even before we became a one income household, it pained me to pay the $115 monthly cable bill. it always felt like a pretty big expense given how little tv we actually watch. so when it came time to tighten the budget in preparation for me becoming a fulltime SAHM, we didn't hesitate to get rid of cable completely. we still get internet through the cable provider, which now costs us $50 per month, so our savings is $65 per month or $780 per year. that's not including the value of the time we've gained by not watching so much crappy television.
however, that does not mean we don't watch any tv at all. we actually still have the ability to watch every show that we previously watched. that's the beauty of the internet. we are still in the stages of experimenting, but we currently have two different set-ups.
46" samsung LCD TV
xbox 360 with live subscription ($60/year. hubs already had for gaming)
xbox 360 remote (we already owned)
netflix watch instantly unlimited subscription ($7.99/mo)
HDTV indoor antenna ($10-30 one time cost. we already owned)
how set-up #1 works: we add movies and television shows to our netflix instant queue and stream it through the xbox. we can also watch live tv on the major networks via the HDTV antenna. we don't currently have it hooked up, but when we did we found that we got great hi-def signals for ABC, NBC, FOX and PBS. from what i recall, CBS was a little flakey. we also got decent lo-def signals for a couple other channels like WB. but the signal and coverage will ultimately depend on where you live. obviously, this set-up isn't the greatest for current tv watching unless you don't mind watching it live without the ability to fastforward through commercials. in other words, there's no DVR so you can't record and watch the latest episode of grey's anatomy. but you can, for example, watch the entire 1st and 2nd season of dexter via netflix instant - in one weekend if you so desire. and you can watch the superbowl live in crystal clear HD (but unfortunately no instant playbacks or pausing for bathroom breaks).
samsung 46" LED TV
25 ft HDMI cable
high-speed internet access ($50/month)
how set-up #2 works: our 2nd tv is on our third floor office/family room. our desktop pc is conveniently located less than 20 feet from the tv so we connected them with an HDMI cable, and the tv is essentially an extended monitor. so you open up your web browser on your tv/monitor and you can watch anything that is on the internet, such as netflix ($7.99/mo for instant only), hulu (free with commercials or $7.99/mo for hulu plus), amazon on demand (free with $79/yr prime membership), youtube, joost, or if you have itunes (pay per show/movie). i'm giving you all the options, but we only subscribe to netflix and will occasionally purchase on itunes if we absolutely cannot wait for it (hello, true blood). however, almost every network's website (abc.com, nbc.com, etc) streams full episodes of their most popular shows for free with limited commercials. so that means i can watch grey's anatomy whenever i want, in HD, for FREE.
potential add-ons to set-up #2:
- right now we're using a regular bluetooth mouse on the TV but it's awkward, so we're considering buying the loop in-air mouse that is made specifically for tv's connected to computers. it's pricey at $79, but if you consider that the cost is just over what one month of cable formerly cost us, it's doesn't seem so bad.
- we haven't had time to play with it yet, but we plan on trying boxee. it is a free application that you download to your pc to manage your internet video content. what that means is that all the things you want to watch from netflix, hulu, abc.com, etc is accessed from this one program. basically, it becomes your own personal video library.
so... that is how we cut the [cable] cord. it's been great so far. we get to save some money, discover new content, watch less trash overall, free up some quality time and tinker with new technology. i do have to warn, though, that if you are an avid sports watcher, this experiment is probably not for you. in fact, canceling your hubby's beloved espn without consulting him first may qualify as grounds for divorce. but if anyone else is interested, please feel free to contact me with questions!