23 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Entertainment Bills

No matter which way you shake it, life just costs money. Whether we’re spending our hard-earned cash on things like food and shelter or fun stuff such as travel and television, it’s very common to get to the end of the month and wonder, “Where did all my money go?”

If your budget feels a bit tight, which is the case for pretty much everyone, there are two ways you can go about fixing this problem: make more money or spend less. 

Most of us jump right for the first, but this isn’t always in our control. There isn’t always a higher-paying job waiting around the corner, and it’s not always the right time to ask your boss for a raise. 

But the other route – spending less – can actually be quite effective in helping us create more flexibility in our budgets and feel more financially secure. And when it comes to entertainment, there are a lot more ways we can save than we realize. 

Here are 23 things you can do pretty might right now that will reduce your monthly entertainment bills and allow you to enjoy life for less.


One of the biggest entertainment expenses we all have is our television bill. In 2021, cable TV subscribers pay an average of around $212 per month for cable TV. This makes it, for many Americans, more expensive than water, gas, and electricity combined

This doesn’t feel right, considering the latter are necessities whereas the former is technically a luxury. 

Fortunately, despite the overall lack of competition in the cable industry, there are still ways for you to save money. 

Here are some of the most effective: 

Only Pay for What You Need

The first thing you should do if you want to reduce your monthly television entertainment expenses is to take stock of how you use your services and try to cut back so that you’re only paying for what you need. 

Oftentimes, what ends up happening is that when we sign up for a cable subscription we agree to certain packages, perhaps because they were offering a cheaper price, or perhaps because we thought we wanted them, but then over time, it becomes clear that we don't really watch those channels. Or, we watch just one channel from a bundle of channels, and this dramatically increases our monthly bill.

When this happens, you keep paying for old services that you're not using, and this drives up the cost of your monthly cable subscription.

Therefore, if you want to save some money on your cable bill, what you should do is look through the channels that you subscribe to and ask yourself: how much do I really use these? If you are unsure, one thing you can do is keep a notepad on your coffee table and list out the channels you're thinking of canceling. 

Then, every time you watch the channel all you have to do is make a note of it. After a month or two, take a look and see how often you actually watch the channels that you're paying for. What you often find is that you only watch them once or twice, and when this is the case, you should really consider changing your cable plan.

Switch to Over the Air TV

Downgrading to a more basic cable package can save you anywhere from $20-$60 per month, depending on your current bill. But other options exist. 

For example, you could ditch cable altogether and switch to an over-the-air service, which is another way of saying that you will be using an antenna. Thought Antenna TV was dead? Not quite. In fact, most basic channels broadcast digital signals for free that you can pick up using an antenna, which means you can watch most network programming for nothing if you want.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. If you absolutely must have all the news and movie and whatever else the cable company offers you, then you're going to have to pay for this. But if you're willing to access the content from somewhere else, such as the internet, then you can downgrade your plan and save quite a bit of money per month.

Frequently Check Your Bill for Price Hikes and Hidden Fees 

Another thing that you can do to cut back on your monthly entertainment expenses is to rigorously check your cable bill to see if there are any hidden fees or to see if the cable company has raised prices on you.

Hidden fees usually come in the form of equipment rentals or perhaps other service fees. In many cases, these fees are unavoidable. But, for example, when it comes to equipment, you can save money by purchasing your own. 

When you do this, you no longer need to pay the monthly rental fees, but you do need to shell out some cash for the device. When it comes to TV, the equipment you would need to rent would be a modem and perhaps cable boxes. 

In some cases, it's not possible to get a cable box without renting it from the cable company. But you may be able to reduce the number of boxes you have (do you really need a cable box in four separate rooms in your house?), Or you may be able to work out a deal with your cable company when it comes to price hikes.

These usually happen after your promotional period has ended. Typically, when we sign up for a cable subscription, we’re given access to a promotional price that allows us to access the services for much less money than they would normally cost. 

However, these promotional periods eventually end. They usually last one or two years. And when they do come to an end, the price of your cable subscription will go up to what is considered "normal” pricing. Sometimes, these price hikes can be significant. 

And because you agree to them when you sign up for your cable subscription, they often happen without you knowing. This means that one day you might open your cable bill and find that you owe an additional $60-$80 per month, or perhaps even more than you did the previous month. 

