More families every year are doing the same thing and enjoying the same quality of programming they did before (but at a much lower cost). Here's how we went cable-free (and so can you).
Steps to get rid of your cable bill:
Step 1: Cancel your service with your cable provider. When your contract is up with your satellite provider (and with most companies, you'll notice that your bill will jump in size, sometimes nearly doubling), call the provider and cancel the service. If your contract is not up, you may pay an early cancellation fee. Do the math and count the costs before cancelling early. You may need to place a note on your phone or calendar to alert you again about when your contract is up, should you decide to wait.
You must be adamant about your cancellation with the customer service rep over the phone. It's the service rep's job to keep you as a customer, and they will try every trick in the book to get you to stay. Don't fall for their offers--you'll end up in the same boat again with a monthly bill you don't need. Resolve to be free of the company's contract and overpriced service!
Cost: $0. This is if your contract is already up. Otherwise, it will vary with the amount of time you still have on your service contract.
Step 2: Buy a digital antenna. Newer TVs are equipped to handle the antenna only, but if you have an older TV like we do, you may have to get a digital receiver box as well (it's a small box that connects with a cable to the antenna and your TV). The antenna is for your local stations and major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX). Local stations are necessary in my opinion for emergency communications and instructions (though many may argue that the internet, through proper connections and feeds, can provide the same info).
Cost: less than $100 for the entire setup, which is about 3 months' worth of cable bills from most providers... which means it will pay for itself in less than 3 months.
Cost: varies according to speed and service. Our current cost is $38/month. I don't count it because I had internet even when we had satellite TV.
Step 4: Sign up with Netflix (or similar service). You have many options with this service: streaming, DVD, and a combination of the two. We have the streaming-only service, and it has worked great. Netflix has a great search feature, and has wonderful educational documentaries, family shows, and more.
You must have a device which will stream Netflix if you choose this: a Wii, computer, xBox, or Apple device (iPad, iPod, iPhone), though I understand more devices besides these are Netflix-ready.
Cost: $7.99 (+tax)/month. (Way better than $30/month we were paying before---and probably even a greater savings for many people!)
Other options (do your research):
Hulu.com (online and free)
Hulu Plus (the fee-based version of Hulu with more options and titles)
(Since Netflix is not the first to get new releases, we use Redbox for movies we really want to see on DVD, or just wait until they come out on the streaming. You can watch the Redbox blog for special codes to get free rentals as a treat.)
Step 5: Check (and bookmark) your favorite channels' websites for content and apps to watch latest shows. This has been a dream for us, as Disney has left off some of its shows from Netflix. I found the Disney Jr. app the other day, and my son can now watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse again.
Benefits of Ditching Cable
As a result of our weaning from cable, our family has discovered many benefits, including these:
**There is no need for TIVO or DVR. Netflix is always ready on cue. We can watch many episodes of the same series. We can have a Phineas and Ferb marathon any day at my house.
** Our exposure to commercials and online advertising has been greatly reduced. We are literally bombarded with advertising already embedded into programming, not to mention internet ads. But without some of those kids' networks toy commercials advertising overpriced goodies like "Bendaroos" or "Pillow Pets," my kids now think about what they really want for birthdays and Christmas. They don't have a network deciding for them.
Last year, my kids had a hard time knowing what to ask for, because they recognized that they had no real needs, and wants were seriously considered, not chosen from the latest bombardment of commercials.
** We are more discretionary with our program viewing. We don't just watch something on TV because it's all that is on. We are pickier now (and don't miss the larger amount of poor quality programs on cable now).
** We watch less TV. We read more now and find other things to do with our time.
** Freedom from one less bill. Yes, we traded satellite for Netflix, but the difference is huge. Netflix is automatically billed every month, and it is such a small amount that we barely notice it. It's refreshing.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."