How to Slowly Cut the Cable Cord (Step-by-Step) and Save Hundreds of Dollars

If you want to cut the cable cord, join the club. We’ve had cable since the mid-1990s when we moved into our house. I can’t really remember how much it used to cost, but somewhere around 2011, my husband, Steve, decided we needed to do something about cable. 

I Heart Roku! This is the Roku version we bought a year or so ago and it still works beautifully. At first, a little clunky with the streaming, but it’s smoother now.

It wasn’t so much about how much money it cost, it was more about wasting the money on a service we didn’t use. We spent most of the time on news, Animal Planet and HGTV! Then, we seemed to spend more time on local news and broadcast TV, but less on Animal Planet (not enough animal content and we aren’t interested in building tree houses) or HGTV (if we saw one more young couple from non-East Coast areas complain about how expensive a $200,000, 3,000-square-foot newly constructed house cost, I was going to scream!). The joke was that we spent most of our time going round and round the remote than we did watching any TV. So, it was time to streamline into more streaming.

That wasn’t the only thing that flipped the switch. Our kids had a homework assignment to watch any TV show of their choice as long as it had advertisements–they were doing some sort of graph/percentage lesson for math, I dunno. But it was certainly eye-opening to see that my kids did NOT want to sit for even one hour to watch a TV show with ads! They are quite happy and used to watching content they want to see on YouTube, blogs, websites, etc. “Cable TV is so yesterday, mom….” LOL. (My teen son watches sports on broadcast channels for the most part, and goes over a friend’s house if there’s a big deal game he can’t get at our house.)

As a snapshot, here’s a timeline on how we are getting to ground zero….

2011: Downgrade. Back then, we had tweens (12 and 13) and giving up the Disney Channel was like giving up their favorite stuffed animal (I wrote about this day here). But, we did it, even with their withdrawal symptoms, but the kids managed to get their Disney fix online. I had withdrawal symptoms when I realized I could no longer watch The Walking Dead!! But, I have survived by reading spoilers, watching reruns, etc. We downgraded the cable package we had that ran around $80-something to an economy package that at the time cost $30-something a month and zoomed up to $60-something a month as of now (silently screaming here). Yes, we did check out alternatives such as Dish, etc., but found we weren’t interested in what they offered for the price, either.

2014: Netflix. I signed up for Netflix streaming only and Hulu-Plus for our devices (not for TV at this point which made it difficult when we were binge watching Breaking Bad!) which added $16 monthly charges. My intention was not to bump up costs, but that’s what happened.

2015 (early): Roku. Steve was determined to figure out streaming. At this point, I believe we had a couple of small flat-screen TVs. So, he spent around $60 for a Roku box, set it up on a small flat-screen, and we started to experiment. At this point, I also downloaded an eBook, Dump Cable TV, for my husband to read and he thought it was pretty good (we have no affiliations with the book).

2016 (January): Broadcast Basic Package. Steve called Cablevision and switched to Broadcast Basic. Surprisingly, it was stress-free. He did the research online before the call–it wasn’t easy to find it–he had to dig for the info on the cable company site. The cost for the new package: $15.70/mo., plus the cable box ($8.56 + $2.00 for the card) because we don’t have a digital TV (yet).

digital antenna
This digital antenna looks like the old antennas. Hoping they are smaller now? Not even sure, but it’s in our future.

Money-wasting tip: In addition, it turned out we were paying money every month on an unused cable box gathering dust because it had stopped working and we don’t watch TV in the basement playroom-turned-teen-son’s-man-cave anymore.

2016: Next Step: Purchase a digital TV to replace the old analog TV in our bedroom (which still works perfectly), and buy a high quality outdoor digital TV antenna to receive over-the-air TV broadcasts–much like our parents did years ago!

Savings: We’ll save $537.72 a year (until we completely cut the cord) broken down below:

2015: $63.07 a month = $756.84 per year (plus $16 Netflix/Hulu=$192) Total: $948.84

2016: $26.26 a month = $315.12 per year (plus $8 Netflix/dropped Hulu for non-use=$96) Total: $411.12

Yes, we are slowpokes. And will I miss not being able to watch the show Billions having premium cable or Showtime now that we have seen the premiere? We’ll just have to wait until it makes it to Netflix. Till then, I’ll have to read the spoilers.

If anyone has had great experiences cutting cable, please share!

~Marilyn, TFF


One thought on “How to Slowly Cut the Cable Cord (Step-by-Step) and Save Hundreds of Dollars

  1. We had Family Basic, but then, like Marilyn, we switched to Broadcast Basic. There were a couple of years when we had ESPN for football season for DH and the YES channel during baseball season for me. We could not justify the cost after just a short time. DH has learned to live with the games that are on Broadcast Basic and whatever he can find online somewhere; I love listening to Yankee games on AM radio (like I did as a kid 🙂 !)

    We, too, subscribe to Netflix. We also got Roku a few years ago. We use it, now, to access Amazon Prime.

    Marilyn, your “2016 – Next Step” going to a digital antenna is cutting-edge and retro at the same time. Cool! I heard this story on the radio last fall, and am glad to know that it’s what more and more Millenials are doing with antennas: (A next generation of Frugal Fairfielders? We shall see…let’s inspire!)

    🙂 Aimee, TFF

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