How to Save Money » Frugal Living

Why I cut cable (and how I still watch TV)

Well, I did it. I finally cut the cord. The cable TV cord, that is.

Why I Cut Cable

As a frugal living blogger, I always advise you to cut all unnecessary expenses if you’re in financial trouble – and as much as I hate to admit it, cable TV is a luxury, not a necessity.

Although my family is not in financial trouble, we are actively saving money to put towards big goals and to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible.

So – cable went bye, bye. And you know what? It truly wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. We rarely watch television as it is (I think there are only 3 or 4 shows we watched on a regular basis), so cutting the cable cord wasn’t too difficult.

There were some concerns…

Friends and family were a bit concerned for us, though. “You’re going to be so bored!”, “What are you going to do for fun if you don’t have a TV?”, “Aren’t you worried about missing your shows?”.

To answer those questions…

  • No – we won’t be bored. Since having kids, I don’t even remember what bored feels like.
  • TV is not fun. For me, I watched television to relax, not have a great time. There are a million other things I do for fun. TV is not one of those things.
  • Worried? No. It’s just TV. It’s watching other people live their lives. I won’t miss that. I’d rather live my own life instead.

So you don’t have anything? Not even basic cable?

No, we don’t even have basic cable. Do you know the price of something as simple as basic cable these days? In my neck of the words, it’s about $20 a month – or $240 per year. That may not seem like a lot of money to some, but it was a lot of money for us because we very rarely watched TV.

Spending that kind of money on something you hardly ever use is a waste – and that’s why we cut it off altogether.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we never watch television. We do, we just don’t pay a monthly cable bill to do it.

How we watch television now…

Instead, we now use Netflix. For only $7.99 per month, we have a wide variety of television shows and movies to watch whenever we want. And one of the best things about Netflix? You can pause what you’re watching.

So, the next time a cat pukes on my living room carpet, or my 4-year old starts climbing the counters in the kitchen, I can pause what I’m watching and take care of things.

Although you won’t find everything on Netflix, I do find their selection to be pretty good (there are more options on US Netflix, which you can get for free, we just haven’t tried that yet). For the shows that I really love and can’t get on Netflix, I can buy them on a one-off basis on iTunes or Amazon.

It’s been over a month now, and I honestly don’t miss cable TV at all. Not one bit. For someone who rarely watches television, Netflix is all I need. Even if I had the extra money to spare, I doubt I would spend it on cable.

There are many other things in my life that trump watching TV. I’ll spend my money on those, instead.

What about you? Have you cut the cable cord?


  1. Bonnie

    I have been thinking about it too. we pay around 90 a month for satellite. I watch soaps sometimes and the news every morning. other than that I usually catch all my stuff in the evenings on the computer. Almost everything can be watched later the day it comes on or a day later. I may just cut down to basic so I can still get news and some cartoon channels for my son.but we don’t need the premium package we have now. that’s crazy for only watching twice a day.

  2. bp

    I’m not sure why you’d want to recommend that people sign up illegally for US Netflix by signing up with a fake/purchased ip address. I’m all about being frugal- but committing fraud is just a bad idea.

    • Dennis

      It’s a grey area.
      You are paying for 2 independent services.
      There are also many free sites providing IP addresses.

      Maybe it will get Canadian content owners of these shows (Global, CTV, CityTV) to license them to Netflix.

      • bp

        I’m assuming the Terms and Conditions in Netflix include being physically in the geographic location when you’re signed up. To agree to this knowing that you are not in the US is the part I have a problem with.

    • Jeff

      I think it would be a BONUS to bypass the archaic CRTC government regulators that provide Canadian stations a license to print money, limit selection of played back shows over the internet by making them unavailable over a Canadian IP address and, when we can get them make their second rate content and very limited content available, borage us with way more advertising content…… adding probably on average 10 extra minutes of ads per show. If it’s illegal then I’m sorry but I wouldn’t care less as I’m sick of being treated as a second class North American!

  3. Nicole

    We got rid of cable a while back. We have netflicks and the kids enjoy that. A lot of shows are available through the broadcaster website. CTV, Global, CBC.

    I’d highly recommend trying it. You might miss is at first; but not for long …

    My favorite line from this article is.

