More and more people are using cord cutting to change the way that they watch TV. Personally, I only subscribed to cable TV for about one year of my life. The rest of the time I’ve used streaming services, which is what cord cutters are all switching to today. It can be a great way to save money on television, but whether or not it’s a frugal choice really depends on how you do it.
What Is Cord Cutting? (And Other Key Terms)
Cord cutting is the practice of canceling your subscription to cable television or satellite TV services. It doesn’t necessarily mean replacing them, although most people who cut the cord today do subscribe to streaming TV services in their place.
Some people opt for cord trimming instead of cord cutting. Cord trimming means that you keep your traditional TV service but reduce down to one of the cheapest packages available. People do this because they want to keep certain channels but don’t want to pay for bigger packages.
On the other hand, there are “cord nevers” which are people who have never bought traditional TV service. I’m almost one of those, minus that one year fifteen years ago when I did pay for cable TV at home. Besides that year, I’ve always just streamed TV to my laptop or tablet.
Of course, these days you can also stream TV to your TV set so you don’t have to use a computer, per se, to become a cord cutter.
Cutting the Cord May Reduce Your Cable Bill … If You Aren’t Bundled
Cord cutting should reduce the amount of money that you pay to your cable company. Of course, if you add streaming services then you’ll offset those savings, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s imagine first that you’re going to quit television altogether, so you cancel your service.
Theoretically, this should save you a lot of money. Most people pay over $100 per month to have cable or satellite television. If you don’t have any TV, you should save that amount. But beware, you might pay a fee to cut the cord. This can happen in one of two ways:
- You’re locked into a contract so you have to pay money to quit.
- You have bundled services, which means that if you cancel TV your Internet and/or phone bill could go up.
It’s very important that you read the terms of your TV agreement before you cancel so that you can make the most financially prudent choice.
How to Save Money with Streaming TV Services
Most people aren’t going to quit TV all together. In fact, many opt for cord trimming so they end up paying for both a television bill AND the cost of streaming services. If you aren’t careful, that can end up costing more than just paying for a bigger cable package.
Alternatively, cord cutters often sign up for multiple streaming services. People on average subscribe to three or more services monthly. There are actually more than three hundred streaming television services to choose from so you can easily run up a big bill if you aren’t careful.
If you want to embrace streaming TV but still keep things frugal, here are some tips:
- Cut off your cable altogether. As long as you aren’t bundled, you’ll probably save more as a cord cutter than a cord trimmer.
- Limit yourself to just 1-2 streaming services. Tip: If there’s only one show that you love on a particular streaming service, subscribe to it for only 1-2 months of the year, binge the show, then cancel your subscription.
- Compare the cost for different services. Choose those that offer the most of your preferred viewing options at the fairest monthly price.
- Share services with others. If you pay for Hulu and your brother pays for Netflix then you can both take advantage of the subscriptions. Make sure you read the rules and terms for each service so that you understand sharing options before you sign up.
- Supplement your paid television services with free viewing options. There are a lot of videos available for free viewing online. Your library may also offer certain options. See what you can get for free.
- Get the cheapest viewing option on each service. For example, don’t pay extra for an ad-free experience.
- Pay your bill with a cash back credit card. Get rewards every month if you’re going to pay for streaming TV.
- Review your services quarterly. Cancel any subscriptions that you discover aren’t worth it.
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