I’m a little late to the cut the cord game that started a couple of years ago, but don’t they say better late than never? It seemed to me that the topic of whether to subscribe to cable was a generational issue or one where you’d have to do a lot of work to gain potentially minimal savings, but also take on several inconveniences like scouring for a solution to what your favorite program or sports team. The reality of the matter is that there’s a small amount of upfront work required and you can find cheaper alternatives to meet your needs.
My Cable Life:
My family had used XFINITY Comcast since we purchased our home to provide our cable and internet services. In fairly typical fashion, we signed up for non-contract internet and cable services for $89 a month advertised price and after fees/taxes/etc. the bill was around $132 after we setup paperless and auto-pay billing. Our internet speed was 150 mbs download and cable package offered what I consider “basic” cable to be. We had TNT, Comedy Central, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, ESPN, ESPN2, and FX among a couple of others. The cable package is advertised at over 140 channels, which I think double counts HD and SD versions of the same channels as well as include 40+ channels dedicated to different types of music. In all fairness, we were happy with the quality of services offered from XFINITY with issues being connection issues with the cable box and WiFi dead spots in the house (fault of our aged router and not XFINITY).
In my opinion, XFINITY should offer an exact listing of channels included and price models including local taxes and fees. Following the end of two years of service from XFINITY, we noticed our bill was now $155 per month with the services unchanged from the month before.
The rise in bill caused Mrs. Pro Finance and I to ask some fundamental questions about cable.
- What channels and content are we gaining from cable?
- Are the channels and content we are receiving worth the cost we are paying?
- What do the local competitors offer?
Since the majority of the cable content that we watch is offered on network television, we decided to explore the alternatives. Our household content requirements included:
- Network stations: ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, FOX
- NFL: ESPN for Monday Night Football, NFL Network
- Ability to stream TV and movies or DVR
- We already pay for student versions of the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package and Amazon Prime. As such, the costs for these services aren’t considered in my analysis on moving away from cable as they’d be included either way.
I spoke to XFINITY and in order to receive the best offer without wasting time is to ask to speak to their Customer Retention Team. They admitted that they have better deals not offered online or to their sales teams. The “best deal” that I was offered included 300 mbs internet download speeds and reduced cable package built from a selection of news and sports channels would come out close to the $132 we were originally paying. To keep our current package, it would be around $152 a month so I’ll be using $150 and $130 as my points of comparison.
Alternatives to Cable:
Depending on your area, you may have a selection of cable companies to explore prices with or if you are in a more remote area you may be stuck with just a couple or even one option. We looked at a competitor to provide internet services, which far surpassed the pricing available by XFINITY. They were running a new customer promotion for 1 Gig internet download speeds at $44/month for 6 months (normal price of $89). Considering their maximum speed package was also the best priced, that’s what I signed up for initially and we plan to downgrade our services after the 6 month period to either 300 mbs package of $59 a month or 150 mbs is available at $49. The decision will ultimately come down to how much speed and usage we determine we need over the next six months. 1 gig is severely overkill for our intended usage.
With our internet package shored up and the expectation that we will be saving money based on some simple upfront math:
- First 6 months @ $44 = $264
- Following 6 months @ $59 = $354
Total Internet Cost is $618
We save $1,182!
Internet per year = $618 with the built in assumption that we are taking the 300 mbs internet speed. We can then subtract that total from the cable + internet packages offered by XFINITY.
- 1,800 – 618 = 1182 savings
- 1,560 – 618 = 942 savings
Now that we have a solid idea of what our costs are going to be for internet over the next couple of months, we need to find out how we can supplement our television requirements.
First, we purchased a GE indoor antenna and we have been blown away with the results. The exact model we use is linked here, but look for what you can pickup at the best price. The main things that I would look for are the range and how you can setup the antenna. We didn’t want to have to wall mount and this fits and hides directly behind our TV. A one time upfront purchase, which brings in all major networks as well as some additional channels.
We subscribed for the Standard Netflix package which offers us unlimited streaming content at $12.99 a month. I wasn’t thrilled that the price had increased from what I remembered when using Netflix years ago, but it is still a good alternative and offers us a variety of content to choose from. Make sure to check out Stranger Things if you haven’t yet!
Disney is going to be releasing their own streaming platform later this year and it will definitely be in scope for content budget. We love Disney as a family and having taken a Disney cruise roughly two years ago, I had access to majority of Disney content on the cruise ship and it is a lot! We’re excited about it as well as the acquisitions Disney has made like Marvel, Star Wars, and Fox. We’ll see if we retain Netflix at that point or go solely with Disney.
The last area of concern for me is how will I watch ESPN Monday Night Football during the season. Well, the cheapest route would be to log into a friend who is paying for cable’s online account or go to their house. OR you can subscribe to ESPN streaming service, which is offered at $4.99 per month. For me this is totally worth the cost for the football season. Beyond NFL time, I can happily decline the service as baseball is not a sport we care to watch.
We did make one additional upfront purchase to take advantage of the faster internet speeds that we are going to be offered. Our previous modem was owned by us and capable of 195 mbs internet while our router could handle up to 300 mbs, but as I mentioned we do have dead spots in the house. We purchased a Google Mesh Router costing $250 and our internet and WiFi connection are night and day superior to what they had been previously. Considering our equipment was at least 7 years old I know we definitely got our money out of it, but I highly recommend the Google Router. It even lets you measure and monitor WiFi usage from your phone!
To sum up everything, we are saving a boatload of money, which will help us move down the journey to Financial Independence more quickly. Take a look at the first year savings vs. 2nd year and beyond. Do you have any tips or services that saved you money over cable?