Cutting the Cord on Home Television

Cut the cable home television cord One thing about hanging out with a bunch of RVers is that many of them are full-timers and have gone through the process of minimizing the stuff in their lives. This is very admirable to someone in a large house like mine. Full-time RVers are some of my heroes for being able to get rid of “stuff” and minimize unnecessary expenses for better living. I can positively say some of that is wearing off on this part-time/weekend RVer. First up, the cable bill and my home television.

For a long time, I have resisted cutting the cord for one reason that you can probably pretty well guess on this site: ESPN. College football games and GameDay are pretty necessary for the football life. But no more. There are options out there, if you find you really need ESPN. So, no, I’m not getting rid of the home television, just the cable bill.

Cable is an Expensive Habit

The Old Cable Bill

Ouch. Let’s just say that I was putting down some major bucks for the privilege of watching ESPN. And I found myself watching less and less of it. I’m with AT&T Uverse, but the Comcast prices are relatively similar. The smallest AT&T package that includes ESPN is the U200 package. Since my promotional deal had expired, I was paying $83.00 per month for just the U200, plus $10.00 for HDTV and another $10 for the receiver. Let’s add on an additional $11.07 in taxes for a monthly cable bill of $114.07. This was pretty outrageous.

Baby Steps

This summer, I realized that I didn’t watch a bunch of channels and it being the summer, no college football to be watched. The Braves weren’t holding my attention and well, it was time. I spend most of my downtime working on the RV, working on the house, or just lounging around reading books on my iPad. Very little TV watching going on here. And what I do watch, well, it is either live sports or lately, political debates (glad that’s over!). Things you don’t want to wait around for to watch on DVR.

But being the baby that I am, I didn’t want to jump straight into cutting the cord completely. So I went down to a basic cable package of $19 plus $29.88 in extra fees and taxes. $48.88 wasn’t bad, but I know I can do better.

One thing I will say is that even the interim jump from $114.07 to $48.88 was noticeable on the budget. I mean, that’s more RV modifications I can do!

Let’s Cut This Cord

Earlier this summer, I ripped out the old RV TV and put in a new digital flat-screen – wait, what does this have to do with my home cable? Well, I got to see that the over-the-air HD antennas are actually pretty good. Why do I need to pay almost $50 a month when I can get the same channels with a one-time purchase of an antenna? This is a no brainer! Time to cut the cable!

Now I’ve gone from $114.07 to $48.88 to $0 per month in cable television costs!

Alternatives to Cable for Home Television

Many people have written about the various ways to cut the cable tv cord, but here’s what I’ve found:

  1. You don’t really “need” to watch all that TV. You probably don’t even watch all that much or will find that you don’t miss it when you don’t have it.
  2. Amazon Prime streaming video! Like I need to give you another reason to invest in Amazon Prime, but here you go – streaming video. One thing I like to do before trips is to download a few movies and shows in case I get bored or stuck somewhere. Download to your iPad or laptop for use in the RV when you are outside of good WiFi/streaming capabilities.
  3. Many network stations have online streaming options for many of your favorite shows, if you can’t catch them live.
  4. Streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire. I’ve got a Roku at the house that I like.

With a little upfront investment cost, but still less than a monthly cable bill, you can have everything you need. And if you still need entertainment options, there’s still subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Slingbox. Still cheaper than traditional cable, but I bet if you are a occasional user of TV, like me, you won’t even need them.

But Kimberly, Live Sports! I need My Live Sports

Time to sit back and watch the other games, without stressTrust me, you’ve got plenty going for you if you need to watch your live sports. I’ve done it, you can too!

  1. For a sports fan like me, you are probably at most of your team’s games, whether home or away. Why pay for ESPN if you are already at the game, right?
  2. For those few games that you are not at, you don’t really want to watch them at home, all by your lonesome, right? Most alumni association have local clubs that will host game watch parties at local sports bars. And even if you can’t find an official party, it is much better to go out to a sports bar with some friends and watch among the people. Sports, particularly football, is inherently social. Go, be among the people!
  3. There are a lot of other good games on your basic stations (ABC, FOX, CBS, etc) if you really want to watch at home.
  4. DISH Network has a cool option for satellite TV where you can pay for the months you need it and then turn it off when you don’t. That’s pretty awesome for a part-time RVer as well as the football fan. I’d rather spend the money on the tailgates with my friends rather than on the home television.

High Speed Internet

One thing that I couldn’t give up though was my high speed internet. Since I’m still in a house and have one place that I live, I still need the internet and the cell phone WiFi spots just aren’t enough for me. I still have a job with VoIP phones and VPNs to connect to. And the high-speed internet lets me stream all the entertainment that I need that I cannot get over-the-air and live.

Thanks RVers!

Thanks to the RV community – you’ve officially been a good influence on me. At least for now, until I decide I just have to upgrade the RV! But really, cable television is not something that I’ve missed.

How else has the RV Life spread to other parts of your life, even if you are not a full time RVer? Comment below!

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  1. Congrats on cutting the proverbial cord!
    We also have a Roku-enabled TV in our RV (gotta have my “The Man In The High Castle”!)

    For the times when streaming isn’t an option (like when all we have is camp wifi, no dedicated DSL, etc), before we left I went an extra mile (or two or 10) and built a home media center and file server; then I spent MONTHS ripping all of our DVDs (movies, tv series) and putting them on the file server.
    Courtney can watch “The Twilight Saga” on her iPad or the TV and I can watch my Doctor Who or some favorite movie of mine that she shows zero interest in πŸ™‚

    1. Great idea on movie options in the RV.

      I used to have a big movie collection. Then we went to DVD! I’ve got some DVDs but not nearly as many. Since the switch to DVD, I relied mostly on OnDemand for movies. When I watched movies.

  2. Before we moved into our RV, I went through and painstakingly digitized our entire movie collection. I haven’t hooked it all up yet since we don’t even have TVs in our RV currently, but will likely build some small system that utilizes an external hard drive.

    However, since you have a Roku already, have you looked into Playstation Vue? It’s a relatively cheap monthly payment, and we get ESPN (bonus, I paid the one time fee for RedZone for NFL). It’s not perfect, but if you find you need those channels or want TV, it’s a great cheap alternative.

      1. Ah but you can get the Playstation Vue app on your Roku or Firestick and not need the Playstation πŸ™‚ But then again, I got the Playstation for Madden so I can’t say much!

  3. Hi, I dropped TV before I was full-timing and feel great about it. I have the Netflix app on my phone and really only watch one series on it. Since you can pay for just one month, this can be a great option- watch when the new season is out and then go without until the next. I carry a softcase of DVDs (TV shows and movies) that I rarely watch and will watch things on YouTube via phone or computer. It’s nice to have options. I mostly find myself more interested in other things. I don’t follow sports at all, still really believe you can find ways it’d work like you have. Very cool.
    Not sure how to answer the actual question you asked as I am a fulltimer. I think there were various things I shifted and changed before fulltiming that allowed for it to be easier … like shorter showers! πŸ™‚ A “long” shower to me now is still really short compared to before.