Fire Your Cable Company

We hate cable companies…

Cable companies consistently rank near the tops of lists of the most hated industries in the U.S. And it’s no wonder…

The average American family’s cable bill is $123 per month. Companies like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable hold virtual monopolies and know we’ll keep paying because of our addiction to television. Not to mention the terrible customer service most of us have experienced.

But a growing movement called “cord cutting” is threatening the way these giants do business. Cord cutting means cancelling your traditional cable subscription in favor of cheaper options. These include everything from a simple antenna to a monthly subscription that delivers on-demand TV-like service over your home’s Internet connection.

If you’re thinking of joining the cord-cutting movement, let me be honest with you – it’s not for everyone. But if you have a reliable Internet connection in your home that can stream TV shows and movies… then we’ve found a number of tips for lowering your cable bill that can save you an average of $40-$60 a month. That’s an annual savings of about $600!

To start, you can completely cut the cord with these alternatives…

Antenna. Today’s antennas can pick up high-definition local broadcasts and transmit them to your TV without a cable hookup. That means you can watch most of your local channels… including networks like CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, and PBS.

The most popular high-definition flat antenna is the Mohu Leaf, and it usually retails for about $40. You can enter your zip code on the company’s website, GoMohu.com, to find what channels you can pick up over the air in your area and what antennas would serve you best.

Roku. The easiest and most straightforward hardware option for streaming is called a Roku box. This small device, about the size of a hockey puck, plugs into your TV and connects to the Internet. It allows you to control your subscriptions to most of the major streaming services and includes free channels like YouTube and Pandora.

Apple, Google, and Amazon make similar boxes (and smaller, matchbox-sized plug-in sticks), but I like the ease of use of the Roku.

Streaming Services. SlingTV, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime cover the rest of the channels with a variety of offerings. And two cable providers are starting to offer “slimmer” packages. We’ve outlined the good, the bad, and the pricing in the table below.

Service Price per Month Pros Cons Add-ons Best for
SlingTV $20 Wide number of cable channels No standard channels, higher monthly fee HBO is an extra $15/month; can add additional channel packs $5/month Watching shows on hard-to-get channels like AMC
Hulu 1st level: FREE
2nd level: $8
Free service offers latest 3-5 episodes of a show; paid service has full seasons and extensive library Free service does not stream on Roku; shows are posted later – sometimes a day after air, sometimes later Showtime is an extra $9/month Getting both cable channels and broadcast channels
Netflix $8 Original programming, extensive library Shows updated after season ends, not day after air Add on DVD by mail service for more films +8/month Catching up on past seasons
Amazon Prime $8.25
(charges $99 per year)
Includes free two-day shipping, unlimited music, and 800,000-plus free e-books. New deal with HBO also includes past seasons of popular shows. No current seasons of shows included Current seasons of shows can be added for a season pass. Prices range $12 – $28 for standard quality; as much as $42 for HD quality Getting more perks than just television
Comcast Stream $15 Includes Internet-based DVR to record shows; also includes HBO Only in select markets None Being able to record shows
Verizon Custom Package $55 Includes regular broadcast channels plus two themed channel packs Most expensive service; can cost more than original bill with added packs Can add additional channel packs for $10 each Shaving off unwatched channels