Cutting the Cable in Retirement

You know what they say about people who still have land-based wired telephone lines?  Everyone under the age of 35 has never had one, and everyone over the age of 55 is afraid to get rid of theirs.  We got rid of our land line, and within two weeks, we didn’t really miss it.

Now we’ve moved on to the television.  We’ve been on a satellite-based TV service for over a decade.  Every two years, as the TV contract became void, the satellite company would raise the rates, and we’d do the “dish dance” from one provider to the other in an attempt to get lower rates.  Why these companies don’t have better policies in place for customer retention is beyond me.

But being the ever so curious type, and wanting to stay young like the Millennials, I started doing research about streaming devices.

We carefully evaluated what we liked about the satellite providers, made a list, and then I set about determining how to meet our needs.

What We Wanted

  • We like being able to record shows to watch later – Hulu Plus allows us to record up to 50 hours of programming.
  • We like being able to pause and rewind live TV – I know, we’ve gotten spoiled by being able to say, “Back up!  What did he just say?” Hulu Plus, through it’s live recording also allows you to pause.  (In some cases you can’t skip forward through commercials.)
  • We like being able to start watching in one room, and continue in another –Because all of the streaming services are account based, you can pretty much do this with any streaming provider.
  • We wanted to be able to watch network TV, along with some of our favorite channels.  This took some research, as different providers carry different programming.  Interestingly, Hulu Plus and several others carry both ABC and NBC, but CBS doesn’t seem to want to play nice.  I needed to subscribe to CBS All Access in order to get all three major networks.
  • We wanted to slash the price we were paying for monthly TV – Here is where you need to be careful.  We already had Amazon Prime for shopping, and I already subscribed to Netflix because of some shows I routinely watch.  I added Hulu Plus and CBS All Access.  We now have way more TV options than we can possibly watch.  But here’s the warning.  It would be extremely easy to keep adding on extras (HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ) and end up paying just as much as you did before.

What We Chose

After studying up, I chose to order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for each of our TVs.  (About $40.00 each) While they do present programming options with Amazon content forward, the device was absolutely simple to install and get started.  I went with Amazon because we were already Amazon Prime members, and so it made sense to access video content as well.  The Roku Express Streaming Stick would be another outstanding option, just as easy to get started.

What We’ve Learned

Well, here’s the first rule:

Thou shalt NOT leave the TV on for the dog, (upon leaving the house)
when one is STREAMING their live TV!
(She now listens to radio!)

  • That was just a little bit dumb, and we got a nasty gram from the cable provider that we had blown through our data package during that first month.  The good news is it hasn’t happened again.
  • We lost our on-air TV guide.  We were used to flipping down the guide to see what was on tv.  It was easily replaced by the free TV Guide app which we downloaded to our phones and tablet.
  • We needed to learn to access our TV programming in a different way.  You kind of need to learn what content is available on which app (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, CBS, etc.)  Then you navigate with a simple remote through the apps to find your shows.
  • Many of the providers allow you to set up separate profiles, so hub’s stuff is all together, and mine is in a separate place.  It’s kind of nice.
  • I got the Fire Sticks with the built in Alexa function, but to be honest, we haven’t really used it as much as I thought we would.  It is a pretty cool feature if you are looking for something specific.  Alexa, find James Bond movies…
  • You NEED to know your wi-fi log in password, and the login information of any other accounts you might already have. (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  • Because all of our TV is now account-based, we can log in and watch TV on any account, from any device, from anywhere we have wi-fi connectivity.  We can even take the Fire TV stick with us and plug it in to any other TV if we choose.  (We’ll probably do that in a motor home.)

I think the most important thing for us is that we now choose to watch television much more intentionally!  No more just leaving the TV on to make background noise.  No more falling asleep in front of the television.  We specifically choose what we want to watch, do so…and then turn the thing off!

The good news is this…You CAN Teach an Old (erm….seasoned) Dog some new tricks.  BTW, we have cut the cost of our monthly TV bill IN HALF!  I’m curious how many other retirees have changed their lifelong TV watching habits!

Lynn

 

46 thoughts on “Cutting the Cable in Retirement

  1. Shallow Reflections

    We dropped cable for several years and subscribed to TIVO with ability to record on a DVR. We were completely satisfied with this option along with our subscription to Netflix and amazon prime and saved a lot of money. The only problem was watching live network TV. We had an antenna in the attic and it worked most of the time. But when it didn’t work it was so aggravating! Lots of pixelating and issues. So we reluctantly went back to cable – sticking with the lowest package available. We continue to use TIVO for our DVR service. I hope it works out well for you!

