Is it Worth It to Ditch Cable and Cut the Cord?
My family and I are HUGE couch potatoes. This means we love to watch TV. You see, we are pretty boring people, so we in order to get any adventure in our lives, we live vicariously though our favorite TV shows. But as most of you know, quality TV does not come cheap. Cable and Satellite services cost money. And every year the costs increase, with no rhyme or reason. So we decided it was time to cut the cord.
But this decision did not come lightly. Not only does it come with some sacrifice, you will need to make an initial investment. After all that, is it really worth it?
Why We Decided to Cut the Cord
When my hubby and I were growing up, we only had a selection of around 5 or 6 TV channels that may or may not work depending on the weather and if your rabbit ears were cooperating that day. But if you wanted to change the channel you had to literally get up and turn the dial. Only the rich people had remote controls and big screens.
Heck, at least we had color – we’re not THAT old.
In the early 80s, a new TV service came along that took the world by storm. That’s right. I’m talking about Cable TV. Holy crap! We got MTV, Nickelodeon, and even soft core porn on the pay channels (assuming you could see through the scrambled picture). Come on, you know you did this too! And my life was changed forever more.
Cable was convenient. Most apartments and homes are already wired for it, so I had cable for most of my adult life. Then when I met my hubby and bought our first house, we decided to make the switch to Dish Network, since we were able to install it ourselves and it was less expensive than Cable.
But Dish Network kept getting into fights with major broadcast channels and we ended up losing CBS. Since we couldn’t miss watching Survivor or The Amazing Race, we ended up switching to Direct TV and became loyal customers for 15 years.
I’m not going to lie. I LOVE Direct TV. But in order to get the channels and service we love, it was pretty expensive. Of course the price you pay depends on the types of services that you are choosing. But for our household, we needed service for 2 TVs (one in the living room and one in the bedroom), HDTV, and whole home DVR. Plus we had to have HBO and Showtime.
Then we noticed that every few months the price kept going up a few dollars here and there. Eventually we were spending almost $170 a month just for TV! We managed to negotiate with Direct TV, cut out some services, and got our bill down to $146 a month.
But this was still too much when money is tight. And over the course of a year we were spending $1752!
Not to mention, there were 100s of channels that we never even watched. Seriously, who needs 30 freaking home shopping channels?
So hubby and I decided it was time to cut the cord. But how can we do this and still watch our favorite shows? We had to do a lot of homework, sacrifice some of our shows (mostly his), and spend a little money up front. Here is what we did…
Cut the Cord Step 1 – The Right TV for the Job
Thankfully in this day and age, through the power of wireless internet, there are many different options available to watch TV and catch your favorite shows through streaming. But before you can do this, you will need the proper set up.
First off you will need to have a television that is compatible with internet that has to have either an HDMI cable or a USB port. The easiest way is really to have a Smart TV that has installed Apps. We already had a smart TV (received free from doing a focus group), so we were already good there.
But if you are looking for one, there are hundreds of Smart TVs on the market, and many of them are quite affordable.
Even If you do not have a Smart TV, you can still get wireless TV streaming through video game consoles. Both Playstation and Xbox also come with Apps that allow you to stream TV with a monthly subscription.
Cut the Cord Step 2 – Wireless Internet Connection
If you have crappy internet, you will have a crappy TV experience. If you are serious about streaming TV, you will need to make sure you have a fast internet connection and may even need to invest in a Wi-Fi Extender.
A Wi-Fi range extender or Range Expander, is a type of wireless repeater used to extend the reach of your internet connection. It helps when you have dead spots in your house or want to stream TV that is not in close proximity to your router.
Cut the Cord Step 3 – Pick a Streaming Service
The hubs and I researched all of the popular streaming apps out there and compared prices and packages. Our TV came equipped with Netflix and Hulu apps, but we also wanted to be able to watch live TV as well. So in order to do this, we first needed to decide which streaming service would fulfill all of our TV needs.
