Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating people cancelling cable TV service

When I Decided to Cut the Cord – An Introduction of Jess Barnes Our Newest Writer 


Cutting the cable connection to coax connector illustrating people cancelling cable TV serviceNote From Luke: Today I am very excited to introduce Jess Barnes the newest guest writer at Cord Cutters News. She has been a cord cutter for about four years and will now take what she knows to help others. 

So today to introduce our newest writer here is her cord cutting story.

Four years ago, I moved into an apartment after living with family for a few years.  My whole life was up in the air while I was getting used to the switch from working in nonprofit to working for myself as a full time freelance writer, and the switch from living in a full house to a very quiet apartment by myself.

I was also getting used to living on a freelancing income and had to work out a budget to keep my bank account in check. I knew that a cable bill was definitely not going to be a part of the financial plan. But, because of my work from home setup, a strong internet connection was a must. Watching my favorite shows online seemed like the obvious choice.

My Original SetUp: What Worked and What Didn’t

I already had a Netflix account, and got by on watching on my computer for the first month before I knew that wouldn’t cut it. To be honest, I’m too much of a TV addict to get by with just one service and watching on a 13 inch screen. After some research, a few clicks of a mouse, and a two day shipping period, I was hooking up a Roku 2.

I went overboard with apps when trying to figure out what would work best for me. I started out by logging into my Netflix account and singing up for Hulu Plus. Then I added apps for all the channels I could see myself watching: PBS, ABC, NBC, The History Channel, CBS, A&E, Comedy Central, Lifetime, and anything else that looked remotely interesting. I tacked on a few extra apps for music and movies for good measure: Pandora, Vudu, Crackle, Redbox, and Plex.

Saying I overdid it would be an understatement.  The number of apps on my Roku screen got pared down pretty quickly. I realized that most of the shows I wanted to watch were streaming on Hulu and I didn’t need most of the channel specific apps. I kept PBS (for Downtown Abby and Sherlock) and Lifetime (for Saturday morning dramatic movie watching) and got rid of the rest. Netflix had me covered for movies and I saved Redbox for the rare occasion that I wanted to rent a new release. Crackle, Plex, and Vudu all seemed unnecessary, so they got deleted. Pandora was spared.

Over the next year, it seemed like new devices were rolling out monthly. I was ready to upgrade. The new versions of Roku weren’t offering any new features that made them seem worth buying. Google Chromecast and Apple TV were the two major players, and I took some time to check them both out. I liked the portability of the Chromecast and the clean design of Apple.

My Current SetUp: What I Use and How I Make it Work

My love of Apple products made my decision for me, and I went with the Apple TV. Here’s my current setup of devices and apps:

  • An inexpensive antennae from Radio Shack – This lets me watch a few basic channels, so I can catch the news in the morning and prime time shows if I happen to be home.
  • Apple TV – I love that the device works seamlessly with my TV, MacBook, iPhone, and iPad. With AirPlay, I can play video from any of those devices. The device was easy to set up and is easy to use.
  • iTunes – One of the biggest draws of Apple TV is for those of us who use other Apple products and already have content saved on iTunes. I had a few movies saved and was happy to find them waiting for me when I logged in on my TV. I use iTunes to rent new releases from time to time too.
  • Netflix – This is sort of a given for anyone who’s cutting the cord. I like it for the selection of movies and past seasons of TV shows, but I’m more interested in the Netflix Originals. Netflix is stepping up its game with original content (Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, GLOW, etc.) and I can’t get enough of it.
  • Hulu – For current seasons of television shows, I use Hulu. I have access to most of the things I like to watch and Hulu usually has the newest episodes available the day after they air.
  • Amazon Prime – I signed up for a Prime account specifically for the video streaming. The free 2 day shipping was a bonus. They have a good movie selection (more than Netflix, in fact) but I’m really here for the TV shows I can’t find on my other services (The Americans, Veep, etc.)
  • PBS – There are a few channels with shows I can’t get through Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, and PBS is one of them. I use the PBS app to watch their shows and documentaries.
  • Freeform – This one is a hidden treasure. ABC Family changed it’s brand to become Freeform. On the app, you can find their original shows, and a rotation of some good movies.
  • YouTube – To be honest, I only use this to force my friends and family to watch videos that I think are funny when they come to visit.

Monthly Spending and Savings

Money was definitely the most significant factor when I was debating between cable and cutting the cord. Here’s what I found when I compared the numbers.

The cable company that my apartment building works with was charging $85 for a standard package, for the first 12 months. After that, the price jumped up to $90. Because it’s been well over 12 months, I’ll use that number for a comparison. I also looked into monthly charges, fees, and taxes, and found out that those average about $23/month.

