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Canceling Cable TV – Your Ultimate Guide from Tip Yourself

Ok, so you’re considering canceling cable TV? Are you ready to “cut the cord”?

On average canceling your traditional cable bill will save $115 a month. That’s not chump change. I’m going to break down everything you need to know about canceling cable TV or satellite TV service.

This is the Tip Yourself ultimate guide to canceling your cable TV service.

We break it down into 6 steps

  1. What do you currently watch?
  2. What can you remove?
  3. How much are you spending now?
  4. Make a streaming service shopping list.
  5. Get your total streaming service costs
  6. Determine how much money you can save!

First, start with taking a look at your current TV habits. What do you watch? What do you want to watch?

What do you actually want or need for TV entertainment?

Step 1: What cable TV do you currently watch?

What are your TV viewing habits today? This is the most important step of the whole process. The goal of “cutting the cord” should not be to make a large sacrifice. The goal is to reduce waste.

Often with many cable TV packages, you are paying for a ton of crap that you don’t actually enjoy watching.

So start with writing down the shows and other TV programs you truly enjoy. This is not a list of everything you watch. This is a list of everything you truly enjoy. A good rule of thumb is to think about shows or programs that you get excited to sit down and watch.

The goal is to separate what’s entertainment vs what’s junk you watch to just fill time.

There are three main categories to consider. Make a list for each.

  1. TV shows — List the shows that you get excited about each week.
  2. Sports — Are you a big sports fan?
  3. News — Do you enjoy watching the local news each night? What about cable news? Do you just watch it, or do you truly enjoy it?

Step 2: What can be removed from your list?

Take a look at the list you made in step 1. What on that list is just a nice to have? What shows on the list are not that important and more just something you watch to fill time?

Get your list down to your true favorites.

Don’t worry. In the next few steps we’re going to go through alternative options to watch all of these shows, sports, and news.

Remember, the goal here is not to sacrifice or deprive yourself. The goal is to cut wasteful spending.

You should now have a list of what’s important. Next, let’s talk about saving money!! $$$

Are you saving money? What about cable internet and phone bundles?

Remember, the goal of all of this is to save money and remove waste. To do that you have to start with a solid understanding of what you’re spending today. That includes breaking down the mystery cable bundles.

Step 3: How much are you spending now?

Make a list of everything you currently spend on TV entertainment each week. Don’t forget any streaming subscriptions you are currently paying for like Netflix.

Cable TV, Internet and Phone Bundles. This is where it can get tricky. So be patient. I believe the cable companies intentionally make these bundles hard to understand in order to confuse you and hide what you’re truly paying.

If you have a cable bundle, follow these steps to figure out what your TV entertainment cost:

  1. Make a list of everything you are getting that is NOT TV related. If you have your home phone or internet service bundled, make a list of those services. For example Broadband Internet. Speed 100 MB, Home Phone with long distance service.
  2. Go to your cable providers website and get pricing for what the items in step one will cost on their own. You may have to call them.
  3. Take last month’s bill and subtract the total cost of the other non-cable services. That’s your total monthly cable cost.

If you don’t have a bundle, this is a bit easier. Take last month’s cable bill plus any other streaming services you have and total them up.

NOTE: Don’t forget to include any equipment rental costs. Many cable companies will charge you each month for your cable box.

You now have a dollar amount of what you’re spending each month. You also have your list of what you want from step 2 above.

Next, let’s go through streaming options.

Step 4: Make a streaming service shopping list

Don’t worry about costs yet. Make a shopping list that includes the streaming services you would like to purchase that will provide you the shows you want from your Step 2 list.

Below is a few of the major options available. There’s also a great website called JustWatch. It allows you to search for any show and see what streaming options are available.

Streaming Options for Cable TV Shows.

There are a number of streaming options for TV shows. That’s why your list is an important first step. Here are the big options.

HULU — $7.99 per Month

HULU is owned by NBC, Fox, ABC, and TBS. Therefore most shows on those networks are available on HULU. New episodes are typically available the next day. If your favorite show is on Wednesday nights. That means you can watch it on HULU on Thursday nights.

