How to Save Over $1000/year with Internet-Cable-Phone

how to cut cable

how to cut cable

The days of paying through the nose for Cable, Phone and Internet are OVER! Sounds too good to be true? Well it isn’t and I can assure you of that. Why?  Because I and countless others I know have done it. Why am I advocating it? Because I hate paying for something I can get for much cheaper or free. Most of all, I hate my service provider because they “own” me. They, and another provider control the entire market where I live. And I bet it’s the same in 99% of American towns. (cough cough Comcast, Century Link, AT&T,Time Warner….etc)So this is my way of getting back at them the best I can.

Let’s see if you qualify for saving a ton of money in just 1-2 hours of your time:

  • Do you still have a landline phone?
  • Do you still have a cable or satellite package to watch your television shows/sports/movies?
  • Do you rent your Internet cable or DSL modem from your provider?

BONUS:

  • Do you hate your Cable / Internet / Phone Provider and don’t know how to get back at them because you’re stuck in their Monopoly game?

If you answered “YES” to any one of the above and would like to see some immediate savings in your monthly bill starting now, then this article is for you!  Let’s kick some Cable company butt together!

# 1 – The Phone

Let’s start with the most obvious one. A Landline Phone!  If you answered “no” to this question, then congrats! You’ve joined the ranks of over 35% of Americans who no longer have a landline and only use a mobile phone (according to the latest CDC survey of December 2012).  What does this mean? Well according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 91% of Americans have mobile phones that they carry with them everywhere. If that’s the case, then why waste money to have a landline? Some have legitimate excuses such as bad reception/dropped calls in their area and use their phone for their business, but for the majority of American families, there is no excuse to waste the additional $10-20 per month. Excuses like requirement for fax machine or 911 or long distance, are no longer true. For Fax systems I use an online tool called Fax87, for 911 I can just use my cell phone since I’m more likely to have it on me in case of an emergency than a house phone. As for long distance calls, I have been using Skype for many years. If you don’t use it yet, sign up for free and buy Skype credits now to make cheap calls internationally , cause you’ve already been missing out! You can have free Skype to Skype calls anywhere in the world, and long distance rates to land lines or mobile phones are extremely competitive. All you need is a computer that has a microphone, speakers and access to an internet connection. I use Skype nearly every day to connect with my family and friends in Canada and Europe. I even have the added bonus of seeing them because we both have webcams integrated in our computers. To get reduced noise and feel like I’m more on a phone than just speaking to my computer, I use (a slightly older version of) this headset. Its comfortable, the sound quality is is phenomenal and well worth the investment. Installs itself as you plug it in to your USB, no headaches! Another service I’ve used and that Dr. Nick MD, a fellow reader mentioned in the comments is: Google Voice! Thanks Nick for the addition. I used this for many years. One great thing about it is it allows you to call landlines and mobile phones in the US and Canada for free. This can be a saving over Skype in some cases, so worth checking out! As you can see, there are no more barriers and there are few reasons to continue to pay for a landline.  If you’re unsure, just drop me a line in the comments section as to why you think you still need a landline phone and I will be happy to help you out with your situation!

