Welcome to part #1 of my Slimming the Budget series. This series is not for the faint of heart. You will have to make sacrifices and you will need to be determined. But it can be done! For proof, check out my post on how we cut almost $400/month. Some serious money will be saved around your home and instead can be used to pay off those bills. I mean why else would you be reading a post on saving money, right? So lets get you started. Today we are going to talk about cord cutting…on cable that is.
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The size of the sacrifice is up to you.
When I first talked about getting rid of cable my husband’s eyes got as big as saucers. The panic was evident. No cable? What about his favorite TV shows (what will he do without Gold Rush)? And how about the football games? How was he going to survive?
Have no fear. The cord cutting options are plenty nowadays. You just need to decide how far you want to go and what you can (or want to) financially afford. We looked into many options when we were considering it. We could go as simple as 3-5 local channels, or local plus a streaming service, or buy an internet subscription service that would give us live channels.
Start with what you can get for free.
First, we did a search to see what channels were available to us via antenna. You can try this one here. Put in your zip code or full address and it will let you know how many channels you can get from local towers. Some sites will also let you know the signal strength of those channels. The weaker the signal strength, the higher range you will want on your antenna.
Next, we chose an indoor antenna. My personal favorite after reading many reviews was the MohuLeaf 50. The price point was right and we felt the extra miles would be worth it (and we were right).
The antenna plugs right into our TV via a coaxial cable. We placed the antenna on the window next to the TV, but you can also place yours on a wall near it. I have even heard of people hiding it behind pictures. The higher it is placed, the better.
The station search site said that we should expect three channels with mild to moderate signals. We actually ended up getting 12 stations, including the CW. Happy wife right here! This wasn’t going to be enough for hubby though, so we chose to add on more options.
Delayed streaming services.
I am going to call these methods of streaming “delayed”. Simply put, they are not “live” television stations. Instead they are services that have contracted to be able to display the programs a certain amount of time later. You can pick one or more of these services depending on what you want available. We actually have all three of the following, but I am considering dropping down to only two in the near future.
Netflix is pretty well known in the streaming world. Netflix allows you to watch movies and tv shows that are a bit older. Most movies on Netflix are well over a year old and the TV shows are usually the previous season. The nice thing about this service is most of the content stays around for a long time. Read between the lines, binge watching! Netflix makes it super easy to watch several seasons of a TV show at one time. Or over several days. Average cost $10/month
Hulu is another great one with two options. You can have commercials or no commercials for a few dollars more per month. Hulu is a next day streaming service. While still not live TV, you can watch a lot of your favorite shows the day after they air. Some stations also contracted to leave the whole season or last five episodes on at all times. So you practically have a built in DVR. Commercial option is $8/month.
Amazon Prime Video. This service is free with an Amazon Prime account ($12/month). If you are an avid Amazon shopper like I am, this is a great free perk to your Prime account. Prime video is similar to Netflix. They also create their own original content. Plus, Prime Video has a lot more family and kid oriented TV and movies.
Live streaming services.
These guys are generally new to the market of internet TV and considered “cable replacements”. They work the same as cable television, just across your internet connection. Also, they generally cost less and may give you more options to pick and choose your channel packages. The nicest part is they are pay by month, so you can cancel at any time or pick it back up when you want.
First up is Sling TV, owned by Dish Television. Sling TV pioneered the internet TV market. They have multiple plans and plan combinations starting at $20/month. Some plans overlap though, giving you not many “added” options for more money.
Next up is Playstation Vue. This is generally the service that is going to give you the most television stations that you would also get from cable. For a good reason too. Playstation Vue costs on average about $50/month. It can get even pricier the more packages you add. It does however offer one of the best deals for adding HBO to your package. If you want premium channels without the premium cable price, this might be how you go.
As internet TV gets more popular, other players are jumping in the game. DirectTV Now launched last year, coming in comparable to Playstation Vue. YouTube is also preparing to launch its own internet tv this year. My guess is it will be comparable in pricing and packages to the three previous mentions.
Cord cutting devices.
Obviously with no cable box, we will need a way to watch what we are streaming. Your first option is easy, your tablet or computer can connect to any of the above mentioned services to stream. However, no on wants to sit in front of a computer to watch TV all the time. Luckily, these days there are many options.
If you have young boys in your household, or gaming husbands, you likely have a newer game console around. Playstation and Xbox both have options for streaming services over the game console as long as you have an account. Not all game consoles can stream every service. But Playstation can get you Playstation Vue (its made for it) and Xbox can get you both Hulu and Netflix. We use the Xbox for the TV in the man cave.
TV streaming devices. There are multiple of these available nowadays. Unfortunately, not all of them will be able to get you every service you want. Choose wisely. You can check out this chart here for a daily easy comparison. Our favorite, and the device we chose for our own TV is the Amazon Fire Stick. It was affordable at $40 and could stream the majority of what we wanted. Roku is also another device that gets great reviews, is affordable, and can get a majority of the above services. Google Chromecast and Apple TV are others.
Smart TVs are the last option. Although this one seems like a no brainer, I encourage you to pick one of the other choices. The smart TVs out right now are not as good at streaming and connecting as the devices made to attach to conventional TVs. We purchase one smart TV and still needed to buy a Fire Stick for it so we could get the streaming services we wanted. Maybe they will get smarter int he future, but for now leave the smart TVs on the shelf.
Even more cord cutting options.
Although the above is going to be the majority of your cord cutting solution, there are other options. Depending on the device you choose, you may also have access to hundreds of Apps and websites from Network Stations that allow you to watch episodes, live games, and special events right from them. This will bring you even more possibilities.
My husband and I are loving the fact that we cut the cord! We now save a little over $50 a month! That is an extra $600/year. The best part is we get even more channels and options now than we did when we had only a low grade package from our cable company.
Have you cut the cord yet? What services did you find best?