The Cable Diaries – Final Chapter

by J. Money -

watching two tvs at the same time

So, five months ago I decided I was done paying $170.00 every month to our cable provider, and set out to lower it as much as I could without sacrificing quality of life. I didn’t know why we were okay with paying so much over time, but it just seemed “normal” so we never second guessed it (even as a personal finance blogger!).

But then we launched the Challenge Everything project and it completely changed the game.

Most of you are probably tired of hearing about it so I won’t get too into it again, haha, but for those new to the site it’s where I decided enough was enough and started tackling my recurring “normal” bills to figure out how low we could get them while still enjoying your lives. A handful of months into this and we’re now saving almost $200 EVERY SINGLE MONTH completely changing my financial mindset.

But while we knocked our cable down from $170 to $120’ish – roughly $50/mo in savings, I knew we could do better. Especially after hearing how many of you frugalers pay next to nothing for it, if you even have cable at all.  (Spoiler alert: we still have cable because we LOVE it! *gasp*)

The New Plan…

After a month or two of sitting on my ass and patting myself on the back, we finally decided to pull the trigger on the last remaining idea we had to finally lower it as much as we can right now. And that was to scrap our 10 year old perfectly-working-but-outdated-large-screen-tv for a more-compatible-with-new-technlogy-smaller-screen-tv to take advantage of all the online streaming capabilities for free’ish entertainment. And by “small” I mean “42 inches” instead of 62 (TWSS?)

You see, not only did mammoth TV not have any HDMI ports to get us hooked up – the bane of my existence – but it also didn’t even have a cable chord connector if you can believe that. And the kind folks over at Mohu had just sent me a few of their top-rated antennas to try out after following our series here, but without the cable jack I couldn’t even see if getting free stations was an option. So if we were going to make sure to save as much as we could here, again without nixing TV altogether, then we needed to be able to use our Chromecast or Wifi DVD player to connect us to the dang internet.

So I ponied up the $300 to upgrade us into modern technology with a new TV (Sharp 1080p 120Hz HDTV on sale from $480 at the time, thanks Brad!), and we were on our way to future savings… Even though, yes, we had to shell out $300 to get there. (Sometimes you have to pay to save, right?)

The Quick Shot at Antennas

mohu leaf antennas

As soon as we opened up the box, I went straight for the antennas to give it a go. This time very much compatible (YES!), however to my dismay still a big goose egg (booooooo).

The first model (Leaf Metro C, $25) gave me exactly 0 stations, the mid-tier model (Leaf Amplified 50, $70) gave me 3 stations I want to say, and the super duper SKY 60 ($150) gave me approximately 7 and 1/2. With the last 1 1/2 stations comprising of 3 that only worked 1/2 way ;) Though, to be fair, I didn’t exactly go up on my roof and mount it to truly test it out – something I didn’t want to do unless I knew it was going to be a game changer. Also important to note is that I don’t live smack dab in a large city anymore so that could very well be the reason they failed alone…

At either rate, free cable was now officially off the table. And if anyone wants to try out any of these antennas I have sitting here now, just give me a shout and I’d be more than happy to mail one over to you. Many of you have told me they work like a charm in past articles (which is why I agreed to test them out when offered) so you might have much better luck :)

[UPDATE: All antennas have now been given out]

The Part Where We Actually Save Money…

new tv vs old

Now to the best part of it all. Last we worked on this bill we had gotten our cost down to the $120-$130/mo range, but we were still holding onto our discounted premium package to get HBO, SHOWTIME, etc since we had no access to online streaming or Netflix/etc. So the first thing I did (without warning my wife – hah!) was to cancel that bad boy and then ask – for the third time in three months – if there was anything else they could do to help lower our bills.

In fact, this was exactly what I said:

“I love y’all, but I gotta get this bill below $100/mo or I gotta consider canceling it once and for all. Is there anything we can do to make this happen?”

And magically it was done :) Dropping our cable bill another $30-$40 to $90’ish now – woo! That’s a total savings of $80 since we first started this journey by literally making a few phone calls and re-thinking our setup! NICE!

(Okay, well that made it seem all to easy which it kinda was, but *only* if we had just made these calls and decided on this route from day #1 – which of course we didn’t. Not only did we have to dick around with trying to scheme the system before we even called up our provider initially (see our post on Oooma and trying to cancel our home phone line, or the time we attached 101 devices and chords to our degenerate TV in order to “upgrade it” which blew up in my face), but it took months of really thinking hard on whether we wanted Cable at all in our lives anymore, and then to finally pull the trigger on the real TV upgrade.)