# 2 – The Television

Ahhh, now let’s get into the bigger savings!! If you’re like me, when you signed up with your Cable Provider you probably signed a 1-2 year contract with what they call a “bundle” deal. Often this is any combination of Internet, Phone and Cable television. The first 2 years they suckered me in with this so called “deal” of everything for $99 per month. In the fine print however, my rate was to increase after the 1st year, so I figured I would test it out for 1 year and see. Lo and behold, by the end of year 2 I was now paying a tad over $160 per month for these services and even more frustrating for 94 channels I never watched, EVER! This is when I decided to get serious about it. My wife and I began analyzing our TV habits (shows, channels, timing etc). After doing some research, I realized I could cut out my Cable package completely. Why? Because I could get 95% of the shows we watch, in HD quality, from any device: our television, laptops, tablets or even our mobile phones…for only $7.99 per month. (options is chart below). Dropping the cable and the landline phone “bundle” and keeping my high speed internet yielded approximately $87 in monthly savings alone! That’s over $1000 per year people, $1044 to be precise!! Think about it. You can go on vacation for that kind of money. Or you can put it in your children’s savings account. If you’re still not convinced, you can read this quick and fun to read article that illustrates how cutting cable can amount to between $634k and $4.2 million in savings over a lifetime!  You can get rid of those HD and Tivo boxes, because now you can watch the same content whenever you want, wherever you want. Pause it at home and pick it up by the beach on your tablet, or at the airport while waiting for a flight or in hotel room while on a business trip. All for $8 bucks a month! Here you have an abundance of choices and depending on what you watch you can pick and choose your packages. Below is a matrix of your options for the various services. Keep in mind this is static, so there might be changes to the services listed below at any time. I will do my best to keep it updated, but use the links below to open the provider’s website for up-to-date prices and information.

# 3 – The Internet

When I mention to my family that they can probably save $100-200 a year on their Internet bill they usually don’t take me seriously because they say “Pascal, I need to have internet at home, that’s the one thing I can’t cut out!”. Trust me, I’m not saying you should get rid of your internet. In fact quite the opposite, I’m saying: leverage the power of the internet to get everything you need out of it:  Phone, Television and well, Internet! However, there’s 2 more tricks under my sleeve to save on this one item alone:

  1. The quick win:  Do you pay a monthly fee to rent your cable modem and/or integrated router from your internet provider? I’m gonna let you in on a little secret they never tell you when you sign up. You don’t have to rent it! Comcast used to charge me $6.95 per month (that’s almost $90 per year) to rent my cable modem/router. So I went out and found the best price for a cable modem on Amazon–it works perfectly with Comcast (the same technology they would rent out to me at $7/month) and paid only $68.59 for it. You do the math, bottom-line it is less than a year to get my return on investment for a modem you can keep for probably 3-4 years!  Here is the cable modem I use with Comcast: Motorola SB6121  As for the wireless router, I already had a Linksys router E2500 (It is fantastic: coverage is great, signal is reliable and most importantly it is very easy to setup, so I would recommend it for anyone.)
  2. Another quick win is gained by analyzing your Internet consumption needs. Too often (include members of my own family here) I notice people are paying for Internet bandwidth they just don’t need. Maybe when they signed up it was part of the bundle or maybe the tech person over the phone convinced them they needed SUPER high speed internet…or maybe you’re just one of those people who thinks by paying more you get more. (Guilty, here! :) ) Bottom-line, you can potentially get another easy $100 of savings per year if you are subscribed to “SUPER” high speed internet and you’re usage doesn’t warrant it.  That’s why I’ve created a chart (see below in the Step-By-Step part of this article) as a guideline to help you decide what level/package of bandwidth you should signup for. Look at the usage column and pick the usage activity that you do that requires the most amount of speed. Keep in mind these are general guidelines to give you some direction and are by no means 100% accurate or guarantees. The best way to do it is to test out the slowest/cheapest package with your provider to see if the speed suffices. If you find it slow, then try bumping up a notch until you find the right speed. You really stand nothing to lose and your provider can make adjustments over the phone and prorate your bill.

 

Ready to save?

STEP-BY-STEP Instructions:

How do I get all/most of these savings in less than 2 hours of my time?

1.) Ready to get rid of your land line?

A) Need long distance? Use Skype as mentioned before in this article. Skype to Skype calls are free and for Skype to regular lines, the long distance rates are extremely competitive. Click here to sign up for free and/or to buy Skype credit to make cheap calls internationally

B) Need a fax? I recommend this Fax87. My father is a realtor and needs fax, so I set him up with this service and he’s extremely satisfied with the service. Easy to use, great service and reliable, plus he can download all his faxes to his computer without having to print them!

