Less than 5 years ago, about the time my oldest son was getting ready to graduate from high school, I took a hard look at our finances. Once Michael graduated from high school, the Social Security payments we’d received since my husband died would be stopping for him. Two years after that Nicholas would be graduating from high school and we would lose his Social Security payments as well. This was a nice little chunk of change out of our household income. It was time to start tightening up the budget.
The first line item that instantly jumped out at me was our internet/cable bill. Were we really paying $182 a month for internet, cable, and Netflix? I surveyed the boys to see what was important to them regarding TV channels. They were already primarily just watching Netflix on their gaming consoles. It really wasn’t a big deal to them if I wanted to cut cable. Nick’s only request was that we find a way for him to access ESPN.
It didn’t take long to realize that it was me that was really stressed at the idea of losing our cable. I really like to watch TV when I have some downtime. I had my favorite network shows and of course there’s my little HGTV and Hallmark channel addiction.
Luckily I was able to figure out a way to reduce our costs and still be able to watch our favorite shows.
Couple things to consider before you cut the cord on cable. First off, you want to do is figure out what shows/channels you’re most interested in. Check with your family and make a list.
You’ll need a high speed internet plan and something to stream your channels. Luckily there’s a huge variety of tools you can use now to access your streaming channels:
- Gaming devices such as the PS4 or Xbox One
- Certain blue-ray DVD players
- Smart TV’s-which are crazy cheap now
- a plug-in device like a Roku, Fire Stick, or Chromecast
If you want to be able to access your major networks or local channels you will also want to pick up an antenna. You can get these for as little as $15.
Okay, I Have My High Speed Internet And My Streaming Device. Now What?
Now you figure out which streaming service is best for you. This is where you need your list of channels/shows that are important to you. I’ve listed below what my household currently has. I’ve listed the basic price as of today and in parentheses I have what I pay for my particular plans.
Sling TV-starting at $30 a month ($36.05 with taxes)
We’ve had Sling TV for a couple years now. They have several options you can pick from. I have their orange option which gives me around 30 channels, including HGTV (most important to me), three ESPN channels (for Nick), TBS, Freeform, Lifetime, AMC, and Disney. I also added their Lifestyle extra package which gives me all 3 Hallmark channels too (and a few others like VH1, BET, DIY, etc.) for an extra $5 a month. They just recently raised their prices by $5 a month-BOO!!! but it’s still worth it to me. They did start offering 10 hours of DVR service when they raised their prices though, that helped ease the pain of the price increase for me. Disclaimer: it’s been a little glitchy for me lately.
HULU-starting at $5.99 monthly ($4.99 with son’s college discount)
Hulu gives you access to many of your favorite network shows, and most of the channels have their new epsiodes available a day after they originally air. They have a more expensive Hulu-live option as well that’s around $55 a month (too pricey for me).
Michael actually pays this bill for us since he gets his Spotify and Hulu account for $4.99 a month since he’s a college student.
Netflix-starting at $8.99 a month ($15.99)
We’ve had Netflix from the very beginning when they used to send us DVD’s in the mail. I know, I’m showing my age. We have the most expensive plan that lets us stream up to 4 screens at a time since we all use it frequently. There cheapest option starts at $8.99 a month for one stream.
DisneyPlus – starting at $6.99 a month (currently$0.00)
My oldest son (mostly because of the Marvel movies) was really excited about this. He was prepared to subscribe to this and then I found out that because we have one of Verizon’s crazy expensive phone plans, that they were giving us a year of Disney+ for free. Yay, I guess?? LOL. This one isn’t important to me.
Other Popular Streaming Services
There are soooo many streaming plans out there now. Here are some other popular ones I’m aware of:
- BritBox-all things British tv-related. I got this for my mom for Christmas this year.
- CBS All Acess-all the CBS related shows
- HBO Now and HBO Go
- Amazon Prime Video
- Playstation Vue
- Apple TV+
One word of warning…if you’re objective is to lower your cable bill then you need to be selective about adding streaming services. As you can see, we have several in place and that’s fine for us now. I could cut this down further pretty easily, and most likely will once my kids are out on their own but for now this works for us.
Another note to consider is that the cable companies have caught on to the fact that so many people are cutting the cord and they’ve retaliated by upping their internet prices quite a bit if you’re not bundling your internet with their cable packages. Not sure what the answer is to this, since in many areas you’re limited with the number of internet providers available to you. We basically have AT&T or Spectrum in my city, for example. I’m still saving money though.
How about you guys? Still paying for cable? If not, what streaming services do you use?
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