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Our Cord Cutting Setup That Saves Us Over $100 Each Month

Our Cord Cutting Setup That Saves Us Over $100 Each Month

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

When we cut our cable in 2014, we weren’t sure exactly where to start. We had heard some things about it and did a little research, but we were nervous. Would it work? Could we figure it out? What if we really miss all those channels that are included in our cable bundle?

It came to the point where there were no more excuses.

We had to bite the bullet, jump right in, and try it. We could figure things out as we go and we really had nothing to loose. In reality, we had only everything to gain with all the money we would be able to save and put towards student loan debt.

Our monthly bill to the cable company had climbed to an astronomical $165. If we could reduce that and still enjoy our favorite TV shows we would be happy campers. We could concur our ultimate goal to reduce our monthly spending to help pay off debt and ultimately build wealth. We could do it and still enjoy some relaxing couch time in the evenings.

Below are the steps that we took to become a cableless household.

We started simple and added things as we felt we needed them. Looking back it was much easier to make the switch then either of us thought. The devices and apps were actually very user-friendly and with a little patience we figured them out in no time.

The first thing we did was buy some HD antennas to test things out. We chose the Mohu Leaf 30 Paper-Thin Antenna to put in our guest room because it was super easy to install and is easily hidden on the wall behind the TV. For the remainder of our TV’s we got the Winegard Freevision HDTV Antenna, hung it in our attic and connected it to the existing coax cable lines that run inside the walls to our other TVs. Once we found out we could get tons of crystal clear stations for free, we were convinced. This cord cutting thing was actually going to work! With these antennas, we could watch live TV on the major networks for $0 each month! Here are the antennas we bought and still use today:

     

Live TV was great and let us watch a ton of stuff, but we needed something to complement the live local channels.

We wanted to stream stuff on demand, so we bought an Amazon Fire TV for the family room and a Roku Stick for the bedroom. Since we watch the most TV in our family room the Fire TV is the perfect solution because it is super powerful. In our bedroom, the Roku Stick was a great choice because it was low cost and has the right amount power to support our occasional streaming needs. With these streaming devices, we were able to install apps like YouTube and Netflix that let us binge watch shows and movies whenever we wanted. Here are the streaming boxes we have:

     

YouTube had a lot of great free stuff to watch and we already had a Netflix subscription so we were familiar with the things we could watch in the app, but we still were missing a few things. If we couldn’t watch a new episode of a show when it aired live, we didn’t have a way to view it on-demand. This had been where our DVR would have come in handy in the past, but it went out the door with our overpriced cable. Luckily for cord cutters, there are plenty of alternatives to a traditional DVR. After some research, we settled on the service PlayOn. We bought the Lifetime license and installed their companion apps on our laptop and the Fire TV and Roku. Now we could stream shows from the NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox websites directly on our TV’s after they become available for free viewing. This worked surprisingly well, was pretty easy to setup, and we still use it to this day.

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After about a month of living the cord cutting life, we were hooked! We didn’t miss cable one bit. The picture from the antennas was fantastic, the streaming boxes and apps were working great, and we loved all the freedom we had to try new services without being held down by contracts. There was just one thing left to do, cancel our cable bundle and switch to an internet-only plan. For this, we went with Comcast because they are one of two service providers in our area and offer the best speeds. To help with the monthly cost and to avoid signing a contract we purchased our own cable modem and WiFi router. We could have used the ones provided by Comcast, but they would charge us a rental fee. The modem and router had very clear setup instructions and they paid for themselves after a couple months. Here are the two devices we got that give use wireless internet all throughout our house:

     

After a year of using our cord cutting setup, it was 2015 and more cableless services had made their way to the market. The one that caught our eye was Sling TV. This was a service that Dish Network came out with to provide cord cutters the ability to stream premium TV channels at an affordable price. This was pretty ground breaking because in the past most of these channels were only available with a cable subscription. For as little as $20 each month, Sling TV would let us watch channels like ESPN, HGTV and CNN using their apps on our Fire TV and Roku. Best of all…NO CONTRACT! We were able to sign up and cancel whenever we wanted. For us, this was a great solution that rounds out our cord cutting setup.


