How to Reduce Cable TV Telecommunications Costs

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Louisville Kentucky

One of the pet peeves for our local Judge Lloyd is when debtors fail to reduce cable tv telecommunications costs in their budget. In fact, Judge Lloyd rarely approves telecommunications expenses over 5% of household income in Chapter 13 cases. To do so requires an affidavit of necessity and often a hearing on a motion. Federal judges make well over $100,000 per year. But, this judge uses a Tracfone from Walmart. She also requires her daughters to work to pay for their own phones to reduce telecommunications costs.

How to Reduce Costs for Your Cable TV Telecommunications, Phone, and Internet

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Louisville KentuckyIn past times, we simply had a home phone. But now, there are cable, internet, and cell phone monthly expenses that are high enough to make a small house payment. In fact, for many, the telecommunications bill equals a car payment. So, when you’re trying to develop a Chapter 13 budget, reducing your budget by $300 per month might make a new car affordable.

Even if you reduce your bill by $100–$200 dollars, you save $1,200 to $2,400 per year. Over ten years, that is enough to buy a new car. Dropping unnecessary insurance may also give you an additional $1,200 to $2,400 per year. Here is a step-by-step guide to cut your cable and cell phone bills.

First, if you have an internet connection and a smart TV you can have Pluto TV which has about 250 channels for free including movie channels. For just 5.95 per month, HULU delivers programs with ads and for $11.99, they are ad-free.

⎆ Reduce telecommunications internet access costs.

AT&T Internet speed for a residential user ranges from 3 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Spectrum offers fast, reliable internet up to 200 to 1000 Mbps.

One of the drawbacks of Spectrum’s service is that it does not offer any senior-specific discounts or discount internet plans. However, seniors may still have an opportunity to save by applying for Spectrum Internet Assist. Spectrum Internet Assist is a specially priced internet plan for those who qualify.

Likewise, AT&T does not currently provide senior-specific discounts or plans for internet service. However, they do have a couple of programs that can provide savings for eligible seniors.

I won’t cut out internet access. But you can successfully stream four TVs, phones, and your computer with just 25 Mbps per second. If you have to share that 100 or 200 Mbps speed with 10 or 20 other homes it may be slower than a dedicated line with AT&T. However, AT&T’s 25 Mbps is more than enough for any average household need.

Additional bandwidth and speeds are nice, but they are an unnecessary expense if they are a dollar more than you can use. If you have good internet access, which should be no more than $50 per month, then you have excellent TV and phone services. So, save the money and use lower internet speeds if you can get by with it.

⎆ Cutting the cable TV cord to reduce telecommunication costs • Installing an antenna.

1. Antennas direct as an alternative.

If you install a proper TV antenna, it costs about $200-$300 dollars. However, that antenna gives you at least 70 local channels in Louisville forever at no extra cost. I know because I did it. I invite you to check how many channels are available here: antennasdirect.com/transmitter-locator. (No they don’t pay me for this.)

Antennas Direct provides the best antenna and amplifier so you can get this done correctly. But, you can comparison shop on Amazon or eBay for lower prices. However, do not buy a low-cost antenna and expect 60-70 channels in Louisville or Lexington KY. A low-cost antenna won’t do that. Instead, you need the best antenna and splitter/amplifier. Contacting customer support at Antennas Direct will ensure that you get a quality splitter, amplifier, and antenna.

Cutting the cable TV cord and going to broadcast TV means you have to get the best antenna equipment. For instance, I get over 70 channels in Louisville from 31 transmitters. If you live in Frankfort, you get 36 transmitters. This is in addition to over 90 channels from Lexington and Louisville. New Castle, Kentucky gets Louisville, Cincinnati, and over 100 local channels.

3. Purchasing the right equipment.

Cutting the cord requires you to purchase just two or three items plus the cables. You need a quality antenna, a power amplifier, and a splitter if you have multiple TVs. You might also want to get an optional unit to replace your DVR. Buying cheap antenna equipment means you simply throw away money. I own and use the Clear stream 4max for $149.00, which is installed in my attic. It gives me a signal within about 70-80 miles.

There is a Clear stream 2max for $99.00, which has just a slightly smaller range of 60 miles. Here is a Youtube review by the Antenna man of the ClearStream 2max. The ClearStream 4 max is even better but the 4 max is an attic or outdoor model. These both fit easily in the smallest attic, and no one knows you have them.

But, If you want the absolute best and you can mount an antenna outside, then get the DB8e 8-element Bowtie. It installs easily in most attics plus it is also an outdoor antenna.

Please note that you cannot hook two antennas to one TV and get a better signal because they will not synch the signals with each other. Instead, you will only get noise.

⎆ Cutting the cable TV cord to reduce cable TV telecommunication costs • Use an amplifier.