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks, Molly. That’s why I went with Hulu Plus, because it could give me the live network TV. At first, I started down the Tivo road as well, because I wanted to purchase our own equipment. Then I discovered I could record in the cloud. ~ Lynn

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  2. sizzlesue15

    Hi Lynn and lovely to have you at the Midlife Share the Love Party! My son recently set up Netflix for us because in Australia, our free to air television has become quite boring and mainly reality T.V. shows. I like that you now watch TV with intention. Sometimes it is good to just chillax with something that doesn’t stretch the brain but we can waste hours flicking from channel to channel can’t we? I’ve not heard of the Amazon option. My husband and I were only discussing the other day how DVD players are becoming almost obsolete now. What is your favourite TV show? #MLSTL
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I an a fan of Grays Anatomy, Madam Secretary, Designated Survivor, Big Bang Theory on network TV. On Netflix, I binge watched all of Grace and Frankie, and just recently finished The Crown. And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is exactly that…marvelous! (It’s got a little language, but it’s awesome!)

      BTW Sue, I’m not just sizzling, I’m downright speeding! I’ll turn 60 in October!

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      1. trishafaye

        I’m not that much of a TV watcher – but Amazon had a special on the whole season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I spent a whole weekend binge watching the entire season. I LOVED it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Encore Voyage Post author

        OMG Trisha! I did the same thing! Wasn’t it fabulous? And weren’t you so disappointed that they only produced 8 episodes! I can’t wait till they get the next season done! ~ Lynn

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Lynn! I cannot tell you the incredible timeliness of this post (just saw it on #MLSTL). We are ditching DISH ASAP. My GenX brother said the same thing: Hulu, Netflix and FireStick! CBS will also be on my list. So weird to read this today as I just opened those three websites to check just moments before I read your post. That universe…

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Everything for a reason! Glad my research can be of some help. The other thing I found out is that when I called Dish to disconnect, they let me put my contract “on hold” for nine months. (After offering me a $50 dollar deal…) That way, we could try streaming for a while, and if it didn’t work out, I can go back and still get the good deal.

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  4. RetirementallyChallenged.com

    Timely post! Our current satellite/internet package “special” will be up soon and we will need to figure out what we want to do. It’s awfully convenient to get network and cable now, then we add Netflix and Amazon Prime via our Ruku (I think that’ how it works… hubby has the control surgically attached to his hand). Currently, we pay $90 for satellite and internet which is a pretty good deal. We’ll see what they try to up it to.

    Btw, we also ditched our landline… kind of. We bought an Ooma machine and now just pay about $3.00 a month. We give this number to anyone we don’t want to call us on our cell phones.

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  5. Jo

    We watch free to air television mostly series, never reality T.V. shows. It’s good to be able to watch TV intentionally rather than flick through channels all the time. Sounds like you’ve done some tremendous research, and I’ve not heard of the Amazon option. Our fave TV series of the moment is The Good Wife.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Hi Jo, Thanks for stopping by! I’m planning on watching Good wife during the summer break on all my other favorites! Like I said, there’s plenty of TV available! ~ Lynn

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  6. Liesbet @ Roaming About

    I never had a TV since adulthood, and Mark and I haven’t had a TV since I met him and he lived in a real apartment in 2004. That was temporarily. For the last 13 years, we haven’t had our own TV. We used our laptop to watch movies and series on an external hard drive on our sailboat. One of the things cruisers did when meeting up was swapping movies.

    Since we have been house and pet sitting (2.5 years), one of the major observations we have is that most home owners don’t have cable TV anymore. They have the streaming TV you’re talking about, usually Netflix, or Amazon. And, some don’t have a TV at all. Perfect for us, as the commercials drive us crazy. Intentional TV watching, what a concept! 🙂

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  7. Retirement Reflections

    Hi, Lynn – I love how you are experimenting with what works for you now….and not just sticking with what is familiar or comfortable. Richard and I haven’t had a landline in years. Unless hanging out with company, I never watch television. I do think that Richard has SMART TV plus a large cable package, but he doesn’t complain about my blogging…so I won’t interfere with his TV! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Donna B. McNicol

    We had never heard of streaming TV or things like a Roku box or Sling until we moved to Ecuador in 2013. Being able to access Hulu and Netflix saved our sanity. The services have improved a lot since then and now we use a mix of things back here in the US. Because we were full-time RVers, streaming wasn’t possible so satellite TV was a must. Now, in a rural location, we are loath to give up recording network TV as well as a lot of back channels – not watching ads – fast forward, rewind, etc., so we downsized our satellite package, dropped Hulu and kept Amazon Prime and Netflix.

    Guess we’re a hybrid family….LOL! #MLSTL visitor

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  9. leannelc

    That was an interesting read – we watch very little TV – I tend to watch a little bit of free catch-up TV on my laptop if I’m bored in the evening, but we don’t even have Netflix atm. We talk about getting more but neither of us think we’ll use it – we don’t like background noise and don’t have the TV on during the day. So for the moment we’ll stick with being non-TV watchers – that might change when we’re fully retired and home more though!

