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How to Save Money (but keep the entertainment) Cutting Cable

Updated on January 13, 2014

For many of us cable has become another bill that we mindlessly accept as a part of life and pay way too much for. We have gotten used to cable or satellite companies charging astronomical prices for TV. For those of us that always had cable, we haven’t ever given thought to cutting it, because that would mean going without our beloved shows, sports, and news.

I was once a part (and still trying to cling to) this way of thinking. But after a pledge to read more, watching less TV came hand in hand. My wife and I together made the decision to cut our cable. I would read more, she could more effectively work on her thesis, and we would save over $80 a month, that’s almost $1,000 dollars a year! We still kept our internet, but once we cut the cable, I realize how much time I wasted aimlessly flipping channels looking for something to entertain me until I went to bed. Or I recording pointless TV shows only because I could, then felt I had to watch them because I recorded them. What a cycle! What once was a convenience was now adding to my demise.

After cutting cable I looked for alternatives to my cold turkey quitting, so I could ease the withdrawals. I really enjoyed saving that money each month, and “having more time”( I quote it because I didn’t gain time, I just used it differently, more productively), but I still wanted some options of TV shows and movies.

What cable alternative do you use most?

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Below is a list of alternative sources of TV shows and movies you can get at a fraction the cost of cable. I will also list the benefits and drawbacks to these alternatives, and show you have these options can save you money and free up more time.

  • Netflix- If you have been living under a rock, there is a great service called Netflix where you can get DVDs mailed to your house and you can also get TV shows and movies streamed to your devices as long as you have an internet connection. This is a cheap service that has a vast amount of selection, and if you do both, it’s only about $15 a month.
  • Amazon Prime- If you are not an Amazon prime member I highly recommend it for many reasons. it’s about $79 a year, and the perks are free two day shipping on all your orders from Amazon, and access to a Netflix style program called Amazon Instant Video. You can also borrow books from the kindle library to read. They also have a great selection of Movies and TV shows. If you price it out per month it’s about $6.50 a month, a steal when it also means free shipping, access to TV, Movies and books.
  • Hulu plus- Another great online media shop for TV shows and Movies. I personally have not tried this one out, but I have heard good things. Cost is about $8/month
  • Epix- Is a program that many cable/internet/satellite providers offer to their customers at little or no additional cost to their customers. There are only movies on this program, but hey, if it’s free it’s great! Since we kept our internet, our cable provider upgraded our package to include this perk, so I can’t complain.
  • ITunes- Your iTunes interface will allow you access to the ITunes store, where you can purchase movies, TV shows, books music and a tons of media. Though this method can be a little pricier, you are actually purchasing the media, so an internet connection is not always necessary for viewing, and you own the media. ITunes has a great selection, but it can get expensive if you just want to watch a season of a show, as you would have to purchase it.

How to use these services

There are many different ways you can gain access to all of the above mentioned services. Any computer, tablet or smart phone will give you the ability to access these programs and watch them as long as you have an internet connection or data package. If you want to watch on your TV, you will need either a smart TV, or some device that helps you gain access to them, such as an Xbox, PS3 or Roku. Once you connect this device to your TV and internet connection (similar to a DVD player or cable box) you can download the application and begin watching.

Benefits

There are many benefits to these services.

  • No commercials
  • Much less expensive than a cable or satellite package
  • A huge variety to choose from
  • HD quality
  • Instant access
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Music

There are also a few drawbacks, but I will also elaborate on alternatives to them:

  • No news- if you need your news fix, hop on your computer for articles, stories and videos of everything from weather to local news. Usually this is updated as fast or faster than the program itself.
  • No sports- if you can’t miss your team playing, head on down to the local sports bar, or see if it is streaming live online somewhere. Otherwise catch the scores or highlights online.
  • Not the most recent episodes available right away- if you need to see last night’s new episode, go to the networks website. Many times they will post the most recent episodes a day or two later for their viewers.

The numbers

At its most optimistic, let’s say you have a great cable or satellite package that only costs you $75/month(my bet is its more), which is $900 a year. We had a very basic cable package and that was running us $80 a month.

At its most expensive, even if you have to purchase an Xbox ($200) and you decide to sign up for Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, your year total is about $550. That would be about $45/ a month, and includes the cost of the Xbox and the DVD mailer subscription for Netflix. A Roku is far less expensive, and I will say there is a lot of overlap to the programs, so finding your favorite one may be all you need.

As you can see, cutting the cable can be very beneficial, and less painful than it used to be. You can still have access to a huge selection of TV shows and even movies for a fraction of the cost. You will find more time to do the things you really wanted to do, but never got around to it because the TV was on. So take a look at your current TV situation, and try some of the programs to see if they can be a good fit, or replace your cable as many of the services offer a free trial. You may be surprised at how little you give up for the money and time you save.

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