Posted on

How I Saved $828 A Year On My Cable TV Bill

“Your promotional rate is expiring, but your savings will continue,” boldly proclaimed the headline on my letter from the cable company.

So that I could “keep enjoying the same services [I] have now,” my preferred rate would increase by $22.75 per month – or an additional $273 a year.  For the SAME services.

The new discounted rate still offered a huge savings off their standard retail prices, said the form letter.

It’s an acrobatic performance you and I go through every year.

The cable company increases your fees.  You call customer service, spend 30-plus minutes on hold, speak to an agent, and negotiate a better monthly rate – sometimes even getting a better deal than what you originally had.

This year, I decided enough was enough.

I’ve gotten tired of haggling over rising cable costs every year – considering that I seldom watch TV.  During the fall and spring, I regularly watch about three shows.  All of them are on broadcast television, which I can receive free of charge with my over-the-air antenna.

Cut Cable TVSo I decided to cut the cord.

With the proliferation of content available online via the Internet, combined with the basic channels that can be picked up with an over-the-air antenna, I found that I can save $69 a month or $828 a year by cancelling my cable TV service and going strictly online.

Many of my clients express the same frustration about rising cable prices, but don’t know what alternative options they have or how to go about setting it up.  Let me share with you some insight.

Before you cut the cable, you need to do your homework.

First, you need to have a reliable high-speed Internet connection.  I recommend at least a 10Mbps or faster connection.  Cable Internet is preferred, although you may receive decent quality with a fast enough DSL option.

Second, you need to compile a list of what shows you want to watch and what channels they are on.  This is important because not all stations and shows available on cable television can be accessed via online-only providers.

Third, you need to realize that you’ll lose access to DVR capability.  Depending on what stations and shows you watch, some past content is available online without the need for a DVR.

Finally, you need to thoroughly calculate the costs associated with the alternative options to make sure it really is a better deal than your current cable TV rate.

So what options are available?

OVER-THE-AIR ANTENNA

Many homes in our community still have freestanding antennas situated next to them.  These can pick up your local network stations such as NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, WNIN, and more at no charge.

Most of these stations are available in HD (high-definition) so the picture and sound quality is very close to what you have on cable television.

If you don’t have an external antenna tower, you can easily install a digital antenna to pick up these stations.

SLING TV

Dish Network offers an affordable online service called Sling TV.  It offers you 22 popular channels that can be watched live for only $20 a month. (www.sling.com)

Available channels include ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, TBS, Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS, and The Travel Channel.

They also offer add-on packages for as little as $5 a month giving you extra channels of a specific kind.

To get Sling TV, you will need either an Amazon Fire TV player or a Roku LT box.

HULU PLUS

Hulu offers the largest array of current TV shows and movies of online providers, with new episodes added daily.  It’s not live content, but usually the latest shows are added within one to two days after airing. (www.hulu.com)

Hulu Plus is only $7.99 per month.

You can watch Hulu Plus directly on a Smart TV or on an Amazon Fire TV box.

NETFLIX

If you’re an aficionado of older movies and television shows, Netflix offers a wealth of great entertainment.  Netflix doesn’t offer live content nor does it include the episodes from the current season of most TV shows. (www.netflix.com)

Prices start at $7.99 per month for the streaming plan, although I’d recommend the $8.99 a month plan to get HD content.

If you’re tired of rising cable prices, open to modifying your viewing habits, and willing to spend time exploring what’s available online, you may be able to save some of your hard-earned money by cutting the cord.

While the ultimate decision lies with you, I would be more than happy to schedule an appointment to explore your options to help you reach an informed decision.

Posted on

Master or Slave: 4 Ways Technology Ruins Our Lives

“Technology is a queer thing.  It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other,” jokes stand-up comedian and comic writer Carrie Snow.

Her observation is spot on.  I would even assert that technology is ruining our lives – at least in some ways.  I know this may sound strange coming from a person whose livelihood comes from computers, but hear me out.  I believe you will agree.

Slave To TechnologyTechnology consumes us.

Next time you’re in a crowded public place, complete this assignment:  Count the number of people with faces buried in their cell phones or tablets versus the number of people who do not.

You already know how the results will return.

If we lived in New York, Chicago or LA, we’d observe people every hour of every day running into others and almost getting hit by oncoming traffic because they are consumed by their technology and not paying attention to their surroundings.

It used to be when we left for vacation, it was a time to relax, unwind, and get away from the normal routine.  Now we pack up our laptops, tablets and cell phones as if they were equal members of the family.  We’ll board our pets for a week, but if the cell phone got left behind, we’d drive an hour back to the house to retrieve it.

Spring and summer evenings with delightful weather to enjoy the outdoors with our family getting much needed exercise takes a back seat to sitting on the couch, tablet or laptop in hand catching up on the latest Facebook gossip.

Technology has brought an all-consuming fear into our lives – the fear of missing out.

Technology is destroying our ability to truly communicate.

Remember what the ring of an incoming call on your house phone sounded like?  Neither do I!

Now it’s buzzes, beeps, cutesy sounds, and even full-length songs alerting us to an incoming communication.  But seldom is it VERBAL communication.

Teenagers, even adults, living in the same house – sometimes sitting next to each other! – send a text message rather than utilize their vocal cords to ask a question or make a statement.

Why do you think most cell phone carriers now offer unlimited calling on most plans?  It used to be that you had so many minutes per month for voice calls.  That restriction has been lifted because people don’t call as much as they text, tweet, Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.  (Thus, they now limit your data usage.)

Technology encourages us to be lazy.

Can you name the 5 Great Lakes?  Believe it or not, many people can’t without having to do a Google search.

Our smartphones store the phone numbers of our friends and family so that we have no idea what someone’s phone number is when asked.  Many don’t even know their OWN phone numbers.

Heaven forbid we pick up the shrinking tome called a phone book to look up the number for that business we’re trying to reach!

Facebook reminds us every morning who has a birthday and prompts us to scribble a “Happy Birthday” message on their wall.  This takes the place of driving to the store, perusing the assortment of cards until we find just the right one, purchasing it, writing a personalized note inside, buying a stamp, affixing it to the envelope we handwrite the address on, and dropping it in the mail.

Performing legitimate research has been greatly improved by technology and the Internet.  But we’ve allowed it to “dumb us down” to the point where we’ve become dependent upon it rather than the world’s most powerful supercomputer – our brains.

(By the way, the names of the Great Lakes can be easily remembered using the HOMES acronym – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.)

Technology keeps us from living life.

One blogger wrote, “If it isn’t Instagram, it’s YouTube.  If it isn’t Facebook, it’s Twitter.  We’re all blogging and posting and uploading, but how many of us are actually living?  On the plus side, our grandchildren will have an abundance of pictures to remember us by.  But how much nostalgia can you get from a photo of the meal you had last Tuesday?  In the words of comedian Louis CK, ‘life is the best HD experience you will get.’”

Every day is a gift.  Time spent can never be regained.  It would be a shame if at the end of our lives we said, “I wish I would have experienced the awesomeness of life more fully instead of wasting it away always consumed in my electronic gadgets.”

While technology affords us great benefits and opportunities, we must make it our slave rather than succumb to its mastery.

We must be more like Steve Jobs, as illustrated in this story from the September 10, 2014, New York Times article:

“So, your kids must love the iPad?”  writer Nick Bilton asked Jobs.  The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves.

“They haven’t used it,” he told Bilton.  “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”