How I Cut Cable and Lived to Tell the Tale

How I Cut Cable and Lived to Tell the Tale

I wanted to cut cable for a long time.

I loved the prospect of saving a bunch of money each month.

I loved the idea of being the kind of person who could live without cable. Something about it felt idealistic to me.

And I was sick and tired of dealing with the cable companies and their never-ending attempts to sneak hidden fees and unannounced rate increases by me. It was a constant source of frustration and I wanted it out of my life.

Still, it took me a long time to pull the trigger. I thought about it off and on for a couple of years before I was finally willing to make the leap.

If you’ve considered cutting the cord but have something holding you back, I can definitely empathize. So in this post I’ll share:

  • Why it was so hard for me to cut cable
  • The specific steps I took and the tools I used to do it
  • How much money I saved
  • How I feel about it two years later

Why it took me so long to cut the cord

I love sports. To be perfectly honest, for much of my life an unhealthy amount of my personal self-worth has come from the success and failure of my favorite sports teams.

Depression after losses. Pride after wins. Just like I was on the team.

Silly, right? Of course it is. But for better or worse it’s true. “I love sports” has been a significant piece of my personal identity for a long time.

And really, that’s why it was so hard for me to make the leap and get rid of cable. Losing cable meant I was losing access to a lot of the games I had been watching for most of my life. In some small way, it felt like I would be losing a piece of myself.

I know, I know. It all sounds so dramatic and ridiculous when it’s written out like this.

But the point is that we ALL have silly little things that hold us back from making decisions that would otherwise be good for us.

This was mine.

The 4 steps I took to cut cable

It took a while, but eventually I came to the realization that the savings and peace of mind of not having cable outweighed the ability to watch a few more games with it.

My priorities had shifted and I was ready to cut the cord.

Now it was time to take action. Here are the four steps I took to cut cable, save money, and still preserve some ability to enjoy TV.

1. Check for cancellation fees

The very first thing I did was call our current cable company to see what we might owe if we canceled our service. I didn’t want there to be any big surprising fees when we made the switch.

Luckily our contract was month-to-month and as long as we returned the box in time we wouldn’t owe anything.

I made sure to write down the specifics of the conversation, including the date of the call and the name of the person I talked to, in case they ever tried to change their mind. Never trust a cable company to stay true to its word.

2. Buy an antenna

Believe it or not, you can still buy antennas that give you access to the major networks for free. This was especially exciting for me because it meant that I could at least watch any games that were on CBS, ABC, NBC, or Fox.

We ended up getting a Mohu Leaf, which came highly recommended. I would say that my experience with it has been good, not great. For the most part it’s handled our needs well enough, but my guess is that there are better options out there (though they may cost more).

3. Buy a Roku player

Instead of springing for a super expensive Smart TV, we bought a relatively inexpensive but powerful Roku player.

I love this thing. You plug it into your TV, connect it to Wi-Fi, and you’re good to go. You can stream NetFlix, YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and a ton of other channels right on your TV.

It’s great. If you’re cutting cable, this is one thing I would definitely recommend.

4. Sign up for Netflix

Since we cut the cord, Netflix has served as our main cable replacement. It’s actually not as good for movies as I had hoped, but it meets our TV needs perfectly. There’s a lot of content for both me and my wife and for our kids.

How much money we saved

So, after about two years without cable, how much money have we saved?

Let’s tally it up.

Up front costs

The downside to cutting cable is that there are some up front costs. The good news is that they can be pretty minimal.

The antenna cost us $40 and the Roku player cost us $85, so the total up front cost was only $125.

Monthly savings

We had been paying about $60 per month for DirectTV. We pay about $8 per month for Netflix.

That’s a savings of $52 per month.

Total savings

After two years, $52 per month comes to $1,248. Subtract the $125 up front cost and we’ve saved $1,123 so far.

Not bad!

Was it worth it?

There have been a few times that not having cable has frustrated me. And it’s always been cause I couldn’t watch a particular game at my house.

But overall, I would give a resounding yes! Cutting cable was absolutely worth it.

We do still watch TV. My wife and I are into Bloodline right now and my kids love Super Why. We also do family move night every Sunday night.

And for the few games per year that I REALLY want to watch and can’t get on TV (mostly Patriots games since I’m in Florida), I just head to the local sports bar.

So really, I almost never miss it. AND we have that extra $1,123, which has helped cover living expenses as my wife and I have worked to grow our businesses.

So if you’re considering cutting cable, I guess I would ask what you have to lose? The monthly savings would probably cancel out the up front costs within a couple of months, and in a worst-case scenario you could always just go back to cable.

In a best-case scenario you save yourself some big money that could be put towards other priorities. Like debt. Or investing. Or whatever it is that makes you happy.

Have you considered cutting cable? If so, is there anything holding you back? Or if you already cut the cord, what advice do you have for others?

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6 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Syed September 8, 2015

    I’ve been thinking about cutting the cord for a while myself, and I hesitate for the same reason as you did! Can’t get enough NFL and NBA. We have a 2 year plan with about a year left on it, so I’d rather not pay hundereds in cancellation fees, but I think we’re going to take the plunge once this contract is up.

    I know different states have different providers, but what did you end up doing for internet service? Did you stick with DirectTV? I have a bundled offer with TV and Internet, and I calculated if I drop the TV and stick with the same company for internet it would only save me about $30/month, which is not nothing but it’s not huge. Are there any good low cost internet providers you know of?

    • Matt Becker September 8, 2015

      Oh man, internet has still been a pain in the neck. Up in Boston we ended up using Verizon for internet first, then eventually to Comcast. Neither one was great, but those were the most affordable options. Down here in Florida we use Mediacom, mostly because it’s the only company that services the specific area we’re in. I’ve spent a little time trying to find a better option but haven’t had any luck. I would love for some advice there if anyone has it.

  • Michelle September 8, 2015

    Good job on cutting cable! We cut it recently as well and haven’t missed it one bit!

    • Matt Becker September 8, 2015

      Thanks! Yeah it’s really amazing how much time I spent worrying about it compared to how little I care now that it’s gone. It’s really just not a big deal.

  • Alex Craig September 16, 2015

    People call my wife and I crazy when we have to explain to people we do not own a Television.

    From the day we got married we made the conscious decision not to own a TV. We did not do it to save money though.

    We did not want to be that couple that works all day and then comes home and just watches TV until bed time. Everyone knows a couple like this where they do not talk to each other and they just sit and watch.

    We wanted to spend time together and invest in our marriage. Marriage and parenting are like investment portfolios, the more you put into it the richer the relationship will be.

    Of course the savings has been nice from a TV, but instead we decided to budget for Cable, but instead we used it for going out on dates.

    What did you do with the money you saved exactly? Other priorities or is just covering your basic expenses?

    • Matt Becker September 22, 2015

      Wow, that’s awesome! We definitely fall into the “netflix trap” from time to time and you’re absolutely right that it can hurt the relationship. It’s really important to set aside dedicated time to actually talk and hang out instead of just passively being next to each other. Good for you guys for being so proactive about it!

      For now our savings has really just helped to extend our runway as we’ve both worked to build our businesses. Over time it will likely be part of what gets funneled either to savings or to travel.

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