Here’s exactly what you need to know to eliminate or significantly reduce the cost of your monthly television cable service. In this article, I’ll cover the free way, the nearly free option, and the low cost strategy. After understanding your options, you’ll have the information needed to determine how to eliminate your cable bill and save a nice chunk of money.
Did you know that the average cost of television cable service in the United States is about $50 per month for the basic package? And when you pile on premium channels like HBO, ShowTime, etc., you could end up paying an extra $10 for each channel. It can quickly add up for sure.
And probably the most annoying thing about cable is that you get a bunch of channels that you will never watch, right? But you’re paying for other worthless package stuffing, nevertheless.
I can understand that the decision to eliminate your cable bill is a tough one. I’m in the same boat. Of course the big advantage is that you’ll save a lot of money. Conversely, one downside for you might be the availablity of certain specific content, such as sports. But it’s worth knowing the alternatives so that you can determine if making the switch makes sense.
Free TV Option
Yes, it’s true, you can watch television for free. Woohoo! All you have to do is link your Internet-connected computer to your television. If you’ve ever checked out the websites for NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and others, you probably noticed that you could watch past episodes of your favorite shows right there online. I’ve done it lots of times.
Well, to watch television for free, all you have to do is turn your HDTV into a computer monitor.Naturally, it’s best if you have a laptop that can sit in the same space as the tv.
In order to connect your computer to your tv, you’ll need one of these types of cables that is based on your television’s connection features.
1. High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable – Many newer televisions have an HDMI input feature on the back. This is the recommended interface between your computer and tv to ensure the best tv viewing quality.
2. Component cables – These are the three bundled red, yellow, and green cables that probably came with your tv. They can carry the video out from your computer to the television, but you’ll need separate cabling to get the audio flowing.
But the big question will be whether the cabling solution is also compatible with your particular computer. So I’d recommend that you talk to an electronics geek at Radio Shack, Best Buy, or Geek Squad before pursuing this option.
3. VGA cables – These carry similar issues as the component cables. It’s just a question of whether your computer and tv will understand each other, and if the computer can transmit everything the television needs to display great imagery and audio. Again, talk to one of the geeks. Pull out the user manual for the television if you’re unsure about it’s specifications and features.
In any event, once your computer and tv are synched up, you can make your tv viewing more pleasurable by using a free service such as kylo.tv. It’s basically a browsing tool that will make it easy to find tv shows, movies, etc. You can also visit TV.com and stream hundreds of tv shows at your leisure.
Nearly Free TV Option
For this option, you’ll need an HD antenna and, possibly a coverter box. The coverter box is what’s needed to translate the digital signal that comes into your home over the airwaves. If you examine the back of your television and see only one connector labeled as ANT or Antenna, you’ll need the box. If your television is 6-7 years old, it may be a candidate for the converter box which will run you about $30-$50 on Amazon.com.
Next, the antenna is what grabs the signal for the television channel that you’re watching. It controls the strength of the signal and may have to be adjusted if the signal is weak. Now, don’t be enamored with the name “HD Antenna”. That’s just a marketing gimmick. The antenna is quite similar to those that existed back in the olden days. An HD antenna will cost about $30-$40 on Amazon.com.
Now, there’s something very important you need to know before running off and getting any old tv antenna. You have to get one that is compatible with your viewing preferences and location.
To do this, visit antennaweb.org where you’ll be asked to enter your zip code. You’ll then get a listing like the one below that tells you which free channels you’ll have access to. Also, you’ll see color codes under the column labeled as Antenna. Do you see the colors of yellow, green, and red?
When you click on a color, you’ll get a pop up window like the one below that tells you which type of antenna you’ll need to view that particular station. Typically, the farther you are away from a television station, the more powerful the antenna needs to be. You can purchase antennas with built-in or attached amplification features.
Low Cost TV Option
If you’re a gadget freak, you’re going love some of the cool stuff that’s out there now. One of the most popular tv viewing gadgets is called Roku 3 (Apple TV is another). This is a little box that streams video content over the Internet and into your tv. So the box is wired to your tv and has a wireless connection to your Internet service. It is touted to work with new and older television sets.
The Roku 3 media streaming box costs a one-time $100 and there are no recurring fees. There are lower cost versions of the Roku box, but if you’re going to make the leap from cable, you might as well go for all the bells and whistles, rght?
So once you have the box set up, then what? Well, that’s when you look for subscription services to provide you with all the glorious movies, music, tv shows, and games.
Through the Roku 3 box you can subscribe to lots of content providers. The big three are Hulu Plus ($8/mo), NetFlix ($8/mo), and Amazon Prime ($80/yr). Plus, you’ll be able to stream videos from YouTube. Keep in mind that each service offers thousands of shows and movies. Want to rewatch every exciting episode of Lost? No problem.
Now, you don’t have to subscribe to all three services. You just have to look through their catalog and determine which one or two suits you and your family. But clearly, when you compare the cost of this versus regular cable service, you can save a bunch of money.
So that’s it. You now know how to eliminate your cable bill. But without a doubt, if you’re dealing with debt problems, I strongly recommend that you disconnect your cable service and switch to one of the above options. You can go with the totally free, nearly free, or low cost alternative. Use the money you save to pay down debt and rebuild your nest egg.