Tag Archives: Roku

How we kicked cable to the curb

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.

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Frugal moment turns to family fun

Some say frugal is a bad word. Some also use the term cheap, tightwad, penny pincher, miser etc. You get the idea. I wasn’t always this way. When I was single I could buy and do as I pleased. I made more money than I knew what to do with.

Fast forward, four kids, a mortgage, bills etc. Money dries up pretty fast.
Not too long ago we stopped going out to the movies when they did away with the matinee. It just became too expensive to go to a move, and get snacks. My wife and I went a while back (several years actually) and at $9.75/ticket $8 lg popcorn, and $5 each for large drinks and we were out almost $40.
Today as a treat I wanted to take the kiddos out to a movie. No way we would ever set foot in the regular cinema. We went to the second run or the $1 movie. Tuesdays in our area are family specials, and not only are movies only $1 families of 3 or more get discounted, and there is a food discount for kids. They have been working hard and doing chores to help out, and it was a reward.
We get to the theater and the booth tells us that there is a delay due to a mechanical problem and they may be able to sell ticket if the projector gets working. OK, no big deal, I always get to the movies 30 min early to make sure I get snakes, and seated where I want way before the movie.
While we were waiting, I took out my smart phone and looked at the movies through Amazon Prime. We kicked cable to the curb a while ago. Will blog on that later. Funny thing, some of the movies that were at the second run were already on Amazon Prime. We could watch the same move for $3.99 in the comfort of our home. We can pause it if someone has to have a potty break, if the kids fall asleep we get the movie for 24-48 hours and they can watch it in the morning. Of if they choose watch it several times over. If we missed what someone said, we can rewind it. Two or three years ago my wife got me an air pop popcorn maker, and we buy the same salt and seasonings from the bulk restaurant store. We have left over candy from, name your holiday, Easter, valentine’s day, Halloween etc.
So sitting in the lobby of the movies looking at the snack board at a price of $5 per kids pack, $5 for tickets, and then a large popcorn for me $9 and a large drink $7.50 I ask the kids. How about we go home and have family movie night. We watch on big screen, you all can get bean bag chairs, and you can pick the candy or snack, then whatever flavor popcorn you want. All of them were in total favor of that. Here is the bonus, they found a FREE movie from Amazon prime they all wanted to watch.
What I originally thought of a treat going out and spending money for entertainment, it was more of a treat to have microwave smores, kettle corn air popped popcorn, a cold drink, and all the kids to enjoy a movie in their PJ’s on our own couch. A reward doesn’t have to be the money you spend, but the quality of the time you spend together.
If the wife ever lets me (I doubt that will EVER happen) I will have to post the video of all of us playing music videos on YouTube until late into the night. Kids heard “classics” they have never heard of, the adults acted like kids. Something that started off as showing the kids a song we used to listen to, became one of the best nights of our summer. If you can imagine the scene from Practical magic where the whole family was singing “Lime in the Coconut” that was all of us latterly, like 5 times over the night. From the oldest to the baby. We all took turns on selecting the next song. The 11 year old girls thought it was hilarious, and learned a few dance moves such as The Running man, The lawnmower, the sprinkler (although the boy thought you needed to use water in the mouth for accuracy), the worm and the list goes on. Yes we could go to an amusement park, we could go watch a movie but that was a great night and I will cherish it and it was FREE. We may have to have another one soon.

I guess in the end, how you value something really doesn’t need to have a price tag on it. Some things, the best things, are free. You just have to look for those moments.