I’ve been gushing over writing this post for a while now. I’m a total accounting nerd at heart, and since I’m married to a CPA, you can imagine what our dinnertime convos look like. Sharing excel hacks. Discussing depreciation and breakeven points on our appliances, furniture, and latest home projects. Speculating about which stocks will perform well and why. Needless to say, I’m exxcited to finally share about our system to save on our monthly cable bill. We’ve been looking for ways to save for YEARS, and after various iterations, we finally found what works best for us: minimizing our cable bill without sacrificing too much in our viewing habits. I was pretty shocked at the outcome, and I think you will be too. Read through to learn how our savings add up!
There are so many great options out there, it can feel daunting to weed through the information. Here I’m breaking it down and sharing the straightforward details.
What You Need to Do
As you’re going about this process, there’s really five steps to think about:
- Determine what you like about your current plan’s content
- Call your provider and ask about what it costs to cancel (if anything).
- If your current TV plan is bundled with your internet, ask how much a standalone internet plan might cost, or research to see if another internet provider may be cheaper.
- Select how you will make up for the content you like. Chances are you will decide to get a streaming service, or combination of services.
- Pick the device you will stream with.
1, 2, 3: Our Current Plan + Switch to Streaming
We were paying $120 for cable with a separate internet bill on top of that. After we negotiated a renew of our promotion period rates (that they offer new customers) for a while, that was expiring and we were left looking at other options. Our bill didn’t include exclusive channels like HBO but it did include DVR service. Notice that we also don’t have phone included in our needs. That’s because of our Panasonic bluetooth phone that links with our cell phones and eliminates our need for a land line. (You can also use this phone with a land line AND your cell phone, so it’s a great purchase all around.)
Our viewing habits have definitely changed since we’ve added two kiddos to the mix. Our current needs as far as content are really:
- HGTV, Disney + Nick Jr for me and the kids
- ESPN and cable news for my husband
- Movies and a handful of sitcoms/dramas that we both enjoy (The Office, West Wing)
If you google TV streaming, a bunch of options come up. The three we seriously considered were SlingTV, DirectTV Now and PlayStation Vue. These all have live TV streaming plans with a variety of channel options. We went with DirectTV because the mix of channels fit our needs best. Since we are Amazon Prime members, we already had access to Prime video (similar to Netflix), which gave us more movie and TV show content as well.
The one thing I thought I’d miss with our new plan is the DVR. But I was wrong!! With the option to search and play my old shows on DirectTV Now AND access to the Nick Jr, PBS and Disney Jr apps for the kids from our Apple TV, we really don’t miss out on much.
Step 4: Streaming Device Options
Once you’ve committed to streaming TV, you need a way to stream it. The three best options are Roku, 4th gen Apple TV and Amazon Firestick. Since we have a Mac and love using iTunes for music, pictures and video, we upgraded to a 4th gen Apple TV. Another feature we really love with our Apple TV is Airplay. The two downsides we see with our Apple TV is that it’s more expensive and you currently can’t access the Prime videos app.
We also have a Roku device for our downstairs TV, which works great and allows us to use our Prime video. DirectTV Now is even running a promotion right now where you get a free Roku Premier if you prepay two months of DirectTV Now.
Step 5: Adding Local Channel
To get our local channels (Bachelor anyone?? or maybe just local sports), we needed to hook up an antenna. The main thing to do here is determine the best spot for the antenna. We first purchased a Mohu Leaf, which, by all accounts, is a top-of-line antenna, but it didn’t work in our house. We went back to Home Depot and bought a cheaper (outdooor friendly) antenna that works better. My husband reserached where the TV transmitting location is in our area and how far we were from that point. Once you understand where your transmission radius is, and which way to point your antenna, you should be able to get great reception.
Your best bet is to put the antenna on an exterior wall or even outside (ideally pointing in the direction of the transmitting towers). You can read more about how we mounted the antenna to maximize our reception here.
Now for my favorite part. Let’s chart out how the savings add up. Remember, our old monthly cable bill was about $120/month (not including our internet, which I’ve left out below since the monthly cost didn’t change). The math looks like this:
- New Monthly Television (DirectTV Now): $35
- Old Monthly Television: $120
- Monthly Savings: $85
- Annual Savings: $1,020
Now, to burst my own bubble a little bit, let’s look at the other costs involved:
- Roku (free with promo): $0
- 4th Gen Apple TV: $150
- Cable Cancel fee: $250
- Outdoor Antenna: $35
- Total Investment to Switch: $435
So, my accountant brain sees this picture as we will make up the total investment to switch up our plan in five months. And after that we’re saving that monthly amount for something we’d rather spend our money on (like another beach trip)! Plus – no more equipment fees and changing monthly rates. Seems like a pretty compelling savings if you look at it like that. What do you like to watch? Have you found a mix of services that works great for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Update: We are six months into our switch and have no regrets! And we are now banking away money for our future family vacation. Happy Dance!!