Curious about cord-cutting? I’ve been reading a lot about things I can do to cut my expenses and cord-cutting is a popular topic. Some of these are things I’m already doing—and you probably are too–but a discussion about cord-cutting on a library Facebook group I’m a part of made me realize that not everybody understands what their options are.
I cut cable back in March of last year and haven’t looked back. I don’t miss it. I realized I watch less than 10 channels and several of those I could get with an antenna. Psych, my favorite basic cable show, was ending, so it didn’t seem like a sacrifice. Plus, I’m a bit of a jinx where TV is concerned–shows I like tend to die early deaths (miss you, Pushing Daisies, The Finder, Warehouse 13). I use Netflix, which I had before ending cable service, and bought an antenna for local channels (aka the Snowpocalypse + local crime broadcast). Your local news stations may have advice about which antennas work best in your area. I needed a specific model to get CBS here, as the CBS tower is out in the country. All the rest of the models I tested got everything else, however, so it’s likely you can find an inexpensive one that works for you and get a dozen or so channels for free. And, wildly enough, the picture quality with an antenna feed is actually better. Look how handsome Craig looks. Miss you, too, Craig!
Streaming services are growing like crazy; the easiest and cheapest option is probably watching TV on your computer or laptop, which is what everyone under 20 does now. Or you can physically connect your computer to your TV. If you’re old like me, you can either buy a device to connect to your TV (a Roku box, an Amazon Fire stick, Apple TV, and Google’s Chromecast, Xbox) that streams movie apps like Netflix via a wifi connection. Or you can look for a “smart” TV that already has the streaming capability and wifi connection built-in. Chromecast is probably the cheapest device option, but I have an older Roku box that still works fine. With any of those, you have options for inexpensive movies with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and smaller apps like Acorn, which carries British programming, or Warner Archive, for classic films and television. I’ve had Amazon Prime for students and Netflix, but not Hulu, Acorn, or Warner. Most of these have free trial periods.
I’ve just stopped going. It happened gradually; I can count on one hand the movies I’ve seen in theaters over the past few years (My Week With Marilyn, The Artist, The Great Gatsby), but that’s more about taste than frugality. Netflix makes it easier to stay home, frankly. I’m not alone here, since 2014 was the lowest year in two decades for movie attendance. You can also visit your local library for DVDs and see if your library participates in free streaming movie services like IndieFlix.
Frugal living blogger Mr. Money Mustache has these tips for getting rich with your library. As an MLS-holding person, I lovelovelove when people promote their local libraries. Fun fact: if you want to see steam come out of my ears, suggest that libraries are obsolete or unnecessary. Libraries provide all kinds of services: internet access, expensive database access, resume help, special programs for kids, retirees, students, etc.
Buying books is my personal weakness, so I’ve been trying to cut back on my Amazon/Barnes & Noble habit. This is not easy. I love books. No, really. Look at my Pinterest book board. I really love them. Sometimes, my wish list calls my name and whispers buyyyyy meeeee. Thankfully, I have a great public library that has a range of services and several yearly Friends of the Library used booksales. My library participates in my state’s digital library, which means I can check out ebooks as well as paper books from my branch; you can see if your library has access to a similar service. There’s also Interlibrary Loan, a widely-used service that many libraries employ to borrow books from other library systems; at my library, each ILL book is $2-3, far cheaper than buying the book new.
There are other options for cheap books, too: visit your local used bookstore or an online used books retailer like Thriftbooks. I buy a lot of my used books for beading projects from them. Classic novels–think Dickens and Jane Austen–are often available as free online ebooks for nook and Kindle users, too or via Project Gutenberg. Several of my Life of Crime…Reading Project books are available there.