Recently I mentioned in a post that my family was able to cut out our cable bill, but we continue to watch our favorite shows and movies for under $10 a month.  I had quite a few comments and emails requesting more information on this, so I’ll let you all know how we do it.

First Step: With the new regulations for over the air broadcasting in place, many of us can get local channels absolutely free and in high definition.  If you have an older television, you will need to buy a Digital Converter Box and antenna.  If you have a newer television that has the digital tuner in place, then all you will need to get is an antenna.

We bought this Antennas Direct DB2 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna on Amazon for $36.98, and have been very happy with it. My husband installed it on the roof (should only be done by professionals, do not attempt), and we get 18 channels absolutely free! Of course, this is minus the cost of the antenna. We get ABC, FOX, QUBO, The CW, CBS, and that’s just naming a few.  It will vary by location.  The following links will show the channels available by location:

Reception Map from the FCC

List of Stations Broadcasting by Area

By completing the first step, the financial cost is anywhere from $30-$80 by getting a converter box and antenna (remember newer TVs don’t require the converter box).

Second Step: Assuming you have an internet connection (if you are viewing this site, I’m hopeful that you do), you will want to sign up with a subscription to Netflix.  Netflix can be streamed live to your TV with an internet connection, so that you can watch many things instantly.  For under $10 a month ($8.99/mo to be specific), you will also get 1 DVD out at a time.

Equipment needed to stream to your TV (any one of the following):

  • VGA, DVI, S-Video or HDMI cable, depending on what your computer and TV have.  This way you can run Netflix straight to your TV from your computer.
  • Playstation 3, XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii (Netflix will be released to the Wii in the Spring of 2010), or a Blu-Ray Player (look for a Blue-Ray player with the Netflix logo on the box).  All of these currently have (save the Wii, which happens this spring) a feature that allows you to view your Netflix Instant Queue, and stream movies and shows to your TV.
  • Certain internet ready HDTVs will also do this.

Netflix has thousands of shows and movies available to watch instantly.  You will never lack for something great to watch with a plan on Netflix.  Currently in our Instant Queue are some great titles like Wall-E, Monsters Inc., Bolt, LOST Seasons 1-5, The Princess Bride, From Here to Eternity, Blue’s Clues Seasons 1-2, Thomas and Friends Movies (several of them), Mythbusters Seasons 1-4, Survivorman, Man vs. Wild, Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, Farscape Seasons 1-3, Serendipity and so many more that I don’t even have time to list them all. And I’m just speaking about what we added to stream to TV.  This is what Netflix Instant Queue looks like on our TV run through our Blu-Ray player (click to enlarge):

Third Step: If you are still unable to find some of your favorite shows with steps one and two, it’s time to check out Hulu.com and your favorite show’s website.  I’ve spoken about Hulu before, and think it is a wonderful free resource.  LOST is viewable on Hulu the day after it airs on TV, as are many other shows.  Shows like House, Monk, 24, The Bachelor, Saturday Night Live, Legend of the Seeker, 30 Rock, The Office, Bones, Fringe and more (these are not shows that I necessarily watch or recommend; I merely mention them as examples).  Hulu doesn’t have everything, but they do have a good majority of shows.  Survivor is one show they do not have, but I can still watch the Survivor episodes on the CBS website if I decide to not watch it on TV with my free HD programming.

With having free over the air streaming of HD, Netflix and websites like Hulu, we are able to watch all of our favorite shows and only spend the monthly Netflix fee.   Cable used to cost us $50-$60 a month (for the small plan!) after all the fees.  So even after initially paying for an antenna, we are saving a significant amount of money and still watching our favorites.

Drawbacks:

There may end up being those one or two shows that you end up not being able to get.  You may have to wait for Netflix to have the seasons available, so you can’t watch your shows when they first air.   One of my husband’s favorite shows is Mythbusters, and we were sad to loose this when we cut cable.  But we decided one show was not worth $50-$60 a month.  Another drawback is that sometimes the channels don’t come in perfect all the time.  It is digital HD programming coming through an antenna, which storms and winds can interfere with. However, there are indoor antennas that can be purchased.

The Bright Side:

If our bill was exactly $50 a month, that’s $600 we would spend on cable for one year.  Can you imagine spending $600 just to watch one or two favorite shows?  We could buy all the seasons of Mythbusters for that price, and still have money left over! But fortunately, we found that Netflix has a few seasons of Mythbusters available for live streaming.  And when the new season is released, we can order that one!

Disclaimer:

This strategy may not work for everyone, but if you want to save some significant cash ($600 a year or more!!), this is how you can do it. Everyone just needs to decide what is important:  Having that extra $40-$50 a month for food and other necessities, or spending that on something you can essentially get for under $10 a month!

Tip: Netflix offers a 2 week free trial.  If you go to the Ebates website and order through their link, you will earn a $13 cash back rebate, essentially making your first month and a half of Netflix absolutely FREE!!

This strategy has worked for my family, but I would love to hear your thoughts!  What do you think about this plan, and are there any things that you do to significantly decrease your costs on TV and movie watching?