Free Basic Cable
Cable TV is Expensive
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” basic 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.
How We Got Free Basic Cable
So we decided to purchase a roof-top antenna to see if we could do better. We went to www.antennaweb.org 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 to get us the free Cable TV we wanted.
So although this option does not include any extended cable channels it gives us everything that Basic Cable offers for $20-25 a month, except we get it for free now.
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.
You can also get some free trials to watch TV online (or right on your TV):
- My Favorite- Amazon Prime. No only do you get almost all the same tv shows and movies as Netflix you also get free shipping on Amazon… score! Get 30 days FREE here.
We were still missing the DVR, so we thought about Tivo and even DVD burners, but we needed to save money, not spend more!
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.
DVR Options When You Don’t Have Cable
The biggest downside to not having cable is the lack of a DVR. We do miss that sometimes. Although I don’t think there are any perfect options, there are a few products to check out, though.
- Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB– this has over 1500 product reviews.
- TiVo Roamio OTA 500 GB DVR– The Tivo has great reviews, but also a monthly fee (so that kind of defeats the purpose!!)
- Channel Master DVR+ Bundle– The most costly, but great reviews and no monthly fee. It appears with this product you will not need an antenna to get the channels Limited Basic Cable channels you want either.
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 and the free Cable TV is awesome!
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