did the math and it was ridiculous how much money I was able to save. In fact, I didn't even need to entirely get rid of my home phone (replaced with a FREE VoIP home line).

I was paying close to $3400/year on these services. It was insane! No point in having cable when you have full Internet and access to other less expensive options such as Netflix, Hulu+ etc.

#3 -Razorfold

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 00:45

The average American household spent an estimated $2,160 in 2011 for telephone, cellphone, Internet and telephone services, the most recent data available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is up 21% from 2006 and equal to 4.4% of the family budget.

I wish we paid that much, ****ing comcast. We pay $178 a month for 15mbps internet, regular HD tv, and phone. Then $120 a month for AT&T 3gb data, unlimited text and 1500 mins.

That's $3,576 a year =( But we're stuck with Comcast since it's the only provider around here...

#4 nekkidtruth

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 00:54

I wish we paid that much, ****ing comcast. We pay $178 a month for 15mbps internet, regular HD tv, and phone. Then $120 a month for AT&T 3gb data, unlimited text and 1500 mins.

That's $3,576 a year =( But we're stuck with Comcast since it's the only provider around here...


It's totally insane. The same issues here in Canada. By cutting cable TV and home phone the savings were incredible. Even getting third party services like Netflix and Hulu+ or even paying for usenet doesn't bring it back up to where it was.

These companies are seriously bending us over. Because I like some premium features (on my cell phone particularly), I could probably lower my bills even further if I wanted to.

#5 remixedcat

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:27

I use prepaid service for my droid and that saves me a ton... I rarely call people and I only spend 25bucks every 2 months to keep the voice minutes and I mostly have data and I can just buy data packs. I mostly use my phone on wifi though.

I use kroger wireless and I get free minutes for buying groceries.

I also don't have cable tv I just have netflix and I use youtube and crackle and sometimes hulu.

as far as music I found 2 sites I fill out surveys and they give you amazon gift cards and I get music that way mostly. I do good things for both... get free music and still support the artist and I help companies by participating in surveys that help them out.

#6 Sandor

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:05

For 2 cell phones, middle of the road satellite package and crappy ass 3G "mobile internet" on the computer my wife and I are out about $300/month on average (canadian dollars).

Hopefully in a few months we'll be moving closer to the city (aka 5 minute drive) and then magically I'll be able to halve our cell phone costs and also get proper DSL/Fibre optic broadband that is also cheaper (and better)

#7 Growled

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:10

Yes, all that stuff is expensive (we pay $250 a month) but it sure is worth every penny to me. It's only money. If I don't spend it on this then something else will come around and get it.

#8 nekkidtruth

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:04

Yes, all that stuff is expensive (we pay $250 a month) but it sure is worth every penny to me. It's only money. If I don't spend it on this then something else will come around and get it.


This is also very true Lol. Wouldn't you much rather save money on some of those "services" that could go towards more of the "toys"?