Turns Out, We Don’t Need Cable

Remember how I asked you all for your advice on making the big leap to give up cable? I couldn’t believe how many of you already had, how many of you had lived without it for years. I felt a little bad for those of you without it. You poor, deprived souls, living without your Bravo and HGTV. Oh, I didn’t want to have to suffer through like you had.

But, we would save $65 a month, nearly $800 a year. *sigh* So I stood idly by while my husband unplugged the cable box and drove it back to the Verizon store. And then I had a moment of silence for the loss of Teen Mom and Real Housewives of the OC.

Scott, being the frugal and handy man he is, built us a digital antenna that is now in our attic, and we get THIRTY THREE channels for free. Granted, half of them are Spanish and a third of them are religious programming and weather channels, but STILL. Free.

Among those, though, are actually some pretty decent channels. Did you know PBS plays kid’s shows Monday through Friday from 6 am through 5 pm? Not gonna lie, most days our TV just hangs on out PBS during the day. Well, that is after I get done drinking my coffee and watching Kathy Lee & Hoda (a sick addiction, I tell you).

We also get a channel called Qubo, which is kid’s programming all day, although it’s sorta like b-list, low grade animation programming, but it doesn’t seem to bother the children.

And here in Dallas, I’ve discovered NBC Nonstop, which, while not an HD channel (we can pick up the basic channels in HD with our digital antenna), it fills the void of not having HGTV and the Food Network just a little bit. You know, it’s just one of those channels that’s nice to have on while you’re folding laundry and not too invested in what’s on. They have programming about local food places, and home decorating shows.

If that’s not enough to satisfy my home decorating and cooking cravings for knowledge and ideas, I just turn to the internet. Pinterest is my new muse for both of these things.

Really, we’ve found things like the internet and digital magazines on the iPad, and, *gasp* books and toys to fill the time we used to spend watching crap TV on cable.

We still get to see all our favorite shows in some form or another. We can watch prime time shows on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in HD on our TV still. We have Netfilx hooked up through our Wii, and hopefully we’ll add Hulu Plus to that soon, too, whenever they release it for the Wii. We can hook our iPad up to the TV to watch shows we can find online.

The only thing we’re really missing at this point is a DVR, but Scott says he can make us one out of our old computer. Oh, and sports. I guess sometimes it can suck that we don’t get ESPN or TBS, but we don’t watch it enough to justify $65 a month, especially when you can still see plenty of games on the basic channels.

Honestly, seriously, we one hundred percent do not miss it. Sure, there was a bit of an adjustment period. I’d say it took a couple weeks to get used to it, but now I just can’t believe we went that long paying that much money for that much crap.

So there’s my update. We’ve been without it for 3ish months now. If you’re on the fence, I say pull the plug and give it a couple weeks. I really don’t think you’ll miss it.

  • Danielle - We dropped comcast last week, and we were going to go cable-less as well because we were up to paying almost $280 a month for phone, internet, and cable. The biggest chunk of it was cable. It was UNREAL!
    The kids watched PBS kids for the time we had it all turned off, before we opted to invest in three Uverse boxes to add onto DH’s aunts account (in the basement) for $21 a month!ReplyCancel

  • Rusti - we’ve been discussing ditching cable (Hubs also mentioned internet & our cell phone data packages… if he goes for all three I just might kill him) and while I barely watch any TV – and the few shows I do catch now & again are on regular channels, our TV is currently between ESPN, Nick Jr. & Disney 90% of the time it’s on… the other 10% are regular TV, Animal Planet, or Discovery… if Hubs thinks he can give up ESPN though – I’m sure the toddler can manage without Dora… as long as we can still get it on DVD and my laptop that is. :)ReplyCancel

    • Jill - If you can get Netflix streaming somehow, even on your laptop, there is PLENTY of Nick Jr. and Disney programming on there.ReplyCancel

      • Rusti - great! thanks :) maybe I’ll let Hubs get the xbox he’s been wanting now, and stream through that!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ Mama of All Trades - We will probably drop cable when we transfer this summer. Right now, it’s included in our HOA fee every month, so we wouldn’t save anything by dropping it. It does make a great selling point for trying to get a renter in here, though.ReplyCancel

  • Jacquelyn s - We only have netflix, and i catch the office, modern family and greys on hulu.com (free version). The only thing we miss is live sports, and really its just of the giants or whoever my husband actually watches twice a year.ReplyCancel

  • Katharine - We got rid of ours almost a year ago and we have Netflix streaming through our XBox that has almost everything, we get one Netflix movie through the mail a month, and we just got Apple TV which my husband hooked up recently. He loves it as he can purchase the shows he wants to watch as he wants.. I don’t even miss the cable really since we have Netflix and if I’m patient I can watch just about anything I want! Definitely nice saving the money!ReplyCancel

  • Samantha Gallagher - Yup, when we moved to NoVA a year and a half ago, we never got cable. Borrowed (and still have) a digital antenna from a friend of ours and have been getting on just fine and I haven’t missed cable a bit. And this weekend my husband did a little research and doubled- yes, doubled- the amount of channels our TV found on its own. We also get 30-something channels. I am amazed.

