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How We Saved $700 by Cutting Cable …and Still Watch Great TV

Cut cable, save money, and STILL watch great TV! Here's how!!

Guest post from Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog

When my husband and I decided to get serious about budgeting, one of the first things we cut out was cable.

Still wanting access to some form of at-home entertainment, we weighed our options and finally came up with a solution that saved us almost $700 this year while still watching great TV!

Here’s how we did it:

1. Investigate internet service providers.

When we decided to drop cable, we had the infamous “bundle” plan which gave us a reduced rate because we held our cable and internet with the same company. We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to find an internet-only option that made dropping cable worthwhile, but after a little bit of calling around, we were able to get a deal with Comcast where we paid $30 a month for internet only instead of the $103 we were paying for internet plus cable through Verizon.

2. Choose a video streaming service.

We looked at Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. We ultimately chose Amazon Prime because along with video streaming, free two-day shipping, and the Kindle Lending Library were also included in the $79 yearly fee.

3. Meet Roku.

Roku is a little box that hooks up to your television and allows you to stream videos via your subscription service straight to your TV. It also offers additional TV and movie programming, a lot of which is free. (And have I mentioned no commercial interruptions?!) We purchased the Roku HD for $60.

4. Get a Leaf for local channels.

The Mohu Leaf is a flat antenna that we were able to mount behind our TV in order to pick up our local stations in HD. (Yep, high definition from a digital antenna!) My hubby especially loved this feature because he didn’t have to completely give up live sports.

We live in Pittsburgh (hello, hills!), so rabbit ear antennas weren’t really an option for us; however, since the Leaf gets about 10x better reception than standard rabbit ears, we probably would have gone with it anyway. We found our Leaf for around $40.

So let’s do the math:

$73 savings/month by dropping cable x 12 months = $876 – $79 (Amazon Prime) -$60 (Roku) – $40 (Leaf) = $697 in savings. And we don’t feel like we’re missing anything!

I was hesitant to start the process in the beginning because it sounded like a lot of work, but once we figured out how much we’d save without much sacrifice, it was well worth it. And since we won’t have to factor the cost of the Roku or the Leaf into next year’s budget, we’ll save even more!

Could we have saved more by getting rid of TV altogether? Yes. But for those of us who still like to have an at-home entertainment option, this strategy is a great way to go!

Abby Lawson is the author of JustaGirlandHerBlog.com where she shares her creative ideas, DIY projects, activities for the kiddos, and random happy thoughts. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two little boys, ages four and one.


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155 Comments

  • chadster says:

    We are currently looking into this option, as Comcast has recently announced that their On Demand service will no longer be a part of the Basic Cable package (the cheapest available) which is what we have. Although they went about it by saying “we mistakenly included it with your package and we’ll be cutting it out on April xx”. Sure…..

    Anyways, we already have Amazon Prime, but what we’ve found is that only works if you’re not into “current” material. You’d end up purchasing more current shows/movies if that’s part of your watching schedule. Whereas, with Hulu/Netflix, any content on their programming list would be included with your monthly fee. Amazon only gives you select programming for free (ie. included in Prime).

    Thanks for the antennae suggestion. That’s a part of the equation I’ve been having difficulties determining.

    • Lyndsay Withey says:

      We spend 16 dollars a month for TV services add in 25 a month for internet I love our package. We get the streaming Hulu plus and Netflix plus we already had PS3 that allows us to stream those so we didn’t need the roku. Also we use the computer to watch shows that aren’t on hulu like my Army wives.

    • Jess says:

      HuluPlus is the way to go for the current TV stuff. They have the ABC, NBC and Fox shows. CBS is not currently streaming shows on any services. We also use our computer too for things from the Food Network. We hook our laptop up to the TV and watch it from there.

    • Christy says:

      Wow I’m surprised you had on Demand with basic cable at least were we are they haven’t offered that for a very long time with basic cable.

      • chadster says:

        It was part of the bundle we purchased when we originally became Comcast subscribers – internet/cable/OnDemand (a bundle which is no longer available, much like AT&T’s Mobile’s “unlimited data” packages). But now they apparently want a reason to cancel it on us, so they aren’t giving us an alternative.

  • Wendy says:

    We dropped cable for Netflix several years ago and have never looked back. I find I can often find current TV shows on the channels’ websites, or I wait for them to show up on Netflix (which most of them do eventually). Sports games are almost all available online streaming or through team-specific apps. It’s great because my two young daughters can watch the same episodes over and over (if they want) or can pick out a completely new show, without having to plan ahead and TIVO anything.

    Side benefit: commercials are funny again! We almost never see them anymore (in video format, anyway), so even the most overplayed commercials are funny when we’re on vacation and watching TV in the hotel room or something because we haven’t seen those commercials before. Watching TV at Grandma’s house is now a treat, not a consolation prize.

    • Wendy says:

      Actually, another money-saving side effect: since my daughters don’t see commercials for all the toys/licensed characters/other junk advertised to their age group, they couldn’t care less about whether their lunch box is an Officially Licensed Disney Princess box or just purple with cats on it. My older one (5) picks some of that up at school, of course, but it’s a lot easier to feed her generic breakfast cereal and let her play with the toys we choose to buy instead of allowing advertisers to convince her she MUST be eating Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs and buying the latest greatest plastic something-or-other!

    • Tiana says:

      Digitenna is another good option: http://digitenna.com/ There are a surprising number of free over-the-air channels available, and a Digitenna is a one-time expense, not a commitment to a monthly bill.

  • Jess says:

    We just did the same thing in the Philly area. However, we are using HuluPlus, Amazon and Netflix right now, but thinking of dropping the Netflix. Also, Blockbuster now has a movie App on Roku, that you only pay per movie you rent and for a new release it was $1 cheaper than to rent on Amazon; both are still cheaper than when we would rent from the cable pay per view.

  • Brienne says:

    How did you manage internet for $30? I got a special for $30 but it was only good for 6 months then it is supposed to go up to 70! Thanks for the info about the antenna. Hulu is another good option, you can stream it to your television for 7 a month!

    • Brittany says:

      I was wondering the same thing. We dropped to Internet only with comcast and we had to settle for their 6 month deal for $57/month.