    Well said!

    • Nicole

      No. It’s just TV. It’s watching other people live their lives. I won’t miss that. I’d rather live my own life instead

  4. Tonia

    You can also find shows and movies on Project Free TV

  5. bp

    The other way that most people without cable watch TV shows is through online streaming. Major networks in Canada such as CTV, MTV, CITYTV, Global- all put the latest episodes of their primetime (and often daytime) shows online for free! For some shows, the entire season is online. These stations also have apps so you can watch shows for free on ipads/smartphones.

  6. Rebecca

    I don’t know about anyone else, but be careful with US Netflix our internet bill skyrocketed when we got it, so now we just have Canadian Netflix and the computer for TV. We haven’t had cable for a few years now.

    • Dennis

      Certain internet providers enforce their usage caps. Most do not. Who is your internet provider?

      It also shouldnt matter if data is being used for US Netflix or Canadian Netflix. Internet providers count data as data

    • James

      Look for the smaller internet companies. I buy my internet through a company called Teksavvy and i pay with tax about $40 a month and have 300gb of bandwith. We watch US netflix all the time and never have exceeded our limit!

      • Mau

        +1 – I have Teksavvy and US Netflix and no problems with my bill.

  7. Sandra

    You can also get old school bunny ears. We’ve been using that for years and I don’t miss cable. I like that there are only a few channels (CTV and CBC are the only ones we really watch) to choose from because it means that if there is nothing on that is interesting I just turn the TV off and do something else. When I had cable, I would just mindlessly flick through channels without really watching anything. Now, I get small projects done, get outside – live life – as Cassie put it.

    • Dennis

      With the switch to digital, you can get a digital antennae instead of the old school rabbit ears. I get 6 free channels, including the big ones like CTV, Global, CBC, and CityTV

  8. kim

    We have not had satellite, or cable for MANY years. We also use Netflix, but we also have about 12 free channels that we got through a government sponsored program through starchoice (Although, I believe that starchoice has been bought out by another company now) Anyone can sign up for this program if you have not had satellite or cable in the last 90 days.

    • Erin

      Kim- tell us more! What exactly is this program called?! Surely it has been phased out…?!

  9. Jesse

    I haven’t had cable since I moved out of my dad’s home. Instead I pay for a decent internet package and Netflix. This way I get complete control over what my 4 year old can watch.

    As for the news, if you don’t mind being a little behind, you can stream the news hour from CTV and Global the next morning.

    • Deanna

      You can also watch CTV’s Canada am the same morning, or soon after as I am in SK and I believe it’s filmed in ON, so with the time diff, I can watch it when I get up.

  10. Erin

    We thought about getting rid of cable but if anyone in your house values watching sports then getting rid of cable would be hard. We tried for awhile but honestly my husband’s love of football couldn’t do it. He tried watching online but it wasn’t the same, and so because it’s something that he put’s a high value on we kept cable. We cut costs in other areas.

  11. Deanna

    We did this as well just over two years ago, and though hard at first (as we did watch a bit of TV and live sports/news), we now rarely miss it. We have Netflix, too, and go to most of our old favourite TV stations websites and can watch shows usually a day after they are on cable. Plus has lots of TV shows and movies and has lots of live sporting events. It’s perfect since we have a toddler and we can pause or watch what we want when we can 🙂

  12. Theresa

    I grew up without television(in the 80’s…gasp!) and I would get rid of satellite in a second. Problem is I married a diehard Leafs fan who “needs” to watch every game.

  13. teachermum

    We are at the end of Tornado Alley and I’m not sure I could live without the major networks’ feed from Detroit-while I may not watch the channels much I do turn them on during bad weather to see what warnings/watches are in effect as we get their weather next! Our local radio station is NOT reliable for such information in a timely fashion…I like knowing what is going on when the sky is green outside!

    But alas, while basic cable would suit me just fine (though I would likely spend the extra money buying DVDs of the shows I enjoy) I do not live alone….the kids (young adults) rarely watch and would find what they want online, but hubby enjoys the noise of the Pickers shows, Pawn shows, war shows etc. The TV is not on when I am home alone. We don’t watch sports…though I do watch the Olympics…that would be hard to miss! Catching clips online isn’t the same.

