7 Reasons to Ditch Cable and What You Can do Instead
Having cable TV at home has become more of a luxury. Well, it has always been a luxury, but we now feel it more keenly.
Did you know that, according to this article on The New York Post that cites an analysis of government data, the prices for TV services have gone up almost twice as fast as inflation, over the past decade alone?
The sad part is, we are all to blame. See, most, if not all of us, consume vasts amounts of television. Networks know this. They also know how popular some of their programming options are, particularly live sport events. The networks invest a lot on making these live sports shows available for us, but they don’t care how much they spend. Their return on investment is most certainly huge, plus they just jack up what they charge cable companies. And guess what? The cable companies hand down those costs to us, their customers.
When my husband & I decided to create a realistic budget for our family a few years ago, we knew some heads would have to roll. And the first things to go were the unnecessary expenses, like cable. I was more than sold to the idea, but my husband was a bit harder to convince. He wondered how he would deal without all those channels to choose from. Or what he would do when football season started, and he couldn’t watch his beloved games. The Horror!
At the time, we were forking out almost $170 a month for a bundle of 3 services: home phone, lousy internet, and crappy cable channels.
How did I convince my husband to cut the cord? Easy. I listed all the reasons why we really didn’t need cable, and that we could certainly do much more. Both with our time, and our money. I asked him to take a good look at his TV habits. He did. And these were our conclusions:
7 Reasons to Ditch Cable and What to do Instead
For your convenience, this post may contain affiliate links. That means that, if you click on a link and make a purchase, I might make a small commission out of the sale, at no additional cost to you. For my Full Disclosure Policy, go here.
- We needed to cut expenses badly. We were a bit frugal already, but our budget was in shambles. The end of the paycheck cycle would often find us struggling to make ends meet, mostly due to bad choices.
- We had already decided to monitor, and reduce the kids’ allowed screen time significantly.
- My husband (the TV junkie), barely has time to watch TV on a daily basis, since he is at work all day, and goes to bed early.
- I do not turn the TV on during the day at all. I find it distracting, and not conducive to productivity.
- When we do watch TV as a family, it is either DVD movies, or our all-time favorite sitcoms, which we do not need cable for.
- Most (if not all) TV services hook you with their offer of a million channels, that turn out to be either complete garbage, repetitive, or both.
- It’s too darn expensive, and not worth the cost.
What to do instead
Get local TV channels
After much discussion, we decided to go with local TV. Yes, we still have a “cable” company bill, but the bulk of it is for internet. The local TV channels cost around $10 a month, which I can live with. We only have 2 boxes though, so for the rest of the TVs we bought antennas, and they seem to work really well.
By keeping the local TV channels we can, not only watch our local news, but also watch most of the NFL’s games, other than the ones played on Thursdays, which we can both live without.
Also, most TV service companies know they need to up their game, so they offer little bonuses just to keep you as a customer. In our case, we were offered free HBO. Although HBO has its not so brilliant months, having access to them means we can stream any of the movies they offer, whenever we want. And yes, I take full advantage of this whenever I want to watch any of the Harry Potter movies (which I also own on DVD), or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yep, I am a Potter Nerd 😉
As one of the pioneers in streaming services, Netflix came to change the way we rock our TV consumption. We have been with them for many, many years now, and still love them. Their prices have increased significantly, of course. But we still love the option of just choosing whatever we want to watch on those lazy Sundays, when we sit down to watch movies all day.
Back in the day, we paid some $9 or so, for unlimited streaming, AND unlimited DVD movie rentals per month. We could only have one DVD at home at any given moment, but we could return it whenever, and just get a new one. It was very affordable back then.
Then they changed their offers quite a bit, to separate charges for each, streaming, and DVDs. This in turn changed to somehow-unlimited-streaming later on. What that means is, depending on how many devices you want to be able to stream at any given time, is how much you pay. When this change happened, we settled for no DVDs, and only streaming on 2 devices simultaneously. It isn’t perfect, but we make it work for us.
Oh, and yes, the rates went up even more after all that. Still, we love Netflix, and plan to keep it around for a while. And if, and when we decide to cut ties with them, we can do so, completely hassle free, as there are no contracts.
Similar to Netflix, Hulu seems to be quite popular as well. They offer packages starting at $7.99, but also offer a 7-day free trial.
I am not very familiar with Hulu, since our family has never had the service, but as far as I know they offer streaming services of tons of movies, TV series, children’s programming, and even some original content, like The Handmaid’s Tale, which I have heard is very good, and very popular.
If you are interested in Hulu, I recommend you sign up for their free trial and test them out. I would also recommend you do this when you know you will have the time to really dig deep into their offers. That way you know if they have what you, and your family want/like.
Most people know about the 2-day shipping benefit of having an Amazon Prime membership. But Amazon Prime is so much more. Among other things, Amazon Prime members have the benefit of streaming music, TV series, movies, and more.
While paying the yearly Amazon Prime membership might feel a bit much, it becomes highly convenient to have the choice of streaming your favorites, along with a few Amazon original shows. And if you break it down, the Amazon Prime membership fee turns out to be about $8.25 per month, which is not bad at all!
For more recent movies, we love Redbox. They usually have movies available for rent on the same day that they come out for sale on DVD. That is very convenient if, like me, you try to avoid the high cost of taking your whole family to the movies. If that’s the case, you might find yourself itching to watch certain movies, but don’t want to shell out a ton of money to buy it, without knowing if it will be a family favorite.
What’s even better is, Redbox often sends out pretty cool codes to subscribers. All you have to do is, text a certain word (picked by them, but I believe that to start receiving their codes, you need to text DEALS) to 727272.
They send these codes at random, or as promotions for specific holidays, or events. If you find yourself wanting to rent a movie, and have not received a code recently, then you can always check on Retailmenot. I have been very lucky finding words to text for new codes consistently. And the best part is, many of those codes are for a FREE 1-day rental, which means you get to watch a pretty awesome movie absolutely free!
Don’t want to sign up for their texts? No problem! Their one day rental charges are only $1.63. That certainly beats going to the movies. Or worse, paying a huge cable bill.
7 Reasons to Ditch Cable and What to do Instead
I had, what I believe to be pretty good, and valid reasons to cut the cord with the cable company. But I also know it could be a bit difficult for the whole family to be on board with it. However, the most important part is that you, and your partner, or spouse are both on the same page.
Regardless of your income, making very good use of your resources (in this case, money) is crucial. And that can sometimes mean making uncomfortable changes.
It can be done though. Just look at how much you are currently spending on something as trivial as cable. Ask yourself if you are truly getting the best deal out there. Or if you are just throwing your hard earned money on something you might not even have time to enjoy. And know that, no matter what other people, promotions, or even your children might think, there are many excellent options at a fraction of the cost.
Are you considering cutting the cable service? Go on, and drop a comment below, and tell us all about it!