You may be asking yourself… “Wait…2020? Why didn’t you cut the cord like every other millennial 10 years ago?”
Short answer – We did.
Long answer, we cut the cord way back in 2011 in our first apartment, living off of just the digital equivalent of Ramen noodles – 25 mbps Internet, Netflix, and some over-the-air local channels. The internet package at the time was $60 per month plus a $5 per month rental fee on the modem and a Netflix subscription, which at the time was $7.99 a month. Life was good.
Grand total… we were looking at a little under $75 per month.
Fast forward to 2017 and there we were… signing up for a cable & internet bundle!
You..what?! What changed?
We moved to our first home! Yay! Home ownership!
The not so good news was we found out that our previous internet provider was just out of reach, we are talking a less than a mile outside of their coverage map. When asked if they would come our way we were told it would cost a “over a million dollars” to run lines to our area…
So, we begrudgingly had to start shopping around comparing the whole 1 cable provider, 1 DSL provider, and 1 Satellite provider that had service in our area. Like comparing Apples to Apples right? Not quite. The DSL provider had a terrible reputation for quality and the Satellite provider required an ugly dish and a monthly data cap of 100 Gb! That may sound like a lot, but not so… as our average monthly data usage currently is over 400 Gb. So Satellite was out. Who was left?
They were offering a sweet deal on an internet/cable combo for $55 per month “for the first 12 months.” Too good to pass up.
…and before you know it we are waiting for the installation. It took about a week and when the first technician showed up it was what you’d expect, he said he didn’t have the right tools he “needed” and said he would “be right back.”
He never came back.
So my wife and I had a cynical laugh, called “the cable company” and had to arrange another on-site visit another 5 days later.
Fortunately the next install guy was awesome! Extremely friendly and helpful in the whole process of setting up our own modem and router, where to locate it in the house, and how to use a cable box we haven’t had to operate it 5 plus years.
Having super fast internet, to us, a whole 150 mbps was sweet and having one of those remotes that you can speak into was pretty neat. I have a soft spot for techy things.
After the technician left we soon realized that the $55 per month was not really $55 per month.
“High Definition” service was not included, there was an extra $10 monthly fee for that… in the year… 2017. As well as another $12 per month in taxes and other fees. Thankfully we supplied our own modem and router which saved us another $10 per month in fees.
The actual grand total came to a little under $80 per month, a 45% higher price tag that we originally planned.
Overall we were happy with the service and the first 12 months flew by. Soon 2018 came around and the cable bill did it’s first jump to $99.50, up almost 30%. Alright, we were under contract… it is what it is, we were still happy with the service.
Fast forward to 2019, 2 year contract is over and the bill jumps again to $126 per month, another 25% plus increase.
At this point we just laughed and said okay this is over. We started looking back into cutting the cord.
Clever Gir..Cable Company
Cable companies have gotten smarter regarding the whole “cut the cord” movement in the last few years and are doing all in their power to limit that reduction in revenue by pricing their “internet only” packages to be only a “few” dollars less than a “bundled service”.
As an existing customer we had to jump through hoops to see what the “internet only” prices even were. Information is no longer available for existing customers on pricing online from the big cable company directly, only promo deals for new customers. We had to go to our local cable store to find out what the prices were for existing customers.
Just as I said earlier… we were told, “Oh, where do you live? Oh hmm… well if you just want internet its only going to be a few bucks cheaper than what your currently paying….”
How is that even possible?
Alright, so we had to look into lower tier internet packages to bring the cost down. The lowest tier service was pitiful for 2019, $35 for 15 mbps download and 1 mbps upload, not very useful for a household full of streaming internet connect devices.
The next tier up was for 120 mbps (Updated 1/5/19 – the “cable company” upgraded this package from the original 60 mbps) download and 6 mbps up for $75, doable and no additional fees. We turned in the cable box, remote, and we were on our way to internet only living again.
So many choices…
So the internet streaming landscape has changed quite a bit since we first cut the cord in 2011.
There seems to be dozens of streaming choices to choose from! Not only are there more choices than ever, the costs to stream has changed as well.
Wow… we are looking at big bucks to have access to many (not all) options currently available.
Wait it gets better… each service has their own “anchor” show(s) that no other platform can carry, creating an incentive to subscribe to their service.
Remember HBO and a little show called “Game of Thrones”?
Just look at what Disney and Netflix are doing. In the past, Netflix had access to the Marvel franchise including the movies and Marvel branded TV series, creating an incentive for consumers to subscribe and gain unlimited access to an incredible brand that appeals to all ages.
Well, not too long ago Disney decided they wanted a bigger portion of the streaming pie and have come out with their own streaming service Disney+ while not renewing Netflix’s rights to Disney products. Ouch. Good for Disney, bad for consumers.
So when you start adding up all the great shows you watch and all the different services you need to do it… things are starting to look a little pricey again.
But, unlike cable you ultimately have a more of a voice and choice on what you really want to pay for.
What we did…
For our household we wanted to improve the cable experience we previously had.
We had a few channels that are our favorites, such as the History, Discovery, Comedy Central,and HGTV channels.
The service that ultimately gave us that and a few other channels of interest was streaming app – Philo, for $20 per month we got 50 live channels and on-demand shows with unlimited recording in High Definition (No $10 HD Fee!). Some of these channels were “extras” that we would have to pay extra for in our old cable package.
To replace the role of our old cable box we picked up a 4K capable Roku Premiere Plus for a one time cost of $35 (Walmart deal at the time) for our living room and another Roku Express for $24 for our bedroom TV which did not have cable originally (to avoid another cable box fee).
To bring our entertainment center all together we topped it off with a new Universal Remote for $10.
Savings – BIG and small
When we added up the monthly cost of our new streaming setup we were looking at a new cost of around $95 per month, or a 30% reduction in our monthly expenses. The Roku boxes and remote would be paid off in savings by the first 2 months of service. Over the next 12 months we are looking at freeing up $360, or $720 over the next two years.
Not huge numbers, but we are proud that we were able to improve our services while paying less to the cable company. While ideally stabilize the shock and awe rate increases the cable company was throwing our way every year.
We’ve shared this with our family and friends who are in a similar bind and have convinced them to follow a similar path, some of them will have savings larger than our own, going from $280 per month to around $100 per month. A savings of over $2000 per year, a substantial sum to anyone.
So does it make sense to cut the cord in 2020?
The answer… it depends. It depends on you and what you want.
You can reduce your costs substantially if you focus on what you really want to watch like we did. Imagine what you could do with another $300 – $2000 per year, or another way to put it – $9000 to $60,000 in savings over 30 years! You could pay off debt, invest… maybe save for something special!
Or, if you want to check all the boxes on the major streaming services your bill may be as high or higher than your old cable bill.
It is ultimately up to you…
Just know that if you want to make the change and cut the cord the upfront effort and initial roadblocks are totally worth it in the end.
So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.
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