      • emily says:

        There are different “speeds” of internet. At first ours was gonna be that but we reduced our speed (which the service rep advised against for streaming tv shows) but I said I wanted to try it out anyway. We pay $39.95.

  • We haven’t had cable TV since we got married and part of me really, really, really misses the HGTV channel, but that’s the only one.

    We have a Roku, but oddly, don’t use it as our TV is internet ready and that’s how we watch MLBtv and Netflix. But there are other stuff on Roku that others might really love.

    For our internet, we pay $40/month and that’s for the medium-level speed. But that’s been enough for us even with my husband being an internet gamer while I surf the net or watch shows online.

    We really just have a lifestyle that doesn’t watch much TV when it’s scheduled. ie: we watch The Voice when it’s on, but everything else, we’re okay being a season behind (except for baseball…hence MLBtv which allows my husband to watch whatever games he wants and catch up)

  • melissa says:

    Love this! Do you have any ideas for home phone service? We would like to keep our home phone but we are looking for some less expensive options than AT&T. We also have internet through them and are paying about 75 a month for both.

    • Heather says:

      Melissa- go with magic jack plus for home phone service. You can keep your phone number. It is around $60 for the first year and $20-30 per year for the second year. It is great!!

    • Cassy says:

      Google straighttalk for home phone and you’ll see where it’s around $100 (if I remember correctly) to purchase the phone system and only $15/mo. from then on. A few reviews are on youtube. See what you think.

  • Tonya says:

    This is perfect timing. My husband’s new job means a 40% pay cut (and a big cut in hours, stress, and frustration – so hurray!) and I’m trying to convince him to drop cable. I never heard of the Mohu Leaf so that may be just the idea I need to make up his mind. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marjori says:

      We are right there with you. Husband’s new job is considerably less than before. Thank Goodness we had just paid off his truck & we won’t be paying $100/mo for vision & dental anymore!

      A friend of mine is looking for a free sports channel for her husband, he’s big into basketball…anyone have ideas??

  • Wendy says:

    We dropped cable a couple years ago and have never looked back. We also have a roku box but also have hulu, netflix, amazon prime and playon. We don’t miss much tv and if there is something we want to watch (the history channel “Bible miniseries), we find it on you tube and watch it that way. My kids don’t miss watching tv. I love it

  • Christy says:

    How exactly does Roku work?

    • Hi Christy! The Roku uses your wireless internet connection to stream video directly to your TV. You would be able to connect to any show available on your Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., plus some additional free programming offered by Roku. Hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

      • chadster says:

        @Christy – just to be clear, with Roku, you still need internet service and a wireless connection.

        • Sarah T. says:

          Are you able to use the Roku for the basic (free) Hulu or youtube clips? I.E. Does it stream internet to your tv? I’m assuming it works by connecting wirelessly to your network.

        • Sarah T. says:

          Also, can Roku work with a plain old television? Not HD, or even flat screen.

          • chadster says:

            Yes, obviously, without HD output. Your benefit is that you would also be able to buy one of the cheaper models of the Roku (out of the 4 current models being sold). The cheapest model, the LT, is $50, while the highest end model (which is the only HD-only model) runs at $100.

            • Sarah T. says:

              One more.. Do you need a subscription for a service to use it? We usually only do the free stuff on hulu or youtube. Can you stream that? I’m assuming the roku is connected wirelessly to the network. Thanks!

      • Jenna Burns says:

        It also works on any TV, not just flat screens. There really isn’t any install to it, other then you wifi password.

    • Rebecca says:

      I would really like to do this, and have looked into it…my only issue is that I haven’t been able to find a way to watch NFL Network without a cable provider. That’s my husband’s one vice…has anyone had any luck with this?

      • me says:

        I send mine to a bar with his friends. Gets him out of my hair and keeps him happy. He hates the NY teams anyways and rarely gets the Steelers here so he’d need satellite anyways.

  • Erin says:

    We haven’t had cable since we purchased our home four years ago and I rarely miss it. We probably only watched a handful of the hundreds of channels that were included in our package anyway. Netflix, HuluPlus, and Amazon Prime cover most of the shows we want to watch. Our antenna (built for free by my engineer husband) picks up all the local channels. I am a librarian, so I often order TV series or new releases t we can’t watch through other services. Try your local library if there’s a series or movie you just have to watch- if they don’t have it, often times they can inter library loan it from another library!

  • J. Noetzel says:

    When my family and I moved to another state, we decided to do without cable for a month. We used old fashion way of watching tv channels and purchased Netflix with our wii. Surprisely, we did fine without cable and decided to do without cable for the rest of the year. My daughter went from A/B to straight A’s honor rolls for a whole year. Also, we have internet for 20 dollars a month. A bit slow but no complaints coming from my daughter. Meaning, I only spent 28 dollars a month for Tv shows/movies and internet. Not bad at all!

  • AnnaLisa says:

    We did this about four years ago, and haven’t ever lamented the decision. We eventually added multiple Roku players for other rooms in the house. Also, I feel like my kids watch better programming since it isn’t “just what is on TV” — we have to actually select something. And when they don’t — well it is just funny to have your five year old go on and on about how awesome She-ra is. All the programming and her favorite is a 30 year old cartoon.

  • me says:

    Ugh…the only reason we went back to cable is the DVR. We love tv. There I said it. Our tivo is a series 2, no HD and it looked horrendous on our high dev TV. We’re saving up for a new Tivo HD version so we can officially dump the TV portion of cable and go back to OTA. (A lot of CBS shows aren’t on hulu. We usually leave the house at 6am and don’t get home until 8pm on some days).

    • michelle says:

      CBS is the only reason we have TiVo…everything else is on Hulu plus. We bought the HD TiVo for $100 at best buy about 6 months ago. I’ve got to have my How I Met Your Mother fix 🙂

  • Sakura says:

    I am a DTV junkie! I know it’s awful but I am. I’ve looked into changing to the “free” tv or Roku but I’ve had cable or DTV for 20 years now. Is there anyone that has done it that has regrets and if so what are they? I see everyone so far has loved the change, so that is promising. The savings would be amazing, I was just checking out my bill and noticed some of my discounts will expire at the end of April. This will raise my bill by $37 a month so I’ve been contemplating the change, it’s just so hard to change! Is there a 12 step program I could enter!!! 🙂

    • me says:

      Just call and tell them you’re going to cancel if they won’t fix your bill/keep it at the same rate. You’ll want to be transferred to a cancellation specialist whose sole job is to keep you as a customer.