Unfortunately, cable companies do not offer these promotional prices to existing customers. Therefore, there often is no way to get these discounts unless you cancel your subscription and either start a new account or switch providers.

Nevertheless, it's important to look out for these because what you can do is renegotiate your rate before the promotional period ends. You may be able to take advantage of another promotion, or you may be able to work out some sort of other discount based on your loyalty. 

In the end, if you don't ask for these discounts, then you won't get them. And this is why it's so important to routinely check your bill for hidden fees and price hikes.

Bundle with Other Services

If you use the same company for multiple home services, such as cable, internet, phone service, etc., then you might be able to take advantage of discounts that come when you bundle the services together.

All this means is that you put all of the services you get from one company into one bill. 

In most cases, when you sign up for these services they will offer this to you as an option. But in the event you signed up for each service at different times, it's possible to have several accounts. By combining them into one bundle, you may be able to take advantage of discounts on either or both.

Again, this is a situation where you must take the initiative. Cable companies are not necessarily going to reach out to you to offer you bundled services, largely because they tend to be cheaper. But if you contact your cable company’s customer service department and ask them to provide you with a bundle, then they most certainly will, and this should reduce the overall cost of your entertainment bills.

Negotiate for Loyalty Discounts

If you have been with the same come cable company for some time, one thing you can do is reach out to them to see if there are any loyalty discounts available. 

As we mentioned earlier, cable companies don't often give promotional pricing to existing customers. Instead, they reserve these discounts for new customers. This doesn't make tons of sense, because what it ultimately says is that new business is more valuable than old business. But it's how they do things.

By calling your cable company and reminding you that you’ve been a loyal customer for some time, you may be able to negotiate a discount. Of course, the cable company might not immediately want to give this to you, but if you make it known to them that you'd be willing to switch to another company if they're not able to offer you a more competitive price, they will usually respond to you and offer a better deal.

Double Down on Loyalty

In the event you get different services from different companies, such as wireless phone from one and cable from another, one thing you should consider is going to the one you've been with the longest and letting them know you're considering switching the other service to them. By doing this and also emphasizing your loyalty, you may be able to take advantage of both bundle discounts as well as loyalty discounts.

Again, this is not a guarantee. It will depend on your cable company's policies, as well as how long you've been with that particular service provider. However, it's worth a shot. In most cases, customers can receive at least some sort of a discount, and when it comes to saving money on entertainment bills, every little bit counts.

Threaten to Change Companies

We've hinted at this a couple of times, but one of the best tactics you can use when negotiating with your cable company is a threat. This is because the one thing your cable company fears most is you canceling your subscription and choosing to go with one of their competitors.

This is especially true in this day and age when cable companies are losing customers by the hundreds of thousands. People are switching to streaming and other television options, a phenomenon known as cord-cutting, in an effort to save money and also to indicate to the cable companies that their decades-long price hike schemes are no longer going to be tolerated.

Because of all this, when you call your cable company and let them know you're planning to cancel your service, you instantly gain a significant amount of leverage. What you do with that leverage, well, that's up to you. 

Some people might use it to negotiate a better rate on their existing service, whereas others may use it to add new services to their account without having to pay extra.

In the end, both offer savings. Either you spend less money each month, or you get more value out of your cable subscription. Either way, it’s a win-win. The cable companies keep their customer and you save some of your hard-earned money.

Actually Change Providers!

The next thing you can do to save money on your cable-television bills is to actually change service providers. Threatening to leave for a competitor is a great way to negotiate a new deal, but sometimes cable companies don't respond, or, the rate that they offer is simply not good enough for you.

When this is the case, it's time to pack up your things and leave. 

Yes, it will be a bit of a hassle to change service providers. You will have to return equipment and there may be a few days where you do not have access to services that you normally can use. 

But because cable companies are willing to offer better prices to new customers, you can switch over to a new company and take advantage of promotional pricing, and that will cause your monthly bills to go down significantly.

Of course, if you do this, you must make a note in your calendar to check your account when the promotional period ends. As we mentioned, at this point in time your monthly bill is likely to go up, and that increase may be significant. The best thing to do at this point is to renegotiate your rate, or, you could consider switching to another company yet again.