C) Call your phone provider and cancel today!

2.) Ready to cut your cable?!

A) What do I need to get started with online TV streaming? If you plan to subscribe to one of the online television services mentioned in the matrix below, you will need a device to play them on your current television. That is unless you decide from this point on to watch television on your computers and/or mobile devices only. Here is a list of devices you can use, but refer to the chart below to know which service works with which:

Having used nearly all of the above, I recommend the Roku or Apple TV (which I have) simply because they were built for that purpose, also their easy plug-n-play features, which allow you to subscribe to most of the online packages outlined below. I own an Apple TV, however if I were to buy today, I would go with the Roku 3 simply because it has more channels available than Apple TV. The bottom-line is you should look at which services you wish to subscribe to before choosing a device, that is unless you already own one of the above, then perhaps you can just jump into the next step!

B) What should I subscribe to? That depends on your tastes! I’ve built this unique one-of-a-kind matrix resource below to help you pick! I spent a lot of  time creating it, so please, make use of it and share it with your friends and family.Use the links to take you to the various services and take advantage of their free trials (where possible), and most importantly to make the best decision possible about what you want to watch. I do want to disclose to you that some of the links are affiliate links, which means depending on the service you choose, I might receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps pay for hosting fees for this site, so I thank you in advance if you choose to subscribe through my links!

C) What about local channels? To keep local channels for the local news and live sports events like the Super Bowl, you can get access to national US stations (ABC, NBC, CBS etc…) using the Mohu Leaf Paper thin HD antenna (35 mile range). This antenna will give you your basic cable for free, in HD!

D) How to cut cable with your provider: You may want and wait until you go through the free trials of the below mentioned subscriptions, up to you! Either way, I doubt you won’t find something to your taste. Besides, even if you have to make a small sacrifice, just think of the money in your bank account. * Warning, they will try and convince you to stay, they may even offer you another year at the “starter” price for the bundle, but don’t fall for it. Enjoy every second of canceling it…and when they ask why….tell them the truth: “I don’t need to pay exorbitant amounts of money for cable tv anymore, there are other options available to me at a fraction of the cost!”  Thank you. Bye bye. Ciao.

