Free TV: Getting By Without Cable


We haven’t had cable or satellite TV service since we moved to the farm almost 2 years ago. Brian had satellite at the old house and when we moved we called and “suspended” it. The company offered to install it at the farm for us but we moved in the midst of harvest season and knew we’d be way too busy to watch much TV. As we approach another fall we both agree that life without a TV bill is totally doable.

The Digital transition really threw a wrench in things. We used to get 5, 12, 19, 25, 28, 46, and 66. After the digital transition we get only half of those plus their “extra” channels (19 now has 19.1, 19.2, 19.3, 19.4, often all with separate programming). We can still get most channels but we have to adjust the antenna constantly depending on what we want.

We’ve developed a few strategies that help us deal with the “welfare TV only” lifestyle.

First, we subscribe to Netflix during the winter months when we aren’t busy and are stuck in the house the most. We do the 2 at a time plan for $14.83 per month. Wayyy cheaper than cable. We keep a notebook in the living room and when we see previews that we like we jot down movies. That way we keep a good list going in Netflix and see all the “new releases” when they come out to rent. I’ve been very happy with Netflix service. If I put a DVD in the mail on Wednesday we have a new movie on Friday so we have new movies at least every weekend. Plus they have a lot of movies available instantly over the computer. They even offer a lot of hard to find, interesting documentaries. When farm work picked up again this spring I called and canceled our account. They will save our list so we can pick up where we left off as soon as I call them back.

The other lifesaver is our computer. We have a wireless router so the computer often sits here with me while I knit or can. Here are some of my favorite websites to watch “TV” on:

-The major television network websites are the most reliable and have most of the current shows available. I have had excellent luck with ABC.com and they are very good about adding the newest episodes right away.

-Try some of the cable channel websites too. I’ve been playing around on TLC.com lately. I really enjoy 18 Kids and Counting and Jon & Kate Plus 8 (does anyone else follow them, BTW? I’m a big fan and am so sad that their marriage is suffering!). The shows tend to take awhile to load and pause a lot but there is good content there if you can connect. They have a lot of educational type things too not just reality TV drama.

-Here’s a new favorite: Hulu.com. You can watch a ton of The Dave Ramsey Show on there. Right now I have that running in another tab since it is mostly a talk show anyway. I highly recommend it.

I’m not so much encouraging you to get high tech or spend all your time on the computer. However, if you spend as many hours as I do sitting or standing doing one continuous job it is sometimes nice to have something else going on.

Enjoy!! Just think – if you’re spending $45 a month on TV you could pay a different bill with that or sock it to your debt…

Any other ideas for cutting bills or living without paid TV?

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7 thoughts on “Free TV: Getting By Without Cable

  1. lisa

    There is another way you can watch Netflix and it is on your TV…There is a box that you can buy and it is legal..it is called Ruko…You do not need cable TV only internet connection…You can watch a movie anytime….You have a cache just like the cache for movies on netflix…My husband has been watching Zena on netflix…All seasons to…There is so much you can watch through the ruko box…We pay $9.53 a month to watch any instant movie anytime we want AND we get one movie mailed to us at time…if we timed it right we could watch 2 movies a week if we mail them back at certain times…The ruko box cost us $99.00 and we have had it for 3 months and watched so many movies…It's a one time fee…well worth the $99.00 if your trying to find ways to stay home and have a movie night..We don't need to go to movies anymore..on some weekend nights we make our own pizza and watch movies all night long..If you have college age kids or younger my kids LOVE it…I have college age kids and they have friends and they come over for movie nights…..They won't go to the movies anymore..It is one purchase that was well worth it..I am not a TV watcher but I have watched more movies in the last 3 months then I have in my life time and I'm 51….Lisa

    Reply
  2. Jena

    Great, thanks for the info! I've done a little research online and I think I should be able to hook my laptop directly to my TV if I have the right cord and run the Netflix through that. I've never tried it but it sounds worth looking in to. The pizza night + movie night sounds like a great idea. I can't remember the last time we stayed up all night for anything!!

    Reply
  3. Farmer's Daughter

    We have cable and get extended channels so we get discovery, science, national geographic, and any other sciency channel that I might want to tape something off for my classes.

    I love 18 kids and counting, though I'm not religious at all and mostly don't agree with their beliefs, I think they're a nice family and it's amazing that they all get along so well. I also loved Jon and Kate Plus 8, and I still like watching the old episodes. The newer ones are just too sad. It's just so sad because I would like to think that marriages can survive hard times.

    Reply
  4. Julie

    We still love Netflix and watch DVDs and movies (from Netflix) on the computer. We got our first TV-less bill today and it was $68.00. hmmm….they told me awhile back that we'd only save $10 if we cut cable. $146 to 68? Liars. (Oh, our phone and internet are cable…we just don't have TV now)

    Reply
  5. angie

    Hi Jena,

    Thanks for the ideas. We like NetFlix too – although we often have a movie for more than a month! We just aren't movie people.

    We are constantly trying to watch less TV. It is too much of a 'time-suck'.

    Reply
  6. Leigh

    Hi. I found your blog while surfing the Homesteading Webloggers webring.

    I could relate to this post! We pretty much gave up on TV when it went all dig. Now, since we've moved to our 5 acres, we're mostly too busy for TV.

    Like you, I find that the internet offers things I want to watch. Other than that, we just borrow movies from our local library.

    Reply

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