Ultimately, this strategy of switching companies every few years to take advantage of promotional pricing is what's going to save you the most money. But what you gain in savings you lose inconvenience. 

You have to pay attention to when your promotional period ends, and you’ll have to call your cable company at least once a year to negotiate or to cancel your subscription and move on to someone else. 

Not everyone has this kind of dedication, but if you're willing to put the time and effort in, you can save a good amount of money and still get quite a bit of value out of your cable television subscription. 

Phone and Internet

In addition to your cable-television bills, if you want to reduce your overall entertainment expenses you must also take into account how much you're spending on phone and internet each month.

To help you save money on this area of your entertainment budget, here are some ideas to help you cut back:

How Much Speed Do You Really Need?

High-speed internet is all the rage these days. If you watch any advertisement from an internet service provider, you will see that the one thing that they are promoting above everything else is speed.

But if you ever stop to wonder how much internet speed you actually need? Most people haven’t. So, what they do instead is continuously purchase faster and faster internet packages, thinking that it's necessary. But all they're really doing is spending more money.

Today, most people do not need much more than 30 Mbps to 50 Mbps of internet speed. Mbps stands for megabits per second, and it’s the standard used for measuring internet speed. It refers to how much data can travel over your network in a given second.

For streaming, video chatting, general browsing, social media, and email, more than 50 MB per second is overkill. Yes, with gigabit speed (1000 Mbps or more) you can download high-definition movies in a few seconds. But with a 50 Mbps connection, you can download the same movie in a few minutes. Is that time savings really worth the extra cash?

Here’s a chart that breakdown how much speed you actually need to get from your network:


Bandwidth vs. Speed

However, if you have multiple people living in the house at the same time, and they are all "heavy" internet users, then you may need a stronger connection. But in these scenarios, what you need is more bandwidth.

Bandwidth refers to the total amount of data that can be transmitted over your network at one time, whereas speed refers to how quickly that data moves across your network. When you have more users, you need more bandwidth. More speed won’t help you.

You can talk to your internet service provider about upgrading your bandwidth if you’re not happy with your network’s performance. This may have more of an impact than paying for higher speeds, and it will also save you some money.

Check Your Current Plan

Take a look at your current internet bill and see how much speed you're supposed to be paying for. You can do this using a speed test tool. You can find many different choices here. 

This is because internet companies often promise a certain speed, but then they are unable to deliver that speed regularly. In these scenarios, you're paying extra for a service that you're never going to get.

All of this is to say that for many of you, an easy way to save money on your internet bill is to simply downgrade your service. 

There's a fairly good chance you're not getting the type of performance that you're supposedly paying for, and even if you are, there's a fairly good chance that you don't need that much speed anyway. 

Downgrading to a slightly more basic package can save you considerable amounts of money each month, which you can use for other entertainment purposes.

Get Your Own Equipment

Just like we talked about hidden equipment fees in your cable bill, there are often many equipment charges on your internet bill as well. The two most common are routers and modems.

Typically, cable companies will "rent" these devices to you for a monthly fee. However, when they do this, the equipment remains theirs. It's their responsibility to update it and replace it, which few cable companies do as often as they should. ( Usually, you have to call in for it and ask!)

One way to work around this is to invest in your own router and modem. This may cost you a total of $300-$400, but then you will never have to pay equipment rental fees again. 

Another advantage to purchasing your own equipment is that it will often improve your network performance. Most routers in use today are slightly outdated, and this means they are unable to handle the amounts of data that many modern networks transfer at a given time. 

By upgrading your modem and router to something that you own, you can improve your internet performance and save money.

Buy Used Devices in Cash

Switching gears for a second, let's talk about our devices.

Every year, device manufacturers, those that make phones, tablets, laptops, etc., come out with new models that offer a whole new range of features and specifications. Because most of us like new things, it's easy to be tempted into purchasing these devices when they hit the market.

However, if we look a little bit deeper at what is changed from year to year, you will see that the upgrades are not all that major. In most cases, all phone manufacturers do from one year to another is improve the processor and upgrade the camera.

So, when you buy a device brand-new, you're dramatically increasing your monthly expenses. This is because most of us buy our phones by paying for them monthly, a fee that is included in our bill.

