Cable and internet services have become necessities in daily life, but the cost of these important utilities is often extremely costly. According to the research firm NBD Group, households are projected to pay an average of $200 per month by the year 2020 for these services. For many families, paying this much for an optional commodity is simply out of the question. Considering that many households also tack on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, the monthly bills just keep climbing.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can save on cable and internet without having to cut the cord entirely. Many discount service providers offer cheaper cable and internet packages that fall well below the average household cost. However, if you aren’t ready to switch providers, you can still save a great deal of money by making changes to your current plan instead.

Learn How to Stream Live TV for Less

While streaming services like Netflix or Hulu are great for movies and TV shows, you may still find yourself wanting to watch live TV. Instead of buying both cable and internet services, you may find that it’s possible to save money by subscribing to a live TV streaming service while sticking with an internet-only package from your service provider. This way, you can “cut the cable” without losing live TV entirely. 

There are numerous live TV steaming services available, but two of the most popular options include Sling and DirectTV Now. Sling offers packages with either 29 or 45 channels, which will cost anywhere from $20 to $25 per month. DirectTV Now has packages with 60 to 120 channels, which range in price from $35 to $70 per month. Depending on how much you’re currently paying for cable, one of these options may offer significant savings for your family. 

If you are unable to afford a live TV streaming service, or simply don’t need all those channels, keep in mind that you can get certain local channels at no cost as long as you have an antenna. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has tools for determining what local broadcasts are available in your area, so be sure to check this beforehand.

Lifeline Internet Services 

Lifeline is a government program provided by the FCC for low-income consumers who cannot afford phone or internet services at home. Through Lifeline, eligible individuals and families can receive a $7.25 discount per month on phone services as well a $9.25 discount per month on broadband services. 

To qualify for Lifeline, your household’s income needs to be at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Note that income limits vary based on your household size. If you believe you may qualify, you can contact your internet service provider (ISP) to enroll in Lifeline.

Internet Discounts for Students and Senior Citizens  

If you have school-age children in your household, you may be able to apply for discount cable and internet services through a variety of providers in your area. Examples of providers that may offer discounts where you live include: 

  • AT&T.
  • CenturyLink.
  • Cox.
  • Frontier.
  • Mediacom.
  • RCN.
  • Spectrum.
  • Xfinity.

In most cases, your family needs to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or live in public housing provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in order to qualify for a discount. The exact requirements for discount services may vary from one provider to the next.

If you do not have children in school and are not enrolled in one of the programs above, you may still qualify for low-cost internet if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or certain other forms of government assistance. Cable and internet plans you may be eligible for include:  

  • Spectrum Internet Assist.
  • Comcast Internet Essentials.

How to Save Money with Your Current Cable Provider 

If you aren’t ready to switch cable or internet providers yet, or if you’re locked into a two-year contract, there are still ways that you can save money with your current ISP. Even simple changes can result in a great deal of savings. Consider the following strategies when looking to lower your cable and internet costs: 

  • Check your monthly bill to see what you’re really paying for, then consider what you can cut.  
  • Choose to pay month-to-month rather than continuing a contract. 
  • Cut out premium channels and other services you don’t use regularly. 
  • Watch out for discounts that drop off after your first year of service. 
  • Call your cable and internet provider to negotiate lower costs or better discounts. 
  • Drop to a lower level of broadband if you are able to do the same things online with a slower internet speed. 
  • Switch to a smaller plan altogether if you can still get the services you need. 

Consider buying a modem rather than paying monthly rental fees to your ISP.