Cut your Cable Bill, Save Money, and Get Healthy…
This is a brief explanation of my journey to cut the cable television bill and save myself a lot of money and maybe even something more precious…time. I live in the Utah metro city area and so should have access to a lot of good HD channels. So after much thought and deliberation I gave it a go.
So here is a great experience that I want to share with you. And believe me this story shocked me just as much as it may shock you. You see I was an avid sports watcher, and loved the movies and tons of viewing options I got with cable. But I usually found myself only watching sports on the major networks and when I watched movies they were usually ones I have seen before.
Then I realized I was spending a lot of hours watching TV. I mean a lot of hours and I was paying the cable company over $180 dollars a month for the privilege. So I finally decided to quit, believe me it wasn’t easy. So this is my story of how I decided to quit, what I did to replace the cable channels, and how much I saved.
How I Made The Decision To Quit…
This was not an easy decision to make. It was made a lot easier since the sports season was winding down and football was over. Then I sat down and took stock of my life and asked myself how much television was I watching. Then I got online and searched to see how many successful people watched TV and how much. I was surprised to find out that it was very little.
Even less when you consider most of them just watched the cliff notes (excerpts of their favorite shows) or recorded it then fast forwarded it. Then it dawned on me..I was watching to much TV and sitting around watching my life away. I also realized that successful people watched things online on laptops on phones in times where they couldn’t possible do something useful.
Even as I write this article I am watching a complete season of Burn Notice: The Complete Series on Netflix. Its great I am being productive and receiving content through some kind of weird TV osmosis. I think it is the new way of life now days, to be able to be productive while streaming pleasurable content.
Then I looked at my cable bill and I realized with all the money I spend I could do a lot of things. For instance I could buy two new overhead garage storage racks for my garage. Then I realized I could get some more of the things I wanted and have more time for me. So I unplugged my cable box and marched my equipment down to the cable company. Boy, at the time you thought I was going to the dentist for a root canal.
How I Replaced My Cable…
So when I took the cable stuff back to the cable company they were quite surprised. I guess they don’t get much returns. She asked me why I wanted to return all of this stuff and I simply stated,” because I can get it for free”. She then told me about their great bundle packages and how much I was getting for only the couple hundred dollars a month they were taking from me.
I said I would give it serious consideration (yeah right), but for now, I want to give this the old college try. So I walked out of there with a pink slip (a literal pink piece of paper) saying I quit the cable company and a new modem (I kept the internet because they were the fastest in town), and a wonder in my belly if I did the right thing. So then I immediately went down to Costco and bought an HD antenna for $39.99 plus tax. Yep that’s it, a one time fee, not an every month charge nearly triple that.
So what antenna should you buy?
Basically there are only two good antenna choices for the Salt Lake City, UT area (basically from Provo to Logan) they are from Mohu and Winegard. Both have been tested in our area and have consistently picked up all the needed channels. Make sure you have a digital tuner built into your TV. All television sets manufactured after 2007 have these. If your TV was made before that or is an analog TV then never fear you can get a digital converter box and still get HD channels. For more information see the FCC website.
My First Choice:
I went with the Winegard FL5500A FlatWave Amplified Razor Thin HDTV Indoor Antenna. Basically I wanted the extra range of 50 miles and it was at Costco for $39.99. Here are the specs for it:
Enhanced dual band antenna features state of the art ultra low noise pre-amplifier embedded directly at the elements, where 100% of the signal is amplified. Innovative USB power supply provides energy savings by only consuming power while the TV is powered on.
Amplified HDTV reception up to 50 miles | Revolutionary Clear Circuit Technology™ provides ultra low noise figure – 1.0 dB | Receives more channels | Minimizes pixelation and dropouts | Extra long mini coax makes finding the ideal location easy | Dual band reception means you don’t miss out on channels that other compact UHF-only antennas do.
My Second Choice:
The other great alternative that works good is the Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. In reading the reviews I have seen there is really no difference between the regular and amplified version. So with a difference of $20.00 or more I would probably save the money.
See more about the manufacturer here: The Mohu Leaf® is the original, best performing, and most popular paper-thin antenna on the market! The patent pending Leaf indoor TV antenna is a paper thin antenna that connects to your TV and mounts on the wall, behind a picture, or just about anywhere to enable you to receive free over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts.
Most popular and best rated indoor antenna on the market | The Leaf Indoor Antenna is proudly made in the USA | The original paper-thin antenna modeled after an innovative discrete mud flap antenna designed for the US Military | Reversible and paintable to match decor | Easy to install | 10 ft. high performance cable included | Multi-directional: No “pointing” needed | 35 mile range | 1 year part and labor warranty
The Installation Process
This was probably the easiest thing I had to do over this whole process. The antenna comes with a coax cable attached to it a small box a couple of feet from the connection, a USB cable and power supply. The amplifier is very small and can be powered by a USB port on the TV or you can plug the USB plug into the power supply. There is two pieces of mounting tape from 3M and the antenna is reversible in black or white.
Opening the Box:
When opening the box all was well in order and packaged nicely. I really did not have to even read the instructions although I did read them at a quick glance. It seemed straight forward, install the antenna on the wall or glass of a nearby window, there is enough cord to go pretty far. Plug the cable into the antenna or cable port on the back of the TV and plug in the power supply.