    And people will laugh at you when you tell them you’re using today’s version of “rabbit ears.” There are snickers and sympathetic nods. But really, I’m the one feeling sorry for people spending $50-100 a month on cable :) Suckers!ReplyCancel

  • Myndee - Thanks for the update. I’m glad it’s working out for you all! I’ve been talking to my H about this too. He agreed, but he won’t wait for hulu plus to go through the Wii, so our compromise is to get an xbox. I figure, it will pay for itself in a couple months, and maybe we won’t watch as much TV this way. :)ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Yeah, I forgot to mention our Wii play is way up, which isn’t a bad thing. We get more involved as a family and more active when we all play games together instead of watch a show together.ReplyCancel

  • beckykid - We dropped cable about a year ago & at times I get pangs of “oh how I miss HGTV.. I get over it. It has saved us about the same amount per month. Now we only pay for internet (which is still too expensive in my opinion, but alas..)

    We also hooked up our xbox to a server in the house & put a bunch of kiddos movies/favorite shows on it. We watch it constantly – especially when PBS gets too repetitive or Barney is on. Big help!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - I’d love to do this. We JUST got our internet switched to something faster (and cheaper heck yeah!) yesterday. maybe it will help us to break the cable (except it’s freaking satellite) habit, of umm yeah $83 a month.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa {momcomm} - I TOTALLY agree with you! We pulled the plug just two weeks ago and did the same as you… went and got a digital antenna. I’m getting Grey’s Anatomy and all the other shows I typically watch (which isn’t many) so I’m THRILLED to be down one bill. We have a Roku and stream Netflix through it.

    The only thing I KINDA miss is not being able to pause the TV. I got really used to that and last night I asked Hubs to pause something and he goes, “uhhh, I can’t remember?” Oh yeah.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - That definitely takes some getting used to! Or missing something because the baby is crying and going to rewind.ReplyCancel

  • Katy Widrick - We gave up cable six months ago and never looked back. We have Netflix and Hulu Plus, which we stream through a $70 Roku box and it fills the void.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - We dropped cable at the beginning of the year to pay for the new furnace we had to get (bill for furnace=same as cable). My husband seems to be the only one in mourning. I think he will get over it. And a lot of sports are on ESPN360 or something and you can just plug your computer into your t.v. to watch it.ReplyCancel

  • carla - We gave it up over a year ago for AppleTV and Netflix, and I haven’t missed cable for a moment. In fact, sadly, we watch just as much TV as we ever did, and so do the kids. Maybe the next step is ditching the TV altogether.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@ The Southern Belle Baby - ESPN streams most every game they feature on their cable channels on their Web site, too. We figured this out last football season, so we just hook up our computer to our TV with the HDMI cable and watch it on the big screen. There are short “commercials” but it’s no different from watching it on cable TV. Oh, and it’s free. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ryan - Forget the food network, food BLOGS are sooo much better. Great receipes minus the annoying TV Chefs. I stalk: stephanie cooks, for the love of cooking, smitten kitchen (everything this girl makes is awesome), and soup addict. They are have their own personality and receip flair : )
    ryanres1ReplyCancel

  • brandi - As I’m reading this the ad at the very top is for Verizon Fios, TV, Internet, Phone bundle. LOL Too Funny. I really wish I could convice the hubs to ditch our tv, but I really don’t think he’ll go for it.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - If my husband wasn’t so addicted to sports and ESPN we could probably do it. I mentioned it when you started this experiment and he was very against it.ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - Jill, did you know you can watch hulu through your wii/wifi connection? If you go to playon.tv you can download it for a week free (it tells your computer to talk to your wii or something. LOL). After that, there is a fee (can’t remember how much it is). We survive on Netflix & Hulu Plus through the Wii. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kelly - It’s almost over, but all of the rates on Playon are on sale right now. I got a LIFETIME license (read never have to renew) for $50. Playon has HGTV in their list of channels. Seriously, look into it. It’s a great program. They also have a PlayLater app if you want it that acts like a DVR.
      Between Netflix and Playon thru our xbox 360 and our free antenna channels we have almost never missed our cable. We miss FOX tho. It doesn’t come over the antenna so we miss sports things.ReplyCancel

  • Beth at Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids - Great conversation starter, Jill!

