Cutting the Cord
Hello again! I appreciate you visiting The Green Swan. This week is all about living frugal. Earlier in the week I posted my Four Frugal Life Lessons. And in this post I am giving an easy example of living frugal by cutting the cord.
There are many things in life we spend money on that really aren’t all that valuable. Whether it is something you have never thought twice about before, a subscription that keeps getting auto-renewed that you don’t use anymore, or other things that are rendered obsolete due to technological evolution.
This happens all the time and countless dollars are wasted before realizing it. Let’s take a look at your home TV cable subscription. Talk about an antiquated system, right? Over the years more and more junk channels get added to the basic subscription that nobody watches. And how much does it cost you? $75 / month, $100 / month, or even more? If only you could go al-a-cart for the whole thing and only pay for what you need!
Let me go on another rant…why do we have to watch our shows on a schedule set by the networks?! Live events such as sports is one thing, obviously it makes sense for those to played at certain times and the consumers of those live events are more than willing to rearrange their schedule to make sure they can watch. But what about everything else? Why do they have to be on a schedule? Why can’t everything be “on demand”, and we watch the shows we want to watch when it is most convenient for us.
The DVR has helped move in that general direction, but that has developed as a round-about solution to the problem. What would really be perfect is if everything was available to stream on demand and a DVR wouldn’t be necessary.
That day may be nearing. More and more options have become available to stream such as NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and even HBO was made a streaming channel available for subscription. Plus, streaming options such as Sling TV offer a more limited menu of channels as an alternative to your standard TV cable subscription. More competition from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime who are offering more of their own content is also great. Is it time to rethink your TV cable subscription? Technological advances are definitely making it easier “cutting the cord”.
Making the Jump
My wife and I finally cut the cord about two years ago. Our decision was made a bit easier with the birth of our first child. We knew we would be watching less TV once the little one was around and we didn’t care to have it on with junior around anyway. We just do not view that as beneficial for infants and toddlers developmentally.
So we figured we would give it a try. But it is not like we were about to sell our 55 inch flat screen TV! We still wanted to watch TV occasionally, such as when the little one went to bed, or for certain live sporting events that we would want to watch. So we figured out a way to get by.
How did we do it? Simple. First, cancel or don’t renew your current subscription. Second, find the desired alternative to watch what you can’t fully depart with. For us it was a combination of over-the-air and internet streaming options.
Free Network Channels
We bought a TV antenna (35 mile range) off Amazon to capture the free over-the-air stations including CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS, and many others. Where we live, we can pick up over 20 free channels with our antenna. Amazing, huh? Many people forget these popular and great network channels are actually free! Amazon also offers a 25 mile range antenna and a 50 mile range antenna which may be better for you depending on your proximity to the local networks.
To determine your proximity, check out this station finder link and enter your zip code. Here is what stations nearby my home in Charlotte, NC look like. Buying the appropriate tv antenna range for your home will allow you to easily pick up all these free channels.
Next, we bought a Roku 3 off Amazon to supplement the antenna channels with streaming content. Through this device we are able to stream via internet many free and subscription based channels. For instance, we subscribed to Netflix and also stream from Amazon Prime (given we are already a Prime member, this did not represent an incremental cost). We rarely took advantage of the Amazon Prime video content previously which is truly underrated, they keep adding great content! This was more than enough free and relatively cheap content to watch including great documentaries, movies and shows.
But what did we do for live sports? There really wasn’t much left to do really. We like watching NFL on Sunday which is covered on Fox and CBS (free channels with the antenna). Many other sporting events are also covered on the primary network channels including some college football, basketball, golf, etc. We are big college football and basketball fans though so we needed something else in order to follow our teams closely.
What we’ve done is a combination of a temporary subscription to Sling TV (to get ESPN channels as well as TBS, TNT and others in order to watch March Madness, etc) as well as a temporary subscription to the Big Ten Network (yes, we are Big Ten fans). By temporary I mean we just get the subscription month to month and can cancel at anytime. And similar to the one-off subscription to BTN, there are similar options available for MLB, NHL, NBA, and the list goes on.
This approach has worked great for us. Cobbling together TV content in pieces hasn’t been too difficult at all and it has certainly been a lot cheaper than our full-blown TV cable subscription. This has been another effective strategy for my wife and I to lower our cost of living without sacrificing quality of life.
Our cable TV subscription cost almost $100 / month before we ended up getting rid of it. Simple math says that our subscription was $1,200 / year. Alternatively, we bought the Roku 3 and TV antenna for less than $150 (no ongoing subscription required for these devices). We subscribe to Netflix which is about $100 / year, and also temporarily subscribe to services such as BTN which probably total another $50 / year.
So all in all, we probably save about $1,000 or more / year. And over a ten year period this would amount to over $10,000. Think what else you could do with that $10,000 you just saved. Sure, you could just boost your investments each year. Or how about a fab family vacation! Well, I guess you’ll have 10 years to figure it out. In the meantime there is no excuse to not take control of your finances step by step and how better to start than by cutting the cord.
Could a strategy like this work for you? Are there certain channels that you would lose and have hard time replacing? Are those channels worth the cost of your TV subscription…? Let me know what is standing in your way in the comments below. It is time to challenge the status quo and rethink cable and save some money.
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach