But, you probably hate paying that $86 (on average) per month to your cable or satellite television provider.
And have you noticed how your TV bill seems to keep going up month after month? Ugh.
Don’t you want a $1,000 a year raise? I’ve saved over $800 so far by cutting the cord, and never looked back. I wanted to share this with you here at Enwealthen as part of an ongoing series of articles on frugality and savings.
Go Ahead and Cut Me
In a nutshell, cord-cutting is canceling your cable or satellite TV plan and watching all your television via the internet – be it on your computer, on your smartphone, on your TV via Roku, Apple TV, or other streaming video device, or even over the air digital broadcasts via an antenna.
It’s a small movement, but more viewers like you are cutting the cord every day, and the television studios and broadcasters are taking notice. But I’m more about saving money, than technology, so check out PlayOut or do a web search for “cord cutting” to learn more.
Pros of Cord Cutting
- Dramatically reduce your monthly TV bill
- Unlimited entertainment, any time you want it, and no monthly DVR “rental” fees
- Watch all those movies or TV series you missed, especially the ones you loved but never knew if you saw all the episodes or not
Cons of Cutting the Cord
- Spotty sports coverage (sports is half the programming costs of the average cable subscription)
- Need a broadband internet connection
- Finding specific shows can be complicated or expensive
Regaining Control of Your TV
When I was laid off from my high tech job, I had to make every dollar count. So I canceled my DirecTV plan, bought a Roku 2 XD streaming video player for $70, signed up for Netflix, bought a Mohu Leaf antenna for $40 and never looked back.
My monthly TV bill plummeted from $90 down to $8, saving $82 per month. Now, $82 a month may not sound like much. But consider. I broke even on the new hardware investment in 6 weeks. In effect, I’ve earned $820 since I made the switch last year, or almost $1,000 a year. Money in the bank! Did I mention the Roku 2 XD streams HD content at 1080p, and looks great on my HD TV?
Do I miss it? Sometimes. I used to love the Discovery Channel – Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, etc. These shows are available on Netflix, but typically it’s one or two seasons back. The current season is available on Amazon Instant, but paying $2 per episode doesn’t make sense when there’s so much else available on Netflix.
What do I watch now? First month was an epic Lost marathon. Since then, Miami Vice (oh, those 80s fashions), Magnum P.I., Dirty Jobs, old Shark Weeks, and Antiques Roadshow. We discovered Ken Burns recently and have been slowly working through his amazing documentaries on Baseball, the U.S. National Parks, the Great Depression, etc. all on Netflix. All included in the one $8 per month Netflix fee.
What about breaking news, or sports? We don’t watch much of either. But when we watch the Superbowl, our OTA antenna picks up the local ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox stations without any trouble. In fact, since cable / satellite companies compress the video they send you, watching over the air is actually noticeably better picture quality – true HD – than what I saw with DirecTV.
For breaking news, our mobile phones alert us to any emergency broadcast alerts. For nightly news, we can turn on the TV to digitally perfect ABC or CBS news, or watch streaming news via the CNN or BBC Roku channels. But frankly, Yahoo! News does better for me than TV ever has.
It’s worth mentioning that there are many free channels available on the Roku Channel Store. Some are ad-supported movie channels such as PopcornFlix and Crackle. There are also content channels such as Smithsonian and PBS, or online service channels for Flickr, Facebook, and even Reddit.
Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!
I can hear you out there, talking to your monitor. This is all about Netflix. What about the other options like Hulu, or Amazon Instant? Are they the middle Brady, doomed to lurk in the shadow of Netflix forever? In a word, yes.
I enjoy Hulu, don’t get me wrong. I have been known to hook my laptop up to my HD TV and stream some shows from time to time. However, Hulu on Roku requires a Hulu+ subscription at $8/month.
No big deal, right? Well, even after you pay your $8/month, they still show you ads! I pay my $8 for Netflix, I see no ads. I used to pay my $10/month for HBO or Showtime, I see no ads. WTF, Hulu? What makes you think I’m going to be willing to pay for your service, and be willing to suffer through ads. I’m not. So I don’t. ‘Nuff said.
And Amazon Instant Video? A benefit of Roku is that it’s one of the few devices to support Amazon Instant Video. Amazon has a wide catalog of new movies and latest TV shows, but it’s a la carte consumption, similar to iTunes – typically charging $2 per TV episode, and $3 per movie. That can get expensive very quickly, and why bother if I can get unlimited streaming from Netflix?
Amazon Prime membership does give you free streaming from the Amazon Instant Video catalog. But it’s a very limited subset, typically very old TV shows and movies. Not to mention it has no recommendation system and browsing the catalog to find something interesting is time consuming.
We were Prime members last year, and enjoyed the free 2 day shipping (especially being able to add others in our family to receive free 2 day shipping also), but ultimately decided to cancel our membership after the first year.
OK, So How Do I Save $1,000 a Year?
Well, you’ve read this far, so you’re seriously considering cutting the cord for good. So why not go for it. You don’t have to cancel your cable until you’re sure you want to. Besides, Netflix gives you your first month free.
What’s the fastest, most economical way to get started?
- Buy a Roku streaming player (or get a 4% cash back rebate by joining Mr. Rebates – why I love Mr. Rebates – and buying on Target)
- Sign up for Netflix and get your first month free, and only pay $8/month afterwards
- Buy an over the air antenna like the Mohu Leaf (or buy a similar HD antenna at RadioShack and get a 5% rebate with Mr. Rebates)
- Try it for a month, then make that wonderful call and tell your cable or satellite TV provider to get lost (feels soooo good!)
Trust me. Unless you’re a sports junkie, you’re going to love it. And if you are a sports junkie, I bet you can find a way to watch the sports you like.
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Have a question? Find a great cord-cutting resource? Leave a comment and let us all know about it.
Photo of Navy sailor cutting arresting cable courtesy of Wikimedia.