Streaming Options Matrix

Content Provider
Rent or Buy
Movies/Sports/TV Shows
Description
Price
Free Trial
Supported Devices
Mobile App?
AmazonPrimeRent or BuyMovies, TV Shows & Kindle booksOne of the most efficient options out there if you don't care too much about having the latest tv shows. Amazon Prime (yearly package) subscription carries a large amount of older (but not outdated) content. You can still choose to rent/buy newer individual episodes or movies, but have to pay additional. Subscription: $79.99 per year / $6.67 per month [also includes free 2 day shipping on all Amazon purchases and free Kindle Lending club membership!] / Individual: Varies TV Shows ex. $1.99 to $2.99 per episode. Movies: $1.99 to $9.9930 day Free TrialWindows/Mac Internet Browser, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, Playstation3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Roku and more.iOS, Android
NetflixRentMovies & TV ShowsNetflix has an enormous selection of fairly recent content. It has full seasons of TV Shows and movies. It DOES NOT contain newly released movies or current episodes of TV Shows.$7.99 per month30 day Free TrialWindows/Mac Internet Browser, Apple TV, Playstation3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Roku and more.iOS, Android, Windows
Hulu PlusRentMovies & TV ShowsHulu Plus has the best selection (in my opinion), perhaps slightly less content than Netflix, but at least it's more recent. Hulu Also Hulu offers newer movies and keeps up with a lot of ongoing TV Shows (current seasons). User has ability to watch whole seasons and previous seasons. Hulu's only downside is light amount of advertising (30 seconds every now and then during tv shows), but I find it is well worth it to have current TV content available.$7.99 per month7 day Free TrialWindows/Mac Internet Browser, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, Playstation3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Roku and more.iOS, Android, Windows
VuduRent or BuyMovies & TV ShowsVudu has some of the best movie options because it offers new releases and you can buy/rent in various on-screen image quality for different prices. There are some TV Shows but the selection is limited.No subscription. Movies start at 3.99 for rentals and go up to 5.99 depending on quality chosen. Some movies available for purchase.10 free movies when you sign-upWindows/Mac Internet Browser, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, Playstation3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Roku and more.iOS, Android
iTunesRent or BuyMovies & TV ShowsRent or purchase New Releases, Full Seasons or individual shows or movies on the iTunes store.No subscription. Price varies - click here for the selection and pricing ex. $4.99 to rent a movie, $19.99 to purchase it. n/aWindows/Mac Internet Browser, Apple TV only!iOS
MLB PackageRentSports Live and Past EventsRegular and Premium Packages for Major League Baseball. Watch games LIVE or on demand in HD online. Pause, rewind LIVE game action with DVR controls. Also your choice of PiP, Spit Screen and Mosaic View ** See note under matrix about Mohu antenna$19.99/month or $94.99/year for the Regular Package. $24.99/month or $114.99/year for the premium package.n/aWindows/Mac Internet Browser only for non-premium package. Premium Package supports: Xbox 360, Playstation3, Roku, Apple TV, and other devices.Premium Pkg only. iOS, Android and Blackberry z10
NFL Sunday Ticket (Read Price column)RentSports Live and Past EventsNFL Game Rewind. Unfortunately LIVE games are not available, but they are made available immediately after they've aired on Television.You also get complete season archives! I get it, this could be a deal breaker for die-hard NFL fans. There are other not so white-hat ways of getting live games streamed online, but this is more for the tech-savy folks.** See note under matrix about Mohu antennaOffer w/ Madden 25 game - $99 for the season. Doesn't require Direct TV subscription! )n/aWindows/Mac Internet Browser.iOS, Android
NBA PackageRentSports Live and Past EventsNBA League Pass for broadband-- select 5 teams to follow. The one issue is that some games on some networks might be blacked out if they are nationally televised. Here's an interesting article on it. ** See note under matrix about Mohu antenna$28.99/monthn/aWindows/Mac Internet Browser, XBox360, Apple TV. Roku (Game Time only)http://www.roku.com/channels/#!details/1508/nba-game-timeiOS, Android
NHL PackageRentSports Live and Past EventsNHL GameCenter allows you to follow all the games, however, live games only when out-of-market. Otherwise avaialble the next day, along with season archives. ** See note under matrix about Mohu antenna$49.99/season this last season.n/aWindows/Mac Internet Browser, XBox360, Playstation3, Apple TV. Roku and more.iOS, Android, Blackberry z10

 

3.) Ready to lower your internet bill?
Usage Type/Activity
# of Household Users
Recommended Speed
Email, Reading Articles/Blogs/Newspaper, Occasional videos1-53Mbps
+ add to above: Making Phone Calls/ Video Chat1-53-5Mbps
+ add to above: Watching More Videos / Streaming Television (as described in step 2 above)/Streaming music1-55-10Mbps
+ add to above: Large Amounts of content streaming simultaneously / large amounts of Data Download, particularly multimedia content1-510-30+ Mbps

A) Assess your usage using the chart (above) in this article and start testing out the speed that works best for you and your family. Do that by starting with the lowest amount of bandwidth you think you need, and work your way up if it’s not enough. A great site to test speed you’re getting is SpeedTest.net
B) Buy your modem and router. There is the option of buying them separately (like my setup described above in #3), or you can buy the all-in-one models, which are typically what the Internet providers rent out these days.

      • My recommendation for an all-in-one CABLE modem
      • My recommendation for an all-in-one DSL modem, I haven’t used this one personally, but it has the best reviews out of all of them and is what most DSL providers use.

Tip:  Figure your modem and your router will last you at least 3-4 years on average, if not more! So when you do the math, it’s well worth the investment.

