Money Saving Tip: Life Without Cable T.V

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How Our Family is Surviving without Cable/Satellite TV
So, after my husband went through his second job change in a year for an even lower salary, we had to take a hard look at our budget.  The only thing we had not cut back on was cable/satellite TV.  We had the bare bones package, with DVR and an additional receiver – this was costing us $75/month.  We had DirecTV and they have a great offer for those not sure if they’re ready to take the full plunge into no TV.  You can “suspend” your service for up to 6 months.  This is what we did – hoping that the no TV situation would be temporary until we got back on our feet.
Now, just because we aren’t paying a DirecTV bill anymore doesn’t mean we don’t watch TV anymore.  Here’s how we survive:
Before we turned off our service, I DVRed a lot of my son’s favorite cartoons. Even though we turned our service off, everything on our DVR is saved (after all, it’s just a hard drive like in your computer.)  We can access everything saved on it.
We turned our service off the beginning of December, so when people started asking what to get my son for Christmas, I suggested several of his favorite cartoon series’ on DVDs.  He has a suffecient library of things to watch and I don’t have to worry about him being innundated with commercials for the hottest toy, junk food or another TV show I don’t want him watching.
I still watch all my favorite shows on the network websites. I watch Grey’s Anatomy on and House on  Yes, I do have wait before it’s posted – some shows are posted the next day others run a week behind.  Either way, it’s not the end of the world to have to wait.  My co-worker that watches Grey’s Anatomy knows not to come in on Fridays talking about it – we have our recap conversation on Mondays.
One word: Netflix.  For around $10 a month we have access to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of movies and TV shows.  Eight seasons of 24 for me and every Thomas the Train movie my son could ever want to watch.  We can stream movies and shows instantly through our Xbox or computer.  Plus we can have out one DVD at a time.  (Some movies and seasons of TV shows are available only on DVD right when they come out.)  So we can have a movie out or I can catch up on more recent episodes of shows (right now I’m watching NUMB3RS.)  Ten dollars versus $75 – much more reasonable expense!
So what about those things you need TV for, like news or weather reports?

News – is readily available online.  I can even still watch my favorite news show, The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News site.  I follow Fox News on Facebook so I get news updates.  Plus, I listen to a lot of talk radio.

Watch tv for free – There are many ways to watch your favorite shows. There are plenty of options, offers and downloadable applications that you can use to enjoy your favorite shows and movies for free so you can’t miss anything. Visit ways to watch TV for free.

Weather – I use the Weather Channel Desktop when I need to check the coming forecast.  Plus, just about every radio station does the weather every 15 minutes in the morning so I get the days high and chance of rain – which is all I really need so I know how to dress.
So just because we don’t have cable – we haven’t completely cut ourselves off from civilization.  It is possible to live without TV.  And even with all the other ways to watch TV, now that we don’t have satellite service we watch a lot less TV.  It’s not on just for background noise anymore which is peaceful and I don’t get sucked in to watching a Saturday afternoon marathon of a bad reality series when I should be doing something else.
Our 6-month “suspension” is up in June.  We’re are leaning towards severing all ties with DirecTV at that time now that we know we can live without it.  I can’t imagine going back to paying $75 a month for something I can live without!


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  • Amy

    Great tip! We cancelled our cable about six months ago and we don’t miss it at all. We have an antenna on the TV so we can watch the local stations and since the signal is digital it comes in great!

    We also have a subscription to Hulu Plus, which is only $7.99 a month and through our Playstation 3 we can watch it on the TV. We got all the new shows from FOX, NBC, and ABC! Just select and play – kind of like a DVR.

  • Jim

    We’re of like mind: cut expenses by eliminating DirecTV and get content from the web and Neflix/Hulu. The only thing that’s holding me back from flipping the switch to OFF on DirecTV is my access to FoxNews. How/where are you able to watch O’Reilly on-line? Are you referring to select clips or full episodes? Can you elaborate for me? TIA

  • jade cantero

    I was wondering if all this applies to things in Spanish as well. I want to do this to save $$$ but my husband only speaks spanish…

  • Tabby

    I just discovered your blog and I love it! It has been about a year since I canceled my cable to help my budget as well. I am 27, single, and a teacher, so I don’t have much extra money. When I canceled my cable, I bought a new antenna and subscribed to Netflix. I don’t miss my cable much at all. I am a big sports fan and the sports channels are the only ones I miss, but like you I just turned to the Internet to get scores and updates. I don’t feel like I have to watch it because I’m paying so much money for it every month. My life is better without the cable bill.

  • Grace

    Hi everyone, I just wanted to contribute and say this is a GREAT saver, probable one of the major and easiest things you can do to save A LOT!

    My family and I have been living without cable for months now, I came to realize that back when we had cable we didn’t even watch TV that much (only a few moments a day). Netflix is a HUGE step from there, and after about a month of only watching tv with an antenna even my little sister (who was the one that watched tv most of the afternoon) has turned to things like books, drawing and listening to music to fill her time with. And she hasn’t even complained! The problem now is who is going to take her to the library to pick new books because she’s figuratively devouring them!

    You just font know what a time/money waster it is until you leave cable! And just after reading this I remembered a teacher that used to tell us that “of all the things you believe you need, only air, water and food are actually necessary, all else is just a marketing illusion, even toilet paper and feminine pads are recent inventions!” Of course, I’m not willing to give up on TP and pads anytime soon -or later- but this is tremendously right, sometimes we waste money on things we don’t need instead of saving it and spending it on other things we could enjoy more.

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  • Robert

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned that you can also get local and broadcast free, using a RadioShack or like, digital antenna.. Just plug it in to where the cable used to be and sit the antenna in the window.