This post contains affiliate links – click here to read my full disclosure.
UPDATE: This post was actually written way back in 2014, before “cutting the cord” was as easy as it is today! While my info on streaming services is clearly pretty dated, a lot of my tips for how to go cable-free still apply. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments!
It was about a year and a half ago – Christmastime – that my husband and I began to talk seriously about getting rid of cable. We’d chatted about it before, but as a stay at home mom of a baby girl, I didn’t think I could survive my days at home without television. I’d start the day with a morning news show, switch over to some Rachael Ray, The Price is Right, and then HGTV or Food Network for the rest of the afternoon. I rarely sat down and watched those TV shows – it just provided what I thought was much-needed background noise and the illusion of some adult conversation and stimulation (however one-sided it was). But it was just after Thanksgiving that I decided to turn on some Christmas music (via our Blu-Ray player’s Pandora App) instead of my usual menu of daytime television. I was simply amazed at the change in my day. I was so much more motivated – even cheerful – as I went about chores around the house. That was the day I realized that not only did I not NEED cable – I was better off without it!
And so, frustrated to a breaking point with the terrible service and rising rates of our cable company (Comcast Xfinity) and armed with the newfound knowledge that I actually could survive without television through the day, we cut the cord. And I can honestly say that we haven’t looked back.
Are you thinking of dropping your cable subscription and “cutting the cord?” Here are some things you may want to know.
This post contains affiliate links – click here to read my full disclosure.
You can still get live TV for FREE.
Just because we don’t have cable doesn’t mean we had to do away with live television completely. We get PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX for absolutely free AND they’re in HD – with an antenna. It’s great to turn on PBS Kids for my daughter in the mornings or watch the evening news. We have this antenna – my husband mounted it in the attic and ran the cable down through the walls to the wiring panel in the basement, where he connected it to the splitter that feeds all of the cable TV outlets in the house. So that means we can put a TV in any room, plug it into the cable outlet, and get the signal from the antenna. Unfortunately, depending on your location, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll be able to get a good signal from every network – the website TVFool.com is really helpful in knowing where your closest transmitters are, what kind of signal to expect at your house, where to aim your antenna, etc.
We have a Netflix subscription, as well as access to Amazon Instant Streaming through our Amazon Prime subscription. Of course, you’ve got to have a decently fast internet connection to be able to stream video, but as long as you have that, you can watch television until the end of time with the amount of programming available on these two. Hulu Plus is another option, but we tried that for a few months and barely used it, so we dropped it.
Obviously, there are LOTS more options here these days than there are when we first cut cable back in 2013…the trick is to pay LESS for all your subscriptions than you did for cable. One of the best ways you can do this is to alternate your subscriptions. Many of these streaming services have options to “pause” your subscription, so you can make yourself a schedule where you get Netflix for one month, Hulu for another month, Disney+ for the next month, and then back to Netflix, etc. That can save you several hundred dollars over the course of a year!
Play Streaming Shows to your TV.
There are a several different options to play your streaming shows via Netflix, Hulu, etc. on your television. The first is a smart TV. We have a Samsung smart TV, and I would NOT recommend it, for this reason – TV manufacturers are in the hardware business and aren’t very good at software, so the apps on the TV are very glitchy. In fact, the Netflix app on our TV works less than half the time. Also, if you think about it, once a TV manufacturer has come out with a version of a smart TV with specific software, they have little to no motivation to continue to develop that software and come out with updates, bug fixes, etc – they’d rather just have you buy a new TV. So, I would recommend a regular TV with a separate “smart” device like a Roku, Apple TV, Fire stick, etc. since it is much less expensive to replace the smart device when you want an upgrade rather than the entire TV.
UPDATE: We’ve since purchased a Roku for our living room television and we love it – it’s a lot faster than the Fire TV Stick and the apps are less glitchy. I’d recommend it!
Fill the void.
If you were like me and thought you just needed the background noise of the television, switching to music can be a very positive change. I’ve got a few different Pandora stations that I’ll turn on during the day depending on my mood and what I need to get done. Growing up, my mom would always put on Billy Joel or Chicago on Saturday mornings when we cleaned the house, so there’s nothing like some “We Didn’t Start The Fire” or “Saturday in the Park” to get me in the mood to clean! There are so many different options – online streaming radio, satellite radio, an mp3 player, or even some old fashioned radio – it doesn’t matter how you do it, but try putting on some music more often! (Speaking of which, I absolutely LOVE our Amazon Echo and how easy it is to turn on music!) Or if you’re looking for a quiet couple of minutes on the couch to just zone out, get out a magazine or a book!