    • Courtney says:

      I couldn’t dump mine either. If you have multiethnic cable provider options call around. We gat a really great rate for 1 year with a new cable company (AT&T) plus we get promotional discounts,credits etc.

  • me says:

    Also, you may not need to get a roku box…

    If you have an internet DVD or Blu ray player, they may have the apps for netflix/hulu/amazon prime on it. If you have an xbox or psp with the subscription service on it, you can dl netflix/hulu/amazon prime apps. Our tv is a smart TV and has those apps.

    If you have an old laptop and/or tablet and an HDtv, you can just hook up the laptop/tablet and use those items.

    I loved our roku box though. I gave it to my dad for his TV since he discovered youtube on our tv while visiting.

  • me says:

    And another thing…….

    When they block the TV on your coax, a lot of times channels still get through, in HD. They will be the local ones (fox, cbs, nbc, abc). Try just hooking up to various tvs. We’ve had moderate success with it on different tvs in different households. They end up putting a filter on to block channels and it really just depends on which filter they put on.

    Most cable companies have a *basic* plan–for $10/month that will include these channels, also. It could be a way to go if you have trouble with the antennaes (we did). It would still save ~$50-60/month and you wouldn’t need the hulu subscription and you’ll get several PBS stations with it due to the HD.

  • Karen says:

    We don’t have cable, satellite, or internet! Sometimes it’s a pain, but we check out DVDs if full seasons of TV shows for free at our local library, as well as movies from the library, redbox, and plenty we already owned. Six months so far, and for the most part it’s been fine. When we get around to having internet, we’ll be all set.

  • Hey great tips! I’ve heard of the Roku but only vaguely. Sounds like a gadget the DH might be interested in. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Mary says:

    We have cable just for my husband to watch sports. While he was still in grad school we didn’t have any TV at all and he would often watch them a day later on ESPN 3 on the computer but the games he wants are often blacked out. I’d love a way to cut our cable bill but watching football is important to him and he doesn’t ask for much!

    • Emily says:

      We’re in the same boat. My husband loves to watch football all fall and college basketball all winter. We bundle it with internet and home phone, plus I get a $15/month discount from my employer, so for us, it’s worth it.

  • We haven’t had cable for about 10 years. And, we don’t do Netflix or Amazon either. My husband isn’t a huge sports junkie, so it works for us. We can pick up all the network channels, a cartoon network (Qubo), an old movie channel (This) and some other random ones. All in HD with a $50 antenna we got at Radio Shack.
    It’s actually nice to not have all those channel choices. I think we end up spending more time living since there is less time sitting in front of TV. 🙂

    • Ebony says:

      What kind of speeds are you guys paying for from our Internet service provider and are you using a dual band router? We want to take the jump and have our Netflix and Toni box with rabbit ears in tow but we already have buffering issues. I’ve wondered if ya just a matter of us needing to set up one device to stream on one band and the others on the slower band. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Our current speed is 15mbps with time Warner who seems to have a monopoly in this area. We currently have a bundled package and pay $135 total for cable, phone and Internet.

      • me says:

        If you’re having speed issues, call and gripe. we were having all kinds of issues and made them come out three times to fix it. One was wiring (they reran new coax) two was a booster three was a new modem.

      • GonnaCutIt says:

        15mbs is plenty fast to stream 2-3 HD movies simultaneously plus surfing the internet. I have 6mbs dsl service and will often stream 2 baseball games at the same time. If you are having buffering issues, contact the tech support and tell the to fix it or your cancelling the service. Cable companies are notorious for “oversubscribing” their bandwidth. (you share the bandwidth with your neighbors) They count on not everyone being on the internet (streaming movies) at the same time…so when you all are on at the same time (like in the evening 6-10pm)….your rate may actually only be 1-3mbs. If you read your contract carefully…they do not guarantee your subscribed to rate,it’s just the maximum rate you CAN get. If you have a dsl provider (AT&T, verizon, or other telecom) their speeds are generally dedicated to your line only and will be consistent. You can go to http://www.speedtest.net to check the speed of your internet at various times to see if you are getting what you’re paying for. Hope that this helps.

  • Susan says:

    I have a question. We are considering the switch but concerned about missing certain TV networks like Bravo, TLC and HGTV…are you able to still view those?

  • We spend money every month for Netflix and Amazon (well we have Amazon Prime). My husband installed an antenna also and we have great signal. It works great for us! So we spend very little each month for TV. It might not work out for everyone that has to watch certain channels, but the money saved is well worth it for us.

  • Stephanie says:

    I did a trial run of this last summer, and you’re right, the savings are immense. However DH hates watching TV on laptop and some of his more obscure shows he “HAS” to watch aren’t online.

    Anyway, my question is: I have a Roku (Angry Birds version, of all things, just purchased last summer), Amazon Prime, Hulu+, and Netflix. No problem running any of those through my Roku — except Hulu+!! Somehow Hulu+ picks up that it’s not playing shows directly onto my laptop screen (since it’s going through the Roku) and won’t let the “plus” shows play on the TV via Roku 🙁 Has anyone else had this problem? How to resolve it?

    The only other option I can think of is to get a different bluray player that will stream all of them?

  • Andrea says:

    We just dumped cable a month ago as well and I’m not regretting it! I would also recommend looking into purchasing a Tivo for those that are hesitant to leave the cable world – you can get your Amazon videos, Netflix, Pandora, etc through it but you also have the functionality of a DVR, which I love .

    That’s great that your flat antenna worked so well for you, but we found that the rabbit ears worked out better than the flat ones, as it allows us to get a great signal in our basement and anywhere else in our house.

  • Yes, I echo all the gals chiming in that their husbands like to watch sports. My husband works hard for our family and what little down time he has, he likes to watch hockey. Even if we got the local channels, they really don’t have many ice hockey games anymore. They are broadcast on specialty channels.