So yes – what actually got us to save a ton of money technically only took a handful of minutes to incorporate, it was more of a monthly journey to get us from step a to step z. And now I’m thankful I don’t have to think about it again for quite some time :)

And here’s the crazy thing. We still have our phone, our internet (which actually got upgraded in the process) and our cable (lower tier now), and it costs almost the same as just having internet-only. And I know this because I priced it in case that was gonna be our final decision! $170 down to $90, freaking love it. The old me never even saw it coming – lazy ass, haha…

Since The Upgrade…

new tv savings

It’s now been over a month since we’ve pulled the trigger on this (I wanted to wait a while to see how I felt before posting about it), and I’ve come to realize a few things during this time:

  1. I have a much better appreciate for cable now. Testing out those antennas and thinking about what it would be like without it was no fun. I don’t watch a ton of TV really (an hour or so a night?) but I love the break from reality it gives me and realized I’m quite okay with not saving every last penny if it means increased happiness. Especially if it’s only a few dollars more than what internet-only would end up costing which I definitely couldn’t cut!
  2. I get addicted to *any* show pretty easily, haha… My biggest concern with dropping HBO et al was that I’d lose some of my favorite shows like Ray Donovan or Homeland, or God forbid Game of Thrones! Which, admittedly I do miss, however they’ve since been replaced with Orange is The New Black, House of Cards, and now Friday Night Lights ;) So apparently I adapt easily! [UPDATE: Y’all reminded me that HBO is coming out with their own stand alone service soon too! SCORE!]
  3. Netflix is GOLD!!!! And I’m very happily ponying up the $9.00 or whatever it is to stream across our new TV now that the first free trial month is over. So this $90 bill is more like $100’ish now if you factor that in.
  4. Modern HDTV is much better than 10 years old HDTV :) You can’t see it in that picture there up at the top, but I hooked up both our TVs to our cable box to see if I could tell the difference. And the answer was, Hell Yeah you can!
  5. It’s nice to be able to use stuff you paid for. My DVD player I picked up for $100 during my bone-headed moments was deemed unworkable on our old TV. So now we’re able to finally use it! Or, rather, my son is as he likes to play Cars and Happy Feet on rotation ;) (Don’t worry, I don’t let him watch that close to the screen like that – he snuck in when I was caught up trying to snap a decent pic of the thing, haha…)
  6. I still prefer 62 inches over 42… not gonna lie.
  7. And lastly, my wife didn’t kill me when she found out what I did :) (I can thank Orange is The New Black for that, and the fact I didn’t kill ABC now that The Bachelor is back – hah)

All this to say there’s always room to cut down costs.  You may have to do some soul searching and phone calls in the process, but if my 3 for 3 scorecard is any indication (we’ve saved on cable, insurance, and cell phones so far), I’m pretty sure you’ll have decent success too. And the return on investment will more than pay for your time.

Because remember, one action today results in MONTHLY SAVINGS going forward. And you really can’t beat that…

I encourage all y’all to try your hand at challenging your bills too. And then come back here and brag about it so we can promptly congratulate you :) It may not be the funnest thing to work, but I promise you your wallet will be a lot happier. And isn’t that the whole reason you’re on this blog right now?

———————–
PS: What happened to our old TV? We sold it on Craigslist of course ;) And then promptly banked it into our Challenge Savings account which is about to be updated here in a few days… No more pretend savings for me!

PPS: Another good thing about new TVs? Less electricity to power it :) (Good reminder, Jake)

UPDATE: Originally I thought our bill going forward would be $80 and some change, but looks like some pro-rated stuff was going on so it’s actually $90/mo going forward. Still a major win down from $170/mo which I’ll take all day long, but I went and updated this post to reflect the current #’s.

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian @ Debt Discipline January 9, 2015 at 6:59 am

Nicely done again J! We just upgraded to a new smart TV as well and agree, New HD is better then old HD! Do you see HBO is going to be offering a Netfilx type streaming service this year? Price point looks to be under $10 a month and you don’t need to subscribe to the broadcast channel.

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2 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

I did!! So excited about that!!

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3 Jake January 9, 2015 at 7:06 am

You missed one under the radar savings as well… I bet you’ll see a pretty decent savings on your power bill now, too. Your new TV probably uses less than half the power of the old one.

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4 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Very true actually, good call.

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5 Andy Schwartz January 9, 2015 at 7:53 am

Check out the sling tv its coming this quarter and is $20 for a whole bunch of great channels. ESPN,TNT,DISNEY i pay 150 for optimum and get it only for sports s oim so excited for this thing. I dont know if you need all the channels the only tv i cant get is sports everything else is on the computer for free or my netflix $9. I know it didnt come out yet but GET READY.

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6 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:11 pm

I keep hearing about them! Will def. look into later… I’m all tapped out with thinking of this stuff right now, haha…

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7 Amy January 9, 2015 at 7:57 am

Nice work! We cut our cable entirely last month, and it’s saving us $70 per month. Miraculously, we still get about 70 channels (shhh, don’t tell the cable guys!), so we haven’t had to invest in a Chromecast, yet. The HD quality isn’t as great on some of the channels, but I can live with it.

I thought our daughter would be upset because Disney Junior is one of the channels we lost, but she’s adapted quite nicely to watch shows on the iPad, instead. Whew!

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8 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Haha… all my kid cares about so far is being able to watch Cars. he never wants to watch anything else!

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9 Brian January 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

I am extremely close to dropping Comcast… they do have a plan in my area that is internet plus HBO go… so I think I might go that route…

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10 Money Beagle January 9, 2015 at 8:40 am

Our cable and internet is at $105, a number I’m OK with for now. We also have Netflix Streaming and that’s great as well. We just found out that we’ll be able to access Netflix right through our cable boxes, which will be nice, now we can move the Roku and Chromecast devices to TVs that don’t have a full cable hookup.

