Can cutting cable really save you money?

I’m going to get real with you for a few minutes. As an advocate for cutting cable for many purposes, I have seen a trend of many companies coming out catering toward “cord cutters.” I look at these services and see if they are worth my time, energy, and money. Beyond saving money, I’m a fan of cutting cable as it provides you with more free time to look at earning more, spending time with family, or friends. We can watch a lot of TV if there weren’t other things to do.

According to eMarketer, US adults watch on average 5.5 hours of content a day. That’s crazy to me. 5.5 hours of watching reality TV or sitcoms? Can’t do it. I have a business to run, blogs to build, and money to make. I choose to use my free time expanding my wealth and building my income streams. Not everyone is like me, but 5.5 hours of time doing nothing isn’t really productive. Hence why I’m a proud cord cutter.

Unfortunately, I feel there are so many services out there catering to people cutting those expensive cable packages that it can cause analysis paralysis. So many services, so many things to try. How can we choose? What do we choose from and how much should we pay? Let’s figure this out and see if cutting cable and using an alternative is really worth it and saves you money.

How We Cut Cable and Saved Money

Again, I’m an advocate for cable cutting if you do it for the right reasons. My family hasn’t watched cable TV in four years. It’s been great. Having said that, we still watch TV and content on our devices. Here are the services we use each and every day:

  • Mohu Sky Antenna – This is a digital antenna in my attic that I have hooked to all of my TVs. It’s an awesome antenna and one I would recommend to anyone. Mohu makes some of the best antennas. You can find this antenna on Amazon or on Mohu’s site. You can also find an open-box for much less on Mohu’s site. This is what I purchased.
  • Netflix – We’ve had Netflix for a long time. We used to have the DVDs sent to our house, but then just went streaming only. My son knows how to use it and we both like it.
  • Amazon Prime Instant Video – This is just part of our existing Amazon Prime membership. We use it for the free, two-day shipping, but it gives us a little more content we both like and can’t get on Netflix. Don’t have Amazon Prime? Here’s a 30-day free trial.
  • Sling TV – This is a new service we have added into the mix. We don’t use it every month as it costs $20 per month. We only use it when we need access to ESPN to watch sports. They don’t have any contracts and you can resume/cancel at any time online. Here’s my Sling TV review. If you’d like to try it, here is a free, 7-day trial.

OK, you can see we have a lot of services we use every day. Now, I wish there was a box that can handle running the antenna with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sling. We did purchase an Amazon Fire TV stick (one for each TV) to connect to our TV which allows us to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sling with ease. We just have to change the input on our TV to get to it. Not a hassle.

How Much We Pay Monthly

Let’s quickly break down the costs for these services to see if we are truly saving money while not paying for cable.

  • Digital Antenna – Free ongoing costs (this did cost me $100 upfront, but there are no monthly costs for using an antenna)
  • Netflix – $8.99 per month (this is going up to $9.99 soon)
  • Amazon Prime  – $99 per year / $8.25 per month
  • Sling TV – $20 per month (we don’t use this often, probably only 3 months out of the year)
  • Internet  – $49 per month (300mb speed)

When we left Time Warner Cable, we were paying $120 per month for TV and internet. This was their “best deal” at the time. One thing to be very cognizant of when doing these types of analysis breakdowns is you can’t just look at the promotional rate. Cable companies are notorious for upping your rates after your promotional period is up. Right now, if I weren’t a customer, I could get a package deal for $90 a month. Since I’m a customer, the best I can get is $100 a month.

Right now, we pay $66.24 a month for our services. This does not include Sling TV. If we add that for one month, then our costs go to $86.24 (a little more since Sling charges fees/taxes). If we were new to Time Warner, then it wouldn’t make much sense to cut cable. This is entirely dependent on if we still would carry our Netflix subscription. I believe many who have cable still have Netflix and Amazon Prime, so in theory, we would be saving more. Let’s just not focus on that.

We Save This Much By Cutting Cable

Basically, we save $33.76 a month by getting off cable and using these services. That drops to only $13.76 when we add in Sling. As noted, we don’t do this every month and it might only be three months out of the year.

That comes out to over $400 a year that we save by cutting cable. That doesn’t include the mental freshness I feel by not watching crap on TV. With an extra $400 a year, we can invest more in our Betterment/Wealthfront accounts, add it into our travel fund, or just save it. It’s our choice.

When Cutting Cable Doesn’t Save Money and Makes No Sense

We cut cable because it works for us. We save money each and every month and I’m very happy with it. Not only did we cut cable to get rid of another bill, but it allows us to focus on what’s important in our life and with our family. Worthless programming is not what I consider part of my financial independence plan. I don’t want to knock you if you like that stuff. It’s just not my cup of tea. I’d rather do other things.

I feel the “cut cable” movement is gaining steam, but too many people jump ship just to use a whole slew of services to make up for what they used to get on cable. We make it work with just a few, but I’ve been people use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Sling, and a few other services. They were paying nearly $130 a month for internet and these other services. Playstation has come out with their answer to Sling. They created Playstation Vue. This services has dropped in price a few times now. Here are their plans:

Playstation Vue plans

This is just another service trying to help you “cut the cord” and stay away from your cable company. I’m really happy there are a number of services coming out, but you must have some discipline when using them. Heck, you need to have discipline when thinking about cutting cable. It’s not for everyone. It’ does require sacrifice that you might not be ready for. Having said that, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want an extra $400 a year.