    If someone out there has a fab way to ditch cable and still watch live sports like ice hockey, let us know!

    • Meredith says:

      Katy, it seems every blog has a weekly, “ditch your cable.” I always comment and there is always a person who has an answer on how to watch “some type of sport.” However, when your team (or multiple teams in our case) is an odd one, it just isn’t possible. My husband works and comes home, we have family time, couples time, and he watches sports for himself and I join in too. I am a sahm and he works a ton. So, this thing called the internet that I tool around on all day reading blogs, etc., is for me while the TV is for him. If need be, it would make more sense for me to ditch the internet. I am at the library all of the time and could get what minimal things I needed done there. He works, not me. Of course, if there was a way to get all of the games he needed for free and what shows we watched to boot (why is everything I like on CBS?), we would jump on the train. However, the way I see it the $700 is worth it.

      • Jessica says:

        I agree! My husband would never cancel cable! He likes to relax with a show in the evening or watch sports on weekends. He has a really stressful job and he works really hard. I’m thankful that our budget allows us to make cable a choice for our family. I know he’d probably agree to cancel it if we found ourselves in a serious financial position ;). It is good to see how easy it can be to save $$ though. When we recently relocated we had no tv at our home (spent weekends there til it sold). We were too far out for antennas to work, but maybe a hotspot paired with one of these ideas would have worked!

    • chadster says:

      @Katy – professional hockey, baseball and basketball all have their own package that you can buy and access through a Roku (or other Roku-type device, do some research to verify availability). The NHL for instance has Gamecenter Live on the Roku (which in 2011 was $170 for the whole season) which gives you access to every game for the season, minus local blackouts. So if he likes a local team, this won’t help you if their games are broadcast locally. But if he likes an out of (your) market team, then the $170 (or whatever it costs today) is still worth it if you can actually save a couple hundred per year by ditching cable.

  • Jessica says:

    Great post!! We recently got rid of our cable and home phone, our Internet is a higher speed since I work from home, but we are still saving $100 a month vs our bundled plan. We also have a Roku, and I have gone from “never” being able to cut cable to not missing it at all!!

  • Hallie Ann says:

    We live up here in Alaska, where everything is more expensive.

    Our cable bill is $112, our internet bill is $119.99.

    The kicker? We don’t have unlimited internet (like everywhere else in the civilized world).

    A friend of mine tried doing the netflix thing, but streaming a few movies used up the allotted usage, and was hit with high fees.

    Any suggestions? My hubby is skeptical when I show him articles like this. We live in a rural area, so some info from the above article doesn’t apply to us.

    • andypandy says:

      We changed to Roku this year hoping to save $140 a month dishnetwork bill.
      Ended up getting billed by our internet provider with $350 a month bandwidth usage(normally $60 a month,before we got Roku)!
      We figured out if we watch 4 hours of tv, we exceed bandwidth caps. So we researched and found another company without bandwidth caps. Just started the new one few days ago. crossing finger this will finally work to cut our bills!

      So it is very important to find out your internet providers bandwidth cap before you switch to the Roku.

  • Alana says:

    Can you get ESPN? When college football season comes around, this house has to have it!

  • This is such a great idea. I’m not sure I could talk my husband into no cable at all. I’m still trying!

  • Great options here! That’s one thing my husband and I gave up during our recent move to Florida. He actually used to work for the cable company, so we were spoiled and got all their services for free as part of his benefits. We had to make a hard decision to not sign up for cable once we moved, and I didn’t realize how much we would miss it. But those savings add up and I know we chose the right path for now. Plus, any show we want to watch, we can usually find online!

  • MK says:

    Is Roku strictly a device for streaming or does it come with a subscription etc.. Like for example can you get TV shows on it that you can’t get with Netflix/ HULU. We’re using HULU right now but miss that we don’t get the discovery, AMC & history channels.

  • michelle says:

    We do something similar, except we have Netflix, hulu plus, and TiVo. We were paying $100 a month for just cable, now we pay $33, plus we bought the tivo box for $99 and we stream through that. I also have an iPad, and most networks have free apps with full episodes – I am able to watch shows from ABC, NBC, ABC family, lifetime, TLC, and many other networks this way. We don’t miss cable at all and are saving around $700/ year as well!

  • ShariB says:

    For 8 years we have been cable free, on purpose. My only comment is Apple TV might be an option if you already own some other Apple products. AirPlay, part of any Apple product, allows you to “beam” the screen image from your computer to the tv, through Apple TV.

    Apple TV also gives you Netflix, YouTube, ITunes and a bunch of other options, including a subscription to the NHL and NBA – which fixed my husbands sports addiction. We needed to up our internet to 10 Mbps to make Netflix really work. Anything lower for us in this very congested area just didn’t work.

  • Brianne says:

    I would love to drop cable, but I don’t think the hubby would go for it! Need to investigate this all more! Thanks for the info!!

  • joe says:

    i have cable, and recently got a bluray with netflix to see if it was enough to get rid of cable. i kept cable while doing the neflix free trail. i was hopeful I could ditch cable, , but it’s really much harder to get rid of cable than some make it out to be.
    neflix does not have enough content, and there are interruptions in netflix service, like an hour into a movie ( sorry we can’t play this title at this time. what???)
    so to realistically get rid of cable, I would have to buy roku, and subscribe to at least hulu plus in addtn to netflix. buy an antenna. and solve the issue of wanting to easily watch the 3 pro teams (baseball basketball football) that I like to follow. I can’t imagine streaming that much sports content cost-effectively, even if I had a laptop to tie up every night. and no one mentions this issue – – multiple tv’s. i have some old tube tv’s that I watch while not in my main tv viewing area. those are great since they get basic cable without the cost of a box. if I got rid of cable, those tv’s are useless, unless I want to spend money on more antennas and rokus, which is not worth it. it’s easy to say save $700, it’s much harder to get what you want without spending $700.