Do the math.
Cutting cable will save you a LOT of money. Unfortunately, we still have to give Comcast some money each month for internet, as they are the only high speed internet provider in our area…DSL isn’t fast enough for streaming video, and rural central PA doesn’t have Fios. But we were able to call and get on a promotional rate for a year, so we are currently paying $30/month for high-speed internet. (It’s easy to get on a promo rate with Comcast, if you can handle being on hold for a long time – just call and tell them you’re thinking of dropping your service and they’ll transfer you to “customer retention” where they will offer you their current promotion.) Before the switch, we were paying $130+ for our cable and internet. That’s a savings of over $1,000 a year!!!
I can honestly say that since we “cut the cord” a year ago, we haven’t looked back. I never thought I’d be able to get rid of cable, but it was surprisingly easy! And the best part is, I think our family is better off because of it – and our wallet certainly is, too!
So – where are you on the cable TV spectrum? Committed to cable? On the fence? Or proud cord-cutter?
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Great post, we have been without cable for years and we do all the same things, antenna on the roof, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Chromecast. I didn’t know about the HBO-Amazon deal. I’m excited!!
Yes, we watched our first HBO show last night!! As if there weren’t already enough things to suck me in on Netflix and Amazon Prime…hehe.
Love it, Meredith! Mark cut the cord on me one summer without even asking me…guess he didn’t realize how much I enjoyed a lil TV now and then (during my summers off from school) while he was at work. But between hulu and Netflix, I haven’t missed it in the least! And I LOVE knowing how much we’re saving every month. We’re not looking back either!
Haha, that’s so funny he did it unbeknownst to you! I wasn’t super excited about it at first either, it was mostly Matt’s idea…but I’m so glad we did it too!
Good for you! If I didn’t have my 3 disabled adult children living with me that’s exactly what I’d do. They rely on it. I think if we could get out more it would be a non-issue. I have satellite and it’s so darn expensive even with the smallest package. Kuddos to you ♥
That’s tough…it’s definitely not for everyone, though. We still watch more TV than I’d like, even without cable! So I think it will be a gradual process to watch less and less..though hopefully we will be getting out more too now that the weather is nicer!
Thanks for sharing. We too have recently cut most of our cable and are probably about to do it all together. We too stream Netflix and Hulu and have found some great shows that way. Found you on Moonlight & Mason Jars Link up!
Yay for you! I don’t think you’ll miss it if/when you do. I was surprised by how little I missed it once we cut the cord! And we’ve discovered some great new shows now with Netflix too…LOVE House of Cards, and several others!
We have Roku with Netflix & Hulu. We also use Plex Media Server for current shows (sometimes it’s buggy, but it’s free & nice when it works).
We use Plex too for storing some digital files and streaming them to the TV! My hubby set that up, though, so I’m not sure how it works, haha.
I have thought about this but my mother in law lives with me and she only watches the Christian channels ( she loves Joyce Meyer and Charles Stanley) and the Hallmark Channel ) she is 80 and it is hard for her to have change as she has altimeizer
It’s funny how that older generation is so attached to television…I can definitely understand how that would be difficult for her. Cutting cable isn’t for everyone, and especially if you only have the basic cable package it can be pretty affordable. We had HD and DVR service, so we were paying significantly more for all of that, which made our cost savings when we dropped it that much bigger!
I love that you wrote about this. It has been something I have been debating for awhile! Maybe I need to try a week or two without it to see if it is doable. I do love my dvr though.
Thanks for stopping by Creative Spark Link Party. Hope to see you back next Wednesday!
Doooo iiiit! Especially if you’re mostly watching on DVR, that’s essentially the same as watching your shows on Hulu Plus or the network websites. I think you’ll be surprised how little you actually rely on live TV!
I’m glad you posted this.. I’ve FINALLY convinced my hubby to allow me to go away with cable… it was easy because Game of Thrones on HBO is over and wont be back for about a year. so I’m cancelling cable STAT! I’m going to look into the antenna you mentioned. We currently have Netflix and will keep internet svc…
Yay! Good luck. You won’t look back! And make sure you tell your hubby about the recent deal with Amazon streaming and HBO too!
