in Personal

Looking to save a little cash? Cut the cable!

For the 6 years I was in college for undergrad and graduate work – I had Comcast Cable as my broadband and cable provider. I didnt have many problems with them – the service was generally good, the modem speeds were fast, and things werent too bad – except the bill each month was around $100 for the standard cable package (no digital content, DVR, etc.) with 6.0 Mb broadband. Well, when I moved to Tennessee to start my new job, I decided I was going to cut the cable and try going without Comcast for a while. I still needed internet of course, so I looked around and BellSouth has a 3.0 Mb DSL package that I decided to go withsure, its a little slower, but its also a little cheaper. The main reason I dont care about speed is this: if you actually watch the total amount of bandwidth that youre using at home on your high speed internet, Im betting you would see that youre not getting anywhere close to 6.0 Mb/s or higher. Sometimes you might be, but most of the time, your download speed is going to be limited much more by the server that has the content you want than your actual connection. I really hadnt given it much thought until recently, but now that Ive looked into the issue, I really wasnt getting that much extra bang for my buck with the faster connection. In fact, I can hardly notice the difference at all even though I cut my speed in half.
As far as the actual TV shows, I still get those, I just dont pay for them anymorebut its still legal. How can I do this? Simple, just go to your local discount store and buy a nice antenna to put next to your TV. Mine cost around $30 and has a built-in signal booster and HDTV reception (although I dont have an HDTV so it doesnt help). You may have to fiddle with it a bit to get everything positioned properly, but when you do, you should be able to get the major channels like FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC without much trouble. Sure, I miss Sci-Fi, Cartoon Network, Discovery (and related channels), HGTV, etc – but now I can still see several of the shows I like (e.g. House is great if you havent seen it), but I dont lose the $50 a month on cable programming. In addition to the cost savings, I also have more time nowits less tempting to plop down in front of the TV and chill out if you dont have many channels – Ill sit down and watch a show or two when something I really want to see if going to be on, but I dont just flip through the channels anymore just to find a show to waste time – so Im actually making myself a bit more productive this way too.
In the end, my total cable / broadband bill went from right at $100 to about $40 – I still have about the same level of quality and speed for my broadband service, still watch most of the key shows I enjoyed on TV before, and I have $60 more per month that I can use as I see fit. Of course, I did have to buy the antenna, but to hook cable up here would have cost at least that much – for cable and Comcast broadband, I was looking at a connect charge of over $100 right there (mainly because I would be required to have my cable modem professionally installed here for some reason and thats a $99 charge alone last time I checked). So far, Im very happy with my choice – I think my family was more upset with it than anything because they like to watch TV when they come and visit, but I think they have even been able to find enough to watch on the few channels I have that its not as much a problem as either of us thought it would be. So if youve been thinking about ditching cable, my suggestion is to try it for a bit (but be aware of the costs to reconnect it should you decide to disconnect and then have it hooked back up – the best time to try this is when youre moving since youll have to disconnect and reconnect anyway).