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Are you ready to cancel cable?

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November 2nd, 2017
Cutting the cable cord.

Cutting the cable cord.

You’ve probably considered cancelling your cable television service at one point or another (most likely when you open your monthly bill and see the cost of your package has gone up once again). That’s why many people decide to “cut the cable cord,” opting instead for lower-priced streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Marilyn Anderson, author of How to Live Like a Millionaire When You’re a Million Short (HowtoLiveLikeaMillionaire.com), says cancelling cable can add up to major savings. She estimates that she wasted almost $17,000 over two decades on cable services—and didn’t even watch most of the channels. She cut the cord and bought an antenna for $20, which gives her access to 26 channels. 

“I wish I had done it sooner—so I’m telling everyone else,” Anderson says. “It’s amazing how many people don’t realize they can get so many channels without a monthly charge.”

Getting rid of your cable doesn’t mean you’re doomed to watching nothing but news and sitcom reruns. With devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire, you can stream all kinds of shows and movies. Paula Langguth Ryan, a consumer finance advocate and author of Bounce Back From Bankruptcy
(goo.gl/63ETn7), likes Roku, which she says you can buy for about $40. You can add a streaming service like Netflix for about $10 a month.

“If all you watch are free channels or free content on subscription channels, then your only cost each month is for your Internet and any on-demand movies you want to watch,” Langguth Ryan says. “I’ve got 81 such free channels on my Roku home page—including travel, history, NASA, and Indian cooking channels.”

Beware the costs of add-on services

Before you cancel cable, however, you should be aware of other costs you may incur. There are hundreds of streaming channels you can subscribe to depending on your interests. Langguth Ryan has CBS All Access to watch current television dramas ($5.99/month) and the New Thought Channel for inspirational programming ($1.99/month, or $20/year). She also frequently rents movies through Roku’s Fandango Movie Store for $.99 to $6.99. But all those add-on services can add up fast—and you could end up spending even more than you did on cable.

“Most [streaming services], such as HBO Now and Hulu, give you a month free,” Langguth Ryan says. “So retirees should take it for a month—and binge watch your favorite shows. Then cancel it.”

You’ll still need to pay for Internet, even if you cancel cable. And you’ll want to buy Internet service that is fast and reliable enough to stream shows and movies without buffering—pausing your programming while the content loads. Brooke Nally, community manager and cable expert at cabletv.com, says you may be charged a higher price for stand-alone Internet service, as opposed to bundling it with your cable. 

“My Internet bill was $80 a month, and when I called to ask them to lower the bill, they said it would be $10 cheaper if I bundled with cable service,” she says.

While Nally believes a cable and Internet bundle can often be the best deal, she says cord-cutters can get more bang for their buck with Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW.  

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