Cutting the Cable and Saving Money

How much is cable TV costing you a month? Further, how much entertainment value is it bringing you?

Be honest. How much time do you spend watching the Hallmark Channel, Speed, Animal Planet or others like it? If you scanned your lineup of cable channels, you might be surprised at how few of these channels you watch.

That is why it is time to cut the cable to save money.

Cable TV is far from inexpensive. According to figures released in a survey of U.S. households by the Leichtman Research Group in September 2016, U.S. households reported mean monthly spending on pay-TV service of $103.10 a month. Moreover, according to a February 2017 Consumer Reports, it is not unusual to see a 3 to 4 percent increase each year.

As prices continue to rise, many U.S. households are learning to live without cable television. Variety reported in September 2017 that 22 million U.S. adults would have cut the cord on cable or satellite television by the end of the year. On top of that, Variety also reported that 34 million adults have never subscribed to pay TV.

Thanks to the Internet though and streaming video technology, there are plenty of alternatives to cable TV. Moreover, these other options are far less costly.

Consider the biggest provider of streaming video, Netflix. As of January 2018 Netflix offers their standard tier of service for $10.99 a month and premium service for $13.99, allowing up to four screens to be used simultaneously and adding Ultra HD content to be streamed.

Of course, Netflix might not provide all the movies or TV shows you want to watch. You can add Hulu Plus to your streaming list. Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month, too. The service specializes in TV shows, streaming most of them starting one day after they air.

If you want to build a truly impressive streaming video library, consider adding Amazon Instant Video to your subscription list. Subscribing to the service is free to Amazon Prime members. Non-members will have to pay a fee for most every video selected. These fees vary. You might be able to rent a TV episode for $1.99 for a 48-hour period. A newer movie might cost you $4.99 for a rental. That can add up if you are not careful, but it is far less expensive than taking the family to the movie theater.

The good news about streaming services is that you can watch movies and TV shows on your TV screen through a number of devices. Do your children own a Wii or PlayStation? You can stream video through these devices. You can also buy a set-top box that streams for you. Roku, Amazon's Fire TV, and Google's Chromecast are attractive options.

These devices can range from $35 to $100 or more. However, once you set them up -- provided you have wireless Internet -- you gain access to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. You also gain access to plenty of free channels that are less known, channels that specialize in everything from classic horror movies, black-and-white dramas, sci-fi shows and westerns. There are free channels for every taste.

Even if you buy a streaming set-top box, subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, you should still save money each month compared to cable TV subscriptions. Also, when you rely on streaming video, you only pay for the channels you want and will watch.

Even better? The technology behind streaming video is improving annually, making it the perfect time to cut your cable service and enjoy the lower entertainment expenses that come with such a move.