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11 John C @ Action Economics January 9, 2015 at 8:41 am

Very cool. We aren’t quite ready to cut the cord, but I do need to buy a router. Comcast charges us a rental fee of $13 a month for their equipment, which can be replaced for around $80. It sickens me realizing that over the last 3 years I have paid them almost $500 for that little box! Another situation where you gotta spend a little bit of money to save some!

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12 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Agreed. I tried to buy ours outright but the said “No way, Jose”… lame.

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13 Stephen @ How To Save Money January 9, 2015 at 8:47 am

You’re definitely late to this game, but glad to see you’ve finally joined the party!

I’ve been using home theater PCs since 2010 and have never subscribed to cable in my adult life. I’ve also never done illegal downloading.

Before there was netflix, digital OTA, and networks streaming their stuff online I subscribed to mail order DVD services to watch TV series that way.

Unfortunately things are getting worse for online streaming. Networks are putting up cable subscription pay walls, Hulu used to be 100% free but now there is Hulu Plus and pay walls for some shows too, there used to be about 15 seconds of ads between show segments total – now there can be several minutes, and prices are generally going up.

Eventually things will cost almost as much as cable did if you want everything but there will be much better pick and choose so you can pay a lower price and just get the stuff you really want. Right now I only pay for Netflix because I’m not a big sports guy and I don’t need premium channels like HBO or anything.

I prefer a full PC running windows over streaming sticks, box, smart TVs, and other devices myself because you have so much flexibility. Some of the newer devices are pretty cool (and cheap) though.

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14 Jay January 9, 2015 at 9:04 am

I finally decided to get an antenna and cancel cable a few weeks ago. Bought the antenna, and after putting it in the attic, got all the channels I was supposed to.

But then… I called up Time Warner and did the whole lower your bill dance, and was able to get a lower bill, faster internet, and keep ALL the same services… so I still have cable :)

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15 Taylor Lee January 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

Congratulations on saving so much on your cable bill! Right now we’re paying $72 for internet+cable bundle, and every time I ask they tell me internet-only costs even *more*, but it seems right around the time to go knocking on Comcast’s door anyway to at least try for a discount.

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16 [email protected] January 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

Very cool. Awesome jobs sweet talking them into lowering the bill! We just have internet for 39.99 a month and got netflix that we watch on our 27 inch iMac. Works out pretty well for us and I LOVE orange is the new black!

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17 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm

$39.99 is great!!!! I think we *could* in theory get ours lowered more if we went internet-only, but we’d have to sign a 1-2 year contract and we’re renting, so…. Who knows where we’ll be in 6 months.

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18 CharLena August 2, 2015 at 8:55 pm

[email protected],

Who are you getting your Internet from? We are about to lose Clear Wireless in November which has been $49.99/month. My husband is not keen on paying that, even, which I have always thought was a steal, but $39.99? Seriously, a steal. Do you like it? Are you always able to get on it? I mean no slow downs even around 2 am?

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19 Corinne January 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

Want to save even more on cable? Check out Sling TV that will be launching later this month. ESPN, TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, Cartoon Network, HGTV, Disney Channel, Adult Swim, and ESPN2 all just for $20 a month! We have cut cable a couple of years ago, but this deal we will be looking into more once it has become available.

http://www.slashgear.com/sling-tv-brings-cable-channels-to-cord-cutters-for-20month-05362256/

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20 Travis January 9, 2015 at 9:33 am

Are you using a box? If so, you should try bypassing the box and plug your cable directly into the new tv and run the channel setup. I am only paying for local cable that goes through my cable box, but on the other tv that is plugged directly into the wall I have 50+ channels including HD channels. Your tv has to have the built-in tuner inside, but it should still work. I have had it work with my house where I was serviced by Comcast and at my new location serviced by cox.

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21 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Interesting… haven’t tried that out yet, but hell – will give it a shot!

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22 Sarah January 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

Love this!! We got rid of cable about five months ago too, and we haven’t missed it at all. We have an antenna so I’m still able to watch my morning news shows and my husband can still watch some football games. We have Netflix and are thinking of getting Hulu, but I’m not quite ready to spend another $8 haha :) We also pay for Internet for around $40 a month. Cutting cable is by far one of the best ways to save money since there are so many other (cheaper) options out there!

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23 John @ Frugal Rules January 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

“…and realized I’m quite okay with not saving every last penny if it means increased happiness.” I could not agree more J$! This is exactly why we haven’t cut our cable. We’ve whittled it down to the lowest we can get it and we’re fine with the expense. Now, would I rather not pay it? Obviously, but there’s just no way to legally get sports right now and that and HBO are what keeping us on cable. We’re busy enough as it is that it’s worth it to have a little increased happiness. That said, once we get some better streaming options for things like sports then I’m definitely looking at it. :)

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24 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar January 9, 2015 at 9:41 am

Ah, the crappy OTA parts. So, coming from Philly, I was used to getting ~40 channels OTA.

Moving down to MD, I expected the same since the cities are just as big. WRONG. I’m not in Baltimore or DC, and apparently they don’t broadcast in our direction. We got 3 channels.
All were PBS. None came in well.

