If I told you could save about $600 a year, you’d be all ears, right? Good, glad you’re listening.
Life was beginning to revolve around when we could watch all the shows on our DVR. Then my husband and I did something crazy.
We turned off the TV.
Detox was hard. After our 40-day trial run during Lent, we slowly eased back into television watching, but not nearly the level we were at before. Last June, I asked my husband how he felt about cancelling cable (two months before the start of college football, I might add). To my surprise he said, “Do it. There will never be an ideal time.” Yahoo recently published this article about ‘zero TV’ homes and broadcasters fear about their growing popularity.
A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group “Zero TV” households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.
So, how do you do it? How do you cut the cable and survive? Let me tell ya.
1. Call your cable company. I guarantee, when you tell them you want to cancel cable there will magically be about 100 other “less expensive” plans they will try to pitch to you. Don’t buy it. We negotiated a low rate for internet/home phone and ditched everything else. I know, you’re already chastising me for the home phone expense. Here’s the thing. Our kids don’t have cell phones and won’t until high school. If Scott and I are away, the babysitter or our oldest, who is sometimes left in charge, needs a way to call for help. At some point we’ll lose the home phone, but for now, it stays.
2. Take the TV out of the bedroom. There are way more fun things to do in there than watch TV! Our children don’t (and won’t) have televisions in their rooms either. We only have two TVs and both are in public areas of our home. We want to see what our children are watching, and when.
3. Realize that it isn’t about the channels or the money, it’s about a change in lifestyle. Even though we could negotiate a ridiculously low cable bill, it wasn’t really about the money. Just like those who want to live a healthy lifestyle ditch the sugar-laden foods for healthy options and couch-potato antics for activity, we were focused on changing our viewing habits. We were interested in changing our lives. We wanted to have complete control over the programming that comes into our home and cancelling cable was the first step. And, we had to adjust to the “get it now” fix. We’re totally okay with not knowing all the “in” shows. We’ll watch them when they’re out on Netflix.
4. What do you do about shows? Cartoons for the kids? We’re not complete hermits. We bought Apple TV, a $100 investment that we plug into our television and it gives us access to Netflix, Hulu, music, the internet, etc. We can livestream anything we watch or listen to on our iPhone or iPad, on our home television. It’s been great. The only downside is the Apple TV remote is teeny tiny. Download the remote app on your phone if you go this route, just in case the kids “hide” the remote. It happens.
5. We installed a $25 digital antenna that gives us access to the “big 3” channels in HD, along with four local PBS stations and Fox. Technically, a ‘zero tv’ home doesn’t have “big 3” access, but this is a feature we rarely use. Scott watches the weather about twice a month. But, let’s be honest, the WeatherBug app on our phones allows us to check Mother Nature multiple times a day. Or, you know, we walk outside. Of course, we are addicted to PBS’ Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife. Fortunately, if we miss a show, PBS has them online for several weeks. We stream them on the iPad via Apple TV and voila, problem solved.
6. Get creative for collegiate athletics. Aggie Football. I knew this one would come up eventually. When we cancelled cable last year, we did have a big motivating factor. We wanted to purchase two season tickets to A&M football games. Instead of watching them on TV, we now watch about half in person. WAY BETTER. But, for those road games, we’ve gotten creative. We listen to them on the internet (not my favorite, but it works), follow along on Twitter, go to a bar or crash a friends’ house. I have to say, that last one is my favorite. We’ve reconnected with some great friends! The Twitter option isn’t too bad either. I’ve participated in some lively tweeting sessions that were a whole lotta fun.
We love this new life without cable. The initial adjustment was an adjustment but now, I can’t really imagine going back and paying that kind of money and trading in that precious time ever again. Happy cutting!
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