Travel Budgeting

How to Cancel Cable TV and Save $5,850

Finally we said enough!

For years, we kept our cable with full house DVR simply because we were hooked on football and a few television programs.  The cable company had us convinced that we couldn’t live without their precious programing.  The we couldn’t possibly cancel cable TV.  I’m sure many of you can relate.  We accepted yearly rate increases without batting an eye because they justified it was the cost of ESPN that caused rates to rise.  We couldn’t possibly live without Sports Center, NFL Sunday, or College Game Day!

Thus, the cable company had us hooked on their hundreds of channels like an addict hooked on heroine.  (Of which we maybe watched 5 channels.)  The coax was pumping into the veins of our wallets to the tune $1200 a year.  At the same time, we were also paying for Netflix instant streaming and Amazon Prime ratcheting our annual television spend up to $1416.  That’s two plane tickets to someplace warm in the winter!  After a close look at our budget, and our many affordable television viewing options, we decided to cancel cable TV.

Cancel Cable

Do it! Cancel Cable!

You can watch all of our Must See TV without cable.

A little research demonstrated that almost all of favorite TV programs were available through apps built into our “smart” TVs or other media viewing devices (game consoles, Blue Ray players, etc).  Sure, the program might not be available until the next day, but we weren’t watching programs live anyway.  We were paying extra for a DVR to have the privilege of watching TV a day late.  Hmmm….  Doesn’t make a lot of sense now does it?

I know what you’re thinking.  Many of the apps I’m referencing aren’t free (Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix).  You’re correct.  However, even if you subscribe to all three of these services and cancel cable, you are saving $123 per month (average cost of cable in the US).  That’s $1,476 per year!  What could you do with that money?  Want to hear something even crazier?  Most of us are already signed up for all three online services plus cable spending $1,767 a year for our TV viewing pleasure!

I know there’s still some naysayers out there.  “But you said not all of your favorite programs can be watched through apps like Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.  Admittedly, Hawaii Five-O isn’t available as CBS is holding back their content.  But it is available on their web site for streaming…  And I bet you could hook your laptop up to your TV!  Sons of Anarchy was another issue where we had to be a bit more “creative”.  Get together with your friends for a weekly party to watch it like we did back in college when Friends was on!  Bring some pizza or beer and I’m sure they’ll forget your leaching their cable. Or ask for their credentials.

You can watch football without cable.

The NFL is easy.  Buy a digital antenna for your TV.  Ours cost $8, and, get this, the signal is better than our cable feed was!  We watch the Panthers every Sunday down in my man-cave.  Normally we’re joined by several cable-subscribing neighbors because our antenna quality is better than their cable  If you’re a subscriber to the NFL Ticket that allows you to access all the games because you aren’t a fan of the local team, just go to a bar.  Football watching is more fun with others anyway.

Many college football games are available on network TV so the $8 antenna will grant you access.  The rest are available on ESPN.  Some Internet providers do offer access to ESPN 3 which allows you to live stream ESPN’s programming through the Watch ESPN app.  Or, cozy up to a family member or friend for their credentials.

How much can you save if you cancel cable TV?

Now that I have you convinced that cancelling cable is possible, let’s take a look at how much you can save.  This is an interactive exercise.  In it, I will share how much we saved and provide blanks for you to pull out your monthly budget and calculate your savings.  This is not a simple calculation and involves several steps.  I promise you will be shocked with the results.

Calculate your annual spend on cable:

Monthly Cost of Cable (include device and remote rentals) x 12 = Annual Spend on Cable

Us: $100 x 12 = $1,200

You: $____ x 12 = $_______

Most of us are also subscribed to at least two video streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime.  To be fair in this analysis, we must add these services into our equation.

Monthly Cost Streaming Services x 12 = Annual Streaming Services Spend

Us (Netflix and Amazon Prime): $16.20 x 12 = $194.40

You: $_____ x 12 = $_________

Let’s add these two numbers together to calculate our Annual TV Viewing Spend.

