Note 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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