Could you cut the cable cord and save $100’s every year?
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For several years, my husband and I discussed the possibility of ending our cable subscription and using streaming TV as an alternative. In January 2014, we finally decided to end our cable subscription saving over $100 every month. For me, the decision to end the cable subscription was harder, than for my husband. What would I be able to watch without cable? How would I watch my favorite shows?
As it turns out, you can watch nearly all the same TV shows and programs you watched with cable without cable. We find it’s very easy to find all our favorite shows and even have even found a few new shows to watch.
You are probably wondering if what cord cutters say about watching TV without cable is true. I confess I spent about 2 years considering whether I wanted to end the cable subscription and “cut the cord”. When I look back, I wonder why it took me long to give up cable TV. I have found all the TV programming I had with cable, I am able to get without cable (and I don’t have to pay for all the channels I don’t want).
Easy & Inexpensive Alternatives to Cable
Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and many others
To help us make the final decision if “cord cutting” was right for us, we did a test with a streaming device while we still had cable TV. We used a Roku 3 Streaming Media Player concurrently with our cable TV for one month. After one month of using the Roku and we were able to watch all our favorite shows on Roku, and we were decided to cancel our cable.
When we canceled the cable, we also stopped paying for cable boxes, DVR service, and all the add-on fees. We did not have premium channels, but if you do have premium channels your monthly saving may be more than $100 per month by canceling the whole package.
One of the advantages of the Roku is that it includes many channels or streams you may select to watch for FREE. My daughters are even able to watch features from the Disney channel without cable (many Disney shows are available in Netflix).
The Roku has 3 models. As far as viewing options and quality I have not found a huge difference, but the Roku 3 only connects to your TV with an HDMI cable (this is why I selected it). However, you can use the less expensive Roku 1 and connect to your TV with an HDMI cable too (I use this model for my children on their TV).
Recently Amazon Fire Stick was released, I purchased one for our third TV to try. I like the Amazon Fire Stick; however it does not offer as many channels as the Roku devices.
Another option is Apple TV which I have not tried. If you prefer Apple, this product may be a good fit for you. It has features that connect with other Apple products (iPhones, iPads, etc…).
Channels and Streaming
I have found that we stream 90% of our favorite TV shows and movies from 3 main paid channels (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime). All the other channels we use are free channels. We cut our cable because we wanted to reduce our monthly expenses and not pay for services and channels we did not watch. These 3 services allow us reduced monthly costs and still watch all of our favorite TV shows.
If you want to keep your monthly low costs, you must be selective in the services you order. Adding too many paid or premium channels could cost as much as cable. We only selectively rent movies on our Roku, we don’t sign-up for every new pay channel offered. Only rarely do we buy the season of a current year TV show, when we know it will be available for free on Netflix or Amazon in a few months (occasionally we have to wait a few extra months to see current season episodes. It’s worth it to save money).
We also don’t pay high prices for DVR services because most channels have all years/seasons of our favorite shows already archived on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
Another benefit is we are able to skip most commercials most of the time. Most free streaming channels have no commercials or limited commercials.
Paid Streaming Channels
Our 3 primary channels are:
Amazon Prime offers thousands of movies and TV shows. Some movies and TV shows will overlap with Netflix and some will not which is why it’s a good idea to complete a trial month to see if you need both services or just one. We also use our Amazon Prime for streaming music, free 2-day shipping, borrowing books from the Kindle Lending library and more.
Netflix offers a large collection of movies and TV shows. Netflix usually includes a many of older seasons so if you missed some episodes or complete seasons, you can go back and start from the beginning. Netflix services start as low as $9.99 per month for new subscribers.
Hulu offers mostly TV shows. We mainly use it to watch the current season of some of our favorite TV shows. Hulu also offers some previous seasons of TV shows that neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime offer. Hulu monthly fees are only $7.99 per month.
We have found that we use all 3 channels. You may find that either Netflix or Amazon Prime will provide what you need and Hulu (mostly needed for current season TV programming). I recommend Hulu because the content is unique.
Fox News offers a channel for free available on Roku. You cannot stream live TV, but you can watch many of the most popular shows on the same day they aired or within 24 hours.
Many movie channels are offered at no cost like Crackle. Many channels are devoted to specific movie genres too (westerns, comedies, dramas, etc…).
You can find education channels to watch including NASA channel, science channels, cooking channels and more.
Even your pet will have channels to stream!
Use an Indoor TV Antenna
We also use an indoor TV antenna to pick-up all the local digital channels broadcast in your area. Local channels broadcast current season TV programs and sports events (think the Super Bowl and college football).
Indoor TV antenna’s are not rabbit ears from 25 years ago. You can find styles that are hardly seen like this RCA Flat Indoor Antenna. With an indoor antenna, you can sometimes pick up 20-30 local channels depending on your location.
When cord cutting is not a good option
I have found cutting your cable subscription does not work for everyone. You need a high-speed internet connection and to get a strong wi-fi signal throughout your home so all your devices will work.
If you live in a rural area with a slower internet connection, cord cutting may not work for you. However, if you think it might, you could try it concurrently for one month and see how it fits your family and lifestyle.
For us, cutting the cord has worked well. We have saved at least $1,200 a year. You have many options to watch your favorite TV shows including streaming (with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime), using an indoor antenna and connecting your phone or tablet to your TV. Once you have all your devices set-up, streaming is an easy and very cost effective alternative to cable TV. What’s stopping you from cutting the cable cord and saving $100’s every year?
Have you tried cutting your cable bill? What alternatives to cable have you tried?
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