52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

You knew it was coming… I just couldn’t write a series on ways to save $100 or more per year without going there.

Yup, we’re talking about ditching cable TV this week.

Some of you are thinking, “Of course. We ditched cable a long time ago.” Or maybe you’re like us and you’ve never even had cable.

But others of you are clinging pretty tightly to your cable package and hoping that you can find a way to justify keeping it. :)

How Much is Cable Really Costing You?

Well, if you need a little motivation to consider ditching or downsizing your cable package, how about you do something for me, okay?

Go get your latest cable bill. Yes, go get it — or look it up online. See how much you’re spending per month and multiply that by 12. That big number you’re seeing? That’s how much you’d save per year by giving up cable.

Stop and consider what you could do with that kind of money if you weren’t sending it into the cable company every month.

Now, every cable package is different, so I can’t tell you exactly how much you’d save, but I took a poll on Facebook over the weekend and do you know what the average amount people were spending on cable TV per month is? More than $46.

That’s over $550 per year. Multiply $46 per month over five years and you’d come up with $2,760 in savings.

That’s no small potatoes we’re talking about here!

And some people are spending more like $68 per month. That translates to spending $816 per year or $4,080 over five years!

What Could You Do With the Time You’re Spending Watching TV?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I believe Americans, in general, could survive just fine without watching as much TV as they do. In fact, I think many Americans would be much more fulfilled, more active, healthier, and happier if they spent less time sitting in front of the tube for a few hours or more per day.

I hear so many people lament their lack of time to pursue their dreams or start a business. And yet most people seem to find plenty of time to watch their favorite shows. Is there possibly a disconnect there?

Less TV watching not only frees up more time and encourages you to be more active, it also brings less of the consumerism mentality into your home. If you’re not watching all of those commercials, you don’t know what “amazing” things you “need” to buy! This, in turn, can help you become more content — all while saving a hefty amount of money, too!

Three Alternatives to Paying for Cable

Now, hear me out, I’m not saying you can’t ever enjoy a TV show. We have a few we enjoy watching occasionally and I think some of the things on TV can be educational or clean family entertainment (though the commercials sometimes ruin the “clean” part unfortunately! :()

However, we have found ways to watch TV without having to pay for it (other than our monthly Netflix bill). Here’s a guest post that Jenae from I Can Teach My Child wrote in 2011 on three alternatives to cable that I thought was so helpful that I’d just post it in its entirety here…

There are so many alternatives to paying lots of money for cable each month. Here are three we’ve found to be helpful for our family.

High-Definition Antenna

What if I told you that you could still watch most of your favorite shows for free? ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and even a few other random channels can all be received for free in most areas* with a high-definition antenna. After a little upfront cost, you can watch these channels for the rest of your life. All you need is a converter box (if your TV does not already have an HDTV tuner — every new TV has one) and a high-definition antenna (which can go in your attic, wall or outside).

High-definition antennas range from $40-$150. You can purchase them at your local home-improvement store (Lowe’s or Home Depot). You can also go here for more information and to purchase one as well. And if you’re really handy (or you know someone who is), you can supposedly even make your own HDTV antenna for less than $10! It might be worth a shot!

If you own a TV that was manufactured after July 1, 2007, it should already have an HDTV tuner. You only need a converter box if your analog TV is older than that. Converter Boxes start at $40 and go up from there. Go here and here for a few converter box options.

*I realize that good reception depends in large part due to where you live. If this isn’t an option for you, you could still opt for the cheapest plan from your cable or satellite provider and implement the other two suggestions.

Netflix & Redbox

Many of you know that you can receive unlimited DVDs in the mail for about $10 a month from Netflix. But did you also know that they have thousands of movies on instant play as well? We’ve watched entire series of very popular shows instantly. You can stream it to a Blu-Ray player, XBox or Wii, or you can just watch it on your computer. Netflix is also a great resource for children’s television shows. The best part is that there are no commercials.

Redbox (a $1-per-night video rental kiosk that can be found outside many McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Walmarts locations) offers at least one free rental each month (usually the first Monday of every month) when you create an account on their website.

