With the increasingly high costs of cable — not to mention the relatively low costs of streaming tools like Netflix, Hulu, and Sling — more and more people are considering cutting the cord.
Even Sling, which is on the higher end of the price spectrum at $25 per month, could save homeowners hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. If they commit to putting those savings toward their mortgage, it could mean paying off that loan sooner — and saving more in interest in the process.
But cost savings aside, cutting the cord isn’t for everyone. There are definite downsides to forgoing cable, and it’s a choice you should weigh carefully before pulling the trigger and nixing that traditional TV package.
Are you thinking of cutting the cord? Here’s what to consider first
- The channels and content you watch. A lot of TV shows and movies are available on streaming services, but not all of them. Live TV — like sports, local news, and even prime-time comedies — are harder to come by on streaming platforms, and you’ll likely pay a premium to get them outside a cable provider. Streaming platforms also don’t have all the specialty programming you (or your kiddos) might be used to. Getting content from Disney, Disney Junior, HBO (where Sesame Street airs!) and others might be pricey or even impossible, depending on where you’re located.
- Any bundles you’re currently using. Nowadays, most cable providers also offer local internet services, so you very well might have your cable bill, internet bill, and even phone bill all intermingled and tied up in one. Splitting these services up — and choosing to cut cable out of the mix — might make the costs of your internet and phone rise. Be sure and get the full breakdown for how your costs would change if you alter your package, and then compare those increases to your potential savings from cutting the cord. If you don’t come out on top — or you’d have to pay a ton of cancelation fees in the process — it might not be worth the work.
- Streaming’s overall unreliability. Streaming services depend on a solid internet connection — and that’s not always possible. If you’re in a rural area, there’s a storm or high winds brewing, or there’s just a lot of other users on the platform, it could make it hard (even impossible at times) to stream the content you want to watch. It also might result in slow, delayed, or low-quality content, or it could cause your show or movie to freeze up right in the middle. There’s a lot of room for error when Wi-Fi is required.
- The number of people (and devices) in your house. If you, your spouse, and your three teens all want to watch TV at the same time, this might be difficult with only streaming services available. Most of these platforms only allow for a certain number of simultaneous users, and as I mentioned before, the more users, the slower content is going to go. It could mean a frustrating and disappointing experience for the whole family.
- Channel availability in your area. A lot of homeowners who cut the cord use an HD antenna to pick up local TV channels in the area. You’ll want to check the local TV guide to see what channels are available in your region, as well as test out (or just ask your neighbors) what channels you can pick up clearly in your exact location. This should factor into your decision to cut the cord as well.
- Extra services. Not all streaming services are created equal, so there’s a high chance you might need to subscribe to at least one, two or even three in order to access all the content you want. Many channels and content providers have exclusive deals with streaming platforms, so one may only be available on Hulu, while the other is on Sling and Netflix. If you’re set on accessing all this content once cutting the cord, you’ll need to pay for multiple services — which could add up once taxes and fees are factored in.
If cutting the cord is on your radar, take advantage of free trials offered by the streaming services you’re considering. Use those periods to test the waters and see how life without traditional cable feels. If you’re satisfied, cut those ties and move on. If not, just be sure to cancel your account before the free trial is up — many streaming services will automatically charge you once the freebie has expired.
Another Way to Save Cash
If you’re looking for another way to save cash as a homeowner, a refinance is sometimes a good choice. Take advantage of historically low rates and shorten your loan term or decrease your monthly payment. Contact a loan officer at Embrace to discuss the best route for your financial goals.