So the rabbit ears garbage now and I have to stream stuff like the ball drop! Well, it still went well using ChromeCast. Just a few refreshes over a 6 hour period. Perfectly doable.

The less channels that I have the more I realize that I didn’t need them anyways.

If you’re wondering about what channels you should get theoretically, look at http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29 They have a list of localish channels and show you which ones you can get with an indoor “set-top” (like yours), Attic mounted, roof mounted, or the “shit out of luck” category.

They also can create an overlay signal projection on a map. Very handy. Proved that I wouldn’t get anything even with more tinkering or adding tinfoil… I only have 3 channels max even with an indoor antenna!

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25 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm

haha… going now to see if I fall into that “shit out of luck” category, thanks.

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26 Mick January 9, 2015 at 9:50 am

Cancelled the Premium Cable Package and DVR on Monday this week. No problem for me because I wanted to cut the bill by $50 per month. I think however, that there may still be a tear in hubbies eyes!

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27 [email protected] January 9, 2015 at 9:57 am

We got used to living with no cable 10 years ago when we had no choice. Before that we cancelled our cable but I guess they never sent anyone out to turn it off (or whatever they did to shut it off 10 years ago) because it stayed on the next 8 months that we lived in that house. They just stopped sending us a bill!
We only have one TV in the house now. It is an old 42 inch. No Flat Screen. :( I envy other peoples flat screens but until this one kicks we are stuck.

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28 Crystal January 9, 2015 at 9:58 am

I’m all for saving money but for me, cable is a necessity. I love to watch TV. To me, it’s a cheap form of entertainment. If I didn’t have cable I would go out and spend money doing other things to occupy my time. I hate shopping and I read a lot and get all of my books from the library so I feel I can justify the cost since I’m not spending money on mindless shopping, etc.

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29 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Agreed! Perfectly fine to have cable if it fits your lifestyle and you’re not blowing money in every other category. Way to stick to your guns :)

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30 Dee @ Color Me Frugal January 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

Strong work! We also re-evaluated our cable situation a few months ago. However, despite my best efforts I was not able to get our cable company to budge on their price at all so we ended up canceling. We now have a Mohu leaf which picks up three stations for us, and we subscribe to Hulu for the rest. Savings: over $100 per month! And we really don’t miss traditional cable all that much.

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31 Done by Forty January 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

We still pay for tv: and love it. It’s by far the best entertainment we get for our budget dollars. I mean, tv is crazy good these days. And I need my Walking Dead. Need it. I refuse to wait a year to see it on Netflix, you know?

It does help that our renter pays 1/3 of the bill.

Congrats on a great negotiation, too! We use that tactic every so often, too. The companies are aware that it’s much easier and economical to retain a customer than to find a new one.

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32 Jason. January 30, 2015 at 10:19 am

You can still watch The Walking Dead without paying for cable. I’m also a fan of the show and purchase a season pass from Amazon. It is available for me to stream as soon as it finishes broadcast (in Hawaii). Amazon charges $2 per episode or $27 per season.

Our TV watching is a combination of Antenna, Amazon, and signing up for Netflix for one month a year to watch House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

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33 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm

You just sign up for one month a year? Haha…. that’s awesome.

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34 zut January 9, 2015 at 10:10 am

It pays to call your cable company ALL THE TIME. I called and cancelled my free 3 months of HBO before Christmas and they said they had a special offer for me. I thought great here goes the pitch for HBO and Showtime again. Instead they had a $10/month discount for the next year for just being a customer. I’ll probably call and see if I can get HBO for free again when GoT comes back in April. If not I’ll wait and call a month later. Bundling internet & cable helps lower costs as well.

Sling TV…this might save some people a few bucks when it comes out.

Also, in your “challenge everything” episodes have you tried low flow showerheads and LED lights yet. Do you have any new challenges for 2015 lined up? The 2 low flow showerheads paid themselves off in 2 or 3 months. LED lights are expensive upfront but no brainers. I’m still working on replacing all of the lights.

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35 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:49 pm

nah, haven’t tried those out yet. lots of stuff we have to wait until we own our house again :) right now we’re renting.

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36 jestjack January 9, 2015 at 10:36 am

Congrats….Sorry you have trouble with the antennas…I have 2 one I use in the basement ad they work great. The other hooked up to the newer TV gets like 17 stations . But I still have cable… $77 and some change … a month. How much did the old TV bring on Craigslist?

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37 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm
38 Rick January 9, 2015 at 10:39 am

Over the holidays, we were “gifted” a Netflix subscription. The #1 son (w/subscription) added it to our HDTV because there can be two users on one subscription! He saved $$ by not buying us a gift and we saved by not purchasing Netflix. Truly a Win-Win scenario vice the Kobayashi Maru!

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39 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Best gift ever!!

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40 Steve Kobrin January 9, 2015 at 10:59 am

Good for you! Sometimes a little hard bargaining get the results you need. We made a similar move and got rid of cable altogether. Lots of good viewing on the Internet.

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41 Mike @ Simplifiable January 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

Congrats on the lowering of the bill Jay!