    My husband and I have been having this conversation for months. Your Survival Story sure helps! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista - At least you get PBS. I’m addicted to the new Masterpieve Classic, Downton Abbey. It’s as if a period romance novel (not too trashy) came to life!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - We dropped cable years ago. Between our digital antenna (which we only use once in a blue moon), Netflix streaming, and now hulu plus, we’re pretty well covered, even with kid’s shows for the toddler. When I really get a hankering for some HGTV, I go over to my mom’s for a while. When I come home, I always feel over-saturated with TV!ReplyCancel

  • Brie - We got rid of cable for a few months. I thought we would be among the blissful “I don’t miss it!” people, but we totally did and had it reinstalled after we moved. Fail.ReplyCancel

  • emily - We were doing this exact thing over the last two weeks. My husband made an antennae. we have an apple tv for downstairs and our wii for upstairs. He called our cable compny to cancel, and they asked “what can we do to get you to stay?” and he said “take $70 off my monthly bill.”
    AND THEY DID. So for now, we still have our beloved cable and DVR. <–and that's what I will miss the most, but otherwise, I think we'll survive!ReplyCancel

  • lynet witty - 33 channels?! WOW here in Abilene, we get at least 6. And you know what, I’m good with it. And I’m addicted to KL&H too! LOL. We get plenty of shows to watch at night, HULU, and Cuevana (but you didn’t hear that from me). :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Did I misread or did you say that you keep the tv on all day? Have you noticed any difference with the kids? I’m not against tv as entertainment – when I’m sick or exhausted or whatever, Ella will watch a bunch. We download seasons of Dora, etc from iTunes and she watches on my laptop or old iPod touch. I like that it’s no commercials and portable, and that it is easy to control access.

    But If I had the tv on all day, I’m sure she would plop herself in front of it and never move. She’s mesmerized by it. I have to be very specific about how many episodes she is allowed to watch, and even then, there is more often than not, some kind of protest when it’s time to turn it off.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - No, not literally all day. I just mean if it’s on that’s usually what is on. Though we’re bad about leaving it on for background noise while doing other things.ReplyCancel

      • Lisa - Apparently, we are incapable of having it as only background. If we are out to dinner at a place with tvs, I have to make sure none are in my husbands line of sight or I’ll lose him, no matter what’s on even if its something hed never watch himself. We call it the lure of the magical, shiny box. We are hopeless.ReplyCancel

        • Jill - Ha! Oh, I hear you on that. When Scott and I go out on a rare date, I insist on restaurants with no TVs. I think Kendall’s just bored with it now. Though, no doubt, he will sit and watch it for a long time if the right show is on. Luckily, PBS doesn’t show Power Rangers. Oh yeah, my child born in 2008 LOVES Power Rangers.

  • dianthe - i could never give up my cable – what would i watch from midnight – 3am – because that’s the only time i get to watch what i want on tv!!! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Insane Mamacita - I wish we could ditch our satellite to save money. Husband won’t go for it. Plus, Netflix in Canada doesn’t have the selection the US gets. If we did, I could watch most of my shows on the computer via CTV.ca or Global TV websites. Husband is not techsavvy though.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - We turned a computer into a DVR with a tuner card (try New Egg online) – actually, 2 tuner cards so we could record 2 shows at once the way the DVR used to. It wasn’t as smart as the one attached to cable, and you don’t as many options for recording ALL the airings of a show or shows that jump around on different days but it was SO much better than nothing.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - We’ve been “plugged to the wall” tv free since ’05. We get all the shows we want through Netflix or Hulu. It does kind of suck sometimes trying to avoid “spoilers”, but other than that, there really aren’t any downsides for us. It does help that we’re not a household that cares about sports, but it is SO nice not having to watch commercials. I can’t handle them when we’re at other people’s houses or out at a restaurant or what not. Plus, having several episodes at a time appeals to our impatience, so if they try to pull a cliff hanger, we just click “next”!ReplyCancel

  • Kristie - We also dropped cable about 7 months ago and haven’t looked back. We have Netflix and Hulu Plus which we stream through our Playstation. Hulu is nice because it allows you to keep up on your current shows, as opposed to Netflix which you often have to wait until the season is over and it’s on DVD. Hulu even has Jersey Shore – ha! Here in PA, we get like 4 PBS stations and one of them is called Create. That gives me my Food Network fix. But I will admit, I still miss my favorite cooking shows. I would pay for that channel alone. I wonder if that’s the way TV is going.ReplyCancel

