We Sold Our TVs and Cut Cable

by Ryan Guina

My wife and I recently sold our home and in preparation for moving, we decided to sell a bunch items on Craigslist, including both of our TVs. Since we no longer have a TV, we canceled our cable TV service and used this opportunity to upgrade our internet service to a faster package – for two reasons: 1) I work online and a faster connection is helpful, and 2) we want to stream TV and video on the rare occasion we want to watch TV.

How dropping TV has affected us – and our budget

It’s been almost two weeks since we sold our TVs, and to be honest, we don’t really miss them. And our daughter is a year and a half, so she hasn’t really noticed it being gone either. So far we have seen two major benefits:

The first change is time. TV can suck you in and not let you go. It’s easy to justify killing 15 or 20 minutes when you have a few minutes of down time. But sometimes that 15 or 20 minutes can turn into an hour or two. Since we got rid of our TVs a couple weeks ago, the only video we watched has been online, and it was a planned action. I find TV much more enjoyable when I plan my viewing time – that way I don’t feel guilty or feel like I could be doing something more productive.

The second change is our budget. Our cable and internet package was roughly $90 per month, which in my opinion, was waaaaay too expensive for what we got out of it (the base TV package, with no premium channels, was over $50 a month after the introductory price expired). We only rarely watched TV, and then it was usually limited to a few channels. We cut the cable TV service and elected to pay for a faster internet service and should still save around $45 per month. I call that a win!

What the future holds for us

I don’t think we will be a zero TV household forever – in fact, I’ve wanted a flat screen HDTV for awhile now, which is part of the reason we sold our TVs before moving. The new TV, whenever it comes, is a planned expense and is already in the budget.

But at this point, I want to see how long we can go without buying cable TV service. We don’t watch enough TV to justify the expense of cable, and we should be able to get the majority of the network channels over the air in HD quality. We should then be able to fill the gaps by streaming video from a variety of online sources and by using other alternatives to cable TV.

Netflix is the video streamer’s best friend. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Netflix here. If you like TV and movies, then you really should check out Netflix. You can get a monthly subscription for streaming videos only for $7.99 per month, which is a great deal considering it offers unlimited streaming from thousands of movies and TV shows. For $2 more per month you can get unlimited DVDs delivered to your door, which will give you access to some of the newer movies which are available on DVD, but not yet for streaming. The base package only offers one DVD at a time, so you might want to upgrade to a higher package if you want to have more than one DVD at a time. Try Netflix for free.

Dropping cable TV isn’t for everyone

If you watch a lot of TV or love special programs or sporting events, then you might not be able to drop cable TV and have the same experience you have now. But for many others, myself included, it is a great way to save money. In our case, we can drop cable, get a faster internet connection, and subscribe to Netflix, and still save over $35 per month, which ads up to $420 a year – almost enough to pay for that new TV I’ve had my eye on.

Published or updated January 24, 2011.
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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric

I just got rid of my cable yesterday! I still have two TVs, but they are now powered by a Roku, Xbox, and antenna. I am happy to pay $9 per month for Netflix streaming, but $67 for cable was a lot for something that I didn’t use all that much.


2 Kris

Wow, that’s great! I lived without cable TV for about 2 years and it was a great decision, although we still had a TV with rabbit ears and could get 3 or 4 channels. I did more reading, enjoyed listening to sports on radio, and enjoyed the quiet time. And it saved us a bunch of money, too.


3 Ryan

KDB – We’ve been using our time packing – which isn’t nearly as fun! But I think we’ll end up having more family together time and other fun activities. I’ve enjoyed it so far. ๐Ÿ™‚


4 Evan

While I believe The Wife and I watch way too much TV, I couldn’t imagine getting rid of it. But stepping out of the comfort zone actually may be a good thing, however, it doesn’t matter because there is zero chance The Wife is letting me get rid of the TV lol


5 Peter

Up until a couple of years ago I had never paid for cable or satellite tv. I wrote in one post about how I still got all of my favorite shows via streaming alternatives, and how I wasn’t really missing anything by not having cable. I realized after we got cable (at my wife’s behest) that I HAD been missing watching all of my favorite sports teams because for the most part sports is one of the biggest things you can’t really get in all the free streaming options. Now that I’ve had the sports for a couple of years, I’d have a hard time dropping it I think. At the very least, however, we’re making sure to not pay too much for our TV. We just switched from Comcast cable to Dish Network when our promo deal expired and we had to pay $85/month for cable alone. When they wouldn’t droip our rates we switched to Dish Network and got more channels for about $40. I’m sure we’ll have to do the same again in a year or so when our new deal runs out. *sigh. If only all the sports teams streamed their games live for free!