If you want to save some money, consider buying older phones but paying for them in cash. Instead of getting the latest model of the iPhone, consider getting one that is one or two years old. 

In most cases, the functionality of the device will not be all that much different from the new model, but you'll be able to get it for a fraction of the price.

Of course, for this to work, you need to get comfortable with having slightly older devices than what everybody else has. But if what you care about is saving money, this is a small sacrifice to make.

Negotiate for Better Deals

Just like when dealing with cable companies, you as a customer do have a fair bit of leverage when it comes to negotiating with your phone and internet providers. Once again, your biggest piece of leverage is your business.

If you are not happy with how much you're paying for phone and internet, and call your cable company and let them know, they may be able to provide you with discounts or offer you some sort of promotional pricing that will reduce your monthly bill. But if they don't offer you anything, or you're not satisfied with what they do for you, then it's time to make the threat that we all know can be so effective when dealing with telecommunications company: let them know you're leaving.

By threatening to switch to a competitor, you can often unlock all sorts of deals and discounts that seemed previously unavailable. Unfortunately, many people in the United States live in areas where there are few options when it comes to choices for internet service providers.

Switch Providers When You’re Not Happy

If you make this threat your key in your phone internet companies do not respond with favorable deals, it's time to follow through on your threat and switch providers.

Similar to what happens with cable companies, phone and internet companies often provide new customers with better deals than they do existing ones. They use the same logic that once they get you into the promotional price, you won't want to leave their service once the prices go up.

Prove them wrong by not only threatening to leave when they don't offer you a better price but also by actually leaving when they don't meet your standards. Go to another company and make use of their promotional pricing so that you can save money on your monthly bills without having to sacrifice service.

Of course, just as if you take this approach with your cable bill, you will need to make sure to pay attention to when the promotional period ends so that you can either renegotiate a deal or you can switch to another provider and keep your monthly bills low.

Streaming Services


Today, many people rely on streaming services to watch movies and television. For a while, when there were only a few of these platforms, it was much cheaper to rely on just streaming for our video entertainment. 

However, nowadays, there are so many streaming services to choose from, and they all cost around $15 a month. If you were to sign up and pay for them all, you’d be spending a small fortune each month. 

To save money, one option is to simply limit yourself to one or two services, or you could do some of the following things: 

Look for Free Trials

To try and convince you to join their service, most streaming companies will offer you a free trial for a month or two when you sign up, which you can cancel at any time. 

If you want to include streaming as part of your entertainment options, then definitely sign up for these. Consider rotating around, getting the trials in different months so that you always have something for free. 

Eventually, these trials will run out. But since you’ve had the chance to try these services, you will know a lot more about which ones you want, allowing you to limit yourself and save money.

Use Free Options

Another thing you can do is to make use of the many free streaming services that are out there. For example, Hoopla gives you access to tons of movies and TV shows for free using your local library card. And Crackle and Tubi let you watch tons of content for free. You just need to sit through some ads. 

For a complete list of all the ways, you can stream TV and movies for free, check out this resource.

Share Accounts with Friends and Family

Most streaming services allow you to stream on several devices at once. This means more than one person can use each account. Take advantage of this by getting some friends and family together to share streaming services. If everyone buys one and gives the others their login information, then everyone can watch a lot more content while only paying for one service.

Most services do have a limit to the number of people they will allow on an account at one time, but with some planning, you can stay within this and get lots of great content for much less money.

Buy Services One Year at a Time

The vast majority of us pay for our streaming services monthly. But if you know you’re going to stick with it for the whole year, you can usually prepay for twelve months and save a decent bit of cash. 

It might only be $20-$30 per year, but if you have a couple of services, this turns into a much more significant number. Consider doing some trials, and then if you really like one platform over another, buy the year and reduce your monthly streaming expense.

Other Tips for Reducing Entertainment Costs

Up until now, we've covered how you can save money on your phone, internet, and cable bills. However, as we know, there are plenty more ways to entertain ourselves that don't involve televisions, phones, and modems.

We cannot possibly cover all the different ways you can save on all of your monthly entertainment expenses, but here are some ideas to get you thinking about where you can find some savings:

Head to Your Local Library 

Want to watch a new movie but don't have a Netflix inscription?