I cut the cord here last month, and it’s going reasonably well, except that my antenna has a 30 mile range, and most of our local station transmitters are….30 miles away. So lots of stations that *almost* come in clearly, but not quite. :-)

If your Mohu Sky 60 isn’t yet spoken for, let me know, and maybe we can work out a deal for it. ;-)

Thanks!

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42 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Sorry man, they were given away within the first cple hours of posting this up :)

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43 Mrs. Frugalwoods January 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

Nicely done! We’ve actually never had cable, but our freaking internet alone is $66/month! We’ve unsuccessfully tried to reduce it and no dice since there’s only one internet provider in all of Cambridge. Boo.

Off-topic sidenote: I really like your wood floors and wall color. Just thought you’d want to know that.

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44 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Thx! Though I cant take credit – we’re in a rental :) But the floors were one of the reasons I really wanted to get into this place! Love me some old school homes…

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45 Kayla @ Femme Frugality January 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

Great job on the savings. I am still hoping to just cancel my TV subsription in the next month or two. It’s only $65ish/month, but that’s money I could be putting toward debt. The only reason it’s survived this long is because I was locked into a 2 year contract. Boo!

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46 AJ January 9, 2015 at 11:49 am

I’d be down for trying an antenna. ;) I’m sure they’re gone by now lol. We canceled paid TV about two years ago and strictly stream Netflix and Hulu. So far so good! Although I wish we could upgrade our internet speed. We tried to get an antenna in December, but after waiting 50 minutes in line we tossed it to the side and left. Definitely need to revisit the idea though. A friend of ours got one and says he has 50+ stations with it. I’d be happy with just local stations! Also next time you’re looking for a TV, ask Wal-Mart if they have any nonstock in the back. We nabbed a 55″ LED for $200 a few months ago, very happy with it. Sales clerk gave us that tip.

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47 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

nice!

and you can always pick up an antenna and then if it doesn’t work just return it :) I’d give you one of ours but you’re right, was gone within hours of posting it up.

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48 Kent January 9, 2015 at 11:52 am

I’d be willing to help give those antennas a second test and write a review for somewhere in the middle of the Midwest. I have an old indoors antenna from grad school days that wasn’t really specific to anything and have been thinking about upgrading. I currently can’t get PBS in my area and NBC depends on the angle of the sun in the sky and what direction the wind is blowing!

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49 Mrs. WW January 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Recently one of our newer flat screens died. Dead. No mo’. It was the one in the bedroom. Our other flat screen is downstairs and the sound quality is HORRIBLE. By far our best TV is our old tube television in the living room. It’s heavy and deep but is still working wonderfully.

Unfortunately we just rarely watch TV at all anymore. Really. Since the bedroom one died we don’t fall asleep to it. Downstairs is too far to walk or other such nonsense. In the living room we talk to each other or play the radio while we use our computers to scour Craigslist or comment on blogs.

Last night I did turn it on while I worked into the night to finally get out our year end letters and found some King of Queen episodes (score!) so it is helpful one in awhile. But usually? Nah. Even the kids would much rather be rolling around outside (as they are now in our negative degree weather) or accidentally dropping Legos around the house for us to step on. >: (

I think I like this change. : )

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50 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Agreed :)

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51 The Roamer January 9, 2015 at 12:42 pm

It’s great that you lowered your bill. I still don’t understand how buying a new TV helped though. But that’s just me.

I like the idea of challenging everything

We challenged our internet bill because the provider went from $25 a month up to $52… Say what?
We got it down! Thanks to phone calls

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52 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

We’d be paying $30-$50 more every month to watch more shows/movies if we didn’t upgrade the TV (where we can now stream stuff and get Netflix). If we didn’t care about TV it wouldn’t have made sense, but we do :)

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53 Ben Luthi January 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I helped my in-laws install a new HDTV and get rid of their dinosaur over Christmas. I think it will take a while to teach them about all the glories that are just waiting to be unlocked :)

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54 Chenell Tull January 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

“I love ya’ll” is something Comcast will never hear me say, haha. I end up calling them at least twice a year, sometimes more. If I see a new “deal” they have online for “new customers only” that is much lower than what I have now, I call them up and get it applied to my account – after some bickering, of course. :) It’s a hassle but I’ve been screwed over enough by them to know that I deserve more haha. Happy you were finally able to cut your budget for cable more than in half!

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55 Jen @ Jen Spends Less January 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Hmm…I was thinking of trying an antenna so we can finally ditch the $12/month we pay for basic cable, but after reading this I’m not sure I want to bother.

We were very fortunate to be given a newer TV as an anniversary gift last year. We had been fine with our clunky old TV, but needless to say, we really appreciated the gift. I was amazed by the over-the-air channels that come standard with $12 basic cable when your TV is equipped for it! On our old TV we got basically just the major networks, now we have a whole slew of extras. There is a PBS spin-off channel “Create” that we particularly enjoy. And then there’s My TV (or something like that) which airs corny old TV shows–my oldest son loves watching Batman. Never realized we were missing out on so much that we were already paying for just because we had a dinosaur of a TV.

