Several months ago the wife and I were looking at ways to save more, get out of debt faster, and put a big chunk down on a farm. We started looking at our bills. One that came up was cable. We both had our shows we liked to watch, we had a DVR, we had internet, we would rent movies online occasionally, it was a convenience. The DVR was really nice that we were not tied to a certain time to watch our shows, and we could cut out the commercials. We were also paying almost $180/mo for an hour or two a day, and maybe a few hours on the weekend. It was so expensive because we had various TV’s to be connected, since we had no digital TV’s in the house it was the only way to get a signal. We couldn’t justify buying new TV’s when the current ones worked.
I heard on a few podcasts I listened to about Roku, digital TV, streaming TV and the like. We were Amazon Prime members. You get free shipping and many items, and I like to watch for their daily deals. They had a special on a Roku, and we decided to give it a try before cutting cable. 30 days. We didn’t last 30 days. After one weekend cable was gone. How does it all work?
We are able to watch digital signals on our analog TV with the aid of a digital antenna and a digital converter. The converters are about $50. The antenna can go from $10-hundreds and you can select indoor or out. We bought a powered digital indoor antenna for about $30. Most of the programs we watched were on local channels. Here in Indianapolis we were able to get 30 or so channels free after buying the hardware. Total investment, $80.
Now the Roku. We had to keep cable internet due to work requirements, and Roku uses your WIFI connection to get on to the internet. With our Amazon Prime $75/yr we had access to something like 500,000 movies and TV shows for free, then a ton more that were a pay per view. While not all of the shows we were currently watching were on Amazon Prime we discovered a bunch more that we really liked, and never watched when they were on. In addition to Amazon Prime there are literally hundreds of other ways to get movies, TV shows and music. The kids will stream Pandora stations while doing chores or reading. Because the Roku is portable we can take it to whatever room we are in. We do not need a separate connection for each TV.
Out littlest one is learning Spanish by watching Dora. One of the older girls likes to tune into congressional channel and see what is going on that day/time in Washington. There is the chef Keith Snow from Harvest eating teaching you how to eat seasonally and prepare meals from things you grow in your garden. There is a Smithsonian channel, old westerns channel, sci-fi channel. Granted some of the shows are not the latest and greatest. But some of the older shows are great. And better free.
So the Roku only costs $50 for the basic model. And after that no subscription. You do not need an Amazon account but it is a bonus if you already have one. You can also use Netflix, or Hulu. Both have monthly subscriptions.
We went from a $180/mo bill to $30. In two months of savings we paid for the hardware, and had money left over to cover the occasional $3.99 movie rental. Granted we already had some of the hardware (WIFI and a cable modem) but those two you can get for under $100.
Granted this post isn’t about farming, organic food production, but with the savings in both time (not watching as much TV) and money we are able to do more things to our property, and get a bigger patch of land. Making the dollar stretch is something many people are being faced with. Rising food prices, rising fuel costs, shrinking wages and income, becoming more self sufficient is becoming more mainstream.