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How I Cut the Cord and Saved Thousands

While I have written numerous articles and posts on watching TV without cable, I haven’t written a personal account of my own initial cord cutting experience.  Today, I’m writing something you can share or forward a link to friends and family and help them cut the cord.

I’ll cover my initial hesitations and issues I encountered when deciding to cancel cable.  I’ll go through my thought process and reasoning for cutting the cord. Ultimately, you’ll discover why many of the worries I had prior to cutting the cord were unwarranted.

The Hurdles of Cutting the Cord

When I first considered cutting the cord, I was easily able to talk myself out of it by asking a million questions. How will I watch my favorite channels? Where will I get news? How will I watch sports? I would immediately become overwhelmed with all the questions and put the thought away for another day.

Then, one day I realized it’s not about the channels.  It’s about the content on those channels. I personally couldn’t care less about the AMC network. What really mattered were “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad.” Once I shifted my mindset to finding content over content providers, I was able to think practically about my TV viewing when it comes to cutting the cord.

Eventually I discovered, successfully cutting the cord comes down to two questions.

  1. How do I obtain the Internet access I need?
  2. How do I watch content I enjoy?

So let’s dive into how I answered those key questions.

Finding an ISP

The first question is a big hurdle for many in the United States. The most expensive part of cutting the cord is paying for access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the companies that provide pay television in the U.S. are also the companies that provide internet access. As we all know, many of the companies have regional monopolies over Internet access.

These companies are also great at selling us more of their wares than what we actually require.  To stream an HD video from Netflix only requires about 5-6 Mbps. If you had a 25 Mbps Internet connection, you could stream 3 HD videos at the same time while comfortably browsing the internet on 2-3 devices and still have about 5 Mbps of bandwidth to spare. Using that same logic, if you are only streaming to one TV at a time, you only need about 10 Mbps of bandwidth.

I was able to get a Fios Internet Only Plan that provided the speed I needed for about $50 a month.  While this was 3 years ago, you can still find adequate speeds for similar or even better pricing. I’ve put together a page of affordable internet only providers to help everyone get over this hurdle.  The trick to suitable internet for cutting the cord is staying under $70 per month. Keeping the cost of internet down, allows for more freedom in purchasing content.

Watching TV

Similar to how your pay TV provider tries to sell you more bandwidth at a higher price, they will do the same with your cable TV package.  I had 100s of channels with my pay TV package.  I only watched a handful of them. In fact, I was spending just as much time watching my $9 a month Netflix subscription as I was watching my overpriced cable package.

Majority of those shows were on network TV.  I could watch those shows with a TV antenna. If I wanted to record those shows, I could use an OTA DVR. The antenna also provided a way to watch the NFL on Sunday.  I go into more detail on that in my article on how to watch the NFL without cable.

Essentially, I was able to cover my content needs for ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, and PBS with an antenna. But that didn’t cover TV shows airing on cable TV. What was I going to do about those?  I decided to list all the cable TV shows I enjoyed. As I listed cable shows I began to ask myself; “If I had to pay money to watch this show, would I.”

That question brought me to the realization that a lot of the TV I watch is just filler. Half the time I’m watching TV because I’m bored. I decided I could live without those shows. Ultimately, I was able to start a blog with all the time I saved not watching “Remember the 80’s” and other couch surfer content, but I digress.

After some consideration, I concluded I would pay separately for very few shows. At the time, those shows were The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, American Horror Story and Game of Thrones.

Now keep in mind, I’m talking about paying to keep up with the current season.  There were plenty of shows, like “Homeland”, I didn’t mind waiting to see on Netflix. In the end, four of the five shows on cable that I loved were available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video.

They sell season passes to the current season of almost any cable TV show you can think of. The price for each was only $25 for the entire season. The season pass allows me to watch the latest episode only one day after it airs on the network. That’s little over $8 a month. Furthermore, I own the show so I can watch episodes as many times as I want.

The one show I couldn’t find a source for at the time was Game of Thrones. Today, HBO Now is available. It’s like HBO Go without Cable. Three years ago, however, I had to get creative. We were able to convince the neighbors to have a viewing party every Sunday. Actually, by the time the season rolled around, we already had the HBO service. We still went over the neighbors every Sunday anyway.

That’s not to say my cord cutting experience wasn’t without sacrifice.  I am a big baseball fan, and like to watch the occasional game. Unfortunately, MLB games air only on regional sports networks. To catch the occasional game I started enjoying listening to my team on the radio. However, those days are over as well. Today, you can easily watch baseball without cable.

The Cost of Cord Cutting

I was amazed at the money I saved. My pay TV bill was nearly $200 a month when I decided to cut the cord. Considering my network TV was free, I was able to whittle that cost down to near $60 a month for internet and the handful of TV shows I purchased from Amazon. I’m not counting Netflix, since I subscribed to them even when I had cable.

There were some upfront costs. I had to buy an antenna. While at first I used my Xbox 360 to stream TV, I eventually purchased a Roku. Nevertheless, those purchases were less than what I used to pay for 2 months of cable.

The money I saved even beat the offers I later received on those cable TV “skinny bundles.” Regardless, those deals turn out to balloon in price once all the hidden fees and taxes factor in.

Don’t let anyone tell you any different. I’ve heard many media shills say you can’t save money by cutting the cord. It’s not true. You can save a lot of money by slightly shifting your perspective on your TV viewing.  Believe me. My family is living proof. We’ve saved thousands. Please spread the word. The TV and ISP industry won’t change if people continue to overpay for their services.

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