I’ve had a few people ask about how to cut their television bills so I thought this would be a great time to repost! Especially Since Ooma is still on sale on Amazon – ditch the cable once and for all!
A while ago I took the plunge and cancelled cable. My family didn’t take the news very well. My husband was upset that I cancelled it in the middle of the NBA Finals (to my defense how many games are there?) and my son was appalled that we would no longer have Cartoon Network. (Just to save money? What kind of excuse is that?)
But after their anger subdued I explained to them that we were spending $2,000 a year for our cable! And while yes, this includes our cable, Internet and home phone I just thought that it was an outrageous amount. There are so many options out there to replace cable and most of them come with a free trial! So test them out and find what services work best for you and your family!
Many services allow you to instantly stream movies and television shows right to your TV! You do need a few things in order to do this. You will need:
– An Internet connection
– A Smart TV, Roku Box, or a Video Game Console (that is connected to the Internet)
To stream you simple use one of the devices above and connect it to your Internet. Then choose which ‘channel’ you would like to add.
What in the world is a Roku Box?
A Roku box is a small box that you plug into your TV. It takes about 3 seconds to set up. Roku allows you have instant access to tons of channels. Think of it like your cable box that you have now (except smaller!) You buy the Roku box and that’s it – you never get a bill. You add the ‘channels’ that you want (some are free and some you pay for), you have access to Pandora (free music streaming), *play games (you can even play Angry Birds!), and instantly put your photos and movies from your phone on your TV!
There are a few different Roku box choices. (*not all games can be played on all Roku boxes. Some games, like Angry birds have to be played on ones with a motion controller).
We have one in each of our bedrooms. (We use our video game consoles to stream in our living room.) We bought ours on Amazon.
Your Local Channels
Invest in a good antenna and you can get access to your local channels – for free! The Mohu Leaf Antenna is a top rated antenna. You can go to TVFool and plug in your address to find out how many miles away your house is from a television transmitter. Knowing how many miles will help you find out which antenna you will need to purchase. It’s important to buy a high quality antenna so you are able to get all available channels as well as have good, uninterrupted service. Remember, buying the antenna is a one time buy! You will never receive a bill for your local channels! This is the antenna that we have and we really like ours! (And it’s on sale for $36.33 plus free shipping! Amazon prices can change at anytime.)
What kind of ‘Channels’ can I get from instant streaming and how much do they cost?
- It’s FREE!
- Limited choices – Crackle was originally designed for men 18-34. There are mostly action, comedy, anime and adventure choices.
What do we watch on Crackle?
We honestly don’t watch much, but we do watch the original Three Stooges – a lot! They have a few decent movies, but most of them are also available on other channels. (The Three Stooges however is not on the other channels.) But new things can be added at any time so we keep it.
- FREE month trial! After that, you can get unlimited instant streaming for just $7.99 a month.
- Netflix Kids is included. Netflix Kids groups together all of the kids shows in one spot, which is nice. When my son logins in to Neflix on his 3DS, I don’t have to worry about him watching something inappropriate.
- Netflix just got the rights to Disney movies! That means you can find movies such as Lady and the Tramp and TV shows like Phineas and Ferb.
- When you pay for Netflix you pay $7.99 for your household. That means for $7.99 one person can watch in the living room through the X-Box, one person can watch in the bedroom through the Roku and someone else can watch through their computer all at the same time, all something different.
- Good selection of movies and television shows.
- Some movies are by mail only. This is an extra service. Choose from a Blu-Ray or DVD rental plan and you can check out 1 – 3 discs at a time. Prices start at $7.99 per month for this service. I will say that they ship out quickly!
- The television shows are past seasons. You won’t be able to watch last night’s episode of your favorite show.
Netflix is one of our favorite services! What are some things that we watch? Law and Order, West Wing, Phineas and Ferb, The Lorax, 101 Dalmations, Extreme Couponing, and more! We currently have the 3 DVDs out at a time mail plan in addition to instant streaming. We pay an extra $15.99 a month for this. It may sound like a lot, but we are big movie people! We probably get 30 discs a month, so I think the price is fair. If you don’t watch that many movies I would pass on the mail offer.
The DVD by mail plan is no contract so you can cancel one month and get it back the next. This is great because on months that we have a lot going on or we are going on vacation we cancel that month’s services. There is no need keeping it if you aren’t going to have time to fully use it!
- FREE week trial! After that if you would like to continue your membership it is $7.99/month.
- If you don’t purchase an antenna this is a good alternative!
- Watch current television shows.
- The TV shows are awesome, but we didn’t see any movies we were interested in watching.
Hulu Plus is really great if you are worried about having to give up your shows. They have a huge variety of shows to watch including Days of Our Lives, Shark Tank, CSI, Glee, Modern Family, Nashville and of course, children’s shows as well.
