Budget Hacks: Cutting the Cord

Is cable television a necessity in your household? That’s a personal decision, but in our household, it is a non-negotiable line on our budget. But exactly how many channels are you actually watching? If you’re like me, only a handful! So about a year ago, I came to the decision that I am going to cut the cord for good. I was sick of paying $200+ a month for channels I did not watch, and fees / surcharges that I had no understanding of. This is an essential part of my journey to financial freedom, and I will highlight my decision making process on why it was right for me, and how I chose the best cord cutting solution for my personal needs.

Requirements

  • High speed internet
  • Good signal in room where the TV is
  • Compatible streaming media player (Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Google ChromeCast, smart TV)

Choosing the Streaming Service

There are quite a few streaming services to choose from such as: YoutubeTV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue, HuluTV, PhiloTV, and more. Here are a few important questions that helped me decide:

  • What channels are essential to you?
  • What streaming media player do you have?
  • How many simultaneous streams do you need?

My Current Setup and Why

I have been subscribed to PlaystationVue using the Amazon Fire Stick for almost a full year now. Here are my answers to the above questions:

  • High speed internet: Spectrum 100Gb
  • Signal: Google WiFi Mesh Router (Good signal in all areas of 2 story house due to the mesh system)
  • Streaming Media Player: None, but chose the Amazon Fire Stick due to low price, positive reviews, and Alexa functionality
  • What channels are essential? NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, CNN, HGTV, E!
  • How many simultaneous streams needed? 3

Using this criteria, I researched each of the different cord cutting options paying close attention to:

Locals

Pay close attention to the local channels available to you. They vary widely based on your location. Unfortunately, when I was making this initial decision, live NBC was not available on any of the streaming services. Was NBC worth an extra $100+? The answer was a no, and the fruwife reluctantly agreed to live without it. There are options to retrieve some locals using antennas (e.g. Leaf Mohu), but I had no luck with the three I had tried.

Other Channels

Some of the streaming services aren’t contracted with certain media companies. Notably, HGTV (part of Scripps media) is not available on YouTube TV. Other channels might be an upcharge (Such as the Golf channel on certain services).

Streaming Players

  • PSVue, DirecTV Now, HuluTV, PhiloTV – Compatible with all streaming players (Amazon Fire devices, Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, etc.)
  • YouTube TV – not compatible with Amazon Fire devices

Free Trials

Take advantage of free trials! Each of the streaming services will offer at least a 7 day trial. I recently took advantage of a 14 day free trial from YouTubeTV, and have previously taken advantage of a promotion from DirecTV Now that was $10 for each of the first 3 months. Try before you buy, so you can get a feel of each interface and overall streaming pleasure.

Changes / Updates

Over time, changes are bound to happen. Whether they are price increases (which has seemingly happened across the board over the past months) or changes to channel lineups. If you’re holding out for 1 or 2 channels, especially local channels, keep checking with each streaming service every month to see if they have added your channel to their lineup.

Personally, over the past couple of months, both DirecTV Now and YouTube TV have added NBC, while PSVue has increased their prices for the basic service to $44.99. My free trial with YouTubeTV was great, and we did not realize how much we missed NBC (and the Golf channel). Fortunately my LG TV had the YouTube TV app built-in, so I did not have to purchase a Roku for the trial. However, during this free trial period, both Amazon and Target offered the Roku Streaming Stick on sale for $34.99, and I ended up pulling the trigger since my bedroom televisions do not have a built-in YoutubeTV app.

My plans are to make the switch to YouTube TV next month, and this time trying to proceed without HGTv, which will bring the cost of streaming down to $40. If we cannot live without HGTv, there is always the option to add PhiloTV for an extra $16/month.

The best thing about these streaming services, is that you can pick and choose, start and stop whenever you want. Get creative, get frugal, and push those boundaries!

Previous cable and internet bill: $210 / month. Current cable and internet bill: $84.99 / month = Frugal win!

About the Author: the fruguy

Just a simple guy seeking financial freedom through frugal hacks, credit card rewards points, DIY, and overall life optimization - the fruguy.

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