 

Finally, I know there’s a LOT of information posted above, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please write to me in the comments below, I will be happy to answer! I certainly hope you enjoyed this article, and more importantly I hope that it saved you money and that you feel better about getting rid of those nasty monthly payments!  If you found this article useful and it worked for you, I would certainly appreciate if you shared the link to the article / or use the link at the top of this page to “Like” it on Facebook. I thank you in advance!  Also, tell me in the comments how your experience went, I would love to hear about it–and please, tell me how much you saved! :)  If  you have any additional tips or suggestions to share with the community, feel free to add them in the comments!

All the best and Good luck!

Pascal

12 Responses to “How to Save Over $1000/year with Internet-Cable-Phone”
  1. Debbie Shadlock

    Congratulations on your launch Pascal! Great site.
    Does any of this apply in Canada??? Still paying through the nose for cable here. ;-)

    • Mr. Life Learner

      Hi Debbie! Thanks for your comment! :) I hope to have much more content over time–next article will be “How to travel for free”.

      As for how this article applies to Canada, most of it does apply yes. The phone applies 100%. Internet I believe does as well (I think Rogers and other providers in Canada make you rent their equipement and that certainly isn’t necessary).

      As for Cable, yes it applies and I plan on doing a 2nd part to this article for Canadians down the road, but you can stream TV in Canada using the devices I posted above. I know Netflix is available in Canada (although content slightly differs). For HuluPlus, there are ways around getting it, here is a great article on how to do it: http://o.canada.com/2013/05/08/how-to-get-hulu-plus-in-canada/

      The Mohu digital Antenna I recommend in the article also works in Canada–so essentially providing you with local HD channels for free.

      Here’s another great article on the topic from the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/why-canadians-are-turned-off-by-traditional-tv-providers/article10764870/

      Let me know if you have any questions!
      Pascal

      • Edith Kindrachuk

        Quick answer Pascal! We were just talikng about you and I was checking your site. I am definitely checking your tips for the TV. Already took care of the phone :-)

        Thanks, great site and very informative!

        Edith

        • Mr. Life Learner

          Thanks Edith! I appreciate you checking out the site! Let me know if you have any questions.

          Feel free to share the article–I’m trying to get more visibility so I can grow this into a bigger community–I would like to get a lot of like-minded individuals that are good at “hacking” life. This means if ever you have an idea or want to do a guest column, I would be happy to have you guys post! :)

          Best,
          Pascal

  2. Chris

    I think a lot of people worry about streaming being “not as good” or “not in HD.” You know the funny thing? I’ve subscribed to the MLB package every year for the past 10 years or so. It’s been in HD as long as I can remember. If you buy it through Comcast, it’s in standard definition!

    Plus, I can watch games on my laptop, iPhone or iPad. The following day, I can watch the game online in a condensed mode (a whole game in minutes) or the full game. If I use the app on the Playstation, it lets you jump between the plays that matter so you can scan and watch the highlights you care about.

    It’s really amazing how great these streaming packages are. Don’t let a fear of poor quality stop you from cancelling cable. As shown, there are an amazing number of options for just about everything.

    • Mr. Life Learner

      Chris, thanks for the valuable addition to the article! I’m happy you added that since I personally cannot comment much on the Sports packages since I don’t use them.

      To add to your comment on how great streaming packages are, I think we’re only seeing the beginning. You have Time Warner Cable currently in the works on signing a deal with Apple TV. I think this is great because now the “big” cable companies will have to compete with the pre-existing streaming options, which allow you to pick and choose what you want to pay for. This should get them to lower their prices and offer more options to the streaming community.

