Personal finance experts agree that cutting cable can be a great way to save money every month, but it can be tough to actually cut the cord for good. My family had trouble canceling cable TV for many years, as we’d always miss it and get it back. Through a lot of research and work, we have finally figured out how to get the shows we love on our TV for pennies on the dollar.
Step 1: Subscribe to a streaming media service
Services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime are great inexpensive cable alternatives. They don’t have every show or movie available, but there is a lot to watch. You will have to adjust to seeing TV shows and movies a little bit later than anyone else. I’ve found that while it’s hard to not be up to date with TV and movies, it’s great to have full seasons of shows available to watch anytime. Also, these digital services have great original programming and indie movies you won’t get on cable.
Which service you subscribe to will be very dependent on what your family likes to watch. Our family loves our Netflix subscription because of the great original content they offer. Amazon Prime is very similar to Netflix, with different original content. Hulu Plus tends to have more up to the moment TV episodes, but the tradeoff is that you still see commercials. Be willing to try out a few services over time to see which one best matches your family’s needs.
Step 2: Get a set top box
While it’s easy to watch streaming media on computers, smart phones, and tablets, you may want to watch shows and movies on your television. This is where a set top box comes in. You need some sort of device that supports your streaming media service, whether it’s a Playstation console, Blu-ray player, Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV.
The set top box you choose will depend on what digital streaming service you subscribe to. Not all services are supported on all boxes. My favorite choice for a set top box is a Roku. It supports every major digital media service, and it has many free channels as well.
Step 3: Get a good antenna
When I first cut my cable TV service, I actually forgot about just getting an antenna for local TV channels. This is a great option for no frills TV viewing, and as of right now, the only way to watch big events like the Superbowl and the Academy Awards on TV. And with all channels going digital, reception is pretty great now. I was even surprised to see my local affiliates had multiple digital channels, with some dedicated to weather and cooking programs.
Step 4: Look around for free videos online
This may seem like a no brainer, but I was surprised by how many free videos I could find to watch. YouTube is a great resource for fun clips, full TV shows, and interesting independent productions. Most set top boxes have YouTube functionality, and my family enjoys watching fun YouTube videos on our television. Other networks, like Bloomberg News, stream their whole channel for free online.