How to cut your cable bill down to nothing

High-speed internet and streaming services are making cable a thing of the past. Here’s how you can slash your cable bill dramatically.

Cut the cord

The first step is simple: cancel your cable service, keeping only internet. You should also negotiate your internet bill as low as you can. Use the current promotional prices offered to new customers as a starting point. If you have more than one internet provider in your area, check their prices and mention them as a negotiating tactic with your current provider.

When you cancel cable, you will also cancel any modem rental fees, DVR boxes, and other fees companies like Comcast like to tack on. If you don’t have your own cable modem, buy one that includes both the modem + WiFi router in one device for simplicity. You will save around $14/month meaning you’ll likely break even in less than a year, and using it is dirt simple.

Buy a HD antennae to get high-def local channels through the air for free. If you live in an area with really poor reception and can’t get those local channels (and you actually want them), you can ask your cable provider for Limited Basic cable instead, which just gives you all the free channels for a small monthly fee. Don’t let them upsell you for a more expensive service when you do this.

(Definitely try the HD Antenna solution first though! Paying $40 one-time is way better than paying $10 – $20 per month forever.)

Add back the things you really want to watch with lower-cost streaming services

Decide what shows & movies are actually important to you, and buy streaming services to replace them. Use the streaming services you might already have, like what you get with Amazon Prime, to see if that is enough for you (and cancel any subscriptions you don’t get enough value from!)

High-def Netflix is $14 as of writing. The Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle ($14 as of writing) is a great deal for families and those who still need some sports. Disney has all the Star Wars, Simpsons, Disney movies & cartoons, Marvel, and Pixar content, and a lot more. Hulu has TV & movies. HBO Max offers their own content at $15/month if you like their shows & movies.

The best way to use these streaming services is by mooching off a generous friend or family member, or splitting the cost/swapping services with them. Most services let you create and share at least 4 or 5 accounts, so make some deals with your friends & family and save big. Maybe you get Netflix, they get the Disney+/Hulu bundle, and you each create a user account for the other person. Do this for your other streaming services like music (e.g.: Spotify.)

Watch free content

YouTube has tons of free content including news and comedy shows like Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver completely free. For excellent free news, download the PBS app for your smart TV.

Apps like Tubi or Pluto TV have a lot of movies & TV you can stream with commercials.

Use your library!

My library in Seattle offers a huge library of classic and contemporary movies through the Kanopy and Hoopla apps. Just get a library card, then use your card info to link your library account to those apps to get access. You can even link multiple library accounts to the same apps, so if you’ve moved around a lot, keep those old library accounts to use all the digital content wherever you live now.

The library is great for Kindle/ebooks and downloadable audio books too, not to mention physical books and DVDs that you can check out if a streaming version of something isn’t available.

Making it work: get all those apps on your TV

If you already have a smart TV (one with native access to the internet), just download the apps for all the services mentioned above, especially for free content via YouTube, PBS, Kanopy/Hoopla/Libby (via your library), Tubi and Pluto TV. Or, plug in an Amazon Fire TV stick to make an older HD TV ‘smart’.

Contact your cable provider right now to cut the cord or reduce your bill

My advice is to 1) cut the cord first without worrying about missing some content because you can always add it back with another quick phone call, 2) then look into all your free/mooching opportunities, and 3) only add new paid services once you’ve waited a month to see whether you really miss the stuff you’re no longer getting.

You might just find yourself watching less TV and doing something more fulfilling and productive with your time, which isn’t a bad thing!

Author: Ward Williams

Personal finance blogger with an interest in saving, investing, and learning new skills and doing things for myself & others!

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