Mounting the Antenna:
I chose to install the antenna on the wall about eight feet above the floor at the top of the TV cabinet. I used the included double sided tape and just stuck it up there with the white side facing out to match the wall. It installed easily and blends in well with the wall. I really did not know if this was the best place to get the best signal but hey I figured it was high and out of the way. Now I even forget it is there. I then ran the cable through the back of the cabinet to the TV.
Connecting it to the Television:
I screwed the coaxial cable into the antenna connector in the back of the TV. This is normally the same cable from your antenna or cable box. Make sure it is screwed all the way in and tight. If you don’t have an amplified version of the antenna then you are pretty much done. If you bought the amplified model then see below.
Power it Up:
I then plugged the USB cable directly in to the TV, but then I thought what if I ever wanted to use that. So I decided to use the included power adapter with USB port and plugged the cable into that and plugged that into the power strip. See the white connector on the top. After this I moved all the cable in to the back so you couldn’t see them and placed the TV back into the cabinet. Next you need to scan for channels.
Scan for the Local Channels:
Next you need to scan for the channels that you can access with your new HD antenna. Below is a list of the available channels and there designation in the Salt Lake Area. I got mostly all of them with my antenna and a few more not on the list. Go to the setup in you menu by normally pressing the menu button on the remote.
Make sure the signal type is set to antenna then scroll down to the channel scan and press ok. You should now be scanning for channels, on some TVs this can take a while. Once done it should show you how many it found. Once you exit out of their you should be able to scroll through all of your beautiful channels in stunning High Definition.
Here is the available channel list in Salt Lake City, Utah. Remember HD channels have a new format so don’t be alarmed when your new channels show up as 2.1 or 4.2 or even 13.5 that is normal.These are sub-channels of the same signal which allows stations to send one digital signal and multicast several programs in the same signal at the same time.
Salt Lake City, UT DMA RANK 31
KBYU-TV PBS 11 44
KCBU RTN 3 11
KCSG IND 4 14
KENV NBC 10 10
KGWR-TV CBS 13 13
KJZZ-TV MYTV 14 46
KPNZ IND 24 24
KSL-TV NBC 5 38
KSTU FOX 13 28
KTMW IND 20 20
KTVX ABC 4 40
KUCW CW 30 48
KUED PBS 7 42
KUEN PBS 9 36
KUES PBS 19 19
KUEW PBS 18
KUPX ION 16 29
KUSG CBS 12 9
KUTF IND 12 12
KUTH UNIVISION 32 32
KUTV CBS 2 34
KVNV NBC 3 3
So How Much Did I Save?
Well in the end I would say a lot. Considering I have had cable for almost seven years. And I believe as many predict that the future is not in cable but internet and streaming TV. The savings are well, broken down below…
My cable bill with internet, phone, and HD digital package was about $165.00 if I added the upgraded DVR it was close to $180.00 a month. On top of that I already owned the smallest Netflix package for streaming video. So I got rid of the basically the TV portion and the Phone and kept the internet. I upgraded the internet to the fastest speed with a blast service and get about 50 Mbps download speeds. Fast enough so everyone in the home can be streaming. And the numbers are in…
$180.00 a month for cable, internet, and phone or $2160.00 annually.
$8.95 a month for Netflix service or $107.40 annually.
TOTAL $189.95 per month or $2279.40 annually.
And now I pay only for the Internet service, Netflix and Vonage for the phone service.
$75.00 per month for 50 Mbps for Internet or $900.00 annually
$8.95 per month for Netflix or $107.40 annually
$12.95 per month for Vonage or $155.40 annually
TOTAL $96.90 per month or $1162.80 annually
I save almost 50% each and every month. $93.90 per month in extra income or $1116.60 annually. Enough for a Disneyland Trip, Overhead Garage Storage Racks, a new TV, or I can add to the budget, use it to get out of debt. And to tell you the truth I have not missed TV at all. I read more, do some hobbies, and find other things to fill my time. So if you want my advice, then do what you feel is right, but I could not imagine going back and throwing money away like that.
If you do not have a Smart TV you can stream a lot of different movies and TV shows for free or a low monthly cost through a new Smart Blu-Ray player, TV box device like Roku or AppleTV, or a game system like a PS3 or Xbox.
A word about some other great services to stream video:
Hulu and HuluPlus are great sources of streaming video – one is free and the other a paid subscription of $7.99 per month. Hulu Plus offers current season TV shows (not all current episodes) but if you are a hardcore TV watcher this is a great alternative
Crackle.com – great movie and TV show site but has a lot of ads and only shows older movies. Although they have some of their own programming.
Amazon Prime members can get streaming movies and TV shows but it is almost a clone of Netflix. But it is free if you are an Amazon Prime member.
Redbox – I got an email from them stating you can get their new streaming service and 4 free monthly red box rental all for about $8.00 a month. This is not a bad deal since Blockbuster closed in our area and we rent at Redbox a lot.
Some other great sites are Youtube, CinemaNow.com, Ted,com, and there are a lot lot more. Hey thanks for listening and I hope you found this article helpful. I look forward to writing other articles in the future.