Interested in catching up on the last season of your favorite show but don't want to pay for HBO? 

Most people, when they reach this point, would give up; they would accept that the shows are simply not available to them.

However, what most people don't realize is that you can find a lot of this content, in DVD, Blu-ray, and sometimes form, from your local library for absolutely no money at all.

In fact, you would be surprised at just how many local libraries have. It's sort of like combining modern-day streaming with old-school video rental stores. 

In addition to accessing video content, libraries are also tremendous sources of other forms of entertainment. 

For example, many libraries organize community events that bring people together around a wide variety of interests and topics. Libraries also often offer courses, and, believe it or not, they’re full of books! 

In today's day and age, these are necessarily the most popular form of entertainment, but they still have their place. And if you read books from a local library, then you will be entertained for the rest of your life at absolutely no cost to you.

Buy Concert Tickets in Person 

If going to concerts is one of your primary forms of entertainment, then you likely know that paying service fees is not only incredibly frustrating but also significantly drives up the cost of going to shows.

Unfortunately, there isn't a whole heck of a lot of alternatives. Even if you buy tickets directly from the original seller, there is usually a fee, and that fee can sometimes be between $20-$30. If you're buying several tickets per month that's $100 or more than your spending just on fees.

One way to reduce the amount of money you spend on fees is to travel to the venue and purchase the tickets in person. There may still be some sort of fee, but it's going to be much less than if you bought the ticket online.

Of course, this strategy only works for people who live close enough to the venues that they frequent to be able to buy tickets in person. But if you do fit into this category, then this can be a great way to save money and also avoid the frustration of having to pay all those fees.

Visit Places When Admission is Free or Discounted

If you like to go to museums or other cultural points of interest as entertainment, then save some money by trying to plan your visit around when admission is either free or discounted.

For example, many art museums have one day a month, or perhaps even per week, where admission is free. Or, they may have a "pay what you want" scheme. This isn’t exactly free, but it is an opportunity for you to enter at less than normal admission prices.

However, this approach to saving money can apply to more than just admission prices at museums and other cultural attractions. If you like to travel, consider going on trips when travel to those particular areas is less frequent.

For example, if you want to visit a place that is particularly popular in the summer, consider visiting it in what is called the "shoulder season." These are the months on either end of the "high" season when the weather is often still good but prices at hotels and other places in the area are often lower.

Of course, this might mean sacrificing a few things, such as time at the beach, or the frequency of live shows. But if what you care most about is visiting a new place, this can be a great way to do so at a fraction of the cost.

Look for Free Events in the Community

Social media and the internet have proven invaluable for bringing people together in part because of their ability to promote events.

It is very common for people in the community to put on events either to promote something that they're working on or simply to bring people together and when they do, they often post on social media or other message boards where members of the community frequent.

If you looking for some free or discounted fine, then be sure to check in on these platforms as frequently as possible. You never know when there might be something that interests you, and since these events are mostly free, it's a great way to have fun without spending any money.

Learn How to Make Your Own Fun!

Lastly, if you really want to save money on your monthly entertainment expenses, then start figuring out ways to make your own fun. You're not always going to have access to a television, you're not always going to have access to a streaming service, and you’re not always going to be entertained by your phone. 

Therefore, the better you can get at finding ways of making your own fun, the more fun your life will be!

What's more, when you start to learn how to make your own fun, you realize that you don't actually need all that much to entertain yourself.

Sometimes, all it takes is some paper and some colored pencils, a couple of good friends, and/or a few musical instruments for good times to break out. Since these things cost very little or no money, it's 100 percent free entertainment.

Of course, if this is what you want to do, then you'll have to start getting creative. But what could possibly be wrong with that?

Time to Start Saving Money

As you can see, there are a lot more ways to save money on your monthly entertainment expenses than you might have realized. 

By dropping some services that you don't need or don't use that often, negotiating with your current service providers, and getting creative about how you spend your time, you can fill your days with entertainment and not spend a fortune. 

That way, when something does come along that you really want to spend your money on, you'll have some extra funds available to splurge, and it will make it that much more special.

So, now that you're equipped with all the strategies, it's time to head out there and make some changes, save some money, and enjoy the heck out of life!

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