By Eric on June 21, 2011 25

How to Live Without Cable

The black box that sits in almost everyone’s living room is filled with endless possibilities for entertainment. It often leaves us in a trance, sucked in to watching more and more. Kels and I have been convicted of this for awhile. It wasn’t that we thought cable was bad or a waste of money (even though it is costly), but rather we saw it as a time sucker. It left us wondering what it would be like to live without cable?

As with most things in life, cable TV is fine in moderation. But it took us away from other things we wanted to do (blogging, spending quality time together, being outdoors, riding our bikes, etc.) and decided that we wanted to cancel. It came to a point about a month ago when we decided to upgrade our Internet connection and exchange our old modem for a newer one. This presented the perfect opportunity to cancel cable and DVR. And so we did. Here’s what we have discovered so far…

Options for Watching TV Shows Without Cable

Watching TV online: There are a number of websites that allow you to watch TV shows online, and we have found Hulu to be one of the best. They carry most of the current TV series and is updated a day or two after they air live. We’ve also watched shows directly from the network websites (ABC, NBC, CBS).

Equipment: We have a nice 42″ Toshiba HDTV (which was a gift) and didn’t want it to not be used. We also have a 3-year-old Macbook that we can use to access those websites that allow you to watch TV online. But we needed some new cables to hook them up together and make it happen. We went to the Apple store and had to buy three cables:

  1. Mini DVI to VGA, $20 (similar)
    live without cable 1
  2. VGA to HDMI, $20 (similar)
    live without cable 2
  3. A male-to-male headphone cable for audio (we have had this for a few years and it allows us to play iTunes on our laptop through our surround sound speakers)
    live without cable 3

Netflix: We signed up for one free month of Netflix and are enjoying watching LOST instantly through our Nintendo Wii. This couldn’t be easier, although I hope that Netflix Instant grows its library quickly as I feel that it’s selection is pretty limited. LOST has consumed all of our TV viewing time currently though, so we haven’t checked out much of the movie selection. We added a one-DVD-at-a-time service so we could catch up on Parenthood season 1. We just finished the last disc and have canceled the one-DVD-at-a-time service for now.

Sports: We still need to purchase an antenna so that we can watch live TV on local channels. Not being able to watch live sporting events is a downfall to not having cable, but the big games should be televised on local channels and we will be able to view them live once we get an antenna. I’m leaning toward this RCA ANT1650 flat digital amplified indoor tv antenna. Another alternative is With our upgraded Internet speed we are eligible to use and view live games that are televised on ESPN. Some games are archived for up to a week as well.

There are more options out there such as Apple TV, Roku, etc., but we have not tested any of these.

A Look at the Cost Savings

  • Previously, Internet (3 mbps), cable and DVR used to cost us $132.60/month
  • Currently, Internet (12 mbps) costs us $60/month
  • Netflix Instant is $7.99/month after the free month trial
  • Savings: $64.61/month and $775.32/year

The only downside we have seen thus far is that Netflix Instant is not in HD. But we will take that trade off since we will save $775 a year.

Have we convinced anyone to pull the plug?


Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I love this post, and I am totally with you! We have never had cable. Another great site is is free dvr!


  3. We actually just had our cable turned off too! Saving money was our main reason, but it was also turning into a big time-waster. We agreed to keep it on until hockey season was over (hubby is a huge fan :)), and now we hardly miss it. Great post!

  4. what a great move :) we only had cable for 1 year because it was free, and i started watching mindless shows just because they were there. i love not having cable, and since i grew up without it, it is normal to me! now if only the local stations would come in better….living in the woods has its drawbacks :)

    • I absolutely can’t stand channel surfing, and watching just to watch. If it’s educational, great. If Eric and I both enjoy it and consider is quality time together, perfect. (Of course, I say this now that The Hills is over. :) )

  5. Completely debating Apple TV right now! I’m about to move to an apartment by myself which means I’ll be taking the entire share of the utilities. Since I’m living in a house with a roommate who leaves some lights on 24/7 over to an apartment where I turn off the lights/AC when I leave, most of the changes aren’t that different, but a cable subscription was looking really daunting! Thanks for changing my mindset this morning :)

  6. We don’t have cable either! We looked at the shows we watch and realized most of them we already on the major networks. We have a box called a Roku that connects to the TV and streams Netflix and Hulu Plus. Major improvement and the box was an $80 one-time purchase.

