Back in 2010 my family made the decision to cut the cord and cancel our cable. This is not because we weren’t watching TV. Although the kids have limits to their total screen time, every member of our family was watching some TV each day. Our initial motivation to cancel our cable was money. At the time we had a package deal and were paying $147 for both cable and internet. After canceling our cable our bill went down to $31 for internet only. That saved us $116/month. A savings of $1392 per year!
Photo Credit: reid
Ways to Cut Cable and Still Watch TV
The huge savings is what motivated us to make the change but it has not been without some problems (and some unexpected benefits). Here are the pros and cons and what we’ve done along the way for the past 3 years to get rid of cable and still watch TV.
Once we cancelled cable all we had were a few local stations with not much on them. The first way we gave ourselves more viewing choices was Netflix. We pay $7.99/month for unlimited streaming. While some people are frustrated with the limited title selection from Netflix we find it definitely worth the small monthly fee. The kids especially get the majority of their viewing from Netflix. I love that they can watch series without any commercials.
The other thing I’ve begun to appreciate on Netflix is the original series. House of Cards and Orange is the New Black were shows I binged watched faster than I care to admit.
Another service we eventually added was HuluPlus. This is another $7.99/month and allows us to watch current episodes of many series (current being day after it aired). Many of these shows are also available for free through the internet but I personally like watching my tv on a television. (I am the only one in my household with this preference – my husband and kids have no problem watching shows on a tiny screen.) My personal issue with HuluPlus is the ads. Honestly I feel if I’m paying for the service I shouldn’t have to watch ads. Additionally they seem to repeat the same few ads over and over again.
For the few series we’d like to watch that aren’t available on Netflix or Hulu we buy them on Amazon. I watched old episodes of Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad on Netflix. I liked them so much that I was willing to pay to see current episodes. For other series I’m willing to wait for them. We usually buy about 3 series a year for about $2/episode. (You can get a small discount if you order the whole season.) Not cheap but still a far cry from our old cable expenses. One month of cable was more than all our Amazon purchases for the year.
For $79/year ($6.58/month) you can also join Amazon Prime. We haven’t done this because there is a lot of overlap with Netflix but if you’re getting Prime for the free shipping already then it’s a great perk.
Even with these services you need devices to watch them. We have older (non-smart) tv sets so we use both our xbox and roku. We use the xbox because we had it hooked-up to our television anyway. For our second television we went out and bought the Roku. The Roku is simply a small box that works with your wireless internet to allow you to watch many viewing apps on your television. There are a bunch of free ones but we mostly use ones we pay for.
Pros and Cons
The Cons: Sports.
There are some minor cons to getting rid of cable (shows are a little more difficult to find) but the major one in our house is baseball. We thought that we would be able to get Red Sox games through MLB.tv but they blackout local games! I wish I had a good solution for this. We would be very willing to pay a good amount to get baseball games but there isn’t an option for most of our games at this time. Until then we watch games with friends of listen over the radio.
The Pros: Saving Money and More.
The benefit that we were expecting was the major cost savings (which we got). We also got some unexpected benefits. Not having the kids watch so many commercials is a huge plus. You don’t realize how much impact they have (especially for little ones). It really has cut down on the number of things they “have to have”. A benefit for me personally has been lack of surfing. I wasn’t watching a huge amount of tv to begin with but I didn’t realize how much of it was mindless surfing until I didn’t have that option anymore. Now I consciously choose what I watch and it has made the experience 100 times better.
Have you canceled cable recently? Are you using any alternatives to continue watching TV?