A Year Without Cable

A year ago, I canceled the cable portion of my media bill.


I was so happy, I could've flown away.

Actually, it kind of made me miserable for awhile. I called them up with the intention of them extending my 12 month promo price, which they stalwortly refused to do. The best they could offer me was a new 2 year contract for the next tier of cable. Instead of paying $110/month, I'd be paying $115/month with way more channels. When I explained to the service rep that yes that was better than $130 but was still more than I had been paying, she was entirely unsympathetic. I then played the trump card of just cancel the cable.

Everything I'd read online told me she'd cave and reduce my price back to what it was rather than lose it. That turned out to be a big fat lie. She canceled my cable faster than I could blink.

So there I was, with a reduced bill and no cable. What was I to do?

I dealt with the death of my cable in two ways.

Increased online watching

Ironically enough, now that I was only paying them for internet, I was using it more. Fortunately, I'm not big into shows that are only on HBO or some other locked channel. There has only been a few shows I've stayed interested in, so it was easier not to fall too far behind. Usually, I watched the episode the day after it premiered on something like ABCGo. If I waited too long, I wasn't above finding other methods to watch it.

Occasionally, this meant I found somewhere online that had every episode on it and binge watched it for an evening or two. Or a whole Saturday, depending on my plans.

Speaking of plans, not having cable gave me a great excuse to free myself from the networks' set schedules. If I went out for dinner or drinks on a Tuesday, I didn't feel guilty for missing Agents of Shield since I was just going to watch it later anyways.

“But Gwen what about sports? How did you watch the Dodgeball Championships live from Las Vegas without access to ESPN 8: The Ocho??”

Well, I just watched them online. In real life, I'm a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. If I wanted to get FSMW, I would've been on the highest cable tier and paying something like $150/month. So I decided it was worth it to be able to watch the games online and splurged on MLB.TV. Now, since I technically still live within their broadcasting range, games are blacked out for me. That would negate buying it, but fortunately there are ways around it. According to MLB.TV, I'm tuning in from Albania. Or Croatia. Basically, any location not US based and I can watch the games. That's due to my VPN extension on Chrome. I then send the tab to my TV via Chromecast and voila! Baseball on my TV. Is it a slight pain in the butt? Yes. But it's well worth it when I add up how much money I'd be paying otherwise.

Digital TV Antenna

like this, except with more aluminum foil
like this, except with more aluminum foil

For some things, the internet fails me. Streams of things like the Presidential Debates and the Superbowl are hard to find online. So, in January I bought a digital TV antenna. It works the exact same as the bunny ears I grew up futzing with on my Grandma's TV. Except with about 100% less static and more channels! Now, I get the very basic channels, which comes in handy when severe storms are in the area and I need to see what the weathermen are saying. Spring in the Midwest is so great.

Let's do the math to see how far ahead I am.

$890 in monthly charges.
$110 to MLB.tv
$1000 total

It should've been $1310 if I went with the $100/mo rate. If I go with the $130/mo rate, it would've been $1490 and if I include the $150/mo to get the baseball I would've paid almost $2000! Just to watch TV! That's crazy! That extra $1k per year equals $10k over the course of a decade. That's proof that little changes make a big difference!

For 2016 my expenses will be $950 total. It's a bit less than last year since MLB.TV got a bit cheaper and I wasn't paying a higher bill in January and February like last year.


Combining these savings with my savings from switching to Google's Project FI phone plan gets me an extra ~$120 a month! Which means I can eat more food and not feel quite so guilty. Now the next major monthly expense to tackle will be my housing costs!


Have you cut the cord? What's your experience been like?

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8 thoughts on “A Year Without Cable

  1. Mrs IS and I cut the cable cord about 4 years ago, and have been thrilled with the change. We found that we watched so little tv that we eventually gave away our tv and digital box. We only really watch 2 shows per week, and we can stream both of those on the internet.

    Our reasoning for cutting the cord was only partly because of cost. A far larger reason was because we were so busy with the rest of our lives, that tv watching was a time sink for our little free time. Since cutting the cord we find we talk and read together more, and overall the house is calmer….at least when our toddler is asleep 🙂 We play educational dvds or stream youtube for him about a half hour per day. Some time parents just need a couple minutes off

  2. My wife and I have never paid for cable television. We do “borrow” my in laws netflix and amazon prime account (with my PS3 and the amazon fire stick they bought us for xmas). That is more than enough TV for the both of us. We go to the library and check out DVDs and Blurays. It’s like a free Blockbuster. For sports, we either watch it on local channel, or stream in on the firestick with the FSone app (again with in-laws acct). For the debates I was able to find some online on my phone and mirror it to our firestick on the tv. We do get some lag that way. Does chromecast give you any lag when mirroring from your computer?

  3. I’d been cutting the cord incrementally over the years, and went whole hog last year. It’s well-documented on my blog, but needless to say, it was difficult to do. No, I mean, difficult to MAKE THE CABLE COMPANY CANCEL MY CABLE. So many tries…

    Eventually it got done, and to show their appreciation, they lowered our internet bill to $34.99, which is our total cable bill for now. Add Hulu and Netflix (+ 2 DVDs a month) and that’s another $21 a month. The only thing I wanted to watch live was CBS Sunday Morning, and lucky us, they forgot to shut off our basic cable, so we still get CBS without paying for it.

    • Sounds ridinkulous! Sorry you had to go through that but that is a low price to pay! I’d love to move somewhere with cheap Google Fiber. Cheap and fast!

  4. My sister and I cut the TV cord when our promo deal ended with AT&T at the end of February. I don’t miss it at all. All the TV shows i watch seem to be on for free eventually (CW, CBS, ABC)…hell, I usually watch them at work during down time.

    I think we’re both saving about 50 bucks per month each, but more importantly to me is all the additional time that I have that could be used to be productive. I used to watch a a lot of sports. While I’m definitely wasting more time on the internet than when I had paid TV, I’m also spending more time outside that would have been spent couch potato-ing this time last year, and I think that’s a total win.

  5. I cut cable 5 years ago and I was wondering what I was going to do to watch my beloved NY Mets. I took the simpler approach and I just listen to the games on the radio now. There was a side benefit (besides saving money) to listening to the games on the radio – I was able to do some other hobby/task without being tied down to the sofa! I am lucky the Mets have great play-by-play announcers on both mediums. I didn’t think of the VPN to by-pass the blackout rule. I’ll think about getting MLBTV after the All-Star break when the price gets cut in half and teams are in the pennant race but I am happy with the radio for now 🙂

    I still haven’t forgotten 2006 NLCS Game 7. Yadier freakin’ Molina and Wainwright. Ugh =(. If you ever want to come to NJ/NY and catch a game at Citifield I’ll be more than happy to attend with you! I think the two teams are scheduled to play in July this season. I’d like to visit Busch stadium sometime as well.

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