 

The last monthly cable bill we paid in 2014 was $165! After the upfront costs of getting things setup, we now spend only $55 each month. We pay $25 for Internet service, $20 for Sling TV and $10 for Netflix. That’s $110 back in our pockets every month!

This is the cord cutting setup that we put together to fit our needs. It has been working out great and we love the financial freedom it has provided us over the past few years. With such a great experience, we can’t ever imagine switching back to cable.

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, Antenna, Roku, Sling TV, Streaming, TV, 0 comments
How to Survive Without a DVR as a Cord Cutter

How to Survive Without a DVR as a Cord Cutter

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

Whether you aren’t home when your favorite show airs or you just don’t have time to sit down and watch TV until the kids go to bed, the good old DVR has become a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. When considering the life of a Cord Cutter you may be freaking out because no cable box means no DVR! Rest assured, there are plenty of ways to binge your favorite sitcom without paying for high priced cable. As a cord cutter, you need to shift your thinking from DVRs to On-Demand. Instead of having to schedule, update, and delete recordings for your favorite shows, there are services out there that publish the episodes as they air for you to stream, from the cloud, whenever you want. Here are some of my top ways for cord cutters to watch shows on-demand, without a DVR, after they air.

You can watch major network shows the day after they air with a few different subscription services.

The most popular option you may have heard of is Hulu, which carries shows from NBC, FOX, and ABC in addition to other networks as well as some original content. For $7.99 per month, you can watch new episodes the day after they air with advertisements or commercials. For ad-free viewing, you can add the “No Commercials Ad-On” for an extra $4. The Hulu subscription also includes past seasons of shows for your binging pleasure.

CBS does its own thing separate from Hulu. They offer their service, CBS All Access, for $5.99 per month. With your subscription to CBS All Access, you can watch new episodes of CBS shows the next day after they air and you get access to complete past seasons as well. There is also a commercial free subscription for $9.99.

Both the Hulu and CBS All Access services have apps for Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

If you don’t mind waiting a few days after a show airs, there are a few free and cheap ways to watch.

From your computer’s internet browser, you can watch shows on Yahoo View (which is a collection of what’s available on the NBC, FOX and ABC websites). New episodes are made available about a week after they air and usually the last 4 episodes are able to be streamed. It’s completely free to watch, but you will have to sit through the occasional advertisement or commercial.

If you’re after shows that are broadcast on CBS, then head over to CBS.com to see episodes for free with similar availability and viewing terms.

Most people aren’t fond of sitting in front of the computer screen and prefer a more “TV friendly” way to watch the free shows available on the network websites. If that sounds like you, then try out PlayOn. For a one-time fee of $59.99 (or less, they run sales often!) you can download their software which runs on a Windows PC. You add what they call “channels”, which are essentially links to the websites of NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS, and then the software on your computer “casts” the videos from those channels to the PlayOn app on your Roku or Fire TV. It works really well and the PlayOn app lets you navigate the websites through menu options, so it’s really easy to find the latest episode of your favorite show.

You can even watch shows on premium stations after they air if you subscribe to one of the over-the-top streaming services.

If the shows you like to watch are part of your Sling TV subscription, then check out their own On-Demand selection right in the app. You can do this by selecting a station in the app, pressing the down button and then selecting the show you want to watch. Sling usually carries the most recent season or two and you can even catch episodes right after they air.

PlayStation Vue also has a few ways to catch up on your favorite shows. In addition to the On-demand content offered by Vue, you also have a 28 day DVR built into the service that lets you “save” your favorite show to view at a later time.

If after all these options you still don’t think you can survive without a DVR, then you can always buy your own Over-The-Air DVR.

The Tablo DVR is one of the best OTA DVR’s on the market today. You buy the DVR box, plus a USB hard drive, connect your HD antenna to the back and login to your home WiFi. The Tablo DVR then records shows from any channel that you can receive over-the-air and when you are ready to watch, you stream the show from the DVR through an app on your Roku or Fire TV. The shows are saved on your hard drive for as long as you like. If you’re interested, you can learn more on Tablo’s website.