Total Cable Cost: $113

An internet connection was a requirement for my work situation, so that didn’t get factored into my price comparison. Monthly, I’m paying for the following:

Total Cord Cutting Cost: $27.92

Total Monthly Savings: $85.08

There have been times that I’ve missed having thousands of live channels to choose from, especially during award show season and when my favorite baseball team is playing. Now I see it as a challenge to find different services and apps to make sure I don’t miss anything. When I see the amount of money I’m saving every month, I can confidently say I don’t regret cutting the cord.

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  • The Prodigal Apple

    Welcome. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Jess

      Thank you! Looking forward to adding to the blog!

  • Joseph ewing

    Very happy to have you on board. Looking forward to more and varied content.

    • Jess

      Thanks! I’m excited to add to the conversation!

  • Nathan John Ganiere

    have a hard time giving up sports here, reason I have to keep an OTT LIVE TV service, otherwise would save a ton, as I’d just do the same, Netflix and Hulu and let it be…………do still save some, but not what it could be……Amazon Prime I’ve had, don’t care for it………also buy my share of newly released digital movies monthly too, big movie buff, so VUDU is a must, but been doing that even before I was cutting the cord………but then again had Netflix too always……..

    • Jess

      I’m with you! I love watching sports and I’m always on the lookout for ways to do that without cable. I’m hoping to write a post about that at some point!

  • Nathan John Ganiere

    that being said welcome

  • Stephen D Irvine

    I see odd amounts that you pay for Netflix and Hulu. What’s up?

    • Jess lives in a area that pays taxes on streaming.

    • GersonT1000

      I guess those are the prices with taxes.

    • Jess

      Sorry for the confusion! I used the total charge, including taxes, to make it as accurate as possible.

      • grinlap

        Hi Jess, welcome aboard. I enjoyed your article. It’s interesting to see how the other half copes.

        I wondered about your odd amounts also. It looks like the extra is a sales tax of 6%. I suspect though that at some point more taxes are going to show up. Many states levy a Communications Services Tax on video services. I’m in Florida and this tax is levied on all cable and satellite services. I have Directv and the tax is 11.44% on the price of the programing package along with the usual 7% sales tax on the rental of the cable boxes. There is also the Regional Sports Fee for any programming package that includes sports.

        Most of the readers here have had cable or satellite service and should be familiar with all those added taxes and fees that make your eyes bug out when you get your bill. My guess is that the local and state governments aren’t going to let any large amount of money get away untaxed. Once streaming gets to be significant you’ll see more charges appear on your bill.

        This doesn’t mean don’t cut the cord just pay attention and dash off a letter to your legislator when you see any activity in this direction. Streaming is still a good deal and will probably only get better for a while.

  • EJ95835

    Welcome Jess. Good read. Sans live streaming you fit the definition of “true” cord cutter – or perhaps in your situation – “cord never.”

    • Jess

      “Cord never” – I like that!

  • FranchisePlayer

    First off, great article. I did the exact same thing when I first got a Roku. I was scrolling for days then paired it down to only a handful of channels that I currently use. That being said, the price of your Roku is a consideration for those looking for a device to stream content and should factor in the total savings. Your monthly savings likely easily covered that initial cost as well as the antenna. Even if you buy another Roku for a second TV, that’s still a cost folks should be aware of.

    I could also relate to missing having thousands of channels to choose from but I’ve found that even after pairing down to less than half of what I had with cable, I still find there’s little I want to watch on only a handful of channels. The more Netflix, Hulu and Amazon come out with original content, the less I want to watch “live” TV (aside from sports which I enjoy).

    • Jess

      That’s a great point. The cost of the Roku ended up being less than what I read I would be charged for the setup and installation of cable.

      I’m with you on not missing live TV. I’ve been more than happy with everything I have access to now. I do miss sports, but I’m always working on finding ways to watch without cable. That seems to be a common problem, so I’m hoping to write about it soon!

  • Gregory Blajian

    Jess, welcome! Nice to see another writer added to the cause. Noticed you mentioned Lifetime in your article sans cable sub. How did you manage that one? I thought all the A+E channels were behind a paywall.

    • Jess

      Hi, Gregory! Thanks for the welcome. I had the Lifetime channel on my Roku, so it was about 4 years ago. At that time, the channel offered some content for free, with the option of logging in with a paid account to get full access to everything. I opted for free content only. I can find the shows and movies I want from them on Hulu and Netflix now, so I don’t go through Lifetime anymore, but I think they still have that same setup.