Thinking of Cutting the Cord? This Works for Us!

For many years I yearned for a household sans cable TV. But one family member (who will remain nameless) was very resistant to any change. Luckily, we’ve cobbled together a solution that works for us. It’s not free, but it definitely beats the nearly $100 a month that we used to spend!

Sling TV

The backbone of our TV watching options at this point is Sling TV. Sling TV is a service that offers a variety of channels that you normally would have to have cable TV to enjoy. Some of our favorites include Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, TBS, Travel Channel, and TNT.

Sling TV is a monthly subscription service that you stream via the internet. We use both a Roku and a Fire Stick to stream the channels to our TVs. There are a couple of different packages to choose from, but we subscribe to the basic plan which is $19.99 a month. There are other more expensive packages that include more channels like a kids channels package or a sports channels package. And since it’s subscription based, you can cancel at anytime.

The major downside to Sling TV is that you can only stream to one TV per subscription. So, the kids can’t be watching one show in one room and the adults be watching another somewhere else in the house. That would require two subscriptions. This has not yet been an issue for us. We just don’t watch enough TV and the few times that we’ve wanted to watch different shows, we are watching other things not found on Sling TV.

Netflix

We signed up for the Netflix free trial month earlier this year. And we found that we didn’t watch it enough to justify the $7.99 fee. However, my sister pointed out that with $8.99 a month package, you can stream to two separate TVs (the $11.99 package allows you to stream to four TVs). So, we’re now splitting that package with her family. We still don’t watch Netflix a ton, but for $4.50 a month, we’ve decided we probably watch it enough to justify that cost.

There is some great original content for adults like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. And there is some great content for kids including older Disney Channel and PBS shows. There are also a lot of good (albeit older) movies for both adults and kids (Space Jam with Michael Jordan is the current fave with our kids).

Amazon Prime

We’ve been Amazon Prime members for a few years now. We originally signed up for Prime when our daughter was in diapers and we needed bulk shipments relatively quickly. But now we utilize the free 2 day shipping less and the streaming features more.

The free streaming options on Prime are limited and there is some overlap with what Netflix offers, but we are constantly finding new things that we enjoy. Right now, we’re really enjoying the first few seasons of The Amazing Race.

Amazon Prime generally costs $99 per year ($8.25 per month) but we subscribed in January when it was on “sale” for $72. Up until last month, you could share this with up to 4 other people in your household for no additional fee (the “household” definition was very loose). But the people that you shared it with would NOT get the streaming service without the account owners password. My sister and I decided to share the entire service which did require me sharing my password with her. So that totals $36 for us for the year ($3.00 per month).

Probably because so many people defined “household” too loosely, Amazon has now limited the household to two adult members and both members will have access to the payment information of the other. This change presumably does not go into affect until you renew (January for us) but it shouldn’t restrict our current set up as I trust my sister with my payment information.

Network Channels

So those streaming options cover a lot of what our cable TV used to, but don’t cover the network shows (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS) that make up 75% of what we watch on a weekly basis. I had read mixed opinions about whether or not you could get these channels via the cable cord coming into the house without a cable subscription. Luckily, our neighbors were without cable altogether and tried plugging their TV into the wall to see what they would get. They discovered that they got all the network stations in HD with a few bonus channels.

I promptly called Time Warner and cancelled our $20.99 basic cable package. After a storm and some re-working of the cables to our house, we are left with the same HD network stations (along with the few bonus channels) for free. If we did not get these stations, we probably would look into Hulu Plus to fill the gap.

What aren’t we getting?

I’ll admit it. I’m a Little Couple fan. But we don’t get TLC with our current set up. We haven’t had TLC in many years and I’ve survived just fine. We also no longer get NBC Sports Network which Ken likes for Formula 1 and Premier League Soccer. There are other times when he’s able to watch these events so he doesn’t miss out entirely. And spending at least $50 more than our current set up for these two channels is not worth it to us.

TV Watching Total

While this set up certainly isn’t perfect, it covers about 95% of our TV watching needs for a reasonable price. All told, we spend $27.49 per month (and get free two day shipping with Amazon).

While I’m not suggesting that this set up will work for you (after all, we are lucky to get the network channels for free), but I am suggesting that you take a deliberate look at what channels you absolutely must have and try to work a package around that. And if it is just one or two stations that’s holding you back, make sure that you do the math so that you know how much those stations are costing you.

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Our Frugal Life