How I saved $100/month by cancelling cable but still watch my favorite shows
I may have bragged to too many people both in person and via social media about the fact that my family is a "cord cutter" family because I get messages weekly asking how we did it.
We cancelled cable about a year ago when I started noticing our AT&T U-Verse bill was getting into the $186/month range. I mean, we could afford it, but I wondered what else we could put that $186/month towards... like an IRA, college fund for our girls, or a travel fund. That's just the way I think: I'm paying X amount for this service... how much would X amount be worth in 10 years after accruing 7% interest? Can it buy me a boat? Yes? Awesome...
On top of what $186/month can get you in nautical-purchasing-terms, it was really just the principle of the matter. Were we really getting $186-worth of value every month from cable TV? Uh... nope. We were already watching a substantial portion of our total content via Netflix and Hulu anyways. We still loved Dexter, Shameless, Breaking Bad, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and The Walking Dead. All great shows; all on cable. The rest of the content was on broadcast network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, etc).
So... the real question was: are the 3 - 4 shows we love on cable worth $186/month? Tough call.
My goal was as follows:
-Simple, uncomplicated setup (grandparent proof)
-As few "boxes" as possible
-Saves an amount of money to make it worth my time
-Still get the shows we love within a reasonable timeframe
-Determine what kind of boat to buy
Here's how I did it:
The first thing I purchased was a TV antenna to put on the roof. It was a miserable experience that is long and boring to explain, so I'll skip it and re-visit how YOU can skip this complicated procedure in a bit.
The second thing I did (which is the first for you) was buy a Roku box. Roku is a crazy-simple solution that allows you to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, and other streaming services on your TV. You can buy them on Amazon.com or Roku.com and think they even have them in-store at BestBuy. They cost as little as $39. The one I bought was the Roku 2 XD, which I bought for $70 via an Amazon sale.
Here's how to install your Roku box: 1) Plug the power cable in. 2) Plug an HDMI cable into the box and then into your TV. 3) The end.
The on-screen setup is VERY easy, completely idiot-proof. You basically just connect to your home wi-fi network and then login to all your streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc). That's about it.
When you want to watch Netflix (movies and Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Arrested Development, House of Cards, New Girl, etc), you just go to the Netflix application on Roku. When you want to watch something on Hulu (The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Modern Family, Drunk History, etc.), you just go to the Hulu app. Easy.
Amazon Prime has a lot of good kid's shows and PBS stuff. The movies on there are more classic stuff. However, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus are developing their own shows which, so far, have been really good (watch House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black on Netflix; Quickdraw on Hulu Plus... you'll thank me later).
"Wow! Thanks, Andrew! But... what if I want to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad or Dexter, not just the last season?", you say.
Well... I'll tell you the legal way. There's this place called Amazon.com, which literally has everything. If you absolutely MUST watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Dexter, etc., most of them can be found the very next day after they air on Amazon Instant Video for $2 - $3/episode. And you can watch them on your Roku box (yay!). Believe it or not, you can subscribe to a series and STILL save a bunch of money compared to what you were spending on cable.
The morally-ambiguous route? For educational purposes only, Google "How to BitTorrent" to learn that method. Also Google "Plex on Roku". And Google "eztv.it
". Nothing to see here. Move along.
Above I skipped over the antenna installation. Be thankful you can skip it, too. It sucked. I spent days on the roof and in the attic routing cables and splitters and drilling holes in the wall. It works great now, but, at the time, it was the only option to get the broadcast network channels live. However, starting in mid-September, people in the Houston and Dallas areas will have access to a service called Aereo.
Aereo, without getting too technical, takes OTA broadcast network signals and sends them over the internet to your TV. They have a private Roku app, so you can watch NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, PBS, etc. without complication. Bonus: the service gives you 20 hours of cloud DVR space (60 hours for a little bit more $), so you can record your favorite shows just like you did with your cable DVR. MEGA BONUS: You can watch those recorded shows not only on your Roku, but also on an iPhone/iPad or Android (soon) device! Which means you can watch your recorded DVR content on the boat you're going to buy using all the money you're about to save!
So, here's the math:
Previous cable/internet bill: $186/month
New Cord-Cutter setup:
-Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Aereo): $26/month
-Next-day TV show downloads via Amazon Instant Video (assuming 4 can't-miss shows): $24/month
-Internet connection (we have Comcast): $39/month
Put that $97/month into a Roth IRA and, assuming 7% annual rate-of-return over 30 years... you've got $118,000 to spend on that boat my friend. You're welcome.
$97/month vs $186/month. We still get our favorite shows plus live TV (via Aereo in September) and we get to watch it all using one box (Roku) with the flexibility to watch that content whenever we want and on our tablets if we're bored in a waiting room somewhere.