FF6: Cutting the Cord

Financial FridayWelcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some of financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

For the last year and a half I kept threatening to cut the DirecTV because the prices changed every twelve months, we didn’t watch half the channels, and I wanted PFG son to not watch as much t.v.  Mrs. PFG always laughed when I brought it up saying that it would never happen and every time I would call the satellite company they would offer me discounts.

First it was twenty dollars off for six months.  Then it was thirty dollars off if I bundled our internet with them.  Each time, we would take their offer and say, “that will save us some time and twenty dollars off a month is better than nothing.”

Then eight weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail saying that the prices were going to be increased again starting in January.  I had enough.  I knew that we wanted to continue paying down our debt and with Mrs. PFG staying at home with the kids and her start-up business just getting started, it was time to cut the cord but we wanted to still be able to watch the local news.

So we knew we had to do some research.

AntennaAn Indoor Antenna
While at a friend’s playing cards and watching a Broncos game, I noticed a thin black box standing up next to his t.v. but the picture was in HD and as clear as anything I was getting from the satellite.  He mentioned that his family had “cut the cord” six months ago and that this indoor antenna cost him $25.  

For the price of $25, I could receive all of the major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, PBS) and some additional channels depending on where I lived.  I went home looked up the channels that were available in my area (this is a site for outdoor antennas but we get all the same stations listed with our internal antenna).

We went to Target and picked up two different antennas.  One was $29 after taxes and the other was $45 (it said it had higher frequency).  We tried out the cheaper one first and we have over 35 different stations.  (Note: There are about 15 stations that are Spanish, Christian, or shopping that we never use.)   For the third of the cost of one month’s satellite bill, we now had basic television.

Cutting DirecTV
For so long, I had heard that the cable companies and satellite companies would always try to offer deals to keep you as a client.  So I decided to be honest with them and tell them that we were cancelling our service to pay down our debt.  There were no questions and I was told my service was going to be cut that day.  I had to send back their data cards but the rest of the equipment is mine!

Oh yeah, I always wanted three DirecTV boxes and a satellite dish that will never work again.  Does anyone want them?

The Roku

The Roku2 is now selling for $77 on Amazon.  Costco also has the Roku3 for $99 currently.

The Roku2 is now selling for $77 on Amazon. Costco also has the Roku3 for $99 currently.

So now we had 35 channels but what about all of the movie channels we had before.  We heard from friends and family about this new streaming technology, the Roku, (okay, it really isn’t that new, they are on their 3rd edition already) that would allow us to watch movies, past t.v. shows, news programs, exercise videos and much more!  There are currently over 1000 different channels that you can receive using the Roku.  Some of them are pay-for-services while others are completely free.

For a one time cost of $55 (after tax) we were able to purchase the Roku 2.  Yes, there are newer versions but for us, this was the perfect model.  We selected many free channels including PBS, Crackle, NBC News, and a handful of other ones.  (Note: We purchased our Roku2 before the holidays when there was a big sale on Amazon.)

Additionally we decided we would pay for a monthly subscription to Netflix for $7.99 per month before taxes.  We also were able to join someone’s Hulu Plus account to watch t.v. shows from the major networks days after they originally aired.

We are also looking at joining Amazon Prime (for the free shipping) which has a movie and streaming video aspect also.  These three services will give us more movies and t.v. shows than we previously had with satellite t.v.

What About Sports
One of my biggest hesitations to cutting the cord was the fact that I am way into sports.  For the last five years, I have watched all the Broncos games, Nuggets games, and as many Rockies games as I could.  Now that I cut the cord what was I going to do about my beloved sports?

First of all, most NFL games are still on network t.v. so I can watch all of those even though I am breaking up with the Broncos after last Sunday.  As for the Nuggets, I realized the only reason I watched them so much was that I had the flexibility to watch the games.  The channel was available so I just watched it and for the last seven weeks, I have lived without watching basketball.

As for baseball, this is my favorite sport but also the one sport I love listening to on the radio.  I know that as the season starts this will be the biggest thing I miss.  However, all major sporting leagues now have online streaming versions and I am currently looking at packages to see if I will buy this season to watch the Rockies.

Overall, I will miss the flexibility of watching the games in the comfort of my home but it has freed up so much of my time to be with my family.  I also believe that streaming t.v. is the future and in five to ten years, I will be able to watch all sporting events using Roku or other products.

The Overall Savings
Before the satellite cut:

  • DirecTV: $75/month (we were using the lowest package)
  • Entire Year: $900

After cutting the cord:

  • Antenna: $29 – one time fee
  • Roku2: $55 – one time fee (although we used an Amazon gift card so it was really free to us!)
  • Netflix: $8.39/month after taxes
  • Entire 1st Year: $185

Total Savings of $715/first year or $59.50/month.  After the initial costs of the equipment we will save over $800 each year.  And as an added bonus more time to spend with the family since we don’t have to watch everything “live.”

Have you thought about cutting the television cord?  Do you have other free or cheap options for your favorite television programs?


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