I’m constantly evaluating our spending to find savings. While it may seem a bit silly to cut $10 here and there it can add up faster than you might think! In the past few years we’ve definitely made some choices that super frugal folks would frown on.
One of those was adding a monthly cable bundle to our monthly bills. Frugal folks will argue that you don’t need cable, and they’re right. However, the math always wins. When we finally got access to FIOS service in our area their bundled pricing was only slightly more than our previous internet + phone bill via Comcast. It would have actually been MORE expensive to simply have internet access (necessary in our house). We signed a contract, got a gift card as a bonus, and happily used our cable for two years. After two years though our contract was up and so were prices. We toyed with some ways to bring it down, but with taxes and fees it was clocking in around $165 per month. Way too pricey.
One of the unfortunate things about cable service is that new customers get the best deals. I’ve shared before that I take time to call and find out if we can negotiate a better rate. In the case of our phone/cable/internet bundle the price for new customers was about $60 cheaper per month than what I could negotiate as an existing customer. I couldn’t cut it altogether (our jobs require internet at home) and we’re very VERY happy with our internet service, so we needed to think about our options.
In the end we decided it was time to cut the cable cord since so much of our viewing is done via Netflix. The kids often watch their favorite shows on iPads. In addition, we decided to drop out home phone. We have great cell service and enough phones to ensure that no one is ever home without a way to call out. (Yes, I’m aware cell towers go down, but so does our phone service when power outages happen!) We would be going straight to an internet only package with no contract so we could cancel or adjust it at anytime if we changed our minds.
How much did we slash our spending?
The savings made it easy. Going straight to only internet service (albeit a slightly upgraded plan) we are saving nearly $100/month or about $1,200 per year!
We were not in contract with Verizon, so we incurred no fees or charges for cancellation.
What we use instead of cable:
We already had Amazon Prime and Netflix services in place, but added Hulu Plus to our subscriptions because it allows us to access newer programming.
The Amazon Prime membership is $99/year, but we don’t use it as much as Netflix or Hulu Plus. We paid for it from a gift card, so for us it was free. A breakdown by month would make their Prime membership; which includes streaming TV shows, original programming, streaming music, and free two-day shopping; $8.25/month.
Netflix offers plans starting at $7.99/month. You can have up to two devices playing at once with that rate. We share the service with the kids and my parents (who live elsewhere) and pay $11.99/month so 4 devices can run at once. This allows everyone to access our membership at the same time.
Hulu Plus is $7.99/month as well. It gives you access to next-day viewing of current TV shows as well as a slew of older options and movies.
How we view
We have a variety of methods for consuming TV in our house including: iPad apps, laptop viewing, iPhone apps (mostly used on the go), Xbox One apps that allow us to stream to our TV, and a ChromeCast for a secondary TV. If you don’t have a gaming system there are several options including the FireStick from Amazon, ChromeCast, Roku, and a handful of other options.
Should you share subscription services with family or friends?
One easy way to save on these subscription services is to share them with others outside your household. You can either split the cost or agree to have one person buy one service while the other person pays for the other service.
Sharing services like this is a sort of loophole that while not technically encouraged is not discouraged either.
One of the main drawback is sharing your viewing habits with others. I don’t necessarily need to know my Dad is watching a cowboy movie or have him see me binge watch Friends. Thankfully Netflix provides profiles to ensure you aren’t sharing info or getting recommendations based on something someone else watched.
On our account my parents each have a profile on our account, the kids (13, 11, and 9) have one to share, and my husband and I share a 4th one. (the oldest occasionally watches using our profile, too)
The future of TV viewing
More and more we’re seeing services unbundled so you can pay for exactly what you want to watch. HBO will soon be launching a stand alone subscription service-perfect for people like us who don’t want cable, but want to watch Game of Thrones or the latest HBO sensation The Jinx.
The best part about it is that there are no contracts, so you can cancel or put your subscription on hold (in some cases) at any time. We tend to watch more TV in the winter, so some of these services may get nixed for the summertime months.
The bottom line
We’re saving nearly $90 each month (almost $100 minus that $7.99/month for Hulu Plus) by cutting the cable and home phone, and it was entirely painless.
Have you cut the cable or have you long lived without it?