One of the first tips you usually come across on websites about saving money is to cut your cable subscription. Once we made the decision to “frugalize” our lifestyle, this was one of the last things I wanted to do. You mean I can’t watch Wheel of Fortune after work?! And those HGTV shows where they buy/switch/fix/remodel/flip houses! And SPORTS! Well it turns out you can still get your fix (legally) and save that $50-100 / month you are paying for cable.
I can tell you that one of the great and immediate joys of cancelling your cable is telling the cable company to go stick it. And this time you really mean it, you aren’t just trying to get to customer retention so you can get a better deal. If you’re like me, the cable company has put you through so much aggravation in the past that this just may be the happiest moment of your day.
When we moved into a house last fall, we decided not to deal with moving our Comcast cable subscription (I anticipate a future blog post about how laziness and procrastination can save money). The previous homeowner had already had AT&T fiber installed, so we were also able to ditch our Comcast internet. If you haven’t had fiber before and decide to switch, be prepared to pay more $’s for slower internet. This will be worth it if you hate Comcast as much as I do.
These days you can often get the network channels in HD for free with an antenna. We bought Amazon’s 25 mile antenna for $14.99. It’s the absolute base model and it sticks on your wall/window with the included tape. At our apartment we were able to get about 10 channels, but about three miles away at the house we now get 30 channels. For free. How were we paying for this before?
The Paradise family is also a huge fan of Amazon Prime. For $8.25 a month (half that if you are a student!) you get access to a huge amount of ad-free movies and TV including HBO1. You can stream Amazon Prime on a laptop, many phones, gaming consoles, etc. We splurged and bought a Fire TV stick which is faster and has a nice interface. You can also bring it with you on vacation.
Let’s ad this up: antenna, Prime, and TV stick = ~$12.83 / month for the first year, then $8.25 / month after that. Sorry Comcast, I had to pay you that alone just to RENT a set top box. We do a huge amount of our regular shopping on Amazon as well (as you’ll notice from our posts…), so we had Prime even before we knew about the streaming. Amazon regularly offers coupons for $10-$15 credits (I’ll post them here when I see them), so we get a ton of free stuff from them just for buying many of our staples there2.
What about sports?
I think this the number one argument many people have for not cutting the cord, but it is getting easier to watch games outside of cable. Many of the most popular games are on network channels which you can watch for free with your antenna. We’ve also found that ESPN3 offers many games for free (or if you are lucky maybe a friend with cable will let you use their login). Additionally, if you love a certain sport and absolutely must watch it, you can often subscribe to the entire season for about $100. Run the numbers and you will probably find that keeping cable just to watch sports is not worth it.
Do we miss it?
The short answer is: not really. At least, a lot less than I thought we would. There are specialty channels that we miss, like Science Channel, History Channel, and the aforementioned HGTV. But we don’t miss watching shows that are almost 50% ads. So please, stop giving Comcast your money. They don’t deserve it, and you deserve better!
Edit -1/14/16- Amazon is offering a one year subscription to Prime for $73 from 1/15/16-1/17/16 in celebration of their Golden Globe wins. This is for new customers but existing customers can ask for a price adjustment.
- But not Game of Thrones…you need HBO Now for that :-<
- As a side note, both Amazon and AT&T claim that a 3Mbps connection speed is fast enough for HD streaming. We were not able to stream at this rate and had to go up one level to 6Mbps. We are paying about $5 more per month than the 25Mbps plan available from Comcast. I don’t care, I’ll never ever ever go back!