Sling TV costs about $20 a month, but only provides 19 basic channels + additional channels with the upgrades. Unfortunately, Sling TV does not carry major networks and did not have the channels that my family watches the most. Plus it is limited to one account per TV. So this was not a viable option for us.
We decided on Playstation Vue because for only $30 a month, we have access to all of our favorite channels. We went with the basic package and these are the channels we get.
This past month Vue just lost access to Viacom (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon) due to pricing wars, but we don’t really watch those channels much anymore. And honestly, you can watch Spongebob Squarepants practically anywhere these days. We DID just gain BBC America and CBS though. Yay!!!
And one of the best things about Playstation Vue is that you can DVR most of your favorite shows! Many of them are also On Demand as well. So now you have the option to watch The Walking Dead live or you can skip through the commercials with the DVR. I love that!
Playstation Vue is available directly through your Playstation video game console. If you own one already, you are lucky! You just need to sign up for the service with your Playstation account and you’re all set.
But what if you don’t own a Playstation? We don’t. And buying a PS4 is not a viable option for us right now, so we had to look for a more affordable alternative for streaming TV.
Cut the Cord Step 4 – Choose your Streaming Device
Currently Playstation Vue is available on the following devices:
- Apple TV
- Android TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Google Chromecast
- Specific Mobile Devices such as iOS, Android, and Amazon (compatibility varies depending on which version you are using)
- The Web
Not only can you get Playstation Vue on the Amazon Fire TV, you can also get tons of other apps including Netflix, Hulu, Sling, HBO, Showtime, and more at an additional price.
The Amazon Fire also features Alexa – a voice activated remote that gives you instant access to weather, sports scores, and music. You can also talk dirty to her, but she might not understand what you’re saying.
And if you are already a Prime member (if you’re not, you should be), you can watch Original Prime series directly from your Fire TV. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
The Cons of Cutting the Cord
Some sacrifices need to be made. These are the issues we have to deal with:
- With Hulu you can not watch your shows live. You have to wait until they air the next day. Also they show commercials unless you upgrade.
- With Netflix you may have to wait up to a year to catch your favorite series.
- With Amazon Prime you may have to pay additional money to watch new episodes.
- If your internet connection is spotty, your shows will be interrupted while it tries to find a signal. To fix this, you may need to reset your modem.
- Baby monitors can interfere and mess up the connection. Something to keep in mind if you need to use a monitor.
- IMO, the Fire Stick is slower than Fire TV Box, and occasionally freezes up. It’s kind of a PITA at times. We often have to reboot the fire stick to get it to work smoothly.
- You may find yourself having to log in again when the apps update. It’s not a big deal, but it is a nuisance entering in all your information from a remote.
- The Amazon Fire remote is freaking tiny! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost it while watching TV in bed. Note to self – Always keep it on the night stand.
The Final Breakdown
Here is what we spent for the initial investment:
- Smart TV – Free (we already had one)
- WiFi Extender – $29.99
- Amazon Fire TV – $89.99
- Amazon Fire Stick – $39.99
- HD Antenna – $20.00
- HDMI Cable – $26.00
Total Spent up front: $205.97
Here is what we spend a month on TV (including taxes & fees – your price may vary depending on location and choices):
- Playstation Vue – $31.88
- Hulu – $7.99
- Netflix – $10.90
- HBO Now (purchased through Amazon Apps) – $16.31
Total Monthly: $67.08
Granted, you may not NEED all of these streaming services. And if you don’t, obviously you can save even more money. But with how much TV my family and I watch, these are the packages that allow us to watch almost all of our favorite shows and everyone is happy.
I still love Direct TV and I am very sad that we had to say goodbye. But by cutting the cord, we are saving $805 a year! And for couch potatoes like us, it’s definitely worth it!
Have you cut the cord? What services do you use to watch TV? How much do you spend a month on TV service? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I was not compensated for writing this post, but it does contains affiliate links which means I may be compensated a small amount if you click-through and purchase. Full disclosure policy here.**