Six Months With No TV (Kind of)

Family watching television, c. 1958
Family watching television, c. 1958 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, let me tell you I love watching TV. I don’t intend for this to be some high-brow TV-is-for-dummies blog post. Watching TV is awesome. Whether it’s a live NFL game, a nail-biting episode of the Walking Dead, or an eight-hour binge of an entire season of Duck Dynasty, nothing quiets my busy brain quite like the warm enveloping glow of a good TV program.

No, this is not a TV bashing post. This post is about how we saved over $150 per month without sacrificing any awesome TV time. That’s $26,000 compounded over the next ten years, or nearly an entire year’s worth of take-home pay for an average earner! Here’s how we did it.

Free or Cheap Video Entertainment TV Substitutes

  • High speed internet – $41/month
    • I sprung for one of the best Internet speeds.
  • Neflix streaming – $8/month
    • Perfect for all of the shows my three year old son likes. Also good for binge-watching full seasons of shows and for watching the great new Netflix originals like Lilyhammer and House of Cards.
  • Amazon Prime – $5.75/month
    • I’ve been a Prime member for a while, but I didn’t know I had access to free shows and movies. Amazon Prime is kind of like Netflix, but lately Prime has been specializing in locking down shows that are missing from Netflix like Justified and Duck Dynasty. Amazon also has good original programing like Alpha House and Betas.
  • Mohu Leaf HD antenna – $0 per month (one time charge of $60)
    • I get about 20 free local channels, namely ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and PBS. I get two versions of each since I live on the CT/MA border. The HD quality is better than when I had cable! The antenna covers my live sports craving. Also, PBS is great for our son, and we occasionally watch the networks live during primetime.
  • Hulu.com – $0 per month
    • We use the free version of Hulu (not Hulu Plus) mostly for cable shows like the ones my wife likes on Bravo. We also use Hulu like a de facto DVR for shows we never catch live like SNL.
  • World Wide Web – $0 per month (included in the first bullet)
    • There’s plenty of TV-like entertainment out there on the interwebs these days like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and awesome blogs like this one.
  • Total monthly video entertainment costs – $54.75/month – over $150 in savings per month!
    • Still missing a show or two? With all the money you save on cable you can fill in the gaps with iTunes for the most current shows or movies.

There is enough free or cheap content in the resources above for several lifetimes worth of TV staring. And while I still love TV, here are some things that I have eliminated by canceling cable:

  • Channel surfing for hours without actually watching anything
  • Wondering why I pay for 3,000 channels but only watch 2
  • Acquiring too many shows, filling up my DVR, and feeling like I am wasting my life away watching too much TV

So I get the same content, but I have begun to eliminate these near-universally accepted time-wasting downsides of TV watching. With my new-found free time I have started to notice the following positive changes in my daily routine.

More Productive Things to do With Your Life Other Than Watching TV

Don’t get me wrong. I still toss this virtuous list aside almost daily for a little TV fix. But spending a little more time in the real world ain’t so bad either.

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