  • candice @ thenewmodernmomma - We ditched cable last year. I still don’t know what we were paying for?! Lots more time to blog, read, go outside, bake, and play together. :) Glad to have you on the other side. Although when people come over they are in SHOCK!! SHOCK I tell you…like we are aliens! LOLReplyCancel

  • Good Girl Gone Green - I don’t miss it. With all the stuff you can watch on the internet why pay for it? Well, until I go back home to Montreal becasue us Canadians aren’t allowed to watch American TV over the internet, so that is when we will get cable again :)ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I really wish Jack would pull the plug but that “no sports” thing really stops him. Ugh.ReplyCancel

  • stardustdawn - We’ve been contemplating ditching cable too. I can’t believe how much we pay for it, and on those rare occasions I get to actually sit down and try to watch something, I just channel surf and can’t find one decent or interesting show.

    The channels I really want we would have to upgrade and pay even more money for, so I guess since we don’t have them anyway, it shouldn’t be such a big deal for me to just let it go! Our tv is often on Disney or Nick, but we watch those same programs on Netflix anyway.

    As long as I can get local channels for free, I think I’m ready!ReplyCancel

  • Meredith - I don’t know if someone has already mentioned it, but there is a Hulu+ app. We are rockin’ the Hulu+ right now, since we cancelled our Satan, I mean satellite, at the first of the year. We stream it though our PS3, but we also watch on our phones through the app. If you can hook your iPad to the TV, you can maybe stream the app that way? Even if you can’t, the quality on the iPad/iPhone is awesome (even on 3G).

    We plan on getting Netflix soon, too. We just haven’t had need yet since we are still exploring Hulu+. Even with both, our bill will have gotten cut by >$60/month! We do have basic cable, but only because we have to in order to get the crack, I mean, Internet. We mainly watch it for the local news, but we also get PBS.

    I did see you mention that Nick, Jr. is on Netflix. That might be enough to sign me up, because the 6yo is going through withdrawals. That & Mommy likes to sleep in that extra hour on the weekends, & Nick, Jr. has always been what has allowed me :)

    Also? I finally had to get ugly with the satellite company. Even after I repeatedly told them I wasn’t interested in signing back up with them, they kept calling & offering me “promotional” prices – you know, since I would now be a “new” customer. Ugh. Whatever, losers.

    Hulu+ 4 lyfe!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Hey Jill! Love your blog! I’ve been reading for a while and this is my first comment! My husband and I have always been cable free (about 6 years). We have a PC connected to the tv that has Windows Media Center on it and it works as a DVR for over-the-air channels. We never watch anthing at the correct time! We also have Netflix, love the streaming! And just so you know, HGTV does have some full episodes online. We don’t have kids yet (TTC). but I’m going to love streaming cartoons and such through Netflix without all the commercials.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea @ The Penny-Roach's - I wish I could do this. We spend over $80 a month in cable. But both hubby and middle kiddo are obsessed (as in, before my son’s eyes are open he’s asking who won), with sports, so they would be lost without TSN (Canada’s version of ESPN). I have begged and pleaded to just give it a try, most games are online now anyway, but I’ve come up against a brick wall. With a mini concrete wall in front.

    Good for you that you did it though!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - I’m sorry if I missed this in an earlier comment, but I just wanted to make sure you knew about the wonder that is the HDMI cord. Just hook it from your computer to your TV and it makes your TV a second screen. So you can watch Hulu, Netflix, DVDz picture slideshows, and anything else you might watch online or on your computer up on the TV screen. No need for a Wii, Roku, and so on. Hulu Plus has given us virtually everything we’d want to watch and is practically the same thing as a DVR.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Oh boy – thanks for the inspiration. Have been debating this. I love my DVR…but I should probably not prioritize it over food when it comes to cutting the budget. First time reading your blog – funny!ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - I’m kind of late on this, but if you google the title of your desired tv show along with the words “tv links” you can find that show hosted on free websites. I would advise you to have a good anti virus software installed first. However, you can find just about anything for free and there’s no commercials.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey-Ann Hancock - Pulled the plug today! Ha, a little behind the rodeo here but wish us luck, it is after all FOOTBALL SEASON!ReplyCancel

  • Nicky Herron - we haven’t had cable for about three years. we bought a playstation 3 and stream HuluPlus and Amazon Prime through it. and for shows we have to buy to see (i.e. HBO, Showtime), we either wait for it to come out on DVD, or we buy episodes on Amazon Prime. and you’d be surprised how many places you can find tv shows for free. just don’t go advertising it on your blog ;).ReplyCancel

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