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That’s how much our last bill for DirecTV, Netflix, and internet was before we decided we had enough.
Before I go into the rest of this story, let me note that Priscilla primarily watches Netflix, and while we had 32 programs under our DVR manager (they weren’t on all on at the same time!), our viewing was limited to just a few channels on DirecTV. Back to the story….
We had been Comcast customers for many years, but when we moved from our apartment to our first house they had a special for a mere $39 a month (for the first 12 months, 24 month contract). We thought that was a great deal, even if to have DVR and HD you had to tack on a few bucks. Heck, our Comcast bill was $129 (for TV and Internet) before the move. We knew the monthly rate would go up after the initial 12 month, but thought we would deal with that later. All we had to do was find some internet in the meantime. We chose to use ATT. U-Verse wasn’t available at our location, so we signed up for the Broadband/DSL service.
That was our first mistake. It was so slow, we couldn’t watch Netflix on our TV and download a song or watch YouTube on our computers at the same time. Thinking we were locked in to a two year contract for the internet as well, we suffered through Broadband/DSL for a few months until I decided to call and see when I could get rid of it. Lucky for us, they told me I could cancel at any time with no fee! I also found out that Comcast offered internet only (high speed) for just $19.99 a month. We made that switch and haven’t looked back.
Back to the television problem. After the twelfth month the bill went up as expected. But each month after that it seemed to go up a little more each bill. As we got closer to Caleb’s due date, we began to think about how we wanted to spend our time as a family. We knew that with a baby our free time or ‘us’ time would drastically decrease and we didn’t want to waste too much of it sitting in front of the boob tube. But we definitely had some shows that we loved to watch together. We also knew that we didn’t want to raise Caleb in front of the TV or use television as a full-time baby sitter. A kid’s program here and there, no problem. Sports with dad, great!
So what were we doing paying for 160+ channels, most of which we had never watched, and all these extras??*** Priscilla and I sat down and looked specifically at which shows we watched, and which shows were “Must Haves.” Turns out there weren’t that many “Must Haves” and a lot of “it can be funny so I DVR it” shows. We began to look at which of our shows were on Netflix and Hulu and asked ourselves if it would kill us to be a season behind on shows. And come to find out, Hulu even plays certain networks and new shows the day after they air. So we were in a conundrum – what to do about our television service.
*** Now don’t get me wrong – DVR may be the greatest entertainment tool ever created. I miss it sometimes, but in reality, life isn’t that bad without it. ***
We had 10 months left on our DirecTV contract and knew that to cancel the service we would have a $15 fee plus $20 per month of service left – $215. When we called DirecTV, the friendly customer service rep informed me that she could easily reduce the monthly fee to just $45 for the next 12 months if I signed another 2 year agreement. I felt like I would get trapped in this cycle of never ending television service I didn’t want. So we crunched the numbers:
DirecTV @ $115/mo for 10 months = $1150
Netflix @ $9.99/mo for 10 months = $100
Internet @ $20/mo for 10 months = $200
$1450 for the next 10 months
Netflix @ 9.99/mo for 10 months = $ 100
Hulu (commercial free) @ 11.99/mo for 10 mo = $ 120
DirecTV cancellation fee = $ 285
Internet @ $20/mo for 10 months = $200
$ 685 for the next 10 months
That was a savings of $765 over the course of the 10 months left on our contract. Plus, our monthly bill would be reduced to $42 for Netflix/Hulu and high speed internet. This was well worth it for us based on the amount of content Netflix and Hulu has, plus the ability to watch new shows on Hulu (commercial free) the next day.
So that settled it. We tried the free week-long trial of Hulu and our lives didn’t skip a beat. We immediately cancelled our DirecTV and signed up for Hulu (already having a Netflix account at that point).
Now some of you (especially the guys) may be asking about all the sports programming. I did as well, especially with college football season coming up soon. That why we signed up for, and would recommend SlingTV. It is a month-by-month contract, and they have plans for $20, $25, and $45 dollars. Depending on the package you can get 4 ESPN channels, TNT, and USA, as well as other favorites like AMC, HGTV, Food Network, CNN, etc. It even comes with some stations and shows On Demand as well as the ability to go back from earlier that day to watch a show on some of the channels.
We decided to get Sling for the 4 months of college football and then cancel it after that. That brought our monthly bill up to a temporary $62 per month for everything we need. A far cry from what we were paying, with the flexibility of cancelling any service, any time. We already had a SmartTV in the living room, so we bought 2 cheap Roku Streaming Sticks for the two spare bedrooms and now our whole house is equipped with Netflix and Hulu – which is great for when we’re laying bed and want to watch TV or when guests come to visit.
So our advice to you: Determine what kind of TV experience you can live with and examine your options. You may end up saving money in the end, and spend less time in front of the television which is even better!