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The Economics of Cutting the Cord

I got rid of my cable in January, 2010. It was a liberating and awesome moment. Cutting the cord is one of the easiest ways to save on home expenses. But when I tell people, they ask, “what about sports, what about new TV shows?” I don’t need sports or new shows, I’m happy with old shows. But if you are interested in keeping sports and new shows without cable at home, read on for a full breakdown.

What Do You Really Need?

Before you worry too much about missing every baseball game, do you really watch them all? Before you worry about missing 17 regular season football games, think about the number you watch? How about your favorite show? Is it only available on cable, or are there cheaper options available?

If you really think about it, you probably don’t need to give your cable company $80 a month to watch TV. I have $35 per month internet and it is plenty fast for me to stream HD movies on Netflix. My Netflix package costs less than $20 per month for unlimited streaming and one DVD at a time. That gives me everything I need.

What if You Want It All?

If you want the latest and greatest, here is a great video that explains everything you need to know about the costs. There is some liberal rounding, but it can give you a good idea of what to expect if you want the same entertainment package you get from cable.

Wow, those numbers sure add up fast. If you want Netflix, Hulu Premium, Amazon Prime, two sports packages, super fast internet, X-Box Live, streaming for your iPad, and a few purchased movies every month.

Stream Right to Your TV

The biggest game changer for me was buying a Roku a few years back. While I have since switched to using a Chromecast I control from my phone and web browser, I can watch my favorite movies and shows right on my TV without any funky cords or wires.

A Roku has its own remote and works like a cable box for the internet and costs between $32-$120 depending on the version. A Chromecast costs just $35! Both plug right into your TV’s HDMI port.

What Do You Really Want?

Despite what you may believe, TV is not a need for anyone. We can all live happy, productive lives without it. I have not had cable at home in more than three years, and it has made my life better. Instead of sitting at home by myself, I go out to community events, ride my bike, see friends, and enjoy what my city has to offer.

If you really do want sports and TV though, pick and choose what you really need. You don’t have to spend $180 to overhaul your entertainment package. Instead, pick what you want and dump the rest. I pay $35 each month for internet, $17 every month for Netflix, and pick the subscriptions you will really use to save money with a an la carte TV experience. But the total cost of that is far less than what I paid for cable.

Image by Rob Poetsch / flickr

10 thoughts on “The Economics of Cutting the Cord”

  1. Emily @ evolvingPF

    I haven’t had cable since I left my parents’ house for college. But I watch a ton of TV! We have an antenna for over-the-air channels, which gives us a lot of sports. We have Netflix, which is a Christmas gift every year from one of our relatives. We use Hulu (the free version) for current shows. We use my parents’ cable online login to watch more sports online and there are lots of free legal ways to watch big events like March Madness and the Olympics online. I think my life would be better in many ways if I watched less TV but at least we’re not paying to do it!

  2. I haven’t had cable or a TV for years. One of these days I’m going to get around to buying a TV so that I can watch movies on something larger than my computer screen. But that’s so far down my list of priorities that it might take another year or two – assuming I ever get up the motivation to drop the money.

    1. I like having a nice TV. My computer has HDMI, along with my XBox and Roku. I just upgraded from an old 32″ tube TV in the living room to a nice wide screen when my girlfriend moved in. It was a welcome upgrade.

  3. We cut the cord about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. We have Netflix and an over the air antenna. For only $30, we were able to get our local tv channels, plus the major broadcast networks for free. This works for us and I am liking the smaller bill.

    1. I have an over the air antenna, but it hardly works where I live. I’m on the bottom floor of an old building in a dense neighborhood, so the signal is pretty weak. And whenever cars drive by, it gets scrambled.

  4. Veronica Fletcher

    I’d like to know what those sports packages she referenced are. Sports (football and basketball) is literally the only reason why we still have cable.

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