I Can't Afford Cable Anymore. How Can I Revive My Analog TV?

We hear the same exhortation everywhere: cut the cable! Save money! Ditch your cable company and live free! But if you had cable TV during the great DTV switch back in 2009, you probably didn’t think to send away for any government-subsidized converter boxes. If you’ve recently dropped your cable subscription out of rage or frugality, what are your options? Karen wants to know, and hopes that Consumerist readers have some ideas.

I was unemployed for almost 2 years and have been working at a new job since April. Granted, I’m making $25K less than my previous job, but I am grateful to be working again, having medical insurance, etc.

While I was mired in the depression of being unemployed, things like debts piled up and now that I’ve started working ($30K in NYC! Livin’ Large!) the creditor sharks that had been circling but kept at bay due to unemployment funds being exempt from collections, are now each taking a huge bite out of my paycheck. How huge? Well, after the creditors get their share and after paying my rent I will have approx $375 left per month for my food, utilities, prescriptions, feminine products, transportation, clothing and entertainment. In (I repeat) NYC! Cuts to my budget need to be made, obviously.

The two saddest casualties of all this are that my plans on attending school (to change careers) have been delayed and that I must give up my sweet, precious cable tv. I know I can watch a lot of my shows on my computer, but I would like the option of stretching out on the couch to watch something. And seeing as I won’t be having much of a social life on $0.00, this seems like how much of my entertainment will occur until these debts are repaid.

I was wondering if you have the most current information about DTV converter boxes. I remember that in 2009 there was a wealth of info on government-sponsored coupons, but what are the newly dis-cabled supposed to do? Am I stuck paying full price for one? Which boxes offer the best bang for the buck?

Consumer Reports reviewed DTV converter boxes, but last looked at them in 2009. Those particular boxes are unlikely to still be on the market. Any converter box recommendations or other ideas for Karen, and other recently dis-cabled readers?

Here are some resources for watching your favorite shows without cable–including some ways to beam programming right to your TV. Unfortunately, they require a hardware investment, and probably wouldn’t work for Karen.

How to Watch Television Without Cable Service
Kill The Cable Bill, Keep The Shows
Family Of Six Ditches Satellite TV, Gets All Shows Online
Cut The Cable And Watch All Your TV And Movies Online