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4 Ways to Save Money on Cable TV

Are you tired of paying ridiculous prices for only a few TV shows you actually care about? Well instead of paying hundreds of dollars to watch reality TV on every channel, check out some smart ways to eliminate the cost of cable TV while still having your favorite shows available for immediate viewing.

Like most Americans, you’re probably paying for an internet, cable, and phone bundle service that ranges anywhere from $100 to almost $250 a month. Bundle packages from AT&T and Time Warner, for example, cost around $64.99 for the most basic package and up to $149.99 for the more luxurious package. That’s a whole lot of money especially if the only reason why you got the bundle deal was to save in the first place. Other providers such as Comcast and Cox have similar packages ranging from $29.99 to $200+ depending on the type of services. Regardless, most people only want two things: fast internet and availability to watch their select favorite shows. Well, you can avoid having to pay extra for a landline and cable packages and get the best bang for your buck by following these 4 cable TV alternatives:

1. Buy a Digital Antenna

Unlike in the past, today’s antennas are slim enough to fit on a bookshelf like the $70 Mohu Leaf 50 and $90 Winegard FlatWave Amped. The network channels you can get for free from these antennas over the air are crisp as cable television. And some videophiles even argue aerial signals are even sharper than cable’s compressed video. The over-the-air broadcasts even work with DVRs like the TiVo Roamio, which nicely blends live TV and Internet streaming services.

But a digital antenna may not be for everyone, and your experience may vary depending on how far you live from broadcast towers and other interference. To give aerials a try, start by typing your address into the site tvfool.com, which plots what you can probably pick up. Start with the most basic antenna based on your distance from broadcast towers.

2. Try a Slingbox

If you don’t have a cable subscription, there’s a big chance that you know someone who does, and you can easily beam their TV signal over the Internet straight to your laptop, tablet or TV with the help of a Slingbox.

A Slingbox is a device that beams, for example, cable TV to an iPad or Apple TV box to watch your favorite shows and programs.

Wait, is this legal? It sure is. What makes it different from Aereo is that this stream goes from one cable connection to just one outside device. You hook the small Slingbox hardware to the analog ports on the back of your host’s cable box, and then connect it to their Wi-Fi network. It works with almost every cable system in the U.S.

It doesn’t impact your host’s TV experience, but everyone must always watch the same things—unless the host gets a dedicated cable box. (Slingbox’s apps do let the remote watcher change the channel using an infrared burst from the Slingbox that replicates a remote.) As for picture quality and signal, they depend on both the Internet upload speed of the host and the download speed where you watch your shows, so for high-def quality, make sure your internet service supports large streaming use.

3. Buy as You Watch

There are many great channels out there that offer their videos free over the internet via apps on smart TVs and boxes such as Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire. There are also paid streaming services such as Netflix ($9 a month) and Amazon Prime ($99 a year with Amazon’s shipping club) that offer access to a deep bench of older TV seasons and movies, plus original hits like “Orange Is The New Black” and “House of Cards.” Hulu Plus ($8 a month), is another option that also offers more of the freshest TV from networks such as Fox, NBC, ABC and Comedy Central. For other shows not on the above services, you can often buy whole seasons directly from Amazon or Apple’s iTunes, some right after the episode has aired. And if your worried about your sports, many professional sports leagues, including MLB, sell direct Internet streaming access to games.

Services as TV boxes or Netflix may be excellent ways to cut costs and still watch your favorite shows, but if you keep up with a lot of shows or sports, it could be pricier than cable.

4. Borrow a Login?

If you’re still having trouble finding the perfect cost-saving method to watch your favorite shows, well maybe borrowing a family or friend’s login can be another option. Services are usually meant only for use by one household, but providers hardly try to stop folks from sharing. Most channels allow at least three simultaneous streams anyways, and providers don’t check that you live together or cut you off for using it in different corners of the U.S. So if you know someone willing to share their login information, maybe buy them dinner or split the costs of the service because in the long-run you’ll be saving more even if you are paying for a portion of the bill.

So How Much Are You Really Saving?

In the end, switching from a cable package of $100+ to a more cheaper alternative such as a digital antenna or streaming service can save you anywhere from $30 to $100 a month. Not only are you saving money, but you’re still getting access to your favorite shows for half the price!

With that being said, how much are you paying to watch your favorite shows? If you aren’t already using one of the above cable-alternatives, you might be wasting more money than you should be. Let me know what you think in the comments below. And be sure to check out other financial tips here.

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Paul Ponce

writer

Paul is an incoming fourth-year at the University of California, San Diego pursuing a degree in Linguistics and International Studies: Economics. Though he hopes to pursue a career in foreign affairs and language study, he is still interested in learning how investment in stocks works and how it runs an economy's market.

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