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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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Categories: Guides
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (16)

  • I finally did it. I cut the cord on 9/6/16. With my antenna, I can pick up 20 to 25 "free" channels from 4 local towns. I now subscribe to "vue" $34.99 per month which gets me 70 cable like channels including NFL, BTN and SEC just to mention a few. That's more than I got from the local ISP provider. Netflix streaming gets all else($7.99 per month). The internet is $59.99 per month so total is around $100 vs $150 per month for cable which continues to increase every 6 months. Sounds like a savings of $600 per year.

  • Agree with everything Dennis said. All you have to do is figure out what you are usually watching, then you will realize what a waste all those hundreds of channels you DON'T watch is. And how much money you are throwing out the window to the Cable or Dish or DTV.

    The only problem I have is the fact that you usually end up having to use two controllers in some fashion or another (Usually a Roku or Amazon, along with the regular TV controller. For a savings of more than $70 a month, I can live with that!

    Just read The Grounded Reason Blogs for guidance on TV antennas, DVRs and other helpful information, and get with the program by CUTTING the cord!

  • I cut my cable cord this summer after I found I could get ESPN (and many other cable stations) for $20 a month with no contract via SlingTV. I used their 7 day free trial to see the European soccer championship. I paid $26.50 with taxes for one month of SlingTV's Blue package to get NBCSN to see Olympic soccer and basketball.
    I plan to signup for SlingTV in late November to get ESPN for a few months for college sports and a few Monday night NFL games. I will also sign up sooner for TBS and or FS1 if the Red Sox get into the playoff's, aka "Serious October baseball".

    SlingTV comes in fine on my DSL which gives me only 5 Mbps

  • Dennis,
    Began reading Grounded Reason about a month ago but when it comes to the selection of an antenna I'd appreciate your opinion. I live in a HOA community is decidedly against external antennas. I know of the FCC decision regarding the right of home owners to use external devices however, I choose not to anger the minions. My home in Las Vegas has stucco walls and a tile roof approximately 8, 14 and 27 miles from the transmission towers, with a reasonably good line of sight. What would be your top three suggestions for an attic antenna for my application?

  • We started the research to cut the cord in May 2016 as a result of Time Warner being purchased by Spectrum in SE Wisconsin and the monthly expense went to $200/month. And thank you to grounded reason coming up in the search results in Google! This site answered the questions we had and we were able to put in a MOHU antenna (in the attic) for local channels, purchase a TiVo Roamio DVR, and purchase the new ROKU stick using it with SlingTV. We turned in our cable equipment in August- keeping the internet service for about $65/month- and have cut our montly bill in half. The cost of the new equipment will take about 6 months to pay off from the cable bill savings. We are very happy with the savings and the picture quality is now much better than it was from cable too.

    • Awesome! Another example of how much happier we are, when we break free of from our TV overlords. :)

  • Dennis, any idea if Sling TV will ever offer Fox News? Any latest info on Direct TV Now?


    • Akela,
      Fox News is on Playstation Vue, but you have to have a Playstaion to open an account. Then you can add it to ROKU, etc. I wont get specific, but if you google IPTV, you will find services that offer almost everything you could want for the price of Sling. Some are better than others. None of the services require contracts, so have fun digging deeper into the world of cord cutting. I'm just getting started and finding that there is far more than most articles talk about.

      • Thanks Kenny. Totally forgot that Fox News is now on PlayStation Vue. I dropped their service because it's a total headache if your router IP address changes (Which mine does often). I'll have to give them another try to see of they resolved it.

    • Hi Akela, Fox News seems very anti cord cutter. I don't think they are available anywhere. I'm still waiting on news about direct TV. I'll let you know as soon as I hear something.

  • I cut the cord last year. I get about 40 channels!!! I am in the New England Area. Lots of TV stations. Lol. I have an android box and stream all the new movies and TV shows as well as old movies for free!!! Kodi rules lol I am laughing at the cable company crooks. My bill per month is $0 I pay for internet $45 per month which I had anyway so life is good. Sure there are some channels I do not get or cant stream but I get 95% of what I want. Also I get some cool otr movie channels that cable or dish does not get. Older tv and movies that bring back memoreis. I do recommend to everyone to invest in a long pole 20 ft attach to chimmy way over roof and a compass. Know what north and magnetic north is!! Lol then you can direct your fixed antenna correctly. cable ties to secure it and a big HD quad antenna. You will get more channels this way.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Steve! It's important for readers to see just how easy it is.

  • Hello Dennis,

    Oct 24, 2016

    Recently, this month I took the plunge and took major steps to cut the cord with Satellite.

    I bought over 800.00 in new equipment, a TiVo OTA 1 TB DVR, and TiVo Mini, Clear stream 2V outdoor antenna, New Cat 6E network cabling and 6 port GB net-gear switch, 2 port Antenna Splitter/amplifier and other misc. hardware.

    And set it all up myself… Since I am a Tech person.

    I spent a lot of time researching this, and thought I did well on nearly all of it.

    Except on TiVo’s website they were a little misleading about one thing I did not pick up on until I tried it. From TiVo’s Website, I could view and watch all my favorite Satellite shows (like on Dish) and liked to record.

    But the important difference is not thru my New TiVo Box without a Subscription Service, a very big disappointment to say the least. Currently I am paying almost 120.00 a month to have Dish and only watch maybe 10% of the channels. Unfortunately, this was implied not stated on TiVo’s site. Woops… I missed that.

    I currently receive more than 55 channels with my OTA External Antenna, and I can record shows 2 weeks out, but I at this point without some type of a subscription package to get all or most of the shows I like from Dish.

    Sling TV was attractive until I found out I cannot record the shows for later viewing on my TiVo DVR, a big downside.

    Somewhere on your website, (possibly in a forum), it listed a complete subscription package that would give me back most of the channels I got from dish it, was pricey @ 69.00 and at this point I am willing to spring for it.

    Since I desperately want to dump Dish Satellite. And I have a considerable amount invested in new equipment.

    My Comcast network download speed is Between 25-30 MPS and 5-6 MPS upload speed. I have plans to upgrade this service once I dump Dish to 75MPS download

    I am very pleased with my TiVo DVR and Clear stream 2 V antenna. I am Considering buying a Roku but Not sure I need it.

    currently subscribe with Dish for the 250 CH package and of course mostly viewing all of the popular Channels Est 50-60 that we like.

    Can you please help me with the missing info I need to make this work?