Borrow

Libraries are not only a great resource for books, most libraries also have movies as well! And the best part is that it’s free! You can browse most titles on your library’s website. Another option is to borrow movies from friends.

We’ve gone without cable for our entire married life (almost seven years). At first, we simply couldn’t afford cable and opted for bunny ears. Now that our income has increased and we could afford if we really wanted to, we still choose not to. We enjoy enough television and movie time without spending all that money every month!

Jenae is a wife, mother of two boys’ ages 3 and 15 months, and former first-grade teacher. She loves spending time with her family and sharing fun and educational activities for young children on her website, I Can Teach My Child.

There are also options like Amazon Prime and Hulu to check out now, too! For more ideas, check out Amy’s post on How to Ditch Your Cable Bill.

By the way, if you have sports fans at your house, you’ve got to check out this piece on A Coach Without Cable. Thought-provoking stuff!

photos from Big Stock

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Other posts in the 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year series

  1. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)
  2. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)
  3. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}
  4. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}
  5. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}
  6. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}
  7. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}
  8. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}
  9. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}
  10. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}
  11. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Use Cloth Diapers {Week 11}
  12. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}
  13. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Rent Movies for FREE {Week 13}
  14. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}
  15. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cancel Your Gym Membership {Week 15}
  16. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at Yard Sales {Week 16}
  17. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Grow Some Of Your Food {Week 17}
  18. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cut Back on the Soda Pop Habit {Week 18}
  19. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Buy in Bulk {Week 19}
  20. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Price-Match at Walmart {Week 20}
  21. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Landline {Week 21}
  22. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}
  23. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}
  24. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}
  25. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}
  26. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}
  27. 52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}
  28. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)
  29. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Clothing {Week 29}
  30. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop With Cash {Week 30}
  31. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat Less Meat {Week 31}
  32. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}
  33. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: 3 Ways to Save on Online Orders {Week 33}
  34. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Turn Your Clutter Into Cash {Week 34}
  35. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get Organized {Week 35}
  36. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Have an All-Cash Christmas {Week 36}
  37. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Sign Up for Swagbucks {Week 37}
  38. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}
  39. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Frequent the Library {Week 39}
  40. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Simplify Birthday Parties {Week 40}
  41. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Brown Bag It {Week 41}
  42. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Snacks {Week 42}
  43. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Programmable Thermostat {Week 43}
  44. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Limit Eating Out {Week 44}
  45. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses {Week 45}
  46. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don't Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}
  47. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat More Beans {Week 47}
  48. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Homemade Cards {Week 48}
  49. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}
  50. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}
  51. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}
  52. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

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Comments

  1. Barbara says

    Most people think we are nuts for not having cable. I have even had people tell me that my child “needs it” or “deserves it.” We do just fine with $8/month streaming Netflix and our DVD collection.

    We’ve also noticed the difference between our household and my sister’s household (who has cable). They have the TV on constantly. It’s always on in the background, they’re always sitting in front of it. We barely watch even our Netflix and our daughter gets to watch Netflix or a DVD maybe once or twice a week, which encourages her to play or color more often. The biggest difference in advertising. For a while, our daughter was going to my sister’s every day after school for the hour gap between school letting out and us getting home from work. We noticed her “case of the gimme-gimmes” getting out of control – she was constantly watching Cartoon Network or Nick, so there were always a million toys or movies she was coming home talking about wanting. We tried to remind her that she rarely plays with her own toys. (She is 9 and is starting to move towards the reading/drawing/writing/music only phase.) She didn’t care – the ads looked cool, so she wanted it. That never happened before she spent time over there because she isn’t immersed in toy and DVD advertisements for an hour every day, and it’s waned down now that my husband works from home and she stays with him.

    We started with the “only Netflix” choice when we committed to budgeting and paying off debt, but now I honestly don’t think we will ever choose to get a cable package. It isn’t worth it to us and once you go a while without it, you’ll realize it isn’t something that’s very important.

    • says

      When we had cable I would put a show on for the kids and often forget the tv was on (it was on the other side of the house) and my kids would end up watching way more than I meant for them to!