    I’m envious of US Netflix content but am not willing to go the illegal route. Ever hopeful they will keep improving the Canadian site…

    We had unlimited bandwith before, then it was capped and we had to be very careful but they have increased the limit twice on the package so it isn’t an issue any more. They do charge when you go over but you can check daily for your usage.

    Oh, and we have only “upped” our cable packaage as we have been able to afford it, we had only basic for quite some time (it wasn’t even available out here for many years, we had an antenna) and even now don’t have everything. Dh’s Christmas present last year was going HD…but we still have the smallest package to get that. Personally I’d be much happier if you could just choose what you want ie each channel $2/month. Hey, I can dream!

    • teachermum

      Oh, and I consider our cable bill “entertainment”, we don’t do much else in that department!

    • Karen

      I hear you on the Olympics. We have not had cable for many years, maybe six – seven years now. It is great because then we don’t just sit there and flick when we should be off doing something else. We make watching certain shows a priority and know that night what show is on.
      Although, I stopped watching most shows on the actual TV and watched them online. Global TV just came out with you needing to log in to your cable provider to watch the current show so that now sucks and most likely the other stations will follow suit as that is what is happening in the states. Global is getting a lot a flack for it and I hope they get tonnes more. Let’s buck the trend. I still get the TV station so why can’t I watch the show when I want to? Sometimes I am working when the show is on…etc.
      When it comes down to the winter OLYMPICS though we gladly get cable at an awesome price because they want you back and will give you an amazing deal for a few months. So we do that and then cancel it, although the last Olympics my husband extended it because they kept giving us the deal and that was when we realized we would just flip through the channels when we normally would be doing something else.
      Even when we had cable for the Olympics there was one time where three finals were on at the same time for three different sports (three different stations) and we flipped continuously between them all and were going nuts because being in that moment at that time was amazing especially when they were hosted in your home country. Sometimes you have to give in for just a little bit. We don’t get it for the summer Olympics though as we just don’t have the same interest. SO look and ask for the deals when the Olympics gets close and then end it. You did it before and you can do it again.

  14. Eric

    Sadly Cassie, it works for people who follow their shows in English. In Quebec, it’s always the same thing, we don’t have access to this, we can’t adhere to that. For French shows it is almost impossible to cut the cable and still be able to watch TV shows…

  15. Jamie

    I’m surprised there is no mention about using an antenna… it is clearly the most frugal option with no monthly fees (ever). It also is the easiest solution for those that still want daily, local news (in crystal clear HD!), some sports and most of the popular sitcoms too. Hook that up to a PVR (easy and free with a computer) and it’s like you still have cable. I didn’t even both with Netflix… I don’t need to spend the $100 a year, I have plenty to watch without it and it doesn’t cost a dime.

  16. Mau

    I cut the cord nearly a year ago and I love the savings! I’ve done the following:
    – I use a Roku to access Netflix and other free content sharing sites on my TV
    – I got a US IP address through HMA VPN so I get access to US Netflix content and Hulu Plus (Hulu lets you get more up to date shows a date or two after they air on TV)
    – I also built my own HD TV antenna out of cardboard and aluminum foil. It only gives me two stations, but one of them is CTV so I still get access to local news and Big Bang Theory.

    I’m so happy that I cut the cord. When I watch cable now, I get infuriated with how many commercials there are!

  17. cstoesz

    We cut our satellite just over 2 years ago. It was rough at first but I love that I now kbow what my kids are watching since they only watch movies. We had a digital tuner in our tv but we now only get ctv. If we want to watch another show we just find it online (from a non-illegal source). You can also get cables to hook the laptop to the tv if you want to but Shh, that may be my husbands christmas present.

  18. claudia howard

    I cut off netflix too…now I watch project free tv. Currently I watched “The White Queen” and now I am watching “24”. The nice thing about this is I don’t have to wait a week for the next episode and no commercials.

    • Tiffany

      Ditto – so many shows AND movies available – why pay for something free?

  19. cynthia

    You can always also just download your shows as well. That’s all we do.

