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One Year Without Cable and We’re $1,200 Richer

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We cut cable over a year ago and aren’t looking back, plus we’ve saved $1,200. Here’s what you can do to get the shows you want to watch.

Have you ever thought to yourself that you most certainly couldn’t live without cable? I did. I thought that I’d miss my shows (not that I really watched that many in the first place) and that cutting cable just wasn’t for me. I can tell you one thing – I haven’t missed a single show and cutting cable is one of the best things we’ve done in recent memory. Better yet, it has helped us save almost $1,200 ($1,180.80 to be exact), which has gone straight into our brokerage account at Vanguard to make more money for us.

Life Without Cable

 

I had this great idea of doing a year-end recap of being cable free for one year…only to look back at our bank account to realize we canceled DirecTV 15 months ago, not a year ago. If that tells you anything, it tells you just how much we’ve missed cable – not very much.

That said, life without cable the heinously crazy monthly bill has been great, for the most part. Instead of having 200+ channels to surf through, we have about eight, thanks to our Mohu Leaf antenna and anything that may be on Netflix or HBO Now. This means less time wasted on finding something and makes its easier to get right to what we want to watch.

It also means less time watching TV and simply experiencing life, not watching it on a magic box. There are so many things to do besides watch TV, such as:

  • Spend time with the family (gasp)
  • Read
  • Exercise
  • Go outside (double gasp)

These are just a few things we enjoy more now that cable is out of the picture.

The Dreaded Call

 

Raise your hand if you hate making that monthly or quarterly call to your cable provider to ask for a discount. I did. You get to go through some ridiculous maze to get to a customer service rep to drop a whopping $5 or $10 off your bill for the next few months…if you’re lucky!

They always seem to have some unadvertised package or tricky way to get you “savings”, but it usually includes giving up the channels you really want in the first place. The total number of calls you have to do that when you don’t have cable? That’s right, none. That alone is worth cutting the cord.

What Could You do with an Extra C-Note?

 

The average cable bill is now close to $105 per month. That’s money that can go towards retirement; paying down debt; or saving for your children’s college fund. All of those are solid options to consider with your monthly savings.

cable

However, it’s very easy to give up that savings in small drips to still get the same content. Here are a few of the popular replacement options:

  • Sling TV – Starts at $20 per month, but is very easy to get upwards of $45. Here’s my review of Sling TV, and why you may want to look elsewhere. DirecTV Now is a newer option and a similar, but starts at $35 per month.
  • Netflix – Starts around $10 per month and is a must have in our home as any parent of young kids will tell you.
  • Hulu – Starts just under $10 per month. We tried a free trial but chose to go without in the end.

I’m sure there are other options out there, each one with their own add-ons like the four above offer. If you do the math, you’ll see it’s easy to eat into that savings very quickly. That’s also not to mention one-time costs like the antenna, Amazon Fire Stick or Roku.

We tried out a few services, and this is what we’ve replaced our DirecTV with:

  • Netflix – $10.54 per month
  • HBO Now – $15.81 per month

We also have an Amazon Fire Stick (here’s my review of the Amazon Fire Stick) that we bought with an Amazon gift card, but retails around $40. We also have Amazon Prime but had it long before canceling DirecTV so don’t count that in our cost calculation. We also bought a Mohu Leaf to get local channels. It cost us about $50, and we get great reception on it.

If you’re considering canceling cable, you should set a plan for how you’re going to get your content. Many of the replacement options offer free trial packages. Take advantage of a few of them to find what you like and ignore the rest so you can maximize your savings and still get the content you want.

We cut cable over a year ago and aren’t looking back, plus we’ve saved $1,200. Here’s what you can do to get the shows you want to watch.

The One Thing I Miss

 

I’ll be honest; the hardest part of dropping cable has been missing out on live sports, particularly football. NFL games aren’t that much of a problem as we can get Sunday afternoon/Thursday evening games thanks to our antenna. Monday Night Football is a different story but is not worth selling my soul over.

College football is another question. We can get anything that’s local thanks to our Mohu Leaf, but many games are on cable. Does it suck sometimes to miss a game I want to watch? Yeah, but there’s more to life than football…at least that’s what I hear. 🙂 Like the Monday Night Football, it’s just not worth it to me to sell my soul and seeing that extra money go into our brokerage account is motivation enough to keep us away from cable.

Ultimately, we’ve found the cable-free life to be one we enjoy. We get to be more purposeful about what we watch and saving upwards of $1,200 over the past year is well worth it to us. If you’re willing to give it a try, it can definitely be worth a shot!

 

Do you still have cable? If so, how much does it cost you per month? What’s the one thing that’s holding you back from cutting the cord? If you don’t have cable, what have you done to get the shows you want?

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.

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16 Comments

  • Kathy says:

    I wouldn’t want to do without some of the shows I watch on cable but I certainly would like to cut back from having a hundred or so channels I don’t watch to the 10-20 I do. Why can’t we get ala carte without paying an arm and a leg for individual channels?

    • John Schmoll says:

      My wife and I have had that conversation too many times to count. If it came down to it, there are two channels we’d love to have – HGTV & ESPN. But, that’s not just an option right now unfortunately. I’d love to see the industry move this way and just pay for what you want/use, but who knows if we’ll see it.

  • This is so amazing. Great job!

    We don’t have cable and it’s been around 2 years since we’ve had it. We just watch local channels.

  • Congrats! Way to invest that money so you can earn instead of the cable company!

  • We are cutting cable this week actually! It’s sad we waited so long as we’ve written about it for a few years now. Lots of great alternatives out there.

  • Centsai says:

    That is incredible that you saved so much money just by cutting your cable bill! Netflix is always a good option when it comes to streaming well-known and older shows but personally, there aren’t many good movies! Also, Hulu has more updated and newer seasons of on-air shows but besides that, I am not a huge fan!

  • Win Warfield says:

    Great overview, John. I decided to part ways with cable almost over a year ago and it was the exact decision needed to gain an extra step towards saving. Between Amazon Prime and Hulu, NetFlix, VuDu, ESPN360 + all the other digitally based networks, the cable bill is now a thing of the past. Instead, I decided to pay for more bandwidth and have been reaping the benefits since then. I just tweeted this, excited to read more content from you!

  • FIscovery says:

    that’s fantastic – i just can’t seem to get my wife over to the FI side, or even consider some of the newer alternatives – would love to be able to pay per channel (assuming this would be a cheaper option) then paying for 100s of channels that we never use. Love the post, inspiring, just maybe some day this way. 🙂

  • Louie figueroa says:

    Still have Directv @ $90 a month. Would love to cut cable. I have two daughters 2&4 who love cartoons and their DVR loaded with content. That and sports are the. Sin reason I am hesitant. But to start investing that in a educational mutual fund for them would be great.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I can definitely understand that Louie. We have a 9,7 & 5 year old. There are many options out there that can get you a lot of the same content and save you at least half that amount, if not considerably more, each month.

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