Annual Spend on Cable + Annual Streaming Services Spend = Annual TV Viewing Spend

Us: $1,200 + $194.40 = $1,394.40

You: $________ + $__________ = $________

Now lets cut out the cable and see what’s left.

New Annual TV Viewing Spend – Annual Spend on Cable = Annual Savings on Programming

Us: $1,394.40 – $194.40 = $1,200

You: $______ – $_________ = $_________

We’re not quite there yet as devices may be required to make the conversion from cable addiction to online streaming.  Do a little homework.  Check which devices in your house are “smart” and can download apps to stream programming.  Check your TVs, Blue-Ray Players, and Game Consoles.  Perhaps you have a Roku or Amazon TV already.  Count those too.  Now, check which apps are must haves.  We had three – Hulu, Amazon, and ESPN.  Since our TVs and Blue Rays Players didn’t allow ESPN, we had to make some purchases.  Our house has three TVs, we had our Wii hooked up to one and purchased a Roku and Amazon Fire TV for the other two (more on the differences below).  Also check which TVs don’t have built in antennas.  You’ll need those for sports.

Back to the math.  Let’s calculate your year one savings after new devices are purchased.  First let’s figure out what devices you need:

Cost of Device + Cost of Device + Cost of Device + … = Total Cost of Devices

Us:  $84 (Amazon Fire TV) + $50 (Roku) + $16 (2 Antennas) = $150

You: $______ + $________ + $_________ + … = $________

One last step is required for your annual first year savings:

Annual Savings on Programming – Total Cost of Devices = Total Year One Savings

Us: $1,200 – $150 = $1,050

You: $______ – $_____ = $_____

Not a bad chunk of change, huh?  But let’s take a look at our five year savings!

First Savings + 4(Annual Savings on Programming) = Five Year Savings

Us: $1,050 + 4($1,200) = $5,850

You:  $_____+ 4($______) = $_______

The dream trip to France just became a reality!!!

A 30 Day Challenge!

Don’t think you can cancel  cable TV?  Let’s do a little experiment.  Both Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime offer 30 day free trials.  Sign up for both and for one month just watch your regular TV on those two services.  No cable!  I guarantee that you’ll be convinced enough to cancel cable TV!


  • Streaming Device – As I mentioned above, we purchased both a Roku and Amazon Fire TV. We prefer the Amazon Fire TV by a long shot. The speed difference is extremely noticeable.  Plus, the Amazon Fire TV thinks for you and downloads programs based on your viewing habits in advance of your watching them.  This means no annoying pauses for buffering.  Admittedly, we did purchase the cheaper of the Roku devices (the stick) which could account for the speed issues.
    • As a side note, do not purchase either item through Best Buy!!!! Best Buy has a two week return policy that is extremely limiting.  After 2 weeks, you’re screwed.  They don’t even offer store credit.  Both Amazon and Roku offer a much more customer friendly return policy!
  • Digital Antenna – We bought the Homeworx HW110AN Super Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. For $8 you can’t go wrong!  It works perfect for us.
  • Streaming Services – Don’t go overboard on the services. You don’t need more than two.  I have experience with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus streaming services.  Currently, we subscribe to Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.  For us, Amazon Prime trumped Netflix.  The programming is similar but Amazon Prime comes with all those extra benefits like free 2-day shipping and product discounts.  Hulu Plus is the best for current TV programming and is essential for most of your must see TV.

This is the fourth in a series on money saving tips to help you save  money to live your dreams.  Let’s look at where we have been so far on your way to freeing up cash to travel.

  • The first lesson  reviewed how to live on a budget and tell your money where to go
  • The second lesson reviewed how to pay cash for quality used cars saving $8,663
  • The third lesson reviewed how brewing your own coffee provides an average savings of $1,010
  • This lesson reviewed how you can cancel cable TV and save $5,850
  • Total savings thus far is $15,523

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