  20. Di

    We have been married 25 years this week, and have only had cable for 18 months in that time frame. And only because it was included in the rent. We have NEVER missed it. We raised 3 children without it. And any time the cable guy came to the door to inform us that we do not have cable (DUH) – they left astonished that we had 3 children and no cable – we would smile and say have you ever heard of playing outside. You will never regret no cable.

  21. Gisele Minkowitz

    i cut the cable (which was satellite system) as there is no cable available in my area anyways, over 1 yr ago,went out and bought a digital set of rabbit ears for the tv(for 25$). i get 25 stations which include american network station,example abc/cbs etc. the tv station i get are over the airwaves and are FREE. I have saved myself with taxes about 74$ a month for basic service.

    • Raquel

      Hi Gisele,

      Just curious where abouts you are? I am in Vaughan, and am desperately interested in getting myself a set of rabbit ears/ antenna. I am just not sure which to get, and how many stations I will catch.

      Thanks 🙂

  22. Heather

    I would love, love, love to get rid of cable but have had a very difficult time convincing my husband to do so.

  23. Anna

    Good for you…It’s funny how people give you THAT look when you tell them you cut out cable…Like we are nuts.

    Now get ready for this…My family also cut out all cell phones years ago and have not regretted it one bit. Cell phones are NOT a necessity whatever people tell themselves.

    No cable + no cell = Healthier living + quality family time + savings

    All the Best Cassie 🙂

    • Kim

      We also got rid of our cell phones a couple years ago. Our only home phone is a magic jack, under 30 bucks a YEAR for local and long distance service. Have had it for 3 years now, LOVE IT

  24. Christine Ilott

    I cut my cable 12 years. I don’t have Netflix. I don’t even own a TV anymore. But I still watch TV. Most stations have websites. and have the latest episodes of their shows online the day after they air on TV. If it means I get it free, I can wait 24 hours!

  25. Laura

    We use a roku box. We bought it for Christmas last year and it is the best cut back we’ve made! We can stream all or favorite shows and pause and play when it’s time to walk the crazy dog. There are a ton of shows for my pre-teen too!

    • teachermum

      Which “channels” do you find the best? We just got a Roku not long ago but haven’t really explored it much. I don’t think the shows we do watch are on it though.

  26. Shawn

    We cut our cable almost 2yrs ago and watch whatever we want on line. We did get Netflix ($7.99/m) instead of our $50/m cable bill, which equals just over $500 a year.
    We tend to spend more time together as a family now instead of being glue to the TV.
    I would recommend everyone get rid of your cable.
    Best choice we ever made

  27. Jane

    I’m going to be doing it in the new year. This is the antenna I’m going to use: Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Amplified Razor Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna. My sister installed a Winegard outdoor antenna at her trailer and receives 17 stations!!! (near Fergus, ON)

  28. Colleen

    We cut our satellite bill last in March, we download programs we actually want to see without the interruptions of commercials, we also stream programs if we want. We have an external hard drive that we store all our programs and movies on and we watch those at our leisure, we are saving $100.00 a month by doing this, $1200.00 a year. I resented paying for the service and then having to watch useless commercials also. I watch very good programming on TVO and PBS as well as the other networks!

  29. NMYB

    I watch all the current shows on my iPad thru Global, CTV and CBC plus I love (but not the sexy sidebar ads). We use the money that would have been wasted on cable for our Internet service instead.

  30. Rochelle

    If this has been covered already, I’m sorry…
    My husband is a sports junkie…what about sports channels? Hockey, golf, football, baseball, etc. etc….
    Netflix is good, but what would you recommend for sports?

    • Cassie Howard

      I don’t watch sports, and my husband only watches hockey, but can live without it. I’m pretty sure he said you can watch it online for free somewhere, but I don’t recall where.

    • Jane

      Do an internet search. I don’t watch sports, but have read about a number of ways to get around this. If I remember where I read this, I’ll post again. lol

  31. Darla

    You forgot a Roku box and using HULU…I am cutting Cable cause it’s boring and horrible.

  32. Jill

    I was suprise that after we cut cable my husband selected an ”autoprogram” feature from the settings menu on our tv and it was able to unscramble quite a few channels. He said it works on most new flat screen TVs. For our tv we had to plug the cable in. Then check the through settings until you find autoprogram. I seriously couldn’t believe it worked.. but it did and we get over 30 channels.

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