Most people buy a simple antenna and then split the signal to 2, 3, or 4 TVs.  A 4-way split may lose 3.5 to 7 decibels of the signal.  The more you split the signal the more you lose the signal unless it is amplified.  I use the Channel Master 8 Port HDTV Signal Amplifier Booster Model: CM-3418.

Each time you split an antenna signal, you get one half, one third, or one fourth the signal.  That is why a cheap antenna with a cheap splitter without an amplifier cannot work well regardless of what stores tell you.

Channel Master has a 4-way amplified splitter which will give you local TV for up to 4 TVs in your home.  Use the splitter with the fewest outlets you can for the best reception.  You can never have a better quality signal than what the antenna would give to just one tv.   A quality amplifier allows you to increase the signal so you can then split the signal at least to 4 TVs.  Sone splitters like the Channel Master have the amplifier built into the splitter but you can buy a separate splitter and amplifier.  A cheap amplifier amplifies the signal but probably also increase the noise for a signal you will not want.

If you need to split the signal to more than four TVs, you may want to purchase a second antenna, amplifier, and splitter for the added TVs.  You very rarely need a preamplifier, and you will more often than not lose quality by using a preamplifier. A quality store that does nothing but sells TV antennas can often package the equipment you will need.  There are also youtube videos on the subject.

⎆ Cutting the cable TV cord to reduce telecommunication costs • Use a DVR.

An optional piece of equipment to consider is finding a replacement for your DVR box. Most people want to record shows which happen while they are asleep or at work or even while they watch another program. Replacing the DVR for broadcast TV is relatively simple. Just replace your cable tv box with one designed to do the same job.

The Air TV player is a popular unit currently, and it is very economical at about $100 or less. This unit pays for itself in just a couple of months by recording shows on a separate hard drive. You can build up an extensive library of movies quickly. If you purchase it with the antenna, they often bundle it with better antennas.

The Air TV option also allows you to plug in up to a two TB hard drive and keep copies of shows or movies as mp4 files. The most massive cable DVR hard drive currently available is 800 megs. In fact, 2 TB is more than double the storage of any cable TV DVR presently available. Air TV, however, has no pause, and you can only record local stations.

Do this and your recorded shows are never erased because you didn’t pay your bill or because you went to another service. What’s more, you can download them to a phone or tablet for viewing later as MP4 files. Airstream TV is another DVR box replacement for broadcast stations. Amazon also makes a DVR replacement unit called recast, which primarily works with Prime and is much more expensive. If you have problems or want to buy these items as a package, you can contact antennasdirect.com.

⎆ More low-cost options to reduce telecommunication costs.

1. Ditching your cell phone.

Today, a home phone is just $10-$20 per month. Simple home phones plug into the back of your home modem. So, if you are retired and are almost always at home, you may want to consider ditching your cell phone. A dedicated home phone line and a tablet might be better.

My business phone allows up to five devices to answer a business call and it only costs $25 per month. Plus, it only requires an internet connection. You can answer an intermedia unit business phone on the following devices:

  1. Computer
  2. Cell phone
  3. Home telephone Yealink unit
  4. Business Yealink unit
  5. Tablet

2. Low-cost cell phone plans.

If you don’t want to ditch your cell phone, there are a number of vendors who sell inexpensive cell phone services as low as $20 dollars per month. Most of these plans require you to reduce your data downloads or restrict internet access to wifi. You can do this by limiting downloads to only wifi in your phone settings and using your home wifi.

You have to be careful with some plans because each gigabyte you download may increase your cell phone bill an additional $10 dollars for services like fi.google. After six gigs of data, your bill is up to $80 per month while most unlimited plans only cost $50 per month. However, you can seriously reduce your cell phone bill, by only using wifi for internet usage.

I know that each additional line only costs my son Doug $20 dollars. So, I am an extra line on his plan. Then, I maintain our Netflix family account, which costs about $20 per month. But, I only use one of the available five family connections Netflix allows. Doug and his two sons use three connections, and my other son Ivan uses the fifth. Ivan designs plasma and Ion drives at Edwards AFB for spacecraft.

3. The results when I reduce costs.

By being creative, my former $300 per month phone, cable, and internet expenses are now $80 per month. Here are my actual personal telecommunication costs. Notice how I now get more channels than cable TV. Plus, I get the channels that I like to watch.

Cell Phone, 1 Line Free
Netflix $20
Spectrum Internet $60
Pluto TV 120 Channels Free
Broadcast TV 70+ Channels Free
Total $80

If  I add HULU to get another 200 channels I would be paying $86.00 per month for 450 channels plus my cell phone.

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If you are thinking about filing bankruptcy, don’t delay because timing is crucial. I am here to help you. So, contact my office right away to start the conversation. Nick C. Thompson, Bankruptcy Lawyer: 502-625-0905.

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