Cutting the Cord on Cable

When we renewed our cable service two years ago, my husband and I halfheartedly discussed cutting the cord. We weren’t really prepared at the time, so we decided to give it some more thought and make a decision when our new contract expired. This year, we decided to go for it, knowing that we could always change our minds. It’s been a couple of weeks now and the transition has been mostly seamless.

Prep Work
I used Grounded Reason as my main resource for finding the best internet only service provider for us. In our area, Verizon Fios offers a $39.99 monthly option with 50/50 internet speeds. It’s the same speed we had previously and works for us because we usually stream on max one device at a time, and at most we might have two devices being used for web browsing.

In preparation for possibly cutting the cord, I subscribed to Hulu back in December when they were running a $12 for one year promotion. That's $1 a month for 12 months. This plan does entail watching some commercials, but I don’t mind at all because it gives me time to grab a drink or read a short article on my phone.

Cable Alternatives ... For Kids
We estimated that we would save about $100 a month from switching to an internet only plan, and could apply these savings to media purchases, if we wanted. My husband has talked about getting an antennae for the house in order to pick up local stations, but we haven’t done anything on that front yet. What I have purchased, in addition to our Hulu subscription, is a season of Blaze and the Monster Machines for my kids. You could watch this on the Nick Jr. website, but they limit your viewing to one free full episode at a time, and they definitely don’t put up new episodes every day.

We’ve also taken to borrowing DVDs from the library. They have a good selection, and we can reserve titles from other Westchester libraries online for pick-up at our local branch. The downside with this is a lot of the DVDs are scratched and skip.

Our library also gives us access to Hoopla, which has lots of kids shows you can borrow. You’re limited to 5 loans a month, but if your spouse and two kids have library cards, that increases it to 20. Between buying shows ourselves, borrowing DVDs from the library, Amazon Prime (which we already had), and Hoopla, our kids’ viewing needs are covered and we've only spent $10 on media purchases so far this month.

... For Me
I didn’t really watch anything on TV when we had cable. The one show I like, Rick and Morty, is on Cartoon Network, which we didn’t get as part of our cable package. I would turn on the TV mostly because it was there, and put it on MSNBC or QVC to have it on the background while I multi-tasked. As an unexpected bonus, Rick and Morty is available on Hulu, so I have caught up on the two seasons I missed.

... For My Husband
Hulu has all of the non-animated shows my husband enjoys, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Elementary, and Lethal Weapon. He also likes to watch some cartoons in the Star Wars and Marvel realms, and I don’t think he’s figured out how to access them yet, but it’s not really a big deal because he has gotten into other shows that are available at the library. He also remarked to me yesterday how cutting the cord has been awesome. The other thing he’s figuring out is how to watch sports. I think the antennae will address most of this, and we have a Slingbox that we can use to watch games from his parents’ TV.

Lessons Learned
One of the things I learned is that it would have been good to have some shows ready for the kids before we cut the cord. Those first few days, I hadn’t purchased any shows and we didn’t have any DVDs from the library. We were mostly relying on the Nick Jr. and Disney websites, which had limited options and the kids started questioning why we got rid of cable. They soon got on board after we secured provisions.

Another lesson learned was that we didn’t actually have to wait until our contract was up to switch to an internet only plan. At least with Verizon Fios, we are allowed to upgrade or downgrade our service at any time without any cancellation fees. We just have to keep buying something from them for the duration of the contract.

Although it can take some time, it’s helpful to call Verizon more than once and talk to different customer service representatives. I spoke with 3 representatives, and they gave me different information. One representative said that a $39.99 internet only plan wasn’t available, but upon further investigation, he found out I could get it if I upgraded to 100/100 speeds, which would have involved a service call to my home for $99. Another representative told me I could pay $39.99 for the 50/50 speeds, but I would have to enroll for auto-pay with a checking account, rather than the credit card I was using at the time ... this wound up being correct.

In Conclusion
It all worked out and I feel lighter, freed from unnecessary baggage. The cost savings were even greater than I expected because the extra surcharges and fees on our internet only plan is minimal compared to our previous triple play package of cable, phone, and internet. We didn’t really think too hard about the decision before we cut the cord, but it was a solid move and we’re all happy with how it turned out.


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