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56 Kim @ Money Under the Cushions January 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Hooray for the savings, JS! My parents don’t have cable, and they have this huge (in my opinion) on their roof. They get hundreds of channels. A TON of old movie stations. Since they are in the metro area they get the network stations from three states. Funny enough, I still think there’s nothing to watch. :) My husband wanted to get rid of our cable bundle (with internet and phone) because it crept up to $155. I really don’t want to get rid of cable. A Verizon Fios deal came in that gives us the same bundle with faster internet speed and a few more channels, PLUS a $140 off per month on my cell phone bill for $80 per month. And we decided to lock it is so we could get a $250 Visa card. Deciding to lock it in was the hardest part. He still wants to get rid of cable, but is quieter now because of the bill reduction. I still get to have my cable…for two years and then we’ll see. :)

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57 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:04 pm

That’s a nice compromise for now :)

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58 Even Steven January 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Don’t watch too much TV, but if you do give Peaky Blinders and Broadchurch a try, both British shows and completely awesome.

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59 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Haha okay… both sound um…. interesting?

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60 Christine @ The Pursuit of Green January 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Still loving my roku, netflix, and antennae setup without any cable bills! Yeah! I have no idea what antennae I have but it works pretty well and was about $20. I live in LA though so there are plenty of channels to access. Sometimes the signal fritzes out when someone is moving about but it’s not a big enough deal for us to start dealing with the cable companies again.

Yay for saving money!

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61 Dominic Castelli January 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm

#6… That’s what she said!

But seriously, what are you going to do when the cable company jacks up the price again? If you watch so little TV, I just don’t understand why you don’t use one of the streaming services.

That little Google ChromeCast device is going to be the product of the year. Mark my words.

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62 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

We still like watching cable and football/etc. And if the difference is only a few bucks from scrapping it altogether, it’s worth it to us :)

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63 Frugal Buckeye January 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Glad to hear that everything turned out alright in the end and you are saving some money. I’m curious how far away from a major city you guys live? If you get decent cable and internet you are probably plenty close to use an antenna on the roof of your house if you wanted to. We use an antenna in the attic and it delivers all the local channels (nbc, abc, pbs etc) and we use amazon prime for all our streaming. We are also looking forward to the upcoming HBO and ESPN standalone streaming services. Winter is Coming.

My parents live out in the rural boonies and they have their antenna on the top of their house and get the local channels as well. You can use this site antennaweb.org to see where the transmitters are in location to your house and what type of antenna you should be using. As an example I am 10 miles from the transmitters at my house so the antenna in the attic works, whereas my parents are 30-40 miles from a transmitter, hence the antenna on the roof.

Hope this helps, but I wouldn’t blame ya if you stand pat with the current setup you have. Messing around with this stuff gets pretty old after a while.

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64 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Yeah, if I were more manlier I would try and plop something up on the roof and check it out, but sadly I don’t have it in me.. Also we rent, so I can’t go poking holes or anything in the place :)

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65 Tawcan January 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm

We don’t own a TV at home so this is kinda out of my league. However my wife’s been talking about Netflix subscription so might need to look into that a little bit more.

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66 Peter January 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I have the Mohu Leaf 50 at our house connected to the Tablo TV over-the-air DVR. With the Leaf we had much better luck than you – getting i think 37 channels here in the Minneapolis suburbs. You must really live out in the boonies if you only got 4 or 5 channels max?

We love the Tablo because it allows us to watch live TV on any of our devices (computers, tablets, phones, TV via Chromecast or Roku) and then allows us to record all of our favorite over the air shows. 94 of the top 100 shows are on broadcast TV, so while you’re missing out on the shows on HBO, Showtime, etc, you’re still getting most of the top shows. You could always pay for a season of a show on a network you don’t get if you wanted, and still come out ahead.

We also use Netflix and Amazon – which have a ton of great shows available, and we don’t really feel like we would be missing much if we canceled.

The only thing really keeping me from canceling is the live sports since I can’t get those without paying for cable. *sigh. It does sound like the newly announced Sling.TV from Dish will have ESPN and a few other channels for $20/month – so that might be an option – we’ll see!

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67 May @ Messy Money January 9, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Cutting the cable is so hard! We were at over $120 month

We now have basic cable: $14 month so we can get local news (!) and the odd program
and Netflix for $9 (?)
We bought a roku box for about $100 and it streams our netflix and has some other free channels (movies etc.) and we have started experimenting with an Android box (approx. $100) to stream using Kodi and very impressed. Small investment and now we are now OVER entertained. Orange is the new black is great and we also just finished Lilyhammer – loved it. Good luck – some of those shows are addictive and and it can turn into marathon watching. Cheers!

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68 Jen January 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

Have you heard of PlayLater? It’s basically dvr for your computer. Most of the local networks have the most recent 3-4 episodes on their websites. You dvr them with PlayLater and can watch them basically on any streaming device (roku, chrome cast, your new fancy tv). I cord cut 2 years ago. The bf was skeptical but so far the only complaint is ESPN. With the new dish/sling package for cord cutters recently announced that complaint will soon be a thing of the past. We’re also waiting with baited breath for hbogo to be released.

