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.


However, it’s very easy to give up that savings in small drips to still get the same content. If you want to know how to cut the cord and still get television content, here are a few of the popular replacement options:

  • Sling TV – Starts at $35 per month, but is very easy to get upwards of $50. 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 $50 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 – They offer plans at $5.99 and $11.99 per month. We’ve tried Hulu a number of times and found Hulu is good for network shows and their exclusive content.

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, and we get great reception on it.

*Related: Looking for the perfect cable replacement? Check out our guide on Sling TV packages to learn how the platform replaces much of cable at a fraction of the cost.*

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.

For example, my wife didn’t know how to watch HGTV without cable. We found that many of the streaming providers offer HGTV, not to mention other options to get the channel. I was concerned with how to watch college football without cable, and found that many streaming providers offer the sports channels needed to catch all the action.

So, rest assured, there are many options to 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.

**Additional tip: Love NFL football but don’t know how to watch your favorite team without cable? Here’s how to watch NFL games online for free and still catch all the action!**

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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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • 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.

  • Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says:

    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.

  • Throwingyourmoneyaway says:

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

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    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!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Very cool Win and completely agreed! There are so many options out there today that it doesn’t make sense to have cable.

  • 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.

  • Lori G. says:

    Due to the cost of my often increased bill for Triple Play, I have had it with Comcast. I am planning to cancel my Comcast service (not under contract) but still need internet, home phone service, & TV of some-sort–whether from Comcast/Xfinity, AT&T, Ooma for phone, streaming, antenna, etc. Although the home phone doesn’t get used much, I am on my own with two kids; my son is disabled and cell phones don’t work in all rooms. We don’t watch that much TV except basic channels (NBC, ABC, etc) and E channel, Disney, & Nickelodeon (daughter sometimes watches Netflix via her friend’s account). The house we live in (Chicago burbs) still has an old roof antenna but not connected and wouldn’t have HD. I keep researching & getting confused with which route to go. I am open to streaming, antennas, etc. but not tech savvy and would appreciate any suggestions.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Hi Lori, I would look at getting an antenna like the Mohu Leaf I mentioned in the post. We have two & they work great. They’re small, go right by your TV and provide HD capability. For the non-network channels, I’d look at something like Sling TV or DirecTV Now – I mentioned both in the post and are relatively simple to use.

  • Lori Gutmann says:

    Signed up for 3 months of DirecTV Now–prepay & get an Apple TV4. I am planning to get the antenna. I still need internet from either Comcast (not sure how much they’ll negotiate) or AT&T (50 Mbps with 1Tb of data for 12 months is $40 with Wi-Fi Gateway router). Still need basic home phone–any recommendations if I go with VoIP service & the internet provider?
    Thank you, John!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Glad to hear it Lori! Do you need to have a landline? If not, I’d look at someone like Republic Wireless for cell service – they offer plans starting at $15/month – We’ve not had a landline for years, so I’m not certain what a good price would be.


  • Gary Beach says:

    We have a $12.00 antenna from Best Buy and a Roku Stick. We get 10 local channels and tons of channels with Roku. The You Tube channel comes with Roku and you can get most anything with it. We also have Netflix for $10.69 a month. Been cable free for two years and it’s the best thing we ever done.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Very nice Gary. We spend about $20-25 per month, because we get HBO GO, but it’s the best thing we’ve done in a long time.

  • Jim says:

    When we first got directv seven years ago, we paid $59.95/mo for the premium package. We’re now paying $204.07 for the same service and can’t afford it. I’d love to cut the cord, but I have questions about streaming. Our “high speed” internet connection is via att, and it’s not very dependable. The on demand programming is extremely slow and often fails to download properly and has to be redone, and streaming results in so many gaps and pauses that I rarely use it. The last thing I want is to be caught up in the middle of a story and have to watch a sundial for ten minutes.

    I’m not a big sports fan, but I love old movies and can’t imagine life without TCM. I also like to record several series, which may cease to matter via streaming, I’m not sure, but am I able to skip ads when streaming?

    I want local channels, TCM and maybe 7-8 local/cable channels, along with a premium channel or two. That’s all I want.

    I really don’t know where to begin or what equipment I need. Your site has certainly increased my knowledge, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed here, and I’m just not sure how to proceed. Any suggestions for this novice?

    Thanks for reading!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Ouch, sorry to hear about that bill Jim and can understand why you’d want to slash it. Based on what you’re wanting, I’d look at Sling TV. They should get you access to most of the cable channels as well as a cloud-based DVR. For local channels, you’ll need an antenna which are pretty reasonably priced.

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