How we got free HD TV (and it’s legal!!!)

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I am on vacation this week and thought it might be fun to revisit some “vintage” posts.  This was originally posted in July 2010.

We’ve been forced to re-examine our budget and make additional cuts to make ends meet. A few years ago, we downgraded from the cable package that has all the basic cable channels to the “limited” cable package. (I still miss the Food Network!) Even though we had only the limited package, we were still paying a lot to rent the HD DVR. We really liked the convenience of the DVR – especially when it came to the kids. We had a stock of PBS shows we knew were just fine for our kids, and since we had limited free time in the evenings, it was nice to watch shows that we liked when it was convenient for us and to skip all the commercials. Earlier this month, we made even more changes, and I’m happy to report that it hasn’t been as bad as we thought! We saved an additional $42 a month by returning the DVR and turning off the cable service altogether. Here are some things we’ve discovered as we saved money on TV.

First, we took out an old rabbit-ear antenna we had in the garage and plugged it into our TV. (Our TV is a newer model that has a built-in digital tuner). The TV was able to find many of our local stations. Then we put a longer cord onto the antenna and held it up near the roof – it was then able to find every channel in our area but the CW and ABC.

So we decided to purchase a roof-top antenna to see if we could do better. We went to to learn more about antennas and installation. This site recommends different kinds of antennas and gives you information about the OTA (over the air) digital stations in your area based on your location. We ended up purchasing this RCA antenna.

We used our Swagbucks gift certificates to Amazon to get it for free. Installation was actually quite simple. We even pieced together leftover coaxial cable that we had in the garage to make the run from the roof. We just disconnected the line from the cable company where it comes into the garage and attached the cable from the antenna instead. We were able to get the ABC and CW channel now. And we were able to do all of this for free either with gift certificates or with stuff we already had.

We were still missing the DVR, so we thought about Tivo and even DVD burners, but we needed to save money, not spend more! I came across this service last week. One of the challenging things about watching TV shows online is knowing which website has what TV content. The TVGuide My DVR takes care of that for you for free! You can select programs you want to watch, and it tracks when and where they are available online. We even found classic shows like Star Trek that had all episodes available online.

And finally, we’ve noticed something really great with our kids! At first they were annoyed like just we were that they couldn’t fast forward commercials or that certain shows weren’t available. Now we are finding that when they ask to watch a certain show on TV, and we respond “That’s not on now.” They generally say “ok” and go on to do something else. Sometimes they will ask what is on, and if something is appropriate, we’ll turn it on for them. But we are finding they don’t watch as much TV and playing more outside because there isn’t a stock of 3 or 4 shows they can watch at any time.

Saving the $42 is one of several cuts we have been forced to make, but even though we thought this one would hurt a lot, it has turned out to not be so bad after all!

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  1. kenna says

    I totally agree, i have one of those antennas too, we pick up 6 local stations but we are supposed to pick up more, my husband has failed to put the antenna up right in the first place…LOL I noticed my kids play more & find other things to do like go outside & enjoy nature. They love catching lady bugs & rollie pollies or watching bugs, birds, & rabbits… Its not a bad thing if your kids are NOT ADDICTED to the tube, after all I believe its only for some basic knowledge (like Dr Oz) or wind down time for us in the evenings and I’m addicted to Days of our lives, lol but I only watch that one soap, I cannot get into any of the others, i get soooo bored but I never just watch tv most of the time, i am working on the computer (EBAY) or folding laundry etc etc…… the kids dont even watch movies much anymore…the 2 older boys love video games, I have a suggestion: Can you do an article on what everyone does with their 7 yr olds up to 12 year olds? I can hardly find anything to do with them for FAMILY night. They dont seem interested in board games. my 12 year old says the BORED games because their BORING> LOL, would love to know what everyone recommends!!! Thanks!

  2. Ang says

    I know this might be totally odd BUT we have a Tivo and a Tick wireless device thingies, you are more then welcome to have it for FREE.. we don’t use it. Plus I am a lot like you, Frugal & Free are Fantastic!

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