    Even with having Hulu Plus and Netflix, we pay $15 a month (versus $60 for cable) for WAAAAY more content than we could ever watch! Plus, it makes TV watching a thing we do together, not just a time suck.

  7. I called my cable provider (Dish) about cancelling about a month or two ago. Since I signed a two year contract with them (to get better discounts), I would have to pay around $250 to cancel service with that (that amount goes down as I approach the 2 year date, but still!!).

    I’ve already decided that once that contract is up or we move (whichever comes first!) we won’t be having cable. I’m a little nervous because I am SO addicted to DVR, but like Courtney said in her comment – Hulu is a free dvr!! It’s ridiculous how much cable is and you are absolutely right about it being a time waster. I am guilty of being sucked into WAY too many shows and it takes away quality time from my family – so I can’t wait to have that out of my reach!!

    Great post!

    • Dude, when we got DVR it changed our lives. We loved it. But, I’m happy to say that I don’t miss it one bit! However, I sure liked being able to watch all of Oprah’s episodes when we did have it!

  8. I don’t have cable either and I am totally fine! I’ve been loving it actually. And if there’s something I want to watch I either go to a friends, the gym, or even a bar to catch a game! Gets me out of my house :)

  9. We went cable-less about 6 months ago and it’s been great. I’ve been able to narrow down the number of shows I watch (I also use Hulu and Netflix) and it’s given me so much more time to get stuff done. And it’s a huge money saver!!

  10. Check out Arrested Development on Netflix! My boyfriend recommended I watch it, and now I’ve seen all the seasons three or four times! It’s addicting! :)

    • I’ve heard good things about Arrested Development. We are sucked into LOST right now, but that’s on our list to check out once we get off the island…

  11. My husband’s been wanting to cancel cable for awhile. Not too long ago, he asked me what it would take for us to get rid of it. I looked online and made sure all my shows could be accessed somewhere–the only one that I couldn’t find was American Idol (full episodes), but I’m not an avid watcher anyway, so I could’ve given that up. He backed off right away, though, so I’m wondering how much he actually wants to give it up himself. I could see it coming up again, though, because it really would be a money saver.

    • We knew we wanted to cancel for a couple months, but every single time we considered picking up the phone and doing it, we got nervous for some silly reason. I’m so glad we finally did it and can put that money toward something better!

  12. We’ve never had cable either. But we’ve also never lived in America married :) But, even overseas, we’re able to watch most of our shows online.

    We do have a slingbox set up at inlaws house. It was a Christmas gift–we can access their cable for free through the internet and watch on our computers in South Africa (crazy, right??!). But, honestly, we hardly use it.

  13. Confession: I haven’t had cable in over a year and we rarely watch hulu. It’s the first time in my life (other than a couple of years in college when I didn’t own a tv) that I’ve lived without cable. And at first it felt weird, but I’ve realized how much more productive I am without it. When husband and I want to spend time together in the evenings, we rent a redbox or watch one of our movies or find something else to do. It’s made us much more conscientious about how we spend our time. I’d be perfectly okay with never having it again, especially now that I see how much money we’re saving by not buying it.

  14. $132.60/month for Cable, internet and DVR!??! Holy crap!!! Who was your service through? We have Cable (with roughly 60 HD channels), internet and DVR and pay $80/month.

    • Mediacom. I think we had a few upgraded packages that weren’t necessary, but we were roped into them at one time as a package deal for a year or something and then our bill just kept getting bigger.

  15. My husband and I don’t have cable, which I actually prefer. We watch tv shows via netflix and hulu. The only thing my husband misses is the sports (like you mentioned). We got a logitech for Christmas from my in-laws, and we love it! It allows us to watch netflix, youtube, and browse the internet all on our tv.

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