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69 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Never heard of PlayLater but sounds interesting! And I agree w/ HBO streaming :)

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70 Cedes January 10, 2015 at 7:48 am

I have (basic) cable on my main TV in my living room, but I use the Mohu leaf in my bedroom upstairs and get at least 30 channels. So I hope that anyone who saw that you didn’t get much of anything doesn’t completely disregard these antennas as an option. I think I tried it downstairs (out of curiosity) and a few of the more obscure channels were lost but I still probably got 20-25 channels. I also have netflix and stream that through both TVs. All in all I pay ~$90 a month for basic cable/internet and netflix and there is more than enough to watch!

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71 Simon Cave January 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Awesome job $J! It’s so exciting to see how simple it’s sometimes to cut our bills :)

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72 Shannon @ Financially Blonde January 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Congrats on finally doing it!! We went cable free last year, and I have not missed it for a moment. Since my son was born 8 years ago, I have been woefully behind in the tv watching category, so it’s actually nice for me to get caught up on series everyone was talking about years ago, like How I Met Your Mother or The Sopranos.

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73 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm

haha yeah… we’re watching Friday Night Lights now and no one can accidentally send us spoilers since it’s so old!!

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74 Barry @ Moneywehave January 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

I cut my cable years ago and ironically I work for a TV station. The combination of Netflix and my OTA antenna has served us well.

Most recently I picked up Chromecast which allows me to stream tv shows directly from some websites.

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75 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Hahahha that’s awesome.

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76 Adam January 11, 2015 at 12:08 am

We didn’t have cable for 2 years but picked it back up this year for the sports package. The difference was $80 for internet or $120 for internet/cable with HD and sports package. When I really looked at the math, I realized during college football season I was blowing a lot of money on Saturday’s sitting in bars to watch the games and it ended up being cheaper to just pick back up the cable.

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77 Jeremy January 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

We never had cable in the US but would watch netflix on the laptop from time to time

When we moved into our new place the cable was already hooked up, and I was going to cancel it, but with Winnie a little less mobile these days being able to have The Food Channel on from time to time is nice. AMC for The Walking Dead and HBO for Game of Thrones is great too

For this buffet of cable television 24/7, we pay a whopping price of $15 / month. Not a joke, $15. The price here in Taipei is just ridiculously low compared to the US. Or should I say, the price in the US is ridiculously high?

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78 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Incredible!

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79 Jason January 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

If my wife could she would totally upgrade our 46 inch to a 62 inch. Our cable and internet bill is only $60 a month, but i think that is going to change b/c I am going to spring for the premium channels. I know we watch too much TV, but i don’t care. It is a good break from reality and I can get it half off ($20) per month for the next two years. It could be worse. Someday, you might even cut the cable entirely. I might too….once Game of Thrones is off TV.

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80 Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

I had to double-take when I saw the after picture with cars and you kid watching it so closely. It looks like that’s my son watching Cars (his favorite movie).

Sorry to hear Mohu didn’t work for you. We have three and they work great. I get about 22 channels with mine, so cable doesn’t need to be coming around here anytime soon!

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81 No Nonsense Landlord January 11, 2015 at 9:41 pm

We just switched plans again, and are saving $50 a month. I am trying to cut the cord 100%, but the other half needs TV more than air.

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82 Josh Collar January 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

You’re the man!

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83 Nick Miller January 11, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Have you looked into CableTipster? You just send them your cable bill and they will use their expertise to haggle the lowest price possible. You only pay if they save you money – you pay 33% of the actual savings you get.

If you think you’ve gotten the best deal possible, then it doesn’t hurt to try. I did it – and it turns out I did have the best price with the cable company.

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84 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Nice! Sounds like BillCutterz.com?

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85 Laura January 12, 2015 at 10:21 am

J$,

Great post!! Our cable bill is: $22.49/mo + fees and $7.99 for Netflix. We opt for the basic package w/cable since there is very little if anything on TV that we watch. We have a young daughter and Netflix is awesome and there is plenty for her to choose from. She love Leave It to Beaver and Andy Griffith which suits us just fine………….. :)

No one will come along and advocate for us financially we have to learn to do it ourselves………I have learned a lot from your blog posts and others………keep up the good work and Happy 2015………..:)

~Laura

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86 J. Money January 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Wonderful Laura! So glad you’re enjoying the blog!

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87 Stici January 12, 2015 at 11:15 am

i was having this problem and now I don’t have cable television and in fact I too went for the antennas I got about 7 channels and I purchase a movie from the ” five dollar bin ” every now and again I went from 135.00 to 5.00 . It all boils down to how bad do you really need it! Or how much do you want to save and still have a tv to watch I would rather have money for other things than tv to stare into and reap no benefit. I am proud for you @J.Money (respect!)

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88 Big Jibbs January 12, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I don’t think this antennae was mentioned but there’s a reason it has over 2,000 reviews on Amazon. I put in the research and came up with the hidden gem that’s almost too good to be true. Go look for yourself….

It’s $45.00 + free shipping and boatloads of people are getting 20-50+ free HD channels for FREE.

RCA ANT751 Durable Compact Outdoor Antenna

You’re welcome.

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89 Jack @ Enwealthen January 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Glad the almost cord cutting is working out for you.

We cut the cord 2 years ago now and never looked back, saving $80 a month. Our internet is relatively slow but it’s a local ISP with no data caps or throttling and it works fine with Netflix.