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

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  10. Victoria

    Our tv is never turned off except when my husband is on the golf course. I am sure we could save money by using some of your information but not sure I could get husband on board.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      And because streaming uses up lots of data, you can’t really just leave the TV on… It would be way too expensive! But if what you have is working for you, then no need to change, really. ~ Lynn

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      That’s what finally pushed me into action! Increasing costs and 120+ channels full of NOTHING! Now, not only did we cut the cost, the selection of things we watch is much more in line with our preferences.

      Liked by 2 people

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  11. Dan Antion

    I didn’t even wait for retirement. I got so angry with my cable company that I trimmed it back to well over 50% less than what we were paying. I added back Netflix and YouTube TV and my total monthly outlay is under 65% of what my cable bill had been (and I didn’t have Netflix before this). I left some stations on the cable plan to make it easier for my wife to watch news and weather if I’m not home (she watches almost no TV, and we watch very little current TV). I gave up access to 3 or 4 stations I liked, but I wasn’t willing to add another streaming service to the mix. So far, I don’t miss them and YouTube TV has added two of them to their lineup. We aren’t Prime members, so I went with Roku, which works really well.

    We still do have a land line phone, as for the first three days during a 10-day power failure in 2011, it was the only thing that worked – cell towers were down, as well as cable Internet.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      We gave up a couple of channels as well. But we found some interesting things to watch that we didn’t have before. So It’s worked out well. I haven’t checked out YouTubeTV – might need to do that! ~ Lynn

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  12. patwdoyle11

    When we moved we ditched the land line and have not missed it. As far as TV, we ended up with a Dish and 2 years of really low pricing. I think when it comes up for renewal, we’ll explore options again… and I’ll add in Fire-stick thinking…and whatever else might be there in another 18 months! The world changes so fast. Personally, I don’t watch much TV but Tim watches tons. It’s kinda like Donna said… I try not to complain as I spend lots of time blogging!

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  13. snakesinthegrass2014

    This was very helpful, Lynn. When we bought our new home, I was determined to wrap my head around finding a new way to watch TV and try to save money. But our condo community has a negotiated digital service with Comcast that is included in our monthly condo fee, and it offers nearly all the basic channels plus quite a few extra ones. So that sort of forced us to stay with a traditional cable provider. I see the great offerings on Netflix such as David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld, but I’m loathe to spend additional money when we already have cable channels courtesy of our condo association. So I just sit like a dummy and do nothing. But thanks to your information here, maybe I can try to wrap my head around this a little more. Thank you! – Marty

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  14. Karen Hume

    Hi Lynn,
    My brain hurts from this post, but it’s a good hurt because you’ve given me the info I need to take baby steps in the direction I want to go. I currently have a satellite dish and was unable to do anything different because, in my rural location, I couldn’t get fast enough internet to stream videos. Now I can but am overwhelmed by how to do it. Your post helps. Thanks, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Karen, baby steps is the way to go. I didn’t know anything about it, but I just started looking into it on Google. Bit by bit I figured it out, and so far we’ve been really happy.

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  15. Michele @liferedesign101

    We just finally ditched the landline. When I called AT&T, which also has our internet and TV, they offered my a deal to upgrade my internet speed and keep the same package of TV for one year for half the price I had been paying! Maybe they are finally wise to that fact that if they don’t offer some deals to existing customers they are going to lose them!

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. Mary Lou

    I ‘pulled the plug on cable’ a few years back and never looked back. Like you, I signed up for Amazon Prime and also use my laptop for most of my news. So much time freed up and cut the cost in half. Now Verizon MiFi jet pack and my Samsung are the only other bill. No more landline and I’m in my 70’s. 🙂 I’ll be sharing on social media for #MLSTL
    http://www.meinthemiddlewrites.com

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. simplywendi

    Yes, we got rid of a land line years ago and have never had cable. We do have Amazon Prime and Netflix…………which I love Netflix. Trying to save extra money each month so we can eventually retire.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  18. Christie Hawkes

    This was a timely post for me. My husband and I have been discussing options to our expensive satellite service. My husband loves his television though, so we have to be careful. By the way, we still have a landline. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. Pingback: Cutting the Cable in Retirement — Блог

  20. Terry

    We switched when we moved to our current rural location. We use a jet pack, smart tv and have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon prime. We also have a digital antenna in the attic to watch local tv. Our reception isn’t always great as it is mountainous here but I can almost always catch the news. The biggest change in all that is making sure to cut the connection so that you’re not wasting data when you’re not watching a show.

    Liked by 1 person

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