My husband and I are pop-culture nerds. We love chatting about the latest music, video games, and television shows. In the past, we planted ourselves happily in front of the TV for hours before and after work. But then, the bills started adding up.
In 2013, we were paying an astounding $190 for cable, which did not include premium channels like HBO or Showtime. Even more frustrating was the horrible customer treatment and unreliable service, not to mention the dozens of channels we didn’t even watch but were paying for.
When we started saving up for our wedding, we looked for ways to cut costs. The cable bill was one of our biggest expenses, but much of what we watched was online anyway – even currently airing shows, which we often watched on Hulu or network sites. We realized that we could save $150 a month on our cable bill every month by doing something almost unthinkable for pop-culture nerds like us: we cut our cable service.
How We Still Tune In Without Cable
We’ve learned to get creative in order not to miss our favorite shows or programs. Here’s a quick rundown of what has worked for us (and associated costs):
Get an Antenna
Hi-def antennas are ubiquitous for anyone without cable. Costing anywhere from $40-120, these little devices, similar to the “bunny ears” our parents used to use, allow us to watch live local network broadcasts. This way, we don’t miss the shows we actually watch live, like The Amazing Race and The Good Wife. Depending on where you live, you may have to spend some time configuring the location of your television or the antenna’s receiver to get the best reception – but it’s totally worth it.
Stream for Free
Streaming services are already inexpensive – currently around $8-15 a month. But it’s even better if you can get it for free. For example, we nabbed a promotion from a local bank to get Netflix free for a year – and we have a coupon code from our internet provider for another free year, which we can redeem next year. If you can’t get one of these great deals, try asking for gift cards or subscriptions for birthdays or holidays. It’s a great way to reduce bills without cutting down on your TV watching.
[Editor: If you are going to stream television, the very best money you can spend is getting a PlayOn Plus account. It turns streaming television to a computer into a full DVR. See my review: PlayOn Plus Will Change How You Watch Television]
My dad loves cable; he’d never cut the cord. However, he’s more than happy to share his login with us, so long as we contribute to his bill. By splitting costs, we’re able to watch our favorite cable series like Game of Thrones and South Park, and he’s able to cut down on his overall cable costs. We can even stream live sports and children’s TV for our daughter!
[Editor: Show your father how he can eliminate his cable box (DVR) monthly fees! and he might let you have that login for free each month.]
Connect to Your TV
Did you know your TV was made for streaming? It’s true! HDTVs have connections for HDMI devices like Roku and Chromecast, and most laptops even have HDMI ports to connect to your television. These devices are all inexpensive and allow us to watch everything we want in stunning HD. All you need is an internet connection and a device, and you’re set to go!
So far, cutting cable has helped us save nearly $4,000 to pay off debt, travel, and pay for our wedding without going into credit card debt. While I still sometimes get jealous of my friends who have hundreds of channels at their fingertips, I honestly believe cutting the cord has greatly improved the quality of our lives. By reducing our cable bill, we have learned how to prioritize the things that matter in life.
Michelle is a 20-something new mom, dog lover, and freelance writer/solopreneur living in Chicago. She's currently fighting back to get in the black while learning how to make great financial decisions for the future. You can find her personal debt story at fitnpoor.com and her site for parents wanting to raise money-smart children at everylittlecent.com
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