I suggest trying out all the options above for yourself to see which one fits you the best. They even offer free trial periods so you don’t have anything to lose.

So, do you think you can survive without your DVR? Which of the ways to watch sounds like the best option for you?

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, DVR, Roku, Streaming, TV, 4 comments
How can I watch premium, dare I say “cable”, channels as a cord cutter?

How can I watch premium, dare I say “cable”, channels as a cord cutter?

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

So what about those premium channels that are traditionally referred to as “cable channels”? Can I get those? I can’t go without my daily fix of SportsCenter or House Hunters. Well, lucky for you, as a cord cutter, you’ve got options and that’s what cord cutting is all about. Over the past two years, a few internet television services have come to the market offering small packages of premium channels that can be streamed directly to your TV. All of these services are available for a small monthly fee without any sort of contract, meaning you can sign up today and cancel tomorrow. This gives you the flexibility to only sign up for months that you will actually be watching these channels and then cancel during the other months so you aren’t wasting your money on something you’re not using. If you love football and only need ESPN to watch Monday Night Football, then you have the option to only sign up from September through December. Or, if you are a teacher and you love watching HGTV in the summer time when you are on break, then only sign up for the summer months. This kind of flexibility is what makes cord cutting so attractive and saves you tons of money! The way that you watch these services is through apps available on streaming media devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV. If you haven’t picked one of those up yet then check out my guide to help you make the decision. The best part is that all of these services offer free trials so you can try them all out to see which works best for you at no cost! When was the last time a cable company offered you a free trial?? I’ll go ahead and answer that one for you…NEVER!

Live TV. $20 a month. No Cable Company. Sling TV.

Sling TV – Sling is the pioneer in affordable internet TV packages. This is actually a product of Dish Network that was released back in February of 2015. Sling TV’s mission is to “Take Back TV” and that’s exactly what they’re doing with their packages. You start by signing up for a base package of either $20 or $25 a month and then you have the option of purchasing “add-ons” of additional channels in a particular category for an extra $5 to $15 a piece. The channel selection varies slightly depending on the base package that you go with. Check them out at the Sling TV website to see what suits your needs best and to signup. You can download the Sling TV app on either your Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

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Sling TV Orange Package | Photo Credit: sling.com/service

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Sling TV Blue Package | Photo Credit: sling.com/service

 

PlayStation Vue – PlayStation Vue is Sony’s answer to Sling TV. They were the second major player to enter the internet TV game, launching nation-wide in March of 2016. Despite its name, you do not need to own a PlayStation in order to signup and use this service. There are 3 tiers to choose from with Vue: Access, Core, and Elite. The Access package starts at $29.99 and Elite goes all the way up to $44.99. It may seem like a lot, but you get a heck of a lot of channels bundled up for that price. Another bonus feature included in all 3 tiers is a 28-day cloud DVR. You can record shows on any of your channels and watch them up to 28 days later.  The PlayStation Vue app is available for both Roku and Amazon Fire TV. For the latest package and pricing info check out www.playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/.

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PlayStation Vue Access Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

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PlayStation Vue Core Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

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PlayStation Vue Elite Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

 

Updated: SFN TV Now has discontinued their nationwide streaming option. Reports are that they will resume this service in the future at which time this guide will be updated.

SFN TV Now – Sothern Fibernet is the latest provider to enter the game with their SFN TV Now service. They pride themselves on offering the most affordable entry level packages starting at just $5! For this price range, you will only get access to the Faith channels, or at the $10 level to Atlanta’s local stations. Most of you will be interested in their Popular or Max packages starting at $34. These packages include the nationwide premium stations you are most familiar with. To sweeten the deal they have included a 7 Day Cloud DVR with their packages. To get more information on SNF TV Now head over to their website southernfibernet.com/index.php/television. Currently, SNF TV Now is only available on Roku (3 and 4 only), but they plan to add additional device support in the future.

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SFN TV Now Popular Package | Photo Credit: southernfibernet.com

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SFN TV Now Max Package | Photo Credit: southernfibernet.com

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation Vue, Roku, SFN TV Now, Sling TV, Streaming, 0 comments