Should you cut the cord?
By Jill Cataldo CTW Features
April 12, 2016
Dear Jill: I would be interested to hear your thoughts on cable or satellite television. I feel like our cable service is not worth what we are paying for it, but I don’t know what other options we have other than satellite, which costs about the same. I don’t feel like we are ready to completely cancel it, but I also don’t know what to do about the bill continually spiraling. — Robin S.
I’m sure this will surprise no one, but I’m a big fan of free, over-the-air television. Our family never had cable when I was growing up (that was a luxury to enjoy at friends’ houses!) and so my perspective on paying for television is likely somewhat different than those who have never known a world without cable or satellite TV at home. Even now, we have a rooftop antenna on our house, and the antenna has been the primary source of television reception for the majority of the years we’ve lived as a family.
If you haven’t watched an over-the-air television signal for a while, you might be surprised at the quality.
If you haven’t watched an over-the-air television signal for a while, you might be surprised at the quality. In 2009, the over-the-air broadcast spectrum transitioned to high-definition broadcasting, and the picture and sound are both remarkably good. Every television in our home is currently connected to the antenna, and the antenna signal is still our primary source for the programming we watch each day.
That said, we also have cable. I have had high-speed cable Internet service at my home, as when you work from home, having a reliable, fast connection is a must from a productivity standpoint. Five years ago, our cable company actually stopped by our house to inform us that as part of their cable Internet service, they now were bundling the cost of cable for one television in the home into the price. He handed us a cable converter box and explained how to hook it up.
Well, this changed everything. I connected the box, and since that time, we’ve enjoyed cable programming on the television in our living room. We receive a basic selection of cable channels in standard definition – of course, we could upgrade both the channels and the quality for a price, but we haven’t done that.
We’re content with having the cable signal on one television. It encourages us to gather there as a family if there’s something we want to watch together. We do enjoy many of the sporting events that are only broadcast on cable, as well as some of the specialty channels (fellow food, home and garden channel lovers, I am with you). Watch TV in another room of our house though, and you’ll be watching over the air. Since the HTDV rollout, we receive far more air channels than we previously did, and there’s a lot of specialty programming on them, too. We get movie channels, cooking shows and even a classic game show channel that’s my children’s favorite thing to watch in their rooms at night.
So, where should you start to cut down the bill? First, I’d assess how many televisions in the house are receiving cable. If your provider charges you for each individual box or connection, cutting down to fewer cable or satellite-connected televisions is a good start. Our family of five is living proof that you can survive with one connected TV!
Next, explore the cost of installing a television antenna. Depending how close you live to your broadcast area, you may find that an external or attic-mounted antenna will greatly improve your reception. Television antennas are surprisingly inexpensive (you can purchase one in the $50-$100 range, likely less than one month’s cable bill) and the new HD models are smaller and less obtrusive than their older counterparts. AntennaWeb.org is a great source to help determine which channels your home will receive with an antenna. Once the initial costs of installation are out of the way, you’ll enjoy free television on any TV connected to the antenna, and free is good.
Next week, I’ll share additional ideas for cutting television costs.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.