Thinking about Cutting the Cord?

file1201268366483With the price of cable going up, and dish offerings that can be sort of… meh depending on where you live, cutting the cord may be right for you. If you are one of those people that has to watch “their shows” as soon as they are available, or you need a specific kinds of sports ball, this may not be for you. In that case, try shopping for a better deal with your cable provider or check out a dish provider.

We’ve been without cable for about 15 years, and Mr. Husband has been without cable for almost 20 years! My kids have never had cable. They don’t miss out, we’ve got an Apple TV, so they can still watch PBS Kids, and we’ve got Hulu too (which I love because it’s $5.99/month for limited commercials).

With Apple TV, we can watch YouTube (Once the big kid learned about Rube Goldberg machines, it’s all we watched on TV for a week), Hulu, Netflix (we also have a streaming only subscription). We also have an antenna (like this one), so we can watch local over the air TV.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

The thing I like about not having cable is that the kids are not bombarded with commercials for toys, junk food, basic consumer shit that a lot of us were exposed to as kids on TV.  I like that the commercials on Hulu are 30 seconds or less and it’s usually only 1 or 2 per break.

And we spend time doing other stuff. Crafts, science, playing with toys, etc. Yesterday we played stuffed animal clinic and built a Lego zoo.

Cutting the Cord: Going without Cable

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Disclaimer: This money saving strategy isn’t for everyone- I’ll admit it. If you HAVE to watch “your shows” or sports games and they aren’t available to stream on the TV channel’s website (FOX, CBS, NBC, and AMC have tons of their shows streaming on their site), this won’t work for you.

We don’t have cable.  Never have. Mr. C watches sports over Antenna TV or he’ll go to the gym and spend time on the treadmill or StairMaster while he watches football!

In my area, cable tv (with Cox Cable) is $61.99/mo for the cheap-o plan.  It’s usually on special for less, or you may get a discount if you bundle it with your home phone (we don’t have one!), but after any introductory rates have expired, the monthly price is $61.99/mo at a minimum.

So, in the 10 years we’ve lived together, we’ve saved roughly $7500 by not having cable. That’s A LOT of money.

There are a few things to consider:

If you want to cut the cord, before you call your cable company and tell them to shove it consider this. How old is your TV?  If it’s older than 3 or 4 years old, you’ll need a digital convertor box.

Why?  In 2009, the FCC made the switch from analog (over the air) TV to digital TV to free up analog airwaves for emergencies.

So if you have an old tv, plug it in and flip the channels, you’ll get static because your TV can’t access the digital airwaves without a convertor box. Convertor boxes run between $40-$60 and can be purchased anywhere that sells electronics. You need one convertor box PER television in your house that is over 3-4 years old.  If you are unsure if your TV has the convertor internally, check online or call the company that manufactured your TV.

Pick up a convertor box.  But you’ll still need one more thing.

An Antenna.  Not a pair of rabbit ears.  Newer antennas plug into your television, and the wall (yup they have an amplified signal, so you’ll get more channels!), and they hang on the wall. You’ll need one for each TV in the house.

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This is what ours look like, it’s a slim, shiny back box that hangs on the wall. They run anywhere from $45-$90 (depending on what type you get)

OK, so Convertor box (if needed)-Check!

Antenna– Check!

Now your are all set.

The directions that come with the antenna will tell you how to set it all up and find your local channels.

Now, you can call the cable company! Remember to return the cable boxes and remotes so you aren’t charged any extra.

Now the next question I get is: How many channels will  I get?

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS
  • V-me (Spanish PBS)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more spanish language channels.

So- the take away is this: depending on how many TV’s you have in your house, and their age, you may spend a few hundred dollars up front to get all set up, but you may be paying a few hundred dollars a month on cable or the dish.  It will pay for itself in just a few months.

You won’t get ESPN or MTV or any of the other eight million other channels. But, you’ll get more quality time as a family.

We’ve never had cable. We’ve lived together for 10 years, and we’ve lived with broadcast TV (over the air with an antenna and converter box), Netflix- Streaming only (a gift from hubby’s parents!), and we have a HuluPlus subscription (at a whopping $7.99/month).

We’re not addicted to TV.  We watch Netflix or a show or two on Hulu at night, and Little Man and I watch PBS in the morning for Sesame Street and many other educational cartoons. We read, talk, or play games while most people are glued to the tube each night for 4-5 hours. We go for to the gym, or for a walk as a family.

 What would you do with an extra $700+ per year? What would you do with the extra time you could have not being glued to the TV each night?