The Importance of Testing: Can I Cut My Cable?


By Carlos Portocarrero

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I’ve been on a crusade for the past month to find a way to lower all my bills. One of the places I’m looking into saving some money is my cable bill.

Right now we pay around $92/month for both Internet and basic cable from RCN, which is pretty good compared to their competitors.

But I want to pay less. So I’ve been looking at options to cut our cable completely and watch everything we want from over-the-air broadcasts and online. It all started with a post I wrote for Wisebread called Cable TV is Here to Stay…For Now.

There is a TON of information out there on how to do this. You can pick from several devices and pieces of software to make it happen. The problem isn’t making it happen, it’s convenience. Nobody has managed to make this as convenient as paying for cable and getting everything you want on your TV.

I knew this going in, but instead of just saying “Forget it, it’s not worth the hassle,” I decided to do some testing.

I bought a bunch of pieces of equipment. I set up different ways to replace cable using my laptop, my desktop, remote controls, iPhone Apps, Android Apps, etc.

In other words, I tried a whole bunch of different things because I really wanted to find a way that would work for M and I.

Why was a trying so hard? Because I really wanted to cut my bill from $92 to somewhere in the $50 range. I’m not sure if I can make it as convenient as cable (it’s not looking good), and I only have a few more options I want to try out. I know I’ve found a solution when I present it to M and she “gets it” right away.

I might put up with a little inconvenience and annoyance, but she will only go along if our new setup is as easy as picking up one remote and getting to the show she wants without asking me for help.

And that’s where testing comes into play—I need to try a lot of different ways to see which ones comes the closest.

I’m the type of person that does a lot of research, makes up his mind, and then executes. So this project has been interesting because I’ve tried a bunch of different ways of solving a problem to see which one works better. I think because I’m ultimately trying to sell M on this idea, it’s been easier to do. It’s like I have a customer I’m trying to please instead of just building something for myself.

Otherwise I would’ve just picked something and run with it the way I usually do.

Anyway, I’m going to try to do more testing in the future because a) it’s fun and b) the odds of finding the best solution go way up.

Note: Also wanted to mention I was interviewed recently by Bill Hazelton over at the Credit Card Assist blog. It was pretty fun looking back and talking about how this site came to be. Check it out here!

Image by Nick J Webb


3 Responses to “The Importance of Testing: Can I Cut My Cable?”

  • Natalie Says:

    Carlos, thanks for the post. It is really important to shop around and do some research before you nix one service in favor of another. Matter of fact, I’ve been doing the same research both for work and at home lately. I ended up eliminating cable myself in favor of Netflix, since I don’t watch enough TV on a regular basis to justify a $108 cable bill per month! (This is what I was paying for Internet and DVR.) I said I was researching this topic for work as well, because here at Mango Money we are putting up a post (this Friday) comparing the various TV/movie services. Check it out on Friday– I think it would be really helpful in your quest to get rid of cable! (You can do it– stay strong!)

  • Steve Says:

    It all depends on your TV-viewing habits. My wife and I watch movies, and I watch sports (mostly NFL), and the kids various PBS and Nickelodeon shows. There are obviously tons of movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and surprisingly also tons of kids’ programming. The NFL, with the exception of Monday Night Football, is on broadcast TV. So we got rid of cable about 3 months ago and haven’t missed it a bit – we have a Roku device and just the usual over-the-air broadcast channels. We have cut down on what I always called flip-n-view, which was mindlessly flipping channels until landing on TBS and saying “hey, haven’t seen Bridget Jones in the last 30 days, let’s watch that.” The kids aren’t exposed to toy commercials throughout their shows, and although I have missed ESPN a bit, it’s not like they don’t have a website. I highly recommend getting rid of cable UNLESS you’re a big watcher of a particular channel or love reality TV.

    • Carlos Says:

      I’m totally with you Steve. But I just haven’t been able to make it work as reliably as it would take to make the switch. Do you have an external antenna? Do you have DVR? I’m curious what your setup looks like…those Roku boxes get cheaper and cheaper and look pretty cool…

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