The only show I miss is Mythbusters, but now that they’ve kicked their costars to the curb I don’t think it’s going to be as interesting.

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90 Becca January 13, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I haven’t subscribed to cable in my adult life, with the exception of one year with roommates, but I almost never used it. That said, I spend about $15/mo on Netflix and Hulu Plus. I could probably get a cable and internet bundle for the same or less, but I actually love having all of the TV variety, right when I want it. I also just got an antenna (and mine works! huzzah!) which means I can watch Parks and Rec tonight live. Living the dream!

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91 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Yeah you are :)

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92 Jon @ Money Smart Guides January 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

We went through a major hassle last year trying to save money on cable. At first, Comcast told us there was nothing else they could do to lower our price. So I spent a Saturday afternoon with FiOS and set everything up. I then called Comcast to cancel and suddenly they could work a deal. I did pull the cancel card before, which really ticked me off. After going back and forth with both, we stayed with Comcast and are paying $100/mo for cable and internet. This is a savings of close to $50/mo.

I am excited about HBO and Showtime entering the streaming game and heard rumors of DirecTV (or Dish, I can’t remember) considering offering a live sports streaming package. I have my fingers crossed on that one!

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93 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 2:44 pm

That def. blows, but glad you got $50/mo savings! Well worth it now and every month forward :) Now the question is – where will you be putting this $50 savings every mo??

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94 Pedro January 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

I cut the cable a few months ago, and honestly, haven’t noticed any changes in our viewing patterns. I’m lucky, that all of the towers are w/in 20 miles from where I live. I bought the Mohu Leaf 50, mounted it in a window facing where the towers are, and I have nearly 70 channels that pulled in. Granted, I live in the Phoenix area, and about 50 of those were in Espanol…when I took out all of the channels I’d never watch, I still have a steady number of about 20 that I can flip through. I get all of the network channels (ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS), in full HD with the Mohu Leaf, and even get two HD Ion channels, 4 PBS channels, and much more. Also, I use netflix, amazon prime, and apple tv. Our biggest shift, was moving from watching our favorite shows on demand, or DVR shortly after they air live…and now, we’re going to a “wait until it streams on netflix”…but luckily, there are tons of shows on netflix/amazon that we never watched and are now (binge) watching. Best of all, my $200/month cable/internet bill has been reduced to $60/month for a super fast internet connection. I also bought my own modem/router combination to save the $10/month of renting one. After 7 months, it will pay for itself. My advice to you J Money…just take the plunge. You will like having the extra $$$, and after a few weeks, you won’t regret not being able to watch live shows!

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95 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Congrats man! You’re rocking it! I’m pretty sure I’d be fine without it too, but honestly it’s not worth the extra $10-$20/mo savings now that we’ve got the bill lowered so much. I don’t mind having a “splurge” here when I hardly splurge on anything else :)

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96 Joanie April 2, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I SO hate Verizon and want to be rid of them. Does TiVo work well for taping if you drop cable?

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97 J. Money April 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Now that I don’t know…. Maybe someone reading this can chime in :)

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98 Jenna August 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

I dropped cable 5 years ago this December. I DO miss some shows, I especially miss FOOTBALL! but with a huge life-changeover in the last few months that have made life/finances even more implausible, it’s something I’m glad I did waaaay back then. My children are used to Netflix-only shows and aren’t accustomed to the onslaught of TV ads for everything under the sun, just a couple of pluses, and when I think about it, I REALLY can wait a few months for Olivia Pope to make her way to Netflix for the latest season without dying from the urgency.

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99 J. Money August 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Hah – truth.

I’m getting closer and closer to cutting it (esp now that they raised the rates again cuz my discounts expired (!!!)) but it’s the football part I’m really going to miss too :( We’ll see how it plays out.

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100 Nick September 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I think I need to start hounding my cable company as well. I only have internet through them, but they pretty much have a monopoly on the area. Another thing to consider is you can have one friend get a Netflix subscription, another get Hulu, another get HBOGo, or whatever other service and you can exchange log-in info. Those companies might frown upon it, but it’s a way to save.

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101 J. Money September 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

I’m too much of a wussy to try that (and control freak) but I def. know people are doing that :)

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102 Chris November 27, 2015 at 11:03 pm

My mother complete cut her cable TV bill (over $100/month or $1,200/year savings) and replaced with digital antennas. She gets about 6 stations and the main shows she likes.

A no brainer. Cable TV is a racket.

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103 J. Money November 30, 2015 at 4:18 pm

nice! I wish the antennas worked for us, but we ended up fully cutting the chord a few months ago regardless… I do miss it a little, but Netflix and Amazon Prime entertain me just fine :) now if only I didn’t need the internet!

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104 Rene March 9, 2016 at 11:52 am

I am sorry the antennas didn’t work for you. I have 3 throughout my house and they work great. I get about 40 channels. You do have to work on placing them but it still may not help some people. Thankfully, it works for us. We only use the antenna, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Amazon Fire TV. I really don’t miss cable anymore.

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105 J. Money March 15, 2016 at 7:24 am

I think I need you to come over here and set them up for me :)

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