  • Kim Dugan says:

    We just dropped cable too. We do have Apple TV and net flicks which has been working out great… Haven’t missed anything. We also had the bundle, which included cable, Internet and our house phone… Haven’t switched over to the cell phone only system yet… Any one have any ideas for the combo of phone and Internet… I’m paying $85 a month for the two.. And don’t use a cell phone except for the LINE2 program I have on my iPad… I text with it primarily but can also use it in the states as a phone… Only 95$ annually. Looking for a cheap way to do a land line in our home… Any ideas?

    Kim

  • James says:

    I would rather spend the $800 than deal with the inconveniences.

  • BonnieBairns says:

    THANK YOU for this post! We have been looking into dropping DirecTV just because you can’t watch anything without vile commercials and show previews in between show spots. We’re in the stix, though, so finding an unlimited internet provider with enough power to stream movies and not cost a fortune is an issue for us. But you’ve given us some extras to think about. Thanks for doing the leg work and then sharing!

  • You do NOT have to pay for HULU! I wish more people knew this. You can pay for Hulu Plus if you want to (they offer more shows on Hulu Plus if you want them, plus some past seasons), but you can just watch on HULU for FREE!

    We watch current seasons of shows from ABC, USA, and Fox on Hulu. These shows are also available on the network websites, but it’s simple to watch them on Hulu. We add our favorite shows to our queue and they tell us when we have new ones. In addition to these shows, we also watch some BBC shows on Hulu (“Spy” is one of them). We have seen History Channel shows on Hulu as well as HGTV shows.

    We watched Downton Abbey on Pbs.org. (By the way, there is a new Masterpiece show that aired last night on PBS; it is online now and you can watch it; it is called Mr. Selfridge. I haven’t seen it yet but it is here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2363169243)

    We have a laptop and a HDMI cable ($12 from Big Lots) that we can use to hook our laptop to our tv. This allows us to watch shows on the television.

    It also allows us to watch other things that are online, that aren’t available through a Roku.

    Twice a year, our family watches the worldwide broadcast of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When we got rid of cable, the first question my then 5-year-old asked was, “How are we going to watch Conference?” That first time, we suddently wondered how, too (it’s normally televised locally where we live). The first time we gathered around my desktop computer and watched it that way, but after that, we bought the HDMI cable and hooked it to the television, which allows the entire family a better chance to watch. Even if we had a Roku, we couldn’t watch this on there.

    The HDMI cable would also allow you to watch YouTube videos on your television, which is also something that we have done. This is also not an option with a Roku. Likewise, Pbs.org works with the HDMI cable, but Roku would not.

    There have been a few times that we have watched a show together on the computer (my husband and I) but we usually are able to watch on our television.

    We have the slowest cable modem speed provided by our local cable internet provider (Cox). Internet coupons alone save me enough to equal that bill every month, even if my husband didn’t work from home some part of each weekday.

  • You do NOT have to pay for HULU! I wish more people knew this. You can pay for Hulu Plus if you want to (they offer more shows on Hulu Plus if you want them, plus some past seasons), but you can just watch on HULU for FREE!

    We watch current seasons of shows from ABC, USA, and Fox on Hulu. These shows are also available on the network websites, but it’s simple to watch them on Hulu. We add our favorite shows to our queue and they tell us when we have new ones. In addition to these shows, we also watch some BBC shows on Hulu (“Spy” is one of them). We have seen History Channel shows on Hulu as well as HGTV shows.

    We watched Downton Abbey on Pbs.org. (By the way, there is a new Masterpiece show that aired last night on PBS; it is online now and you can watch it; it is called Mr. Selfridge. I haven’t seen it yet but it is here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2363169243)

    We have a laptop and a HDMI cable ($12 from Big Lots) that we can use to hook our laptop to our tv. This allows us to watch shows on the television.

    It also allows us to watch other things that are online, that aren’t available through a Roku.

    Twice a year, our family watches the worldwide broadcast of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When we got rid of cable, the first question my then 5-year-old asked was, “How are we going to watch Conference?” That first time, we suddently wondered how, too (it’s normally televised locally where we live). The first time we gathered around my desktop computer and watched it that way, but after that, we bought the HDMI cable and hooked it to the television, which allows the entire family a better chance to watch. Even if we had a Roku, we couldn’t watch this on there.

    The HDMI cable would also allow you to watch YouTube videos on your television, which is also something that we have done. This is also not an option with a Roku. Likewise, Pbs.org works with the HDMI cable, but Roku would not.

    There have been a few times that we have watched a show together on the computer (my husband and I) but we usually are able to watch on our television.

    We have the slowest cable modem speed provided by our local cable internet provider (Cox). Internet coupons alone save me enough to equal that bill every month, even if my husband didn’t work from home some part of each weekday.

    We haven’t had cable since July 2007, and we have done just fine with this. We still have PLENTY to watch.

  • This is exactly what we do – Roku, Amazon Prime, and the Leaf. It works great for us for the same reasons :).

  • Jenna says:

    We’ve been doing Netflix with the roku and also the mohu leaf antenna for over 2 years. We get great reception with the leaf and I would highly recommend it. We haven’t had cable for 4 years and haven’t missed it-with few exceptions. My in-laws have cable, so we end up going over there for sporting events that my husband wants to watch on ESPN or the Big 10 network.
    This link can give you a good idea of major network channels you can get in your area with an antenna
    Transition.FCC.gov/mob/engineering/maps/
    …although when I looked at it just now, we get more than twice as many channels as it shows.
    Hope this helps!

    • Jenna says:

      That website is off… Spell-check got me! The website I referenced is actually:

      Transition.FCC.gov/mb/engineering/maps/

  • Wendy says:

    I would love to ditch our DISH and save a ton of money but my main concern is how to control what my kids are watching, especially flipping through channels? With DISH, we can set limits by the rating of the show so that they can’t watch anything PG or worse without us putting in a code to unlock this program. With all of the junk that is on tv, it’s some piece of mind to know it’s there. Can anyone comment on how to filter shows?

  • sandy ellis says:

    thank you for your wonderful money saving ideas

  • teresa says:

    I pay $90 a month for internet and cable but you have to ask for the loyalty department which is what I do since I have been with comcast for 12 years. As for on demand with basic cable that has never been an option. You can get internet at least where I am for $45 a month. I only had basic for a year but went back with digital so i could have on demand

  • Julie says:

    We have enjoyed Amazon Student Prime, thanks to my husband’s graduate school courses. After the initial free period, they offered it to us for the discounted rate of $39. What a deal! We now stream Amazon movies and TV shows (the free ones) through our Nintendo Wii so we can watch it on the big screen. Of course, the kids can watch cartoons like Pink Panther or Phineas & Ferb on computers or on the Kindle.