      Now with Netflix and Hulu Plus, I put the show on they want to watch and when it is over it’s over- no other show comes on afterwards. I also love that they don’t see tons of commercials and bug me to buy them ever junky toy under the sun!

  2. says

    When my husband and I decided to move, he suggested that we get rid of our cable bill altogether in our new house. I was shocked! It turned out, we only had a pricey cable bill because I thought he wanted it, and he thought I wanted it. Neither one of us could care less about it! Sometimes just bringing up the topic and re-evaluating together can save a bundle!

    • amy says

      SPORTS! We tried this last year and we could find most everything but sports. Our hockey team won their division and we missed all of the games because they were on cable. That’s what made us go back. :(

  3. says

    We are in the “never had cable” group. ;-) We don’t think we are missing out. The only time I wish we had it is at Christmas, for the Hallmark channel. We do check out movies at the library, but Christmas titles can be hard to get during the holiday season! Sometimes the wait list is so long we end up getting them in late Jan. ha
    I agree with the time wasting factor! I know if we had cable I would be tempted to watch way too much HGTV, and my husband would be tempted to spend too much time watching sports. So, we have saved lots of time as well as money over the years.

  4. Rachel K says

    We’ve given up cable for about 8 months of the year when the regular football season is over. We then have an antenna and Netflix. Netflix is off when we have programming.

    Would love ideas of how to watch out of market NFL games for my husband. I know they can be streamed online but I worry that the sites aren’t completely legal since I heard the only way is through Direct TV’s NLF Sunday Ticket.

    Does ESPN online stream Monday night football? This doesn’t concern me as much as my husband has friends he could go to on that night .

    • Kristine says

      I don’t think there are any great options unless you watch them after they’re aired. You can get NFL Game Rewind for that. Or if you want to listen to games live, you can subscribe to NFL Audio Pass. There are some sites that claim to stream NFL games for free, but I’m kind of skeptical about those.

  5. Sandy says

    I did this 18 months ago and honestly, I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on a thing. In fact, antenna TV has opened up a world of programs I didn’t get before and I have found several I really enjoy!

  6. Stacey D. says

    I have committed to doing this for 2013, and I don’t think I’ll be turning back EVER! I saved $70 per month by getting rid of my home phone (we have unlimited calling on cell phones) and cable service. I thought I’d miss it. I thought my daughter would REALLY miss it! We don’t! I get so much more work done now and I even FINALLY found time to exercise! Tv was stealing so much time from me! It’s only January and I already realize this was a great decision on my part, not just for the budget, but for my family!

    We still watch tv on Hulu (free) and we also have Amazon Prime, which gives us lots of free shows/movies. The membership has a fee, but it doesn’t compare to the extra $70/month I was paying before, and I get upgraded shipping on every order with Amazon too!

    We only watch like one or twice a week now, as compared to every single night before.! My house is clean and organized! My work is caught up! (I work from home) Best of all, we find lots of fun things to do together now that we’re not just vegging on the couch!

    If you’re thinking about it, do it! YOu don’t have to miss out on all your shows. You just wait one day later to watch them! You’d be surprised how many you watch that you don’t even care about watching! The savings and the extra time added to your life will be sooo worth it! I’m a believer! Wish I had done this before!

  7. Chimwemwe says

    Yes, TV is a waste of time. But so much time blogging and looking at others’ blogs is a big waste of time–not necessary.

  8. Wendy says

    We have the $99 Comcast bundle too – want to cancel when our term is up. We looked into Hulu Plus and it seems like they don’t have any current season shows – it’s all seasons past that we have already watched. Plus my husband loved Food Network and the Cooking Channel and we could not find those anywhere. Anyone know where I could watch current season episodes? Some are available online next day but not all for the shows we love. Thanks!!

    • Stacey D. says

      Hulu (free) has current shows, lots of them. So does Hulu Plus, but you pay for that. They carry every episode of certain shows on Hulu Plus. Hulu I use all the time to keep up with my favorite shows, but you can also find lots of shows online for free as well. I would try Hulu before paying for Plus, unless you know there’s a reason to pay.

      Hope this helps you out!

