Legal Alternatives to Cable TV

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Cable alternatives for lower bills

Let’s talk about cable alternatives I use to lower my TV bill and give you several ideas to help you lower yours.

Has your new HDTV been more like a money drain than an entertainment unit?  I feel your pain.  There seems to be no end to the accessory products & services you have to buy to “complete your HD experience.”

I’m at a place in life where I’m ready to sacrifice my wants for the greater good of becoming debt free.  I’m not sure where you are in your journey, but one thing’s for sure – the more you separate yourself from the plague of consumerism, the more freedom you stand to gain.  It may seem like you are sacrificing at first, but as time passes you will undoubtedly see your “sacrifices” turn into blessings!  Not only financially, but also in many other areas of your life.

There are a few things to consider before you can start saving on your TV bills.  Here are the highs & lows my wife & I had to go through before we ended up finally lowering ours for good.

Alternatives to cable TV – Our situation

Regarding television sets, things were going just fine for my wife & I.  We had two TVs in the house, everything a nice young couple could ask for really.  In the living room there was a very nice (& heavy) 27″ Samsung cathode ray tube set that did everything a good TV should.  In the bedroom we had a little 13″ cathode ray tube TV perfect for watching on 30 minute sleep timer while dozing off for the night.  No, we didn’t have the latest & greatest, but did have exactly what we needed.  Until…

I’m not sure exactly when Bizarro Matt kicked in, but before I knew it I found myself on the way to ABC Warehouse to “check out” the new flat panel HD television sets.  In my mind I knew I wanted a flat HD plasma or LCD TV, but honestly had very little intention of actually buying one that day!  As I was walking through the store the idea of going home with a brand new $1,900 Panasonic seemed like less & less of a bad idea.  Before I knew it, I had one in the back of my Jeep Cherokee and was heading home to “surprise” the wife!

After hashing out the pros & cons of the purchase we were on the phone with Comcast to cancel the basic cable package to make way for a brand new HD/DVR service from DirecTV.  The existing basic cable/Internet package with Comcast was costing us around $85/month.  After canceling the cable TV, keeping the Comcast Internet, and signing up with DirecTV the total amount we were paying reached a peak of $150 in January of 2009.  The high amount was due in part to the extra costs I needed to incur to enjoy the HD & DVR capabilities my new TV offered.  In early February I contemplated the option to cancel my TV service but never pulled the trigger.  In late March I decided to call DirecTV to lower my TV bill and ended up shaving off $20, which was better than nothing.  After a few bad experiences with DirecTV I canceled and went back to the Comcast basic package.  Then – finally – in October of 2010 I canceled our service altogether and began my quest for cable alternatives.

Our chosen alternative to cable TV

Finances were not the only reason that led us to rid our lives of television service.  Both my wife & I were fed up with the incessant commercials and endless materialism being shoved down our throats.  Since canceling, we can more clearly see how the rampant consumerism was affecting our daily lives.  We are happy we canceled, and encourage you to do the same.  You’ll get more done and you’ll save more money.

I kept the Comcast Internet service to run my websites, but am saving $76 every month by no longer paying for television service.

Alternatives to cable TV for you

I will order these solutions by levels of effectiveness:

  • Cancel your television service altogether – C’mon…just do it!  You won’t regret it.  This is your best option for the highest reduction in costs.  Shutting of our DirecTV saved my wife & I $76/month.  Besides saving you money, canceling your TV service will also free up enough time for you to develop a few money making hobbies you are passionate about!  You will not believe how productive you can be until you shut off your TV service.  The next few solutions are things that my wife & I also do in lieu of a television service.
  • Buy a digital antenna – With the digital switch coming soon you must use a digital antenna to receive a signal.  You can purchase either an indoor or an outdoor antenna that enables you to receive free local “over the air” digital programming.  Indoor antennas are cheaper and seem to work fine, this is the route my wife & I took.  They usually range between $15 and $60.  Here is the indoor digital antenna I recommend, it’s only $36 and has been highly rated by nearly 400 on Amazon.
  • Purchase a Netflix streaming video plan – I would only advise this if you have an XBox 360 with an active XBox Live subscription, or some other Netflix Watch Instantly plan.  We subscribe to the $16/month plan, but Netflix has cheaper options yet.
  • Watch TV over the Internet – We now watch some of our favorite shows on the same laptop I’m typing up this blog post.  NBC.com offers all its shows over the Internet as soon as they have aired.  Other network sites include: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, A&E, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Lifetime, MTV, and even PBS.  Other sites offering up free view are:  Hulu.com, Boxee.com, YouTube.com, along with lesser knowns like ChannelChooser.com, TVChannelsFree.com, and WatchTVChannels.net.
  • Call your service providers – Use my tips on speaking to Customer Service Reps to get your bill lowered.  This has saved me a lot of money over the last 5 months.  One Comcast rep even told me that I can continually take advantage of their 6 month promotion prices by simply calling every 6 months.  With this tip, a lot of your success rides on how well you get along with the CSR so make sure you use my tips
  • Lower your television plan to the lowest they offer – Make sure you figure out the “after tax” and “after features added” price though, for example.  DirecTV offered a plan for $29.99/month that turned out to cost $45/month after HD & DVR capabilities along with taxes were added.  I know Comcast offers a plan my wife & I call “welfare cable” that gives you a few basic channels for around $15/month.
  • Bundle your services – We did this for the first six months we lived in our new home, but after awhile I grew tired of Comcast’s TV service, so I switched to DirecTV.  Doing this cost me in the long run.  Bundled service will lower the cost of your television, Internet, and now even your phone services.

A few extra tips to make/save some money

  • Sell your HDTV – if you do cancel our TV service you may want to get rid that HDTV altogether.  If you are to go this route make sure you don’t sell it for pennies on the dollar; if you’re going to do that you may be better off just keeping it.
  • If you must purchase an HDTV go with LCD – LCD TVs use way way way way way way way less power to run them, which will save you a lot of money over the long haul

Using all or any combination of the above techniques will help you lower your TV bills!



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