    I so wish I could talk my husband into ditching Dish and going with Netflix. What a savings! We have the Dish family package, so it’s not like it’s a ridiculous amount, but the kids and I are homeschooling all day anyway, so we hardly ever have the TV on.

    I’d love to know how to get internet cheaper. We have Comcast, and it’s cheaper to have their basic cable package to get a discounted rate on internet, than it is to get just the internet by itself. Great service, but expensive.

  • Melissa says:

    We have been without cable for about a year and a half and don’t even miss it, all thanks to ROKU. The variety of shows & movies we can watch are endless, and (mostly) commercial-free. We actually watch more television now than when we had cable.

  • Phila says:

    Can’t get Comcast in my area, Southern Kansas, any ideas??

  • Kristen Lowery says:

    What version of the leaf do you have? There is quite a price variance in the different models. I am interested in one (right now we only have netflix, use the free hulu, and can sometimes get 2 channels with rabbit ears), but do not want to overspend or get one that does not work well.

    We live in Lancaster, PA, and have a 1950’s brick house with thick walls.

    • Susan says:

      Great post! I just wish we could do it. There is only one internet provider where we live, so we do not get unlimited data. We have Roku & Hulu Plus, but just watching two or three shows & it puts us dangerously close to overage. If we ever get better internet I will definitely drop our Direct TV…it keeps going up & they keep taking channels away!

  • Lori F. says:

    So nice to see a guest post from a fellow Pittsburgher! However, I’m really wondering how to dump cable and still have the ability to watch Penguins hockey. If I shut off the cable, my husband would not be happy. The sports events are the ones that prevent me from pulling the plug. I did hear a news story the other night about a “game changer” in the cable industry that will make cable internet-based at a substantial savings. I can’t wait for that!

    • Shannon says:

      G-box. You can buy it online, Amazon, for about $100 and get anything you want. We are saving $1200 a year and watching the Blaclhawks in CA.

    • T says:

      Look into this because there are sport packages for cheap just like on cable. Sling tv has a few options and so do other apps on Roku. I dropped cable that was costing me over $45 a month. I got hulu and sling tv (free Roku if you pay 3 months in advance) and pay less then what I was paying with far more channels.

  • Bethany says:

    I just made the switch, my cable provider is Time Warner. Time Warner just signed a deal with Roku. If you subscribe to Time Warner TV services you can down load the TWC app on your Roku. You get access to most TWC channels and what’s on those channels live time. For FREE!!! So to break it down, I pay TWC $29.99 for internet, $19.99 for basic cable. I now have access to most channels and can watch my shows in live time, walking dead, army wives, duck dynasty ect on my Roku. It’s been less then a month for me but it’s working for me so far. My bill went from $145 to $50ish. Only thing I will miss is Red Sox games unless they air on Fox or ESPN.

    • Kelly says:

      On what service are you watching espn?

    • Muthusamy says:

      How i can go about to know more about Roku and
      Where i can buy Roku

    • Laurie says:

      I had Roku for about 4 days, once I subscribed to channels I wanted to watch, I was paying a couple dollars less than Directv. Was totally not worth it. At least with Directv, I could watch same day if I wanted too, also I DVR alot of shows to avoid commercials. Hated it!!!! Very hard to navigate around the thing

  • Linda says:

    If you have cable wiring in your house, get an HD antenna from Radio Shack and have someone connect it to your cable wiring to all the TV’s and mount it in the attic or on the roof. We get 20+ channels. I don’t miss cable or satellite at all. My kids and husband watch some things on Netflix or Hulu. My son was mad about not being able to watch Ninjago, but we found that you can buy seasons of it on Amazon. MUCH cheaper than paying for cable or satellite!

  • Lori B says:

    We use the Apple TV to stream to our TV. It is dummy-proof (for which I am greatful since our tech kid is away at college). It makes streaming YouTube, pictures and music from the computer, or apps such as Netflix super easy. We have not cancelled cable, but we do enjoy the wifi capability of being able to pick up our little AppleTV box and take it to another room and use it where we want. It’s easier than the Xbox!

  • Michelle W says:

    Hi Jess – Exactly what did you do “the same” as there are so many comments here and I am not sure which one yours is attached to. I live in the Philly area also and do not currently subscribe to an ISP or cable and need suggestions that can benefit me locally. I have HDTV’s and use an antenna but can never pick up PBS, Whyy and rarely receive a sigal for 6. Thanks!

  • Janice says:

    My family likes to watch sports on local tv and espn. Is there a way to still do this?

    • Joe says:

      Yes there is. Check out Sling TV. It’s $20 per month and you get ESPN along with a handful of other good channels. The only problem is that you can’t stream two different channels on 2 different devices at the same time…only 1 stream at a time. Also, service for many is sketchy, but it depends where you live. They have a 7 day free trial.

    • Sree says:

      If antenna doesn’t work, you get service from Sling. Sling provides live TV channels including ESPN extra $. If you have good Internet service, a Roku box or a Smart TV
      https://www.sling.com/package

      One of my friend is using and I’m planning to switch.

    • Ktbug says:

      We use an app of Roku called SlingTv, it has most of the common cable channels & ESPN & espn2, my hubby luvs it! Sling costs $20/month

  • Janice says:

    We live in NJ

  • Kathy Scott says:

    I wish Icould figure out how to do all of this!!! I am not at all technical! I am paying ridiculously high internet and cable with AT&T! !! I plan on retiring in the fall and lowering my bills would be a tremendous help!

    • Joe says:

      Just keep reading these articles and blogs about “Cutting the cord.” My plan is to keep my internet, get an HD antennae to get my local channels for free, I’ll get a TIVO with lifetime subscription for $300 to record programming while I’m not at home and then subscribe to a couple of lighter, low cost sources for tv and movies, like netflix, sling tv or amazon prime. You could start right now if you have a smart tv or a smart dvd player. If you have either, it will have an app for Netflix. Just click on it and sign up to start. With just that, you might get rid of your cable tv.

