How one family is adjusting to life without cable TV

Lee Nelson
April 21, 2014
How one family is adjusting to life without cable TV

The Franks of Buffalo, New York, are very frugal in their financial decisions.

So, in the spring of 2013, after having cable television for many years, they decided it was time to cut the cable cord. They did it to save money and have more control over how they spent their time.

"We cut cable from our lives not so much for monetary savings - even though it's upwards of $100 a month - it was taking back our time. When you think about where you can cut corners, we definitely decided we can go without cable," says Cristin Frank, founder of Eve of Reduction, a blog about frugal living.

Cristin and her husband, Patrick, both 39, and their sons, ages 8 and 10, have all adjusted to life without cable. Here's how they're doing it…

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Cutting the Cord

"When we became fed up with watching shows that were 30 percent commercials - an hour show with 18 minutes of commercials - we made the decision quickly," says Cristin.

The more the family talked about the needs and wants, they decided that cable really wasn't something they needed. They hesitated for a while to drop service because it's just such a big change, and her husband didn't want to give up live sports on cable. But after awhile, he decided to forego the luxury to help his family save money.

So in March 2013, the Franks called Time Warner Cable and dropped their home phone and cable from their triple play package. They didn't have to pay a termination fee because they were not locked into a contract.

"I don't remember Time Warner trying to give us a deal. It was a quick phone call," she says. "I was very decisive about what I wanted."

The family still kept what Time Warner calls "Turbo" Internet, and "it's plenty fast enough for our needs," Cristin says.

They now only pay for Internet from the cable company for $50 a month. With the triple play, they paid a little over $150 for Internet, cable, and home phone, bringing their savings to $100 a month, or $1,200 a year.

The one thing that kept the family from dropping cable so long was the live sports. Her husband liked watching the playoffs in football and hockey.

"I wouldn't put him in the category of a diehard fan. But if he wants to watch something, he can call up a buddy and go to his house to watch it," says Cristin.

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Finding New Sources of Entertainment

One of the first decisions the family made after they dropped cable was to buy a $100 Apple TV streaming box.

 "You can get the streaming boxes for cheaper. But we wanted a good one, and it was a one-time purchase," Cristin says.

The family also replaced an older television with a Smart TV that cost $500. That way, they were able to have two televisions that could stream Internet content in different parts of the house (without having to buy two different boxes).

"You don't need a streaming apparatus for the Smart TV. It just uses Wi-Fi and can stream Netflix without a box," she says.

After getting their TV and box set up, they got a Netflix account for $7.99 a month. "That's super cheap. It's less than $10, and there is a ton of stuff on it with unlimited streaming," she says.

"Even with buying the television and the Apple TV equipment, we are already saving money by cutting  cable," says Cristin. "Plus, we don't have to see commercials on Netflix. That saves you a lot of time."

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Filling their Void with Netflix

By streaming Internet content with Netflix, the family members pick what they want to watch and when they want to watch it, she says. They aren't waiting around on a Thursday night waiting for their favorite show to come on.

The family also tried out free trial subscriptions to Hulu and Amazon Prime, but felt Netflix aligned best with their entertainment needs.

"Hulu had mostly shows we were not interested in - such as more celebrity and reality TV-type shows. Amazon Prime was a huge tease. Anything you'd really want to watch was an extra charge," she says.

And while her husband has missed watching the AMC series, "The Walking Dead," he's kept himself busy with Netflix's original series "House of Cards," which has been pretty good, Cristin says.

Her sons have also taken a liking to Netflix due to the variety of shows available. Cristin and her husband are also at ease knowing that they can control what the kids watch on Netflix through the master dashboard, which keeps tracks of recently watched shows.

"As a parent, the kids can't get away with watching something they shouldn't. I know everything they watch. That's a great advantage with cutting cable," she says.

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