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Pogue’s Basics: Money – Buy your own cable box, save hundreds

As though the cable companies weren’t already milking you dry with the cost of the TV service, they’re also charging you about $235 a year to rent the cable box (the one that changes channels and connects to your TV). It’s about $7.50 a month per box. Most people have more than one TV, so they rent more than one cable box.

If your cable box also includes a video recorder (DVR), you’re paying even more. Now you’re talking $300 or $400 a year.

As it turns out, it’s 100 percent OK to supply your OWN cable box or DVR and eliminate those expenses!

At sites like Cableboxandmodem.com, you can buy your own replacement cable box for $120, which pays for itself in 16 months. Or a combination cable box/DVR for $200. That one pays for itself in 8 months — no service fees).

Now, part of the purpose of a cable box is security; the cable company wants to make sure you’re actually paying for all the channels you’re receiving. If you supply your own cable box, how will your cable company know it’s you?

Because you’ll slip a CableCard into it. You can buy a CableCard for under $5 from the cable company, preprogrammed with your account information, and slip it into the back of the box you’ve bought.

By the way: When you call the cable company to request that they send you a CableCard, don’t let them play dumb. They are legally obligated to sell you one and even help you install it.

Sneaky, smart — and perfectly legal.

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