Looking to save some money? Try cutting the cord on cable! - Dadstractions

Looking to save some money? Try cutting the cord on cable!

tvIn December 2011, I finally had it with my cable company.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the service they provided – the cable rarely went out and besides a few blips when I started my service, there hadn’t been any major problems.  When I did have the occasional issue, their customer service department was (usually) very helpful and resolved my issue.  The only thing I had against my cable company was the exorbitant amount they were charging for their services.

I had HD TV, I had HD DVR, I had High Speed Internet.  I didn’t have any premium channels.  When I started my cable service four years prior, I was paying a little under $100 a month.  By the time I decided to drop them, i was paying over $130.   This was after a year with two price increases!  I had had enough.

I had thought about it many times leading up to my final decision but never imagined it would be a viable endeavor. I didn’t want to go install an antenna on my roof! What about Food Network?!? And, no time delay of shows. Sigh. I went about methodically searching for information about “cutting the cord” and I found some promising news.  Things weren’t as bleak as I was making them out to be.

Now, cutting the cord is not for everyone.  There will be some sacrifices. But, I weighed the sacrifices versus the extra cash in my pocket and there was no contest.  Here’s how I went about cutting the cord on cable.

Lots and lots of research.  I’m the person who searches for reviews online until my eyes are bleeding.  My wife is happy that I am diligent in my research but hates how long it takes me to finally pull the trigger on something.  What can I say, I like to be thorough.  During my research I came across CordCutterGuide.com.  This site is very informative and I would suggest that anyone seriously thinking about ditching cable should give this site a good read. The site talks, in depth, about every step you will need in the process of cutting out cable and offers alternatives to “trimming cable” instead of completely “cutting the cord”.

Log what I watch and compare:
I took inventory of the shows I religiously watched, the shows I liked to watch and the shows that I would watch if I was flipping through the channel and wasting time.  Once I was done with my inventory I then did some more research to see which avenues were available to me to watch these shows without cable. I already knew I would be able to pick up any of my basic cable channels OTA (Over The Air) via antenna (yes folks, antennas not only still work, but they pick up the HD signals OTA from your local broadcasters. It’s pretty amazing). The problem is I don’t want to have to watch “live” TV all the time.  I do have a Series 2 Tivo with a lifetime plan, but it’s not in HD (ugh) so I only reserve that for emergencies. Thankfully, ABC, NBC and FOX have a lot of their shows on Hulu.  For some reason, CBS does not have any shows on Hulu. So, what about shows like American Horror Story or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (or other shows not on basic cable)? AHS was streaming on Hulu at the time but Sunny was nowhere to be found. Doctor Who? Doctor Who? indeed! I would have to wait until the season became available on Netflix. The point is, there might be downsides so carefully weigh your options.

Checked my hardware and software situation:
I would need an antenna, that was for sure.  I already had a Netlifx streaming account but if I wanted to stream Hulu to a device hooked up to my main television, I would need to purchase a Hulu Plus account for $7.99 a month.  I already had an XBox to use as a streaming device (though I did purchase a Roku to see if there was any difference; there really wasn’t so I took it back).  I also already had Amazon Prime (purchased for the two-day delivery but also comes with Amazon Video streaming services).  And, if I wanted to watch shows that were only streamed on network websites (like “How I Met Your Mother” which CBS streams on their own site) I would need my main television hooked into a PC.  I already had a laptop with and HDMI out so that took care of that (granted, I could watch the network streaming shows ON my laptop or desktop, but I hate watching them on the tiny screen).  Finally, if there was a show that wasn’t available through any of those channels, and I REALLY needed to watch it, it might be available, per episode, from iTunes or Amazon Instant Video streaming.

antennaPurchasing an antenna:
I didn’t want to mount an antenna on my roof so I researched indoor antennas.  I tried about four of them before I found the one I really liked.  Once I found the one that was right for me, I hooked it into an existing cable jack in my house in order to provide OTA service to all of my TVs.  This has worked out pretty well for as much as we watch “live” TV (which, honestly, isn’t much).  If it’s EXTREMELY windy outside I seem to get some interference  but that’s it.

My findings:
So, here I am a year later and still no cable. Beside the antenna purchase (about $100) I’m saving about $72 a month (since I already had a Netflix subscription but needed to add on the Hulu Plus subscription).  I still get to see about 90% of the shows I like to watch via Hulu Plus.  When a show I like is not available anywhere else, I can wait for it to show up on Netflix prior to the next season (like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, etc…)  We don’t have the TV on for background noise any longer. If the TV is on, it’s because we actively turned it on to watch something specific (or to play some video games).  And, the extra money we have each month has helped in paying off some bills. The extra money can also be used toward buying a season of a show on Amazon if you really need it.  And, yes, I do miss Alton Brown but the extra $800+ a year helps cushion the blow.

There are two caveats to this post.  The first caveat is that sports lovers may have a difficult time cutting the cord on cable.  There just are not a lot of viable options to watch sports online.  This is something that each individual will have to weigh into their decision.

The second caveat is “torrenting”.  Torrenting is illegal which is why I didn’t talk about it as a viable replacement for finding your favorite TV shows.  I cannot endorse torrenting (or peer-2-peer sharing) of any copyright protected material but it does exist and people will do it.  There are plenty of sites on the interwebs that will tell you what you need to do.  That is all.

Have you cut the cord on cable or are you thinking about it?  Please let me know. I would love to hear other people’s stories, successful or otherwise.  And, if you haven’t cut the cord, what’s stopping you?

    • B E

      Yes, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes your current provider will raise the price of your internet if you drop cable. There are usually other alternatives for internet access. Thankfully mine didn’t raise the price of getting online but I was prepared if they did. There are two other ISPs in the area I could have switched to for the same price. Thanks for commenting.

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