I have been a Comcast cable viewer for decades. From the 1990s until 12.14.2013. I have put up with years of frustration of signing up for a ‘promotion’ and then forgetting to call back 6 months later and seeing my bill skyrocket from insane to unimaginable.
The last few years we watched our bill for the triple play (internet, phone, cable) bounce from the $120s to the $140s. I would call, threaten to switch to Direct TV (the only other option where we live), and they would magically reset our promotion for another 6 months. It was a pain and a waste of my valuable time. So, when the not-so-nice customer service rep offered to reset my price because “cutting cable all together is a very drastic decision” (his words) I politely declined. At which point he told me if I chose to keep internet it would be $80/month. At which point I stopped being polite and started getting real (thank you Real World).
Our monthly “entertainment” bill has gone from $140 (well, they just bumped it up to $170 for our upcoming bill…) to $68. Savings: $72/month.
So, without further ado, here is my Christmas gift to you… how to cut cable
STEP 1: MAKE (OR BUY) AN HDTV ANTENNA
I am on a budget (obviously) and was feeling super crafty one weekend so I decided to build my own HDTV antenna. It took about an hour to make. Total cost: $7.
I followed the directions on this website. It was super easy and fun if you are into cutting and painting. And if I can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can. You can’t see it from my picture but the back is all aluminum foil.
I get 8 over-the-air channels, in HD, for $7. No monthly fee. No taxes or service charges or box rental. Free. And quality?? Last weekend we watched some NFL games and they actually looked clearer than they did with cable. It was mind-blowing.
Just a few tips not included on the directions:
– Find the most durable piece of cardboard you can. I tried it with a paper box and it was way too flimsy. So, I redid it with an old Amazon shipping box and it was perfect.
– If you can find a place to hang it/stand it behind the TV, don’t waste your time painting it because no one will even see it. If you do paint it – let it dry overnight.
– Use a little hot glue when putting the pieces together. It helps it stay just a little better.
If you are rollin’ in the money (or don’t feel like being crafty) you can purchase a pre-made antenna for $20-50. This antenna (shown to the left) is the most popular on Amazon and what I was going to purchase before finding out how easy it was to just make one.
**Please note: in order for this to work you must have a TV with a digital tuner. If you do not, you will need one of the Analog/Digital converter boxes they were giving away a few years ago. Something like this
STEP 2: GET A STREAMING BOX
If you already have a gaming system you may not need this but unless you have a new “Smart” TV you will need a way to stream internet through your TV. We have an Xbox 360 but an annual subscription was $60 to be able to stream video through it and this amazing little gadget to your left is only $79 and won’t expire after a year!
Let me introduce you to the Roku 2. (There is a Roku 3 available as well but I didn’t feel the need to pay $20 more to play Angry Birds on my TV). I actually got mine on Cyber Monday for $49.99, but the normal price is $79.99. But keep an eye out for sales! I have since seen it advertised for $59.99 as well. The Roku lets you stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and a ton of other channels onto your TV (see the list here). Most apps are free to download but some require a monthly fee (see step 3 below). There are quite a few that are totally free! And it’s cool to check them out.
It is SUPER user friendly and plays in 1080p HD. It works kind of like the on-demand feature of cable, where you can pick your channel then what you want to watch from there. You can add and remove channels based on what you like to watch.
While $79.99 seems expensive – remember next month you are going to save $70 off of your cable bill!! 🙂
STEP 3: TRIAL
Yay!!! You did it! Now before you run and give your cable provider a piece of your mind, try it for a week. No matter what, don’t let yourself turn on the cable box!! This will give you a feel for what life without cable will be like.
If you aren’t already a subscriber, sign up for a free trial of the following services:
- Netflix – You get an entire month free! (an increase from the previous 2 week trial period). Note the expiration date because your credit card will be charged $7.99/month after the trial period if you do not cancel. Netflix is best for movies, past seasons of TV shows, and documentaries.
- Hulu Plus – This is essential to watch current seasons of your favorite shows! They show up the next day. This wasn’t hard to get used to as I was used to DVRing everything and watching it later anyway.
- Amazon Prime – To be honest, we don’t stream much from here, but they do have an expanding library of movies and TV shows and with Prime ($6.58/month billed annually at $79) you get FREE 2-day shipping on most items. Worth it. The video library to me is just a perk! You should have this anyway!
- Some shows/channels are not available streaming – probably because they are part of the cable monopoly. For us we missed HGTV, History Channel, and NFL network (my husband… not me!). Also – CBS doesn’t have new shows streaming on any of the services so you would have to watch them through the internet. But there wasn’t really any CBS show’s we couldn’t live without – and we do get CBS live over the air.
- (That being said some of the past seasons of those shows are available on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon for free.)
- Knowing what to watch when – it isn’t as easy to just have the TV on in the background magically picking shows for you to watch. You have to give it some direction.
STEP 4: LET GO!!
Did you survive the week??? If so, keep reading!
Call Comcast (or your TV provider) and tell them you want to cancel everything but internet. They will try to convince you that they can reset your promotion – blah, blah, blah – but stay strong!!
They will probably tell you to keep the current level of internet you have it is going to be $80/month. That isn’t true. Ask them to e-mail you a current rate sheet. You can downgrade to the Performance Starter package and we are still able to stream on the Roku and have 2 computers surfing the internet at the same time. At this time of posting, it is $49.99/month. The Performance internet was $67.99 and I refuse to pay more than I have to. I recommend trying the Starter package and I’m sure they will let you increase it later if you find it is too slow 🙂
If you don’t already have one, buy your own modem. Comcast charges $7/month for a modem. This one will pay for itself in a year.
Take your hardware back to Comcast (don’t forget your remotes!) and get a receipt. KEEP YOUR RECEIPT! I have read a lot of stories of people being charged for a box they returned but couldn’t prove it because they didn’t keep the receipt.
Dance your way out of the Comcast building because you, my friend, have just eliminated the rate game from your life!! No more calling every 6 months, sitting on hold for 20 minutes, to have to throw a temper tantrum to get your bill lowered $15 bucks. And remember – if you cut ties and realize you really can’t live without cable, you can always reinstate your service. If you wait 6 months you will probably even qualify for a “new customer” discount since you went 6 months without cable.
Initial Investment: $167
- HDTV Antenna – $7
- Roku (or other streaming device) – $80
- Modem (if you don’t already have one) – $80
Monthly costs: $68
- Over-the-air TV – FREE!
- Netflix – $8
- Hulu Plus – $8
- Internet package – $50
- Monthly bill from $140 to $68 – $72/month
- $72 x 12 months = $864/year!!!
Your Welcome.*I was not in any way compensated by any company for the use of their products. This is my opinion and based on my personal cable bill and plan. Your savings may vary and internet packages can vary by region/provider.
It’s been two weeks since we have cut cable and I am loving it! So tell me, have you been able to eliminate cable from your life? Share your thoughts below!