  • Rebecca says:

    we gave up cable TV five years ago and had Netflix exclusively for four years. Last October we subscribed to Amazon Prime and bought the Amazon Fire TV and now have 10 times as much to watch. Don’t miss cable at all especially since Netflix has its own tv shows now and those are some of my favorites!!

  • anna belle says:

    We are paying LOTS of bucks, over $110 month for DirecTV and get mostly 5-10 year old reruns, dozens of jewelry and sex product channels and lots of junk channels that are selling junk. There are only a handful of channels that have ANY current programming and half of those are liberal trash lunatics. I am going to go back to the main stream marxist media channels and YOUTUBE.

  • Virginia Chamness says:

    We just cut the cord this week. We had a basic plan with Dish Network which provided us with about 200 channels, no premium/movie channels. We did not have the Hopper or a DVR….just a basic receiver. We were paying $89.99/mo which included extra fees for our local programming and a 2nd receiver. We purchased a digital indoor/outdoor antenna which my husband has mounted outside and that has given us 14 local channels for about $65 (one-time expense). We are subscribing to Sling TV (a subsidiary of Dish) for $20/mo, plus an add-on package for $5/mo and Netflix for $8.99/mo. By prepaying 3 mos of service with Sling, we were able to get the $100 Roku streaming device for only $50. In a nutshell, we have paid out $115 in one-time expenses and will pay only $34/mo from now on. This is a savings of about $660/yr. Our internet service is through Frontier and is a bundle we have with our home phone service. The internet service is adequate for our video streaming. We are saving a great deal and only missing a couple of channels we watched regularly.

  • Linda says:

    That’s a great idea for people who live in the city but we have satellite internet and that would so eat up our bandwidth, but they are great ideas.

    • Jamie says:

      I was thinking the same thing! Works if you live where you can get decent internet! That would be amazing! 🙂

    • Sheila says:

      My thoughts exactly. I live in the boonies and my only choice for internet is satellite – very expensive and only get 10gig/month – so no streaming video for me. ? I have been begging AT&T to expand their internet service to my area just so I won’t have to deal with satellites stupid Fair Access Policy. Smh

    • Linda says:

      Regarding the satellite internet we’re lucky and qualified for the US internet recovery act so we get 27 gigs for $69/month that’s the highest we can go and we also don’t have to pay equipment fees but 27 gig isn’t enough when you have 6 people who use the internet some months we barely squeak by on bandwidth WITHOUT streaming anything.

  • Bridget says:

    I have never been able to afford cable. It was too expensive. I pay 60 a month for internet services with Time Warner. I cant seem to get that price lower. I stream stuff off the internet. I hook my old acer chrome book to my tv with a HDMI to HDMI cable. I search find what I like then play. I currently pay for a Netflix (10.00) Hulu (7.99) And Amazon (best deal ever). I watch documentaries on Youtube, Smithsonian, 48 hours, Dateline, and PBS. I am constantly search for new shows. I love music streaming from prime but I also stream regular stations. Freedom from all the cables.

  • Chenoa says:

    We’re interested in saving $$ too. Right now we pay $138 a month for cable, Internet and phone. Was just wondering if we switched to Roku, can we get the local channels (abc, nbc, cbs, fox) as well as tnt, usa, fx, a&e, disney,etc…?? Our promo contract with at&t ends in July. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! 🙂

    • Barb says:

      To get local channels all you need is a hd antenna. We bought a leaf antenna that mounts behind the tv.

      • Vicky says:

        What is a leaf antenna , where do You find That and how does it work?

        • Joe S. says:

          Leaf is a brand name for an indoor antenna. Look for it at amazon or walmart.com.

          I use an HD indoor antenna and cut back to Internet and phone package from Spectrum. I have Netflit and Slingtv. Saving 65.00 per month.

  • Flo says:

    We thought we would really miss the cable shows, but Roku plus cable internet/Netflix has been just fine. We have a $16 HD antenna but it only picks up the PBS stations. We bought the Roku stick when we got the flat screen LED at Christmas (big discounts on each of them) after we made the military son take back his big screen!! We lost the bundle discount when we dumped the cable tv, so our cable is still costlier (internet went from $60 to $72) than I would like but there is no alternative provider in our area. I love the opportunity to choose what I want to watch when I have time and the ability to come back and pick up right where I left off. This freedom means I am not a slave to the schedule and can stop and take care of something else at any time! (It sometimes takes a minute or two to remember that, but the new habit is coming along!)

    • Jane says:

      Go to http://www.amazon.com but make sure you get the right one. Make sure you live within so any miles from the tv station that matches the antenna you get. There’s several different ones so read the reviews. At least you can return if it is the wrong one.

  • Debbie says:

    It is important to note that rural areas do not have many options. There are no local TV stations. Cell service is spotty, Internet service may not be available or you are limited to 20 GB per month.
    I live in an area where you need 20 houses to sign up for cable before they will come out. We don’t have 20 houses in our area, let alone that will sign up. That’s eliminates that source for Internet and TV. Local TV stations are 100 miles away. We can get satellite service for TV and recently we have been getting “local” news. Before we had a choice of CA or NYC , we live in VA. We are not happy with our internet. It is slow and we have to pay additional high rates over 20 GB. Many people will be able to take advantage of these suggestions, but many others have no choice.

    • Joe says:

      I forget what it’s called, but you CAN pickup tv stations worldwide with a satellite dish and NO satellite monthly fees on a contract. I can’t remember the name, but look it up….for those who have dish now and can’t afford it anymore.

  • Jeff says:

    I feel your pain. I am now in the same boat. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Our Verizon FIOS contract will end on July 15th. We are seriously thinking to drop it; get some Roku’s, buy apps. Some have told me that Amazon Prime is worth looking into. I do have one advantage; I am an A/V Pro. I am a senior member on http://www.hometheaterequipment.com: Check this out:
    http://www.hometheaterequipment.com/home-theater-news-16/dvr-what-cable-cutters-have-waited-5162/
    Our web is: mrhookup.tv or .biz, etc. Read this post. IU think it will help you to make a decision. It’s a sad state of affairs, as I cannot even make up my mind where to go. Good luck to all, and keep sharing this important info.