    • Stacey D. says

      One more thing! You don’t have to wait till your Comcast bundle is up to cancel. They prorate your bill, so you can cancel any time and they will give you credit for cancelling. My next bill will be nothing because I cancelled effective January 1st and I currently have a negative balance.

      Ok. I’m done now.

  9. says

    If any of you have the time or the inclination, I highly recommend a book called, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Its a fantastic read.

  10. Sarah says

    We would love to give up cable, but have found that it is cheaper to keep basic cable with Internet than to give up cable completely because of the package discount through Comcast. Sadly, Comcast has also increased their prices each year, so we are now paying close to $80/ month for basic cable and Internet. This is ridiculous because we really only want the benefit of high speed internet. Anyone have any ideas of how to get high speed internet cheaper?? We would sure LOVE to ditch cable and save some money.

    • Rachel K says

      Does your local phone company offer DSL? We’re getting a great price of 15.99 for Internet right now (goes up in a year a little but they just told us to call again and they’ll give us another promotional rate). We have a bundle with them even though we’ve cancelled the land line and suspended Direct Tv until the fall so the just cell phones & Internet are bundled.

      • Sarah says

        We have DSL but only at a speed of 1.5. I called yesterday and the cheapest rate will be about $60! That will be a little savings, but not worth it if the Internet speed is terrible. I can’t figure out how all these other people are getting Internet for $25-$45. So frustrating!!

  11. Sarah says

    I am glad we never paid for cable because honestly you don’t miss what you don’t have. Also most of what we want to watch is available online. With technology it it easier to let things go and save!!!

  12. Ryanne says

    Does anyone use a smart tv to watch sports? That is the only reason we still have satellite and it would be awesome to get rid of it! I know that local channels have a lot of games, but not all of them and not most of the better games like MNF. Any sports enthusiasts out there want to chime in? We haven’t used the “smart” part of our smart tv yet and finally getting wifi this week so just wondering.

  13. Gina says

    Since we don’t have an Xbox, we bought a Roku (~$100), which allows us to stream movies from Amazon Prime Instant, Netflix, and Hulu Plus to our TV.

  14. says

    My husband and I don’t have cable, haven’t had it in over two years. He misses televised sports games, but he just goes to his parents house when there is a big game on. We love our Netflix subscription, and for $7.99/month, our checkbook loves it, too. :)

    • lorelai says

      if you use Roku, you can get hgtv.com (& the shows they offer online) through Plex media (which is free). or you can hook up your laptop to the tv with a hdmi cable and stream it directly from hgtv.com yourself.

  15. Mel says

    We’re spending $190 for a cable “bundle,” and $122 of that is for the TV part alone! We’re moving cross-country in a few months, and I’m definitely looking for a more reasonable alternative. The only person who watches much TV/movies is my husband anyway. But $4 a day just on TV is absolutely ridiculous.

  16. Sarah says

    Crystal and others with DSL,

    Do you also have a landline phone and get a package deal with DSL? We don’t have a landline and I am wondering if DSL will be a cheaper option than cable. Thanks.

    Sarah

    • Rachel K says

      I don’t know if you are the same Sarah but I replied above that we have DSL and no land line. When we cancelled we lost one $5 bundle for the land line and one $5 for suspending Direct TV but we were paying almost $45 for the land line (with all the taxes and fees) and a lot more for Direct TV. We still got the great $15.99 for DSL on the same call where we cancelled our land line.

  17. Sontag B. says

    My boyfriend & I cut the satellite once we moved to our new home. Now we have connected our tv up to a $10 attenna & receive 13 different channels! and we have hooked his PS3 up to the internet and stream Netflix, as well as you can watch Youtube clips….and any cable show that I want to watch new episodes of I stream on the tv networks webpage!

  18. Christine says

    We ditched cable 3 years ago. Finances kinda forced us into it, but we wouldn’t go back now that we see the occasional tv at a friends house. WOW those commercials are even too much now days!

    What we did is purchased a ROKU for about $70 and walmart. We have internet for homeschooling, so we connected up (we actually did wireless) and subscribed to Netflix for $8 a month. There are other free ‘channels’ on the ROKU too.