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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

on living without cable....

Early last summer we finally took the plunge.  We cancelled our cable!  It was something we had been talking about since the previous fall (in 2011)....but neither one of us was ready to do anything about it.

Now...I'm not here to say that I'm/we are so thrifty and great with our money because we are not.  Lord knows we still don't always make the best decisions with our money 100% of the time.  {We still have our smart phones and the data plans to go with them!}  BUT....we did participate in a Dave Ramsey 14-week class last spring (Financial Peace University) and we are SO much better for it!!  If you ever have the opportunity to take this it!  And the younger the better.  I wish Geoff and I had taken this before we even got married.  But better late than never!

So in fall of 2011...I started feeling really convicted about the money we spent on cable.  Nearly $100 a month.  That's $1200 in a year!  But like I mentioned before...we just didn't want to give it up.  We do enjoy sitting on the couch (with laptop/iPad in lap, no less) and watch some TV.  But for the just didn't seem to be worth it.   Just thought there had to be another way.

My stipulations:
I needed something to replace my DVR.  While we enjoy watching our shows...we only do so after the girls are in bed.  Hence...we needed something.  I have a friend that uses Tevo (I believe)...and I while I can't really say anything about it because I do not know anything...whatever Geoff did find out in his 'research' I did not like.

Geoff's stipulations:
He still wanted to have a nice picture (preferably HD- although I must admit it's hard for me to tell the difference?).

What we did-

1) Got an HD antennae 
(Not like rabbit ears and I honestly don't even know what it looks like or how you hook it up) from Best Buy for about $100 and it is now in our attic.  With this antennae....we are able to get basic channels which is not much, but enough- like abc, nbc, cbs, pbs, etc.

2)  Subscribed to Hulu.
I use Hulu the most.  This is basically what replaced the DVR.  It is a subscription that costs $7.95 a month.  You have to either have internet on your TV (which we do not)....or something with internet capabilities like a Wii or playstation.  Fortunately for us- we have both and use one in the living room and one in our bedroom.
Hulu Plus (Kindle Fire Edition)

Hulu offers a ton of different shows....past seasons and current seasons.  This is a big deal for me!  So for the shows I like to watch like Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, Revenge, Nashville...that come on every week...they become available on Hulu about 24 hours later.  Which works out fine for me because like I said before- we can never watch anything live anyways and what's one more day.  Plus that just becomes the day that that specific show comes on for me so I don't know any different...still can watch it every 7 days.  There are commercials, but it's not like watching it live with commercials.  They are much shorter.  A normal 1-hr show on TV (like Parenthood) usually has only 43 minutes of play time...and depending on how popular the show is...there may be 4 to 5 1-minute commercial breaks.  You can't fast-forward through the commercials...but while watching the actual show you can pause, fast forward, rewind, etc.

Reality TV- as of last season- they did not have The Bachelor on Hulu, but they did have Dancing With the Stars...and yes it was a day later, but for me it still worked just fine because I work every Monday.  :)  I'm not sure about shows like The Voice and American Idol because I'm not really watching those right now.

It also kind of worked out making our switch in the summer when there wasn't really anything on TV anyhow.  So I took the opportunity to go back and watch the first season of Revenge and the 3rd season of Parenthood (which is such a great show!)  and now I'm hooked on both.

I've been hearing a lot about Downtown Abbey that's played on PBS and I think I'm going to start watching all of those episodes....maybe not til the summer, but I know that even though I never scheduled a DVR to record them...they're at my fingertips on Hulu,  :)

3) Subscribed to Netflix.  
Geoff uses this much more than me.  And it seems that a lot of people who already have cable already have this subscription anyway.  BUT....this will be where we will watch the rest of the last season of Mad Men when it's released (which will probably be when the new season starts).  We had seen the first part of the season before we quit cable.  

4. Use your laptop/tablet/iPad.
Not my favorite thing...but I did do this some in the summer because I wanted to watch Army Wives.  It is not a show offered on Hulu, but I did recently see that the latest season is now available on Netflix- so problem solved.

Another thing we sometimes do with our laptop is....Geoff bought a cable (not sure of the name but I'm sure someone at Best Buy does and that's where we got ours)...that you can connect your laptop to the TV and whatever you are streaming on your can watch on your TV.  Now- the picture quality isn't the greatest, but definitely doable.  Again- we don't do this often, but if we're really wanting to watch something and it's our only choice then that's what we do.

5) We also use VUDU.
Now- this is not a subscription.  You do need internet on your TV or a device with internet capabilities.  This is a place where you can go (not literally) and buy and/or rent shows and movies.  So you are only paying for something when you actually purchase the specific show or movie.  We don't do this very often because it could get pretty expensive, but I love having this option.
File:Vudu logo plain.jpg

For instance....have you guys seen Homeland?????

If your answer is no then oh my goodness you are missing out!!!!   I won't go on and on about it here...but it is a great show that Geoff and I both looked forward to and were on the edges of our seat during each episode.

Ok- so you can see....Homeland is a show on Showtime.  Well- we don't have cable, let alone a premium movie channel that would have cost us an additional $15 a month.

So Homeland is not available for free on Hulu or Netflix (at least not right now)...but you can purchase the DVD set (probably on Amazon and other places, too)...or on VUDU.  So we spent about $33 on VUDU for the whole first season (which we technically now digitally own through our VUDU account and can watch episodes again and again if we wanted just like if we owned the DVDs).  The second season just finished and so it has not been made available on VUDU the last time I checked.  And while we did splurge with the $33....we are still saving tons by not paying for the cable + the premium channel each month.

We also spent about $22 on the first season of Dallas.  So I know we have to be careful and can't be buying seasons all the time or it won't be worth our giving it up in the first place!  But I feel like for the most part we are pretty selective.


So it's a commitment.  You have to be ready and willing find ways to still get what you want without spending the big bucks.  Or- you have to just be ready to give up the shows that you're just not going to be able to watch anymore at all.  For instance- Real Housewives of Orange County (although I think you can stream those on the web but I just don't take the time)....all of the Kardashian shows (yes- I admit it- we used to watch them all).  But as you can see....we aren't really missing a thing and our lives are probably better for it!  ;)

Now- this past summer with it being the olympics....we did miss out on some things.  I really like to watch the gymnastics and I thought that I'd be able to stream on the web, but even that was tricky and I wasn't able to since we didn't have a cable provider.  Then football season....Geoff would just watch live, but no pause, no rewind, etc.  And sometimes I do still get ancy because I don't want to wait until the season is released to the non-cable owning public.  But really- it's TV...and life goes on and I have plenty of other things that fill my time.



So with our subscriptions (Hulu and Netflix) we are paying:
About $17 per month...which comes to about $204 a YEAR.
A savings of $1000 in a year!!
(A little less when we purchase seasons of shows on VUDU- but, for us, that essentially comes out of a different part of our budget.  But even still- just since we've been cable free that adds on $ still a $945 savings in a year)



jessi bridges said...

I've been married 9 years and we have never had cable. Not having cable is the best thing in the world. We hardly watch tv since it's almost all trash anyways! The only thing we miss not having is the major news networks. But that's what twitter is for, right?! But we are thankful for hulu for sure. Altho they stopped having so much available online anymore without the subscription :( We used to just hook the laptop up to the tv and watch hulu for free. But not so much anymore.

Great tip. Great money saver!

Laura Day said...

We recently got rid of our cable, as well! I'm so glad we did! We have a Roku, which has Netflix and Hulu as well as Pandora, Angry Birds & a ton of channels you can subscribe to. Some are free, some you have to pay for, but I love finding the free ones! My favorite is all of the fitness channels :)


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