      10 years from now we’ll be saying… “Remember when we used to watch TV on cable and we had to flip through dozens of channels before we get to one we actually wanted to watch?” :)

  3. gene

    The antenna you mention only has a range of 35 miles . What about those of us who live 100 miles or more from local TV broadcasters? Otherwise a very interesting and informative article…Thank You

    • Mr. Life Learner

      Hi Gene, thanks for your feedback on the article, I really appreciate it! And great question! 100 miles is very far and based on the research I’ve done, typically this is an “impossible” distance. However, if the antenna was high enough, big enough and no obstructions, it is still possible. Most channels are found on the UHF signal these days, making it hard because although quality is better, the UHF signal gets blocked by obstructions whereas VHF does not. Mohu, the same maker of the antenna I recommend has an outdoor model with 60+ mile range. Here’s a link to it: http://amzn.to/14njmU1 Perhaps worth a try if you know you can mount it high enough and there are little / few obstructions… like being on the top of a mountain. You can check the return policy and if it doesn’t work out, you can probably get most of your money back minus the shipping. Also, first you might want to see what kind of channels exist in your area or nearby… you can go to http://www.tvfool.com and click on “Online TV Maps” and enter your address. This should give you a good idea of what channels “could” potentially be available in your area. Keep in mind if you decide to try it….to install as high as possible, minimum in your attic, ideally outside on your roof somewhere nice and high!

      I’m assuming you can get internet if you’re visiting this site? You could probably get your programming that way….depending on your needs. Have you checked out the table above? Any way you can get your programming from any of the services listed above?

      Let me know if I can help you out with any other questions. Keep me posted if you do decide to try it.

  4. DJ Smith

    What do you use to record over the air TV? Giving up the DVR is the hardest part for me!

    • Mr. Life Learner

      Hey DJ – thanks for your comment! I hear you, giving up a DVR is the hardest thing my wife and I had to do. Luckily we get most of our content on Hulu Plus now, so we watch it whenever we want. But if you want record Over-the-Air content, there are 3 ways that I know of:
      (I only have experience with #3 below, so that would naturally be my recommendation since I’ve had great success with this method)

      1- You can get a Tivo Premiere DVR –here’s a link to one model: http://amzn.to/12SWOUL- this works with OTA, no problem. The only issue is that you have to subscribe to Tivo $15/month or one time fee of $500 good for lifetime. Still cheaper than paying for Cable TV!! This is probably the only option that will get you close to the look and feel you’re used to in a DVR.
      2 – You can get a Channel Master DVR : http://amzn.to/114FJus — although the interface is clunky from what I’ve been told and the Amazon reviews don’t read too well. On the upside, it has no subscription required.
      3 – You can used a Windows Media Center PC – this will allow you to use the computer as a DVR. You just have to make sure your PC is capable: has a Video card that allows you to connect cable and the right version of Windows that includes it. Also, if you have an XBox, you can use that as an extender…meaning your Windows PC can send the signal to the Xbox and you can watch from there. Here’s a helpful link: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/22353/beginners-guide-for-setting-up-windows-7-media-center/

      Here’s a link that describes some DVRs that can be used and provide more specifics if you’re interested: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1460149/updated-list-of-consumer-available-dvrs-in-the-us

      Good luck and let me know if I can help you with anything!

  5. drnickmd

    I think for the phone, you should mention Google Voice. It allows you to create a phone number and make free calls to anywhere in the the US. If you have an old Android phone you can download an app called GroovIP with your Google Voice number and use it like a house phone with WiFi. Also for about $60 there is device by Obi that does pretty much the same thing as GroovIP but allows you to plug in an actual land line phone into the Obi device.

    • Mr. Life Learner

      Great point, I did forget about Google Voice! It also allows you to make free calls to Canada. I know I used it before when I had an Android phone.

      I’m not familiar with OBI and GroovIP — but sounds somewhat similar to MagicJack, which my mother used for years. And I know they have a MagicJack that doesn’t need to plug into a computer anymore, it is standalone and can be plugged into the wall, connecting to your WiFi directly.

      I’ll add these to the article, thanks again for your input, much appreciated!

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