  • Victoria says:

    I am just about sold on getting rid of Dish and getting a Roku. The only hold up right now is my husband’s sports. He loves them all and I do not. We have the tv in the living room and one in the man cave for all the sports on tv. Do I need 2 Rokus and will getting getting acces to Nascar, drag racing, football, basketball, baseball, golf, bowling, tennis, and soccer cost me more than than Dish?

    • MacKenzie says:

      Right now Sling TV has a deal that if you sign up for 3 months you can get a Roku box for 50% off or get the stick for free! It would save you on one Roku box. Sling TV has ESPN and ESPN2 plus many other channels that are great for sports fans. Check it out!

  • Mk LaRue says:

    I think it just needs to be mentioned that while Amazon Prime is an AWESOME service…the price on this is old. It’s actually $20 more: $99 total. It’s still a great deal working out to about $5 a month I think? Anyway, we have it (as well as the Amazon tablet, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick…lol. we may be slightly Amazon nuts.), I highly recommend it, just wanted to throw out there that the price has changed.

  • lynne irby says:

    can I still get HGTV, E, DIY, and other cable channels- watch the shows “live” or a day later?

  • Elisha McCutchen says:

    If you have a smart TV with the ability to stream to your TV already, would you still need to purchase the Roku? We would continue to use our Amazin Prime. Thanks!

    • Judy says:

      I have smart tv in my living room and there is no need for Roku the app for amazon and netflicks and others in on the app section of my smart tv as well as you tube and others my kids got small smart tv vizio for christmas and now no need to use xbox watch those channels on the old tv which were pretty old as a bonus I expect my power bill to drop a bit with the new tvs.

  • g andolina says:

    FREE! i do it all for free.

    I get my movies and TV series DVDs from the library. CDs too. They’ve just started steaming, so I have to find out what that’s about.

    I know when to ask by checking the DVD release dates sites, so I wait-list way ahead of time.. I use the computer for news.

    I would do Prime if they let me pay in installments, but they won’t do that. $100 chunks just have to keep going elsewhere when it shows up

  • Chrystal says:

    Sooooo what about not having a DVR? Not sure I could do w/out one 🙁

  • anjannette purgason says:

    I ditched cable long ago. I own a roku and love it.

  • Carly says:

    So great to read a post from a fellow Pittsburgher! However… I’m wondering HOW you found internet for $30/month! We also use Comcast, and the lowest we could get that would allow us to be able to stream runs us $80/month. I’m wondering if maybe since the article was written a few years ago, internet prices have gone up? Either way, once we switched to not having cable, we don’t miss it at all – it’s just a different mentality of TV entertainment – I don’t know why we ever felt we “had” to have cable! We never watched anything live anyway!

  • Laura says:

    I wish you’d tell us how to get Comcast internet for $30. Cheapest plan here is more than twice that. Was it a promo rate for just a few months?

  • Pauline Zelaya says:

    AT&T has a deal now if you get fast internet, they will give 140 channels of TV free for one year.

  • Kim says:

    I love the Hallmark channel. Anyway to get this without cable?

    • Jennifer says:

      I have heard of a network called feeln that lets you watch Hallmark movies and other family friendly movies for $1.99 a month.

  • Destiny says:

    Do you have any idea if these work in Canada?

  • Violet says:

    I checked on one of these antennas at Walmart and was told that I had to live within 40 miles of the station in order for it to work. Since I live in the country and am not close to any station, what can I do to cut my costs. I now have Dish for my tv and TWC for my internet.

  • Julie.dykstra@att.net says:

    Ditched Dish satellite 3 months ago. Replaced with Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube (has most of the cooking shows, and Lydia’s blog:-). Using Google Chromecast to cast them to one tv, and game consoles (xbox) to view on 2 other tvs. Paid in advance for full year of Netflix for approx. $68 (instead of $119.88:12 months x $9.99) by purchasing a discounted Netflix gift card on Ebay. Temporarily used CBS free month (and another free month when I tried to cancel) to finish up the current season’s episodes of CBS prime time shows. Was getting my Hulu subscription covered by Bing search rewards, but they have now dropped Hulu gift card as a reward. Looking for a way to save on the Hulu subscription – any ideas?

  • frances says:

    what kind of TV do you need to get hulu and Roku?

  • We cut our cable and use an Amazon Firestick I use Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu with it. We just started with Jelly Telly too. It’s Christian based with shows like Veggies Tales and What’s in the Bible. The money savings is so worth it!

  • Sarah Jones says:

    I have a Magnavox DVR. Had to stop using it when the cable company went to making everyone have their box to even “get cable”. Check Amazon. Cost ranges from $275-350 or so.

  • Lori says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing, but wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks for posting!

  • Melanie says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a year. We pay waaaaay too much for cable. Have been trying to figure out what we can and can’t live with and it’s tough! This has inspired me to make it a priority!

  • Maureen says:

    We never have had cable. We have DSL for internet. We have used Netflix before it was streaming. We have used Antenna TV. We now also have Aetna Prime. I got a fire stick as an early mother’s day present

  • Nan says:

    Our bundle contract expires next month, so we are poised to cut the cable. Here’s the plan: sign up for most reasonable internet service available, subscribe to the least expensive tier of PlayStation Vue (has the channels we most prefer,) buy an Amazon Fire tv box (coordinates well with PSVue) and purchase Ooma to cover telephone landline need on the cheap. Waiting for Amazon Prime day in mid-July in the hope of saving more.

  • I cut back on cable channels and tried out some of these other suggestions. I was able to get my cable bill down to the same price as Sling and Netflix so that my husband could still watch his favorite channel Velocity! I couldn’t find it anywhere unless I had an account to sign in to. I would have been able to cut it completely if it weren’t for that! Love these ideas.

  • This is a great and informative post! We cut the cable last year and it was one of the best decisions we made! No more expensive monthly expensive bills! Now we use a regular digital antena and internet Tv service, which is super cheap and still watch our favorite TV shows! No plans to go back again to Cable TV!

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