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It was 2011, my youngest son wasn't quite a year old. I'd been a stay at home mom for four years, and we were doing okay financially. Then, my husband came home and told me that he wanted to quit his job to start his own business. (read more)
This was before I started writing, blogging, quilting, or anything that would bring in a side income. I did have a Bachelors degree, but I hadn't been in the work force since my oldest was born, and since we had decided to homeschool, my going back to work wasn't something easy to accomplish without a major shifting of plans.
After I finished some deep breathing where I pictured all of us living under a bridge, I got real about looking at our budget and figuring out where we could save money.
Cable was the first thing to go. What I needed were some getting rid of cable options, some cable TV alternatives.
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I'd always been budget minded, having gotten into big trouble with credit cards as soon as I went to college, I vowed never to let that happen again. I basically lived and died by the number on my spreadsheet each month.
It helps that I'm super "Type-A".
Deviation makes my skin crawl, schedules are my best friend, and if you need to "wing it", don't invite me.
No really, please, don't invite me.
NON CABLE TV OPTIONS
There are so many non cable TV options out there today, I'm not going to list all of them, it would take forever. Instead, I'm going to list the things we chose to do, and the things we have since changed as our cable-free years have progressed.
I'm not sure what you pay for cable, but for us, with very basic cable; we were paying almost $200 a month. That was without internet, without phone, just cable.
When you factor in the cost of monthly DVR rental, cable box rental, insurance should anything go wrong, taxes, fees, etc. it can really add up.
Thankfully, these options cost FAR less. Even today, when I feel like I have loads of options to watch, I still spend only around $40 a month.
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HOW TO GET RID OF CABLE
Okay, well not really "rabbit ears" since this antenna doesn't go on top of your TV, but you get the idea.
Attach it to your roof, run a co-ax cable down your wall (chances are you already have one run if you've currently got cable) and attach it to your TV, easy peasy.
This gives you local channels, channels that play sitcoms you love, sitcoms you are probably recording on your DVR. I live in the sticks, the middle of nowhere, and I still get 20 local channels.
Click Here to view the channels available in your area. Just enter your zip code, the guide will show you all channels you get a signal for, and will also tell you how strong the signal is.
You're also going to want to know the best direction to point your antenna in order to get the most channels as crisply as possible.
Just download the Antenna Point app in Google Play or in the App Store. It adjusts as you move, and will show you exactly where to point your antenna for best results.
IF YOU NEED A DVR
I've noticed that many of the paid options for cutting cable (like Sling) don't include sports channels unless you pay extra. A DVR would be a good option for making sure you're able to record that local football game, baseball game, etc. while also letting you use it for anything else you might want to watch.
*cough* Downton Abbey *cough*
Without going into monthly paid options (yet), let's talk the "one and done" solution DVR. It does still have some bugs to work out, but Amazon works diligently on keeping it user friendly, so I'm still recommending it.
If you have a Fire TV or a compatible device, you can use the FireTV Recast to record your shows and replay them at your convenience, even when you're on the go.
Note, this will only work with local TV. You cannot use it to record cable, satellite, etc. But that's fine, I mean we're talking about CUTTING CABLE, right?
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BRIEFLY - SLING, ETC.
Do you want sports channels? That's extra.
Disney for the kids? Extra.
Need to watch on more than one device? Extra.
Your $25 a month plan can easily become a $100 a month plan, and all of the sudden, you're not really saving money.
Now, if you do want to go that route, here's a great article breaking down some options, but since it's not what we do, I don't want to lead you astray.
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Just go into your Amazon account, select Prime Video in the drop down box, and search!
Look at all of those shows!
I'm a regular user of this option, binging on Psych, Monk, and my very favorite Pride and Prejudice.
At $119.00 per year or broken down in to 12 payments of $12.99 per month, it is in the same price range as the other streaming services we now use. You can also try it free for 30 days to see if you like the service, if you don't already have Amazon Prime.
Check it out using the link right down there.
LOVE DISNEY? CHECK OUT WALT LIFE!
Many of the channels on Amazon offer free trials.
In the past, when I've really wanted to watch a certain show, I've signed up for the free trial, and then cancelled it before the seven day period is up. Don't forget to cancel, if you go that route.
I've put the free movie channel trial link below. Once you click on it, you can choose the channels you want to try for free.
If you're not a fan of the ZON and Bezos, that's okay, I've got more options on the way.
HERE'S HOW OUR PRIVATE DISNEY VIP TOUR WENT
I love that it syncs between devices, and it's easy to budget in, even if you opt for the four screen, ULTRA HD set up at around $15 a month WITH tax.
The actual pricing starts at $8.99 per month (all of these prices are without taxes), but you can only watch on one screen, and it's the lowest definition. $12.99 gets you two screens and HD quality, and of course $13.99 gets you four screens and ULTRA HD quality. That's the one I have, mainly for the four screens since my kids watch it a lot more now that I've removed YouTube from their devices.
Netflix has updated their parental controls recently as well, which I like. It used to be very easy for the kids to just tap "Exit Kids" and watch whatever they wanted. Now, though, you can select age ranges in your account, meaning if anyone taps on something over the selected age range, they have to have your parental control code.
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We find ourselves watching a lot of local shows; things like The Goldbergs, The Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, etc.
They also have a good parental control set up, much like Amazon Prime and Netflix.
It's also the least expensive of the options, starting at just $7.99 a month. Note that you will get advertisements at that price point, but if you don't mind commercials, it's a great way to save $4 a month.
Hulu also offers Hulu + Live TV for $39.99 a month (increasing to $44.99 on February 26). You will have commercials in your plan, but you'll also get sports channels, the ability to stream on two devices at once, and DVR capabilities for 50 hours of programming.
You can even add extra channels, including HBO, STARZ, CINEMAX and SHOWTIME. As far as I can tell, these extra channels are comparable to what you'd pay for the same channels as extras on Amazon.
We do not use the + Live TV option, mainly because I do have an antenna for live TV, and I really hate commercials. :)
You can get the + Live TV option without commercials, but at $50.99 a month (as of February 26), it's a steep price for someone trying to save money.
Hulu also lets you try it FREE for two weeks. If you like the service, you pay $7.99 a month after that (as long as you choose the option with commercials). It's a great way to try it out, but be sure to cancel after those two weeks if you don't like it.
I've put the link below.
IT REALLY IS THAT EASY
Now, depending on things you feel like you have to watch, your choice for providers are going to be affected.
If you definitely need sports, you'll want to look at options that allow you to have sports channels, or add them on.
If you absolutely have to watch Game of Thrones when it comes out, you'll want to pick something that lets you add on specialty channels.
Thankfully, while the base price is low, if you don't have too many big demands, you can get tons of great channels and still stay under $50 a month.
It's been more than seven years since we cut cable, and it's something I can honestly say we don't even miss. What with computers, tablets, books, video games, and of course, work, we find we've got loads to watch when we have the free time. Much more, in fact, than we'll ever be able to see.
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