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TV, Phone and Broadband is a contentious subject when it comes to paying off debt. Some people deem it a ‘luxury’ and say to cut it out until you have paid off your debt and can afford it, while others see it as more of a necessity.
I sit with the latter; In this day and age I do think it is a necessity. If you were to give up every non-essential it would do more harm to your budget than good and verges on deprivation– you need some ‘treats’. BUT I also think that if you are paying off debt then it is one bill you should aim to strip back to basics.
Depending on your current set up, you can probably save money from your current package deal. We quite often plod along blindly, continuing to pay the direct debit without ever questioning whether we are getting value for money while seemingly accepting price increase after price increase.
So let’s take a look and see what we can do to recoup some of that money back and save money on TV!
Firstly, have a look at what you get for your monthly bill currently and assess how much of it is actually worth paying for.
I will take you through my own example – we were paying £53.50 a month for a Sky TV, Phone and Broadband Package. We had the most basic of TV Channels and Wifi that didn’t even reach certain rooms in our house, along with SkyQ even though we never recorded anything.
When the contract was coming to the end of its term, I finally decided to pull my head out and actually look at it. I realised we were paying £53.50 a month just to watch Cbeebies and use the internet!
When I decided to get rid of Sky, I headed over to Money Saving Expert to compare deals. I found that I could get faster, unlimited broadband with TalkTalk for £22.50 a month – a saving of £7.50 a month off Sky’s price (the phone/broadband element was £30pm, TV was £23.50), quicker download speed for less money? No brainer. So that was the Phone and Broadband element taken care of, but what about TV?
As I looked at the other packages available I realised a TV subscription was absolutely pointless based on how we used it. We never recorded anything to watch later. Sometimes, we might watch an hour of TV at teatime (usually BBC or ITV) but the rest of the time it was just Cbeebies. We were only utilising channels that we could access for free – so we decided to scrap it all together in favour of Freeview.
So if like me, you find you don’t even watch the channels you’re paying a subscription for – get rid completely! Most TV’s come with Freeview built in but you can pick up the boxes from as little as £30. We don’t have an aerial to connect to Freeview, so we had to buy a Freesat box (we have this one) but still, it only cost £50 one off and now we’re saving that £23.50 subscription cost!
One thing to note if you try to connect a Freesat box – usually you plug the cables in and you’re good to go without any set up – BUT if your satellite dish that had been set up to receive Sky Q, it will have a different LNB (the part that sticks out from the satellite dish). So if you are switching from Sky Q you may need to change the LNB on your dish back to a standard or Hybrid fitting in order to make it compatible with Freesat.
This sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is – if you go to a hardware/tool shop/aerial installation shop etc you can buy a standard LNB (I think it cost around £10) and you can just swap it over – my Father in Law came and did it for me in less than 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could of course arrange for a satellite installation company to do it for you but it’s cheaper to do it yourself.
If you think you are paying too much for your subscription, but actually, you don’t want to go elsewhere, then it’s worth giving your current provider a call and haggling them on price. You can do it over the phone or even over live chat!
I initially tried this with Sky, but they only offered me a measly £6 a month off which wasn’t worthwhile for me. Since I have left, I have had repeated offers to come back for £13 a month though – so they’ve definitely got the room to negotiate!
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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a TV Licence just because you own a TV. Unless you are watching live TV (as in at the time it is broadcast rather than a ‘live’ event), recording live TV to watch later or watching BBC iPlayer then you do not need a TV Licence.
So, if you don’t have Sky/Virgin etc and you only watch Netflix/Now TV/Amazon Prime, then you don’t need a licence! If you don’t need a licence you can make a No Licence Needed declaration which you can complete here.
If you have months that you have already paid for, you will be able to claim a refund.
Unless you are blind (in which case you are eligible for a 50% concession), currently the only group of people entitled to any kind of discount are over 75s who get a free licence. There is no means tested benefit or help for low income households.
However, this is changing from 1 June 2020 when the free licence for over 75s will also be scrapped. After this date, 75s+ will only be eligible for a free licence if they receive pension credit.
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Lots of us now have entertainment subscriptions such as Amazon Prime, Now TV and Netflix in addition to our TV subscription.
While they can be great value for money if you’re using them, it’s still worth checking to see if you can make any savings.
Go through your past few month’s bank statements, or look at your list of Direct Debits on your online banking, and in the first instance determine whether you’re actually using what you’re paying for!
Subscriptions are generally small amounts of money. They can easily go unnoticed and we can pay blindly for months without realising it. If you spot something you don’t use – cancel it!
You can use certain subscriptions across multiple devices. For example Netflix costs £5.99 for one device. However, you can watch on 2 devices for £8.99. Or 4 devices for £11.99.
Get a friend or family member to split the cost with you on one of the more expensive plans and it will cost you less than the basic plan!
You could also agree to swap subscriptions with friends/family members. For example, you could pay for Now TV and them Netflix but both have access to both! 2 subscriptions for the price of one.
Hopefully, you’ve found something useful in this post to help you reduce your entertainment bills.
By making a few changes, we have managed to save ourselves over £30 a month. Over the course of a year that adds up to a huge £378!
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I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!