It seems like everytime I move to a new apartment, I end up agonizing about whether I should pay for cable TV. Have you had that experience? There’s just something about the moment when you’re unpacking all your boxes and looking around your half-empty living room that makes you think about calling the cable company.
Which always makes me wonder…
Is Life Better With Cable TV or Without Cable TV?
If you’re like me, you have two competing visions of your future life in your new apartment – and both are dancing around in your head as you survey your new digs. In the first vision, you’re sitting on your couch, remote control in your hand, watching your favorite show, or an epic football game, or perhaps a classic movie, enjoying the sense of leisure that comes from kicking back and taking in some great entertainment.
It’s a very tempting vision.
But in the second vision, you’re just getting home from the grocery store, excited to try cooking up a brand new recipe you found online, or you’re out and about, taking a Salsa Dancing class, biking 30 miles every day, learning Chinese, and countless other things you’ve wanted to do for as long as you can remember.
And you’re doing all of that because the time and money you saved by not having cable television opened up these amazing opportunities to fit more into your daily life.
Both of these visions look grand. So which one should you choose?
Alternatives to Cable TV
Hmm, what if there is a middle ground? Perhaps you can find a low-cost alternative to cable TV and have the best of both worlds? That’s what I had in mind when I started doing some research to find out what were the best cable alternatives. Here’s what I found… (And tell me in the comments if you have tried any of these)
Satellite TV: Some people swear by this cable alternative, with the most well-known providers being DirecTV and Dish Network. And I have to admit, it seems to have some great advantages. For one thing, I’ve seen quotes for $30 per month, which is cheaper than cable in my area. But it sounds like there will be extra fees and charges on top of that. Plus, satellite installation is not allowed at some apartment complexes.
Netflix: I have to admit, I’m tempted by Netflix’s streaming service. It’s got the buzz, and it seems to be relatively cheap compared to other alternatives. How much does Netflix cost? Well, for $7.99 per month you can get unlimited movies and shows streaming on your computer. If you have a large enough monitor to fully enjoy those, then this might be the perfect option for you.
Hulu Plus: Also costs $7.99 per month and allows you to watch any episode of shows like The Office and Family Guy. One major problem: you still have to watch commercials. Doh! There are also consumer complaints about the fact that Hulu Plus subscribers can’t stream certain shows to their televisions using devices like the Roku (see below).
Roku: If you haven’t heard of Roku, it’s a digital media receiver that allows you to access internet streamed video on your television. It can be a great compliment to a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription, and it costs about $50.
Those are some of the main cable alternatives to consider before you decide whether to pay for a monthly cable TV subscription.
Ways to Save Money on Cable TV
But what if you do decide to pay for cable? You should still save money if possible. Here are a few tricks you can use to save a significant amount on your cable service:
Use online discounts: Like most other things, you can occasionally find good online discounts for cable TV services. You might have to do some digging and/or wait around until you’re able to find a good one, though.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate: Always keep in mind that your plan is negotiable. That means you should call your cable provider every few months to see if there are any discounts available. Also use the fact that there are legitimate cable TV alternatives, like the ones mentioned above, to give you some leverage when talking with the cable company. Tell them that you are considering canceling your service because it’s too costly. Many times they’ll give you a discount of some kind, even if it’s a temporary one.
Switch providers: As a last resort, you can always switch to another provider that is offering some kind of discount for new customers. It’s true that can be a hassle, but if you’re saving upwards of $30 a month, it might be worth it.
So… should I pay for cable TV?
After all this, I’m still torn about my decision. The two visions are both looking equally compelling right now. Now that I’ve researched some of the alternatives to cable, I am seriously considering those options.
What should I do? Tell me in the comments and share your experience using any of the options above – I need some advice!
Image credit: Mr. T in DC