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How to find the right cable package for your family

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

5 Questions for your cable provider

Figuring out which cable subscription package is right for your family can be a confusing and frustrating process. Ask yourself these five questions to narrow the array of possibilities in finding the perfect subscription package for your family.

cable-television

1What does your family watch on TV?

Cable packages come in all shapes and sizes. You can get the most basic service with standard network channels and little else. You can get the ultimate package that includes hundreds of premium sports, kids, music, movies and adult entertainment channels. Or you can settle somewhere in between.

Browse the package offerings of the various cable and satellite companies. Look for channels your family just can't live without. Ask the cable company if service can be customized for you: Can you omit unwanted channels and add different channels in their place?

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2Do you want the extras?

Make a list of your wants and needs and review them with your service provider.

HDTV service. Beyond channel selection, you have to decide what other features should be added to your service. If you've invested in a high-definition television, you want a service that gives you the best possible picture quality.

Multi-room service. Do you have more than one TV? If your son wants to watch sports on one TV and at the same time you want to watch home and garden shows, you'll need multiple receivers.

On-demand service. If you're never home when your favorite shows are on, you may want to look into watch-on-demand options. Find out which are included and which will cost extra.

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3Do you want to combine your television service with other services?

Many cable companies keep things simple (and less expensive) by bundling television, internet and phone services on one monthly bill for one low price. Look for promotions on TV and online. For less than $100/month, for example, you can get TV, internet and unlimited calling with Verizon's FiOS Triple Play. Or you may find that your family needs just two of the three services. Customized bundles are often available as well. Talk to your service provider about personalizing your service options.

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4How much can you afford to spend?

Research the bundle offerings carefully and keep in mind that many advertised price promotions don't include surcharges and taxes. Is the quoted price offered for a limited time only? Many promotional offers expire after a certain amount of months. Some cable providers may require you to sign up for automatic bill payments, so you want to know now how your monthly bill will change when the promotional period ends.

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5Are you in the appropriate service area?

When you're setting up service with a cable provider, be sure to confirm that you're well within their service coverage area. You may discover that some providers do not offer service in your vicinity.

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