How You Can Cut the Cable Cord In 5 Steps

You love cable watching television. Who doesn't? All those thrilling shows that help you escape your otherwise dull lives. Where would you be if you didn't have access to cable television?

It turns out, you would be just fine. In fact, you'd probably have more time and energy to check off a few items from that ever-expanding to-do list.

We decided to shift our TV viewing habits. It wasn't easy, and there remain a few struggles, but the fact we are no longer trapped by the monthly cable bill has given us a bit more ownership of our lives. Here's how we did it, and how you might be able to do the same:

  • Get a nice TV
  • Pick up an Apple TV
  • Pump up your Internet
  • Grab an antenna
  • Cancel your cable

Get a nice TV
This doesn't have to be now. Nor does it have to be the biggest, top-of-the-line model. Spring for an HD-compatible TV. The idea here is that we're changing the experience from sitting on the couch and flipping through the channels to an event. It's like a mini-date. Almost.

Pick up an Apple TV
Am I biased? Yes. You might be, too. That's ok - if you feel better with a Google TV or Hulu or Boxee device, those are all good. The idea here is that you are getting content from a source other than cable. And getting only the content you want. Each of these devices have their own perks. We're a Mac house, so the Apple TV was easy for us to set up and get running. Plus, have you seen how small the Apple TV is? Ridiculous. (The image below is pretty much the actual size. It's also an affiliate link.)

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Pump up your Internet
This depends on your current usage of the Internet. If you work from home or use the Internet heavily during the day, it might be a good idea to look at the next level of service from your Internet provider. Why? If you are downloading a show or movie, the last thing you want is to sit down and it hasn't completed downloading yet.

Grab an antenna
Which of these things is not like the other: HD TV. Apple TV. Robust Internet connection. Over-the-air antenna. Odd to add this to the mix, but it comes in really handy. It's still great to watch the local news when something newsworthy happens. Weekend / championship sporting events are normally broadcast nationally, so there's another perk. Plus, most channels are broadcast in HD now, which your antenna should pick up.

Cancel your cable
Probably the most satisfying of the steps. It's a nice feeling when that next bill comes and it's dramatically lower.

The tough part will be changing your viewing habits, and there will be both major and subtle shifts. Don't try to convince yourself that you will not experience these. They will happen. You'll need to think about what you want to watch instead of just plopping down and flipping through the channels.

It's been roughly four years since we paid the cable company. For me, an avid supporter of Liverpool FC and any show that combines 22 players and a ball, it was really tough. I've found the alternatives far outweigh what I was experiencing before:

  • I go out to watch a game with some friends (or meet some new ones)
  • I'll watch the game online
  • I'll go outside and play, then watch the highlights later

After all, living in a city with so much energy and buzz is only worth it if you're able to join in.

If you're a big sports fan, you can also find packages through the Apple TV. Personally, I'm waiting for Apple to make a bid to carry the EPL.

As for cost savings, it's been incredible. Over a year of cable (just the TV portion), we were paying something like $85/mo. That's over $1,000/yr of cable, whether we were watching or not. With the Apple TV setup, we're spending ~$40/mo on TV shows. We've cut the bill in half. Add in the Apple TV ($99) and we're still way ahead (and we own the device).

It's nice to be in control.