If you’re looking for an easy way to save money each month, look no further! I’ve written detailed posts the past several weeks about Step-by-Step Budgeting Basics and Items to Cut from Your Budget, but I wanted to get into more detail about one of my all-time favorite things that we cut from our budget…our cable bill. We removed this bill from our lives, yet we still enjoy our favorite shows on demand and are not restricted to live tv viewing or major network-only shows. Check out how we did it!
We used to be avid Dish Network fans and we’d get suckered into everything you can imagine. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. That free month of additional channels that you forgot to cancel at the end of the free month and started getting charged for. That ridiculous “moving” fee when you move to a new home. There was a time when we’d see monthly bills come from our Dish provider that topped $50 per month. I know some people think $50 is cheap, but NOT when you are living on a strict budget and have savings goals or debt to pay off! We decided to cut the cable cord about 3 years ago and we’ve never looked back.
We went from over $50 per month to $14.99 per month for our TV viewing.
In a nutshell, we eliminated cable and started streaming our favorite shows from the internet. When paired with using a regular antenna for local news/PBS, an Apple TV system for storing our DVD collection, and Netflix, we’ve got a great system and aren’t deprived of any tv shows. We use Hulu Plus to stream our favorite TV shows and many of them are included in the monthly subscription.
Here’s a checklist to see if it will work for you:
- Do you have a decent internet connection? I’d suggest at least a 10-15 MBps Down connection speed.
- What is your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) bandwidth cap on your line? Ours is currently 250GB. (That’s a lot of video).
- What do you watch? Check to see if your favorite shows are offered on Hulu Plus and if not, how much would it cost to purchase the season pass for the show? For us, many of our shows were included and the ones that weren’t were still cheaper to pay for individually instead of a monthly cable bill.
- What device will you use to stream TV? Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Smart TV, etc.
- How will you access your streaming content? Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc
- Do you watch a lot of live sports?
When we went through this checklist, it was a no brainer for us. We don’t watch a lot of live sports and we were okay using a digital antenna to pick up local channels when we did or wanted to watch the local news. The only other local channel we typically watch is PBS.
Here’s what we did in more detail:
- Internet Speed: We had a 15MBps cable internet speed and we weren’t going to get rid of the internet. We use it for SO much.
- Bandwidth Cap: When we started, our ISP had no cap, but recently our ISP (along with most others) have started to limit how much you can stream. Our cap is currently 250GB per month. We’ve only hit that cap once. As long as you don’t stream a ton of HD content, you’ll be ok.
- Our Habits: We generally watched quite a few network shows and some shows on basic cable. We looked into HULU and found that about 90% of our shows were available for streaming on HULU Plus! That’s great! We also got Netflix to use for an occasional family “Party Bowl” movie night and mainly for all the children’s shows they offer. You’re kids will never have trouble finding a show again.
- Our Device of Choice: We were already pretty heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, so we decided on the AppleTV or ATV. Apple TV allows you to watch most of the major streaming methods with the exception of Amazon Prime. Note: we have Ethernet wired through our house and went that route, but we also have used at least a 802.11N WIFI network and it worked fine.
- Streaming Choices: We went with iTunes Movies direct from the Apple TV device, HULU Plus, Netflix, and videos on our PC! We have our entire collection of DVD/Bluray films stored on our computer on itunes for viewing anytime. We could write a whole post on that, so we’ll stop there. There were a few instances where a show we wanted to watch was on cable and not on Hulu Plus. We did the price match and still found it cheaper to buy a couple season passes off the iTunes store (usually around $19.99 for the entire season). We use rewards point and deals to get cheap iTunes gift cards to make this deal even better!
- Sports: As I mentioned above, we don’t watch much sports except when our favorites teams make it to the World Series (Go Cards!) or Superbowl (Go Chiefs!). We were fine using “rabbit ears” to watch local feeds. There are options to buy season passes on the Apple TV or through other sites and services and you’d have to do the math if those fees averaged over the year still save you money versus having cable.
In summary, we’ve saved $100’s if not $1,000’s over the past several years watching most of our TV via streaming. We might throw in an occasional season pass, but it’s completely been worth it for us! Hopefully this is helpful information and if the tech talk is a bit over your head, chances are a relative or friend could offer some help. Good luck!