I was able to save $3,000 by quitting cable

Ditching cable has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

By my rough estimate, I’ve saved at least $3,000 since I quit cable four years ago, and I don’t feel like I’ve really missed anything on TV.

Here’s my setup:

  • I pay $60 per month for my internet service from Time Warner Cable.
  • I have a $25 RCA HD “rabbit ears” antenna that lets me watch network TV channels like NBC, ABC, and CBS for free over the air. I don’t watch those channels very often, but it’s great for major sporting events like the World Series or NFL games on Thursday nights and Sundays.
  • I have an Apple TV and use it mostly to watch Netflix ($8.99 per month, but going up to $9.99 per month soon). I also use Apple TV to buy TV shows like “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead” that are available to watch on iTunes the day after they air on cable. Those are one-time costs of about $45 for the entire season.

So, I’m paying $69 per month for Netflix and internet service, plus the occasional $45 for a full season of a TV show I enjoy.

I’d say at least 80% of my TV watching happens in Netflix. The rest is a mix of over-the-air network TV, shows from iTunes, and YouTube. And I’ve never really felt like I’m missing anything. I also recently signed up for HBO Now, which costs $15 per month, but mostly so I can watch “Game of Thrones.” I might cancel after that.

Cable would have cost another $50 per month for the first year, and it would have gone up even more after that. Time Warner is never really clear on how much it raises your bill after that first year. I was pretty surprised when my internet bill jumped from $45 per month to $60 per month. So, assuming a similar jump for my TV service, let’s say TV would have cost me $65 per month after the first year. If I add it all up, I’ve saved a little more than $2,900 over the last four years. And I think that’s being generous considering all the hidden costs and other extras cable companies tend to sneak into your bill.

Mad Menwww.orangecow.orgMad Men was one of the few shows I would buy through iTunes.

(I’m not factoring in Netflix because I would have paid for Netflix even if I had cable TV. I’m also ignoring the occasional one-time purchases of TV shows because they have been few and far between over the years.)

I also found another way to shave a few bucks off my Time Warner Cable bill each month. Instead of leasing the modem Time Warner Cable gave me for about $8 per month, I bought my own cable modem, the Motorola Arris Surfboard, from Amazon for $96. (You need to check with your internet provider for a list of compatible modems before you buy your own.) That may seem like a lot to pay up front, but it ended up paying for itself after a year.

Is this setup for everyone? No.

I love sports, but I’m not obsessed with them so I don’t really miss ESPN. However, I know plenty of people out there would rather go without oxygen than go without ESPN. I’m sure there are also plenty of people who like watching cable news or niche channels like the HGTV and Food Network. My solution isn’t for them.

But other than that, I never feel like I don’t have something to watch. Netflix pretty much does the trick for me. And realising all these years later that I’ve saved $3,000 is icing on the cake.

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