Here are some other services that people tend to use when cutting out cable:

These services combined (all lowest plans) would cost $89.95 a month and you need internet access to work them. That’s why stacking so many services together after you cut cable can be dangerous and expensive. There are more services out there, but I thought these would get the point across. This doesn’t even include any sports packages someone might want to purchase.

If you’re paying for too many services because you don’t want to pay your cable company, then make sure you’re not paying more than you would with them. It can be hard since it seems cable companies and content creators are in each others’ pocket. Many cable companies own the big content creators, so they get to control distribution. The whole system wreaks, but this is the environment we have to play in.

Does cutting cable really save you money?

How Cutting Cable Should Work

If you’re on the fence about getting rid of your cable bill, then here is the only thing you need to do before jumping onto the cable free side of said fence.

Look at what you’re paying now, figure out what services you need to fill in for you, and calculate how much those will cost. If you need so many extra services to feed your need for TV, then it might not make sense for you. If you have a great rate with your cable company (or satellite), then keep it.

It makes not sense to cut cable if you’re going to paying more after than you did before. That’s the opposite reason why you should cut the cord. This is to help you save money and hopefully get time back in your day to work on other things. I tell my clients to focus on building their businesses, starting a blog to make money, or learning a new skill. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in just a few hours. I know I was.

If you can do these basic calculations and realize you will be making some sacrifices, then you might be able to cut cable and live your life. If you NEED cable to enjoy life, then go find other ways to save money. Remember, I think you should spend money on things you feel are important and cut what you do not. Where I don’t feel this way is if you’re deep in debt and you think you need cable. That should be on the chopping block as soon as you can. Paying off debt is more important than any TV show, so cut it and pay off debt with those monthly savings. Any other reason to cut cable is completely up to you.

Just make sure it makes mathematical sense (or cents 🙂 )!

If you cut cable, why did you do it and how much are you saving?

I’ve Been Cable Free for 5 Years and Still Watch TV

While in debt, I cut cable and haven’t looked back. It’s easier than you think especially with new services out on the market. One of my favorites is Sling TV, which allows you to watch live TV on the internet. It’s awesome. Check out my Sling TV review.

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17 Comments

  1. It’s harder to quantify, but you’ll also save money on all the stuff you don’t buy because you don’t see so many ads. Plus, you’ll feel better about yourself and your life when you don’t see so many commercials telling you that you’re not keeping up with the Joneses. Cutting the cord is soooooooo worth it!

    1. True. I don’t buy stuff off the TV, so that wouldn’t be a part of my equation and I wouldn’t ever be able to do the math correctly on that one. If you get an antenna, you still see as many commercials as everyone else. It’s just free programming instead of paying for cable.

    1. The savings really depend on how much you’re paying now and what you feel is important. For us, the trade-off is less crap on TV and more time to focus on other things. Not watching TV has helped me grow my business and focus on things around my house. It highly depends on your goals and what you’re willing to give up.

  2. You’re completely right about analysis paralysis. We’ve been kicking around the idea of cutting the cord for the last few weeks and my husband did a spreadsheet of our options (and he is not a spreadsheet kind-of-a-guy). We decided to go for it this month, and I’m looking forward to fewer tv options as much as the savings!

  3. We cut cable over a year ago. We also cut Netflix last year. We don’t pay for TV at all anymore. It’s pretty great!

  4. Nice advice, Grayson. I’d see if I could try to use Sling TV. I cut my cable few years back, and I never regret that decision really.

    1. Any particular reason? I’ve heard it has had issues,b but I haven’t tried it. My Sling works well and I get ESPN, which is why I have it.

  5. I did this exact same thing awhile ago and its great. I am paying for netflix, amazon and sling just like you but we mainly use amazon to buy stuff so we like that service more for the super fast shipping.

    At some point, everyone is going to realize they dont need cable anymore and the cable companies are going to lower their prices to compete with the internet streaming providers.

    1. My only fear is cable companies will just raise the rates of internet service. You have to remember that most of them own the content creators, which we watch on these services. If they start losing money to people dropping cable, then they raise the rates to get the rights to stream the content. This means Netflix, Amazon, Sling, and others have to pay more to allow their customers to stream. This just gets passed onto the customer.

  6. We are a family of 3 college students. I also coupon , so internet is necessary for us. I also shop Amazon frequently due to a limited schedule and consider that yearly expense to be valuable to me. We have Netflix, Hulu and watch various other free channels on our Roku’s. We are spending less than 60.00 a month . Back before we ditched the dish, we were paying 150.00 a month. Sadly there wasn’t much to watch. It seems we had mostly infomercials and foreign language shows we did not understand. Now everyone in the family is happy. I have added a streaming package from our internet company for an additional 20.00 a month. It included a new Roku box which we needed for a replacement box. That 20.00 also includes HBO. We will use it over the summer while school is out and then cancel it. I feel like we are getting a great deal for our money. Honestly, I get my money back each month couponing for essentials only each month. We have everything we need and are quite content.

    1. You get exactly out of it that you should. I’m cable free and love it, but so many I talk to keep wanting to add this new streaming service and that on. They end up paying so much money for streaming services, but then say they are cable free. It doesn’t matter if you pay more than you did before. Sounds like you got the right setup!

  7. Where do you live that you can get 300mb Internet for $49 a month? Korea?

    I’m in the Bay Area and there’s no way the local monopolies would allow such a deal for Internet, although I did cut the cord a year ago and am saving beaucoup.