Cable is completely overrated. I grew up in the country where cable and satellite weren’t even options, so all I ever knew were bunny ears and a roof top antenna to watch basic tv. However, when my husband and I moved in together, we purchased cable since nothing can be picked up with bunny ears in our apartment. I finally had enough though when our bill reached $86/mo for just basic cable. Absolutely ridiculous! So, a couple years ago we made the plunge and dropped our cable, signing up for Hulu and Netflix. We have an xbox in our living room and a wii in the bedroom, and we just stream the apps through those devices and watch tv that way. There are a few shows we miss, but there are also a few shows we’ve discovered that we’d never see on regular cable AND $16/mo for both apps vs. $86/mo makes it worth not seeing those shows anymore!! lol
I know! Isn’t it just ridiculous how much it costs?? And of course then they get you with the added fees for HD, DVR, expanded channels, etc. Honestly, I think we’re watching more TV shows than we ever did before…but it’s in place of just mindlessly turning on the TV and turning something on that I really didn’t have any desire to watch in the first place. Now, we’re much more purposeful about choosing what shows we want to watch. I just wish we had gotten rid of it sooner!
This is great. I forgot to pay my dish bill and they cut it off today. I went online to check on it and they wouldn’t let me view any account details until I paid…really? I get e-bills but you won’t let me see it? I’d already been thinking about it, because it’s just not worth the money. So, they actually did me a favor, because I’m not restarting it. I’m going to pay my final bill and that’s that. I look forward to saving $80+ per month.
It is crazy how poor customer service these companies are able to get away with. It’s so great to just stick it to ’em, isn’t it? Haha. Good luck with cutting the cord, I’m betting you won’t look back!
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I have already given my notice for the cable and the land telephone line..liberating to say the least.
It’s such a good feeling, isn’t it??
i have to use my phone company for internet, it is price on how much GB’s you use! and talk about $$$!!! and Satellite for TV.
I would love to have Cable internet!! but they say they do not come out to my area yet. :(
Oh, bummer! Yeah, with paying by the GB it is really expensive to stream TV shows and movies. Hopefully you will get cable internet to your area soon!
Great post! My husband and I did the same recently, and I love it. I live in NYC, so cable prices are insane. It makes me so happy to think how much money we’re saving each month!
Welcome to the cable free crowd! I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve had cable. I actually grew up without it, and part of me wishes I had never been introduced. I watch so much TV through Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu!!
We have been having this conversation at our house too. Our biggest concern is football season (GO HAWKS!) Any input about how many games we might miss or how to stream games live? Thanks!
Hi Jennie, unfortunately I don’t have a good solution to that problem. We were able to get all our Nittany Lion games last football season, though, either because they were on ABC (which we get via our antenna) or we logged in to stream ESPN online directly onto our TV via our chromecast (but you have to have a cable subscriber username and password for that). Other than that, there’s sports bars or inviting yourself over to a friends house! Not ideal, I know, but since we are really only college football watchers, it works for us. The other option would be to carry your cable subscription through the fall each year, but then ditch it for the off-season…you’d still save money that way!
I ditched cable a little over a year ago. Like you, I thought I’d die without it. I didn’t. :)
Since getting rid of the exhorbitant monthly fee, I’ve been watching TV free, using an HDMI cable and streaming from my laptop to the television.
I won’t lie, there are days when I miss it, especially for the background noise while I do other things. But you’re right, playing music instead is a great mood enhancer and helps get housework done faster. Funny how that works. Those days, I now plop in a DVD. Since I’m not paying attention, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve already seen it or not, it’s just background noise.
Congrats on making the switch!
My husband and I have been considering this for sometime now. Comcast is getting out of control with this charge or that charge plus “rental” of equipment because it can’t be purchased. We have been with Comcast for a very long time. We never had issues with our internet or phone service, but cable is a monthly phone call for problems… Hours on the phone trouble shooting and then send a technician, just a complete waste of time for temporary fixes.
Am looking into this. Can you still watch shows like Scandal, Survivor, etc.
So glad you wrote this! We talk about dropping cable a lot but have never gotten the guys to do it. Thanks so much for providing so many options I’m going to start seriously looking into them asap!
My father brought me a chromecast last Christmas and at first I wasn’t sure how to use. I had direct tv at the time and I didn’t use it much until I got the internet on and the cable was turned off due to non payment. I LOVE MY Chromecast. I do not miss cable at all. I love that I don’t have to hear the troubles of the world on a daily basis. I still to watch all the popular shows and Hulu is awesome because whatever showed today on tv I’m able to see tomorrow. It’s the best decision I ever made.
Proud cord cutter here. The process was much easier than I imagined for the content we consume on a regular basis. Great post!
Netflix diesnt feature sesame street. Other than that nice post!