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Frugal Friday: Could you cut the Cable?

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Frugal Friday: Could you cut the Cable?

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It’s Frugal Friday!  Each week, I’ll share tips, encouragement, and practical ideas for living a frugal lifestyle!  This week we’re going to revisit a popular discussion from early this summer–saving money by dropping your cable or satellite TV and considering some alternative sources.  Take a look at how much you’re paying each month.  If you bundle with phone, internet, and/or cell phones, how much of your total bill is for TV?  Now think about which shows you watch, and how often, and consider whether it’s worth what you’re paying.

If you think you might want to take the plunge, here are a few alternatives:

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  • Basic network TV is available in digital form for FREE over the airwaves.  You may need to invest in an antenna (prices vary with range, but less than $80), a booster, like this one for around $46, and/or a digital converter box (if you have an older TV that doesn’t have one built in).  We have a large antenna in our attic, and a booster in the basement before the signal goes out to the TVs in the house via coax cables.  It picks up signals in about a 60-mile radius (which for us includes Cleveland, Youngstown, and Steubenville), for a total of 60+ stations.
  • Netflix is $7.99/month, and can be streamed onto your TV through compatible devices.  There are lots of movies, but our favorites are the TV series that can be watched on demand.  We’ve watched tons of cable shows from the History Channel, Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and tons more, along with network TV series that are current through the previous year’s season.  They also have a pretty big library of movies, which they add to all the time.

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Fire TV Stick connects to your TV’s HDMI port. It’s an easy way to enjoy over 250,000 TV episodes and movies on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, and Hulu Plus, plus games, music, and more

  • Hulu Plus is also $7.99/month, and can be streamed onto your TV through compatible devices.  Hulu offers shows that are currently on TV, usually a day to a week after their current air date.  It also offers some movies, although not a ton of popular ones.  Compared to Netflix, Hulu Plus has a leg up when it comes to current network TV shows.  Netflix has a larger selection overall, but its TV shows are at least a season old.

  • Amazon Prime is $99/year, with a one-month free trial available.  Amazon Prime offers free streaming of many Amazon Prime Instant Video movies and TV series.  It also includes Free 2-day shipping on most Amazon purchases, the Amazon Music Library, and a Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  Amazon Prime Instant Videos can be streamed through compatible devices.
  • Sling Television is kind of a hybrid between streaming and cable.  You use a streaming device to stream select shows live, and you can add more channels if you want them.  The basic package is $20 per month, and includes many of the cable channels that people often mention when they say they’d really miss something giving up cable.  Worth a look if you’d like to cut costs, but not give up those channels completely.  Melinda wrote more about how it works HERE.

Streaming devices:

  • All three of the above options stream off the internet to your TV, and you may already have something that will do that.  Gaming equipment like the PlayStation 3 or 4, Xbox 360 or Xbox One, and Wii or Wii U can all stream if you have them connected to wifi.
  • Most new DVD and Blu-Ray players can stream, although you’ll want to look for the difference between “wifi compatible” (cheaper, but you need to buy an additional adapter to connect to wifi) and “wifi ready” (more expensive, but they’re ready to pick up your home’s wifi connection)
  • The newer “Smart TVs” come wifi ready now too, which means you won’t need any additional equipment to stream from of these sites.
We haven’t had cable since we moved seven years ago, and I don’t miss it, especially with Netflix.  But I realize it might be a tougher sell for a family with older kids who are used to cable or satellite, or for sports fans that really want to stay connected to all the action.  What’s your story on cable/satellite?  Sound off in the comments or on Facebook–I’d love to hear how you’ve done things.

If you’re just joining the Frugal Friday series, check out these other posts:


Megan has been frugal most of her life, but has been really honing her frugal skills as the chief home economist for her family of six, surviving and thriving on a single (teacher’s!) income.  If she can do it, you can too!

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