- FREE month trial!
- Amazon Prime is $79 for the year (or $39 for students. Must have a valid .edu email address) While that may sound like a lot it’s actually a good deal. It comes down to only $6.67/month (cheaper than Netflix) and it includes free 2 day shipping from Amazon as well as you can borrow a book for free if you have a Kindle.
- Good variety of movies and television shows.
- You can buy movies instantly on your television and watch them again and again. OR if you buy select DVDs/Blu-Rays on Amazon you can watch it instantly on your TV while you wait for your movie to arrive in the mail.
- Like Netflix, not all movies are included. However, unlike Netflix you pay per movie. Movies cost as low as $0.99 which is MUCH cheaper than renting a movie On Demand through cable or satellite! Watching TV shows that are not included in the Prime instant streaming can get expensive though! They are usually $1.99 PER EPISODE!
We have Amazon Prime because we order a lot of items through Amazon so the savings on shipping alone is worth it for us! I also think that Amazon is quicker at adding new movies over to the ‘included’ side. Also, they have the rights for season 3 (and future seasons) of Downton Abbey – which for me is huge!
- FREE month trial!
- For $8 you get instant streaming + 4 codes/month to use for movie rentals at any RedBox.
* There are always tons of free Redbox codes online and through their text alerts.
* I feel as though the options at the Kiosk aren’t updated very often and sometimes it can be hard to get the movie you want.
I have not used RedBox to stream instantly. I do plan on taking advantage of the free trial! I’ll let you know what I think!
- 30 Day money back guarantee
- VERY affordable – pay once and have a lifetime membership. Plus, they are almost always running promotions. We paid $70 for a lifetime membership, plus they gave us a free Roku box (a $50 value). Currently, at the time of this being written, a lifetime membership would cost $44.99. Even if you only used it for 1 year that is just $3.75 a month! (The free Roku box deal is not currently available Check out their current deals here.)
- Chose to watch television shows from tons of channels like MTV, PBS, A&E, History Channel and more.
- You have to download Play-On to your computer. Then through the wifi it will play on the TV. I’m hoping that in the future we will be able to just download the ‘play-on’ app straight to our game console/Roku box.
- It could be better organized. We have a lifetime membership so I hope that in the future it becomes more organized.
We have Play-On simply because it was a great deal. We were planning on getting a Roku Box anyways so essentially we paid only $20 for a lifetime membership. You do get a wide variety of channels and shows available which is nice. We also have Pandora (free music streaming). I love to put on the 90’s station and go to town cleaning up the house. We watch shops like Duck Dynsasty and other favorite shows that would be on Cable .
What we use:
This is what we do at our home:
We have the Mohu Leaf Antenna and get our local channels. Most of our shows are those that are on local channels anyways so it works out! We also have Play-On (so we have access to some of our favorite cable shows!), Amazon Prime, Crackle and Netflix. Some months we subscribe to Netflix mail order DVDs. I say some months because if it is a month where we are going to be super busy or on vacation I cancel it for that month! For example, we will cancel our subscription for May and June because we have a few events to go to on the weekends of May and we will be leaving for New Hampshire for 3 weeks at the end of May. There is no use in having something if you know you won’t be able to utilize it well. So we still get all of our tv shows + we have a HUGE “on demand” movie library! It’s really pretty awesome.
Here are our costs:
One time costs:
Antenna – $50 (Bought on Amazon)
2 Roku Boxes – $78 (Bought on Amazon – One came with our Play-On subscription)
Play-On – $70 for a lifetime membership
Total one time costs: $198 (we spread our start up costs up over time and used the money we saved on our cable bill to put towards the cost of buying these items. The first thing we purchased was the antenna and used our Xbox and Wii to stream for our free month trials. Then, as our savings came in we finished purchasing our ‘start up items’)
Amazon Prime: $6.58 (this is paid once a year in a lump sum of $79)
Total cost per month: $14.57! Plus I never have to pay for shipping on Amazon! On month’s that we use the movies by mail service our bill is only $30.56!
So our old cable bundle was $100 (after taxes and charges we were paying about $150 a month). Now we pay $25 a month for Internet and $23 (average for months we use the mail order service) for our television. We also pay about $4 for our home phone (find out more here). Our new ‘cable bundle’ costs us $52 a month – a $100 per month savings!! That’s $1200 per year! And we feel like we have more options than ever!
How to choose what is right for your family:
First, determine if you are going to need a Roku box or if you can use a gaming console. If you have a gaming console great! If not, then you are going to have to invest in a Roku box. I would check Amazon for them! You don’t need the fanciest one to start out with (unless you want) but I would recommend getting one of the HD ones.
Then, take advantage of the free trials listed above! You will quickly figure out which services you and your family use the most!
Do you use instant streaming? If so, where do you stream from? How much have you saved by ditching cable?
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