One way my husband and I save money is by not having cable. If you know us then this might sound crazy because we follow an embarrassing amount of weekly TV shows. We also work very long days, often being gone in the evenings when our favorite shows air. So how do we stay up to date on The Mentalist’s search for his wife’s killer or the latest shenanigans of Glee’s New Directions?
We stay current in three ways:
1. We watch streaming video on the internet (legally and safely)
We rely on our internet connection for most of our TV watching. We have a free account on Hulu.com where our list is updated weekly with the most recent episodes of our favorite shows. This is actually our favorite way to watch our shows because there are very few commercials (usually 1 30-second commercial for each standard commercial break) and we can pause and rewind the show at our own leisure. Some fight scenes on Human Target are worth rewinding and watching again.
We watch most of our content on our laptop in the living room, but if you prefer to watch on your TV you can purchase a Hulu Plus account for $7.99/ month and stream the content to your television set through one of the supporting devices. We are looking forward to when we can use Hulu Plus for the Xbox 360 (coming soon).
Outside of Hulu, many networks offer their most recent episodes of shows on their own websites, requiring you to visit them weekly so they can make more money from the traffic to their site. While this is a bit more annoying (CBS is notorious for this), the viewing experience is very similar to that on Hulu.
2. We utilize Netflix Instant Watch, streamed through Xbox 360 to TV
Our Xbox 360 connects to the internet for game play. Many people don’t realize that the Xbox 360 offers many “apps” for other internet related fun such as Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix. If you have an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, or one of the other supporting devices, you can easily stream Netflix to your TV.
We received a year of Netflix for Christmas, so we are currently not paying anything for our account. We have the subscription that allows for streaming Instant watch and 1 DVD in the mail at a time, which if purchased would be $9.99/ month. If you purchase a year at a time you can get a lower fee. They offer a free 1 month no commitment trial. Careful, it’s like crack-it doesn’t take much to get hooked!
Netflix has an extensive online streaming library of movies and seasons of TV shows that we can watch instantly. Though many of their most “premium” movies are currently only available by mail, we have never found ourselves without something to watch. Thanks to Netflix we discovered a new favorite show, Bones, and have been watching all of the seasons from the beginning- without commercials! We are in season 4, please no spoilers. 😛 Netflix has also said that they would like to move to having all of their content available online for Instant viewing, thus making the slow by mail option obsolete. This will be amazing.
3. We have an antennae (remember-some channels are free)
When we are home, we do enjoy watching stuff as it airs. Having an antenna also allows us to watch big events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars. We get all the basic network channels, so daytime TV that is unavailable online (i.e. Ellen) is available for normal viewing. Our TV is older, so we also require a digital converter box for our antenna to work.
My mom pays $121/month for combined cable and internet and is able to get internet alone for $40/ month. If she cancelled her cable and purchased both Netflix and Hulu Plus, her monthly fees would drop to $57.98/ month. She would save over 50% monthly. That’s a savings of $62.02 each month, or $744 each year, and that’s a lot of money! Savings like that are worth doing without the very few shows that are unavailable with an internet connection.
For her there would be an upfront cost for a device that streams to her television, (I recommend Roku but there are many devices from which to choose) but you may find you already have the capabilities in your existing gaming system.
There are other benefits to switching to this method of TV watching, but I’ll go into that more tomorrow. For now I hope this information is enough to get you thinking about doing away with your monthly cable bill.