Cutting costs on your utilities can be a meticulous but much-needed task. From examining every line of your bills to deciding what services can be cut back, paying close attention to your utilities can end up saving you hundreds of dollars every year.
Your internet bill is no exception - with as much as we rely on it, it's easy for it to be responsible for draining more money from your bank account than necessary. Internet service providers use savvy marketing techniques and the promise of lightning-fast internet speeds to upcharge consumers. Don't be one of them! Instead, use these five tips to slash your internet bill so you can put that money to better use.
1. Buy Your Own Equipment
Internet service providers (ISPs) make it sound so much more convenient to rent their equipment instead of purchasing and using your own. This is intentional because, in reality, these companies make more money when you rent their equipment.
Service providers will charge $10-$15 per month as a rental fee. That means if you stay with the same internet provider for two years, you will end up paying $240-$360. So, what does a top-rated modem and router cost? Less than $200.
There are a few things to know before you click the "buy now" button to purchase your own modem and router. The first is that you'll have to make sure that the equipment you buy, specifically the modem, is compatible with your internet service provider (routers are universal and can be used with any provider).
You can find a list of approved modems on your ISP's website, and you'll want to be sure to find out if your provider will let you purchase your own. For example, Verizon Fios won't let customers use their own equipment at all. Instead, customers must buy or rent their modems directly from Verizon.
You'll also want to make sure that the modem you purchase will last. Older modems with DOCSIS 2.0 technology max out at 38 Mbps download speeds and won't be able to keep up with the increasingly fast speeds of today's internet. If you're paying for internet at 30 Mbps or higher speeds, you'll definitely want to get a modem with DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which supports speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
2. Bundle Your Services
Bundling your services can go two ways: you could save hundreds of dollars per year, or you could end up spending too much for channels and features you don't need. When you bundle your services properly and refuse to be talked into whatever promo the carrier is trying to sell you, you can end up saving a lot of money.
If you already have cable, there's a chance you could be saving more than $1,000 over two years with some providers by bundling your internet and cable together. And the bright side of bundling—some service providers will offer perks if you choose to bundle your internet and cable. For example, you might get bumped up to faster Internet speeds, or earn a flashy sign-up bonus when you bundle, or get free DVR capabilities, just to name a few incentives.
Bundling internet with another service like phone or cable means you're cutting down on bill management, too. It's easier to read one bill with internet and other services paired together under one plan, and it can also be easier to ask questions about it. Plus, you'll only need to remember to pay one bill for multiple services.
3. Use WiFi
When you're smart about your data usage between your internet and smartphone, you save money. Downloading songs, videos, podcasts, and the like can hike up your data usage, and if you cross into over-usage territory, you'll be charged even more. Even little things like push notifications and background app updates can translate into data, contributing to the race towards your data limit.
When you opt for a lower data plan, you can save heaps of money on your internet bill. Turning off push notifications and background updates and being picky about what you choose to download can be useful data management habits. Avoid streaming music, watching videos, and playing games that eat up your data. Instead, wait until you're on a WiFi connection where it won't eat into your data cap.
If you're a true data hog and can't live without your internet, with or without a free WiFi connection, then consider signing up for a plan that allows unlimited data each month. Better yet, analyze your usage to see how much data you truly use each month. Then, you can get a cheaper plan that fits your habits. You can even sign up for text alerts to warn when you're about to reach your limit.
4. Negotiate Your Bill
For some people, the thought of haggling their internet bill with some uncompromising customer service representative is terrifying, but you don't have to be an expert negotiator to get a better price from your current provider. The bottom line is: they want your service, and they want to keep your service.
ISPs compete with numerous other companies that also offer enticing deals, bundles, and sign-on promotions. This is something you can use to your advantage, and you certainly don't have to be an expert to do so. All you have to say is that another company is offering a lower price for the same service, so what can they do to keep your business?
Ultimately, this trick to lower your internet bill takes just a few minutes of your time to find a lower price offered elsewhere by a competitor. If your current provider is unwilling to budge on the price, you have the name of a company that won't charge you as much. It's an all-around win-win.
5. Reduce Your Internet Speed
Internet speeds are getting faster and faster, but what do you really need? Knowing what speed you actually need for your internet activities can save you plenty of money per year—and internet providers are hoping you won't do your research on speeds so they can entice you into paying for services you truly don't need.
These days, internet providers have jacked up their plans to offer speeds of 100 Mbps or more. Most families don't require such high speeds, and when you drop down to the lowest speed you actually need, you can reduce your bill by $35 per month or more, depending on the carrier.
A household of 1-3 people would require these speeds for certain activities:
- 10.50 Mbps: the basic level needed for emailing, web surfing, and video streaming
- 18 Mbps: the standard level that allows the above activities with the addition of HD video streaming
- 30 Mbps: an enhanced speed that would allows smooth video conferencing or gaming
A household of 4-7 people would need higher speeds to accommodate more users.
- 24.5 Mbps: a basic speed for emailing, surfing, and streaming
- 42 Mbps: standard for these same activities with the inclusion of HD streaming
- 70 Mbps: an enhanced speed that allows gaming, video conferencing, and HD streaming
As you can see, you don't need to pay for the highest speed available just because it's available, especially if you have a small household. Paying for faster internet won't necessarily do you any good except hike up your bill.
Lower Your Bill & Raise Your Pocket Change
Taking a closer look at these elements of your internet bill can put money back into your pocket each month. And the best news is, trimming down likely won't affect how you use the internet on your phone or at home. You'd be surprised what a second look at your internet bill can really save you.