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Thinking About Cutting the Cord? (Cable or satellite TV, that is)

Maybe you've recently set a goal to save money or pay down debt. Maybe you are tired of that hefty cable bill. Or maybe your cable or satellite provider doesn’t have the programs you are interested in any longer. Whatever your reasons for possibly ditching the dish, you have options!

cutting cable or satellite tv

While your cable watching habits will determine how you go about it, you can drastically cut your monthly spending with a little research and self-awareness of what you like and need!

How to determine what's right for you

  1. The first step to cutting the cord is to research how much your cable/satellite bill is and what is included with your plan. The goal is to save money and get the right plan for your wants and needs.
  2. Next, make a list of everything that you watch (or record while you are away) and determine how you will find a different way to watch your favorite media. Personalize your subscriptions and streaming programs to suit you!
  3. Ask questions like:
    • How often do I watch TV?
    • What do I like to watch most? Movies? Sports? Home decorating or cooking channels?
    • Do I like commercials or do I prefer commercial-free viewing?
    • How many devices are used at any one time within my household and on which device do I prefer to watch the majority of my programs?

Saving Money Without Cutting the Cord

It's possible that after taking these steps, you've decided that you aren’t ready to cut the cord completely after all. Instead maybe cutting costs on your current cable/satellite service could be just as effective in your overall budgeting efforts. Some services (Spectrum TV, Xfinity Stream, Dish Anywhere, or Verizon Fios Mobile) offer streaming apps so you can watch your programs on devices reducing the number of boxes you need. They might even eliminating the need for a box altogether thus saving you money.

Other options for you to consider is how you could save money by bundling services with TV, phone or Internet, selecting a different cable package, purchasing your router and modem instead of renting it from the company, or maybe even signing a contract for a promotional rate. (gasp!) Sometimes a phone call to your cable/satellite company to evaluate your current plan can land you a better deal than what you are currently paying. You may also determine that a combination of cable, stream and pay-as-you-go downloads is the best money saving option for you.

how to decide if you should cut your cable

Still want to cut the cord? Read on!

  • Consider purchasing an HD antenna to access live TV/local channels for free (after you purchase the antenna of course). This is good for watching sports and local news, ensuring you don't miss traffic and weather warnings! If you're worried about what channels will work in your area, purchase the antenna before you cut the cable so you can try it out first. The channels that will be made available with an antenna will depend on your location.
  • Make sure you have a fast and reliable Internet service for smooth streaming. How’s your connection? If you don’t have high speed Internet then cord cutting definitely isn’t for you! Buffering and loading issues are the worst when you are trying to watch your favorite show. Do a check up on your modem and router. If they aren’t up to par, then shop around. Also make sure there is no data cap on your Internet service if you plan on downloading movies and TV shows.
  • Look into the different streaming services. There are tons of options and many offer no contract. Some even have a free trial which will let you try it out and cancel at any time. Tip: try the free trials before making a decision because new contracts and activation fees are no fun!

Your Streaming Options (in no particular order)

Sling TV

Sling TV is live TV similar to cable/satellite and could be a good replacement. There are different basic and add-on packages/bundles and price points for everyone. Reliability depends on the Internet connection or the device used to watch it on. SlingTV even offers ESPN and Fox Sports Networks for all you sports fans out there.


Netflix offers the ability to stream movies, TV series and original Netflix content. At a great price you can access it on many different devices at the same time (depending on the plan you purchase). You can binge watch Netflix series and have access to hundreds of movies at your fingertips all with no pesky commercials.


Hulu, similar to Netflix, allows you to stream movies, TV shows and original Hulu content. Unique to Hulu they also offer a Live TV (streaming cable) option with extra add-ons, enhanced cloud DVR option, and the choice to have commercial-free viewing (for a few extra dollars). Keep in mind that the prime time TV shows on Hulu could be a day late airing.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is available to all shoppers who have Amazon Prime, or as a monthly subscription if you don't. It includes streaming access to TV shows and movies and you can also rent or buy new releases on-demand. If you choose the Amazon Prime membership you also get free two-day shipping, books, music, photo storage and more. You have the option to add on some channels/services as well.