Here’s a full list of available content on HULU — CLICK HERE

CBS All Access — $5.99 per Month

CBS offers its own streaming service. CBS includes shows such as NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Survivor, etc. New episodes are typically available the same night after it airs on the west coast. So depending on your timezone, that could be late at night. However, it will for sure be available the next day similar to HULU.

HBO Now — $14.99 per Month

The HBO streaming service called HBO Now includes all new episodes as well as the full back catalog of past shows. This includes Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, and classic older series like The Sopranos and The Wire. You also get access to a large set of Movies, Comedy Specials and Documentaries.

Showtime — $10.99 per Month

The Showtime streaming service is similar to HBO and includes popular Showtime shows such as Homeland, Billions, and The CHI.

What about Netflix?

Netflix is the heavy hitter in the streaming space. It has a ton of content which is mostly made up of past TV show episodes, movies and their own original shows.

If you don’t already have Netflix, shows you watch today are most likely not available. I would think of Netflix as another entertainment option all on its own with its own shows and movies.

Some of the most popular Netflix shows are: House of Cards, Stranger Things, The Crown, Orange is the New Black, and Dear White People.

Netflix has three pricing options which range from $7.99* to $13.99*. The most common subscription is the $10.99 standard package.

Amazon Prime Video

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get a lot of streaming TV and Movies packaged together for the prime subscription you’re already paying.

If you’re not already a Prime Member, I don’t think it’s worth it just for the streaming TV options. As of today, there are not a ton of unique options only available on Amazon. However, that’s rapidly changing. So we’ll keep this post updated as it changes.

To learn more — CLICK HERE

Sports & Cable News

Sports and Cable news are probably the biggest obstacle to canceling your cable subscription. However, there are options available. Here are three of the most popular choices.

Sling TV – $20 to $40 per month

There are a number of subscription tiers available from SlingTV which will give you access to ESPN and some cable news channels.

HULU with Live TV – $39.99 per Month

There’s a higher HULU subscription level which includes Live TV. This will give you access to ABC, Fox Sports, ESPN, TNT, ESPN U, the Golf Channel and many more. Here’s a full list —CLICK HERE

DirectTV Now – $35 per Month or $60 per Month with all sports channels

When AT&T purchased DirectTV they started expanding the service beyond the traditional satellite offering. You can now buy a smaller package of channels that also includes an internet-based DVR for a reduced rate.

Sports Direct Streaming

Some sports leagues offer a direct streaming option. However, you have to consider your local team. Local games are often not available on the streaming service. So if you still live in your hometown and want to watch your local team, these will most likely not be a good option.

However, if you no longer live in your hometown. You’re what’s called an “out of market” viewer. Buying a streaming service direct may be a good option:

  • MLB.TV — $112.99 per Season
  • NBA League Pass — $119.99 per Season for a specific team.
  • NHL.TV- $159.00 per Season or $19.99 per Month
  • NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV — $293.96 per Season

Local TV – Don’t forget about Free TV!

With the rise of cable over the last few decades, we tend to forget that local network TV including PBS is Free! All you need is a TV antenna and you can watch full HD TV for no cost. This is a great option for local TV news and local sports.

Unless you live in a fairly remote rural area, all you need is a basic $10 — $14 HD TV Antenna. Here’s an example from Amazon — CLICK HERE

Step 5 – Total Up your Streaming Services Costs

You should now have a list of the streaming services you want to buy. Total up the cost. For example:

  • Netflix $10.99
  • Direct TV Now — $35
  • HBO Add-on For Direct TV Now — $5
  • Local News — FREE with Antenna
  • Total = $50.99 per month.

Step 6 – Will you save money?

Compare your current TV entertainment bill from step 3 with your streaming service total in step 5. On average, most people that switch to streaming services will save $50 to $100 per month. That’s not chump change! #TipYourself

Streaming Devices & Internet Connection

Finally, don’t forget that you will need a device to stream your new TV service. You will also need an internet connection.

Here are some of the most popular streaming device options:

Spread the word!

What did you decide? What works for you? Got some questions? Post a comment below.

A lifelong student of habits and behavior change. Mike is the CEO and co-founder of Tip Yourself, a mobile app and community focused on saving money through positivity and small shifts in habits.

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