6 Ryan

Pete, you can find some free sports on sites like NBC and ESPN3, but it’s not regular enough to catch all your favorites. I enjoy watching a good game now and then, but I’m not a die hard fan who has to catch every game his favorite team plays. So I’m pretty much content to watch whichever shows come on the regular network channels (even if I have to put up with commercials… sigh).


7 NatalieMac

You may need to check with your internet provider before you decide to switch to streaming only options and see what kind of usage limits they enforce. A friend of mine just got burned when he suddenly found out his ISP didn’t appreciate the bandwidth usage and cut off his service for the month after he streamed 10 hours or so of video. He had to ride out the rest of month with no cable and no internet.


8 Ryan

Good point, NatalieMac. I haven’t seen any usage limits on my plan and they didn’t mention it when I asked. But certainly something to look out for!


9 Melyssa

Wow, you took it a step further. Even though cutting the cable is temporary, I don’t think my husband would allow it. I think TV is overrated and was paying the $90/month for Internet and cable. I didn’t completely cut cable, but lowered the package to $15/month and supplement with Netflix, which we LOVE! We are still saving about $30/month, so I’m happy.


10 brokeprofessionals

I’ve had a few posts on this subject at my site, but the basic gist is:
you do plan your watching more, but you may find yourself wasting time in different ways (like spending more time on the internet).
Netflix is a godsend with its streaming video.
-Where you really miss out, as discussed above, is with sports. Also, one-time live “event” type television, like the Oscars.
-Also, you can’t bundle television and cable, which sometimes saves money.
Still, in the long run you will probably save time and money by getting rid of the cable box. We did it for probably 6 months, but then football season came around. Come to think of it…..football season is just about over again…


11 Ryan

I only watch a minimal amount of TV anyway, and the only thing I watch live is sports (I can’t stand awards shows, but I know many people love them). It truly is a case by case situation – what works for me certainly won’t work for everyone, and vice versa. ๐Ÿ™‚


12 brokeprofessionals

The hardest part is, if your married, getting two people to give up TV at the same time and staying that way.


13 Briana

I’ve been trying to convince the Mr. to cut cable, since we don’t watch it enough to be paying over $100 for it. But try to take a man away from his sports, and be met with a struggle.


14 Melyssa

Ah yes, sports. That’s a pretty big one. I am quite fortunate that my hubby isn’t into sports. It would be me, but I enjoy playing the sport(s) more than watching it.


15 Money Reasons

Congratulations on breaking free from the cable company! It’s funny how most of the News shows are garbage anyway… We do like the history channel and TLC though. But overall if I could axe the bill I would.

After all, axing the cable line would save both money and time (a win-win)!

Good call, I hope you can hold out for a long time… I’m envious!


16 Daddy Paul

I agree dropping TV from your life can be the best move you ever make. I told my son that there would be plenty of time for TV on my death bead.


17 Richard

In March 2010, we got rid of one of Comcast’s “value packages” (what a joke) and reduced to basic cable. We’ve saved $1,000 and will let the $70 monthly savings pile up month after month, year after year. You’d be surprised at how well you can get along without things you don’t really need. Keep paying for things like premium cable TV and you’re likely to end up broke at age 50 and perhaps destitute at age 60.

Why let Comcast bleed you dry with increase after increase after increase? Stop it today. We did a year ago and are very happy we did.

You don’t lose a$1 million simply by misplacing it. You lose it $50 at a time. Cable is one of the greatest wastes of money there is.


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