More Options

  • VUDU is another streaming option with TV shows and movies and a huge free selection to try out.
  • YouTube TV offers live streaming TV networks on multiple devices with sports channels and add-ons as well as a cloud-based DVR service with unlimited storage.
  • DirectTV Now has different tiers and works well with AT&T phone users as you just pay an inexpensive add-on fee.
  • Philo TV is an Internet television streaming platform with an unlimited cloud DVR.
  • FuboTV is very sports focused for those worried about missing your favorite games. It includes specialized sports stations with access to many standard sports channels. And since there are no contracts for streaming you can pay during football season and then cancel. It has the NFL network, Fox Sports, CBS Sports Network and others. There’s entertainment channels and add-ons as well as cloud DVR capabilities.
  • Some networks or channels have apps and streaming subscriptions such as HBO Max, Showtime Anytime, Starz Play Streaming as well as CBS All Access with a combination of live, on-demand and next day episodes. Sometimes you can even check out network websites and catch up on your favorite episodes for free (such as FOX, NBC, PBS, etc.).

Note: If you are an all-around sports fan it can get pretty costly to cut the cord. However if you only watch a specific sport or season, you can check out individual organizations like MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, etc. for their streaming offerings. Almost every major sports channel or organization offers a streaming package in some way.

tv streaming options if you cut cable

Picking the Streaming Device for You

Now that you've determined what type of content you want, it's time to decide what kind of streaming device or hardware works best for you.

  • Do you need 4k resolution?
  • Do you need a remote control?
  • Will you be playing games? If so, a lot of game consoles come with apps and methods of streaming content such as Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
  • Does your SmartTV offer the streaming services you want? If so you won’t need to get any additional hardware. If you don’t have a SmartTV you can stream content on many other media hub devices such as your smartphone or computer.
  • If your TV doesn’t have built-in apps you can look for streaming sticks (such as Roku, Google Chromecast or Amazon Firestick), a Blu-Ray player, dongles (like the Chromecast Ultra), streaming boxes (such as the Roku Ultra or Amazon Fire TV Cube which is compatible with Alexa). If you prefer Apple products the Apple TV 4k is a good alternative.

When using a streaming device, make sure you have good HDMI cables if they are needed. You can connect your laptop to your TV with HDMI cables for big screen viewing.

Look at DVR options in case you’d like to record any of your shows or movies but first make sure the services you are looking at don’t offer cloud DVR recording.

FREE Options for Cord Cutting

  • Many apps offer free video such as YouTube and Vimeo and most cable network channels offer episodes for free as well. Some offer “skinny bundles” or smaller packages of cable channels for a cheaper price.
  • Sony Crackle, Tubi TV and others are free, ad-supported platforms that allows you to watch TV shows and movies without a credit card.
  • Don’t forget the antenna offers free channels. Between your antenna and free streaming options you may not have to pay a dime!
  • Don't forget about your local library where you can rent DVD’s of your favorite TV shows and movies at no cost!
  • You can use free trials and try them out before committing. There are so many options that it's possible to try a different service every month for over a year before choosing your favorite.

Pros for Cutting the Cord

  • No long-term contracts.
  • No installation fees.
  • No equipment fees.
  • Everything is in HD.
  • You can stream from anywhere if you have a portable device like a tablet or phone.
  • The best part — YOU SAVE A TON OF MONEY!

Cons for Cutting the Cord

  • You may have buffering issues and Internet problems.
  • The sports lovers may have a hard time putting together services to meet their needs.
  • You may not have access to every channel that you did before cutting the cord.
pros and cons for cutting cable

The truth is that it’s easier than ever to watch the content you want without being stuck in an expensive, long-term contract. Once you have a HD antenna, high quality Internet service, a device to stream with, an understanding of the different apps and which will meet your needs and a way to record your shows, you are well on your way to enjoying a new cord free (well, sort of) lifestyle! So what are you waiting for? Is it time to cut the cord?

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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