How to Watch Television Without Cable Service

There was one good thing about the recession; it made a lot of people think about where they’re spending their money and how they can be smarter about where they’re spending it. Top on that list? Cable television bills. When I was younger, our cable bill was in the neighborhood of $20 a month.

It seemed expensive to me at the time but somehow, over the course of fifteen years, it suddenly seemed reasonable that cable should cost $80 to $100 dollars a month after fees and taxes!?

There’s a better way and many people are discovering alternatives to paying for cable television service.

Keep a television log of how much television you watch and which shows you watch. This will give you an idea of how much you’re spending per show and whether or not you can find those shows for free online. In keeping a television log, I learned that I almost never watched a show live and most of the shows were available online for free (and with fewer, shorter commercials). With a log, you know for sure how much you actually watch, which can be a good or a bad thing!

Considering buying an antenna and pulling television out of thin air. You can use AntennaWeb to find out which stations you will be able to receive along with the type of antenna you’d need to receive it. Antennas aren’t cheap but they’re cheaper than a $100 monthly cable bill with a two year commitment!

Watch television shows online. Almost every network puts their most popular shows online at Hulu.com or their own site. In some cases the shows are available the next day but oftentimes they are on delay and then only available for a limited. For example, Fox won’t put shows online for eight days and then only the last five episodes are available.

Netflix Instant Streaming FTW. The library of television shows available on Instant Streaming through Netflix is staggering. For their cheapest Instant Streaming plan, $8.99, you can watch a virtual buffet of television shows. Anything you could imagine is available from Nip/Tuck to Friday Night Lights, from Penn & Teller’s Bullsh*t to the lone season of Firefly (and it’s big screen sister Serenity). Find a hookup to your regular television, perhaps by way of an XBox360, and you can even watch it on your TV.

There are plenty of options for people who want to cut their cable, those were just a few of the ways you can replace that monthly bill to the cable company. Take those extra savings and help boost the economy! (or you could be boring and put it into a savings account)

Do you have any tips for someone looking to cancel their cable service?

Jim writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com.