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I cut the cord a year ago — here's how much I saved and what I've learned

Scissors cutting a coaxial cable in front of a television
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Last year, I finally cut the cord and canceled my longtime cable package. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made — and it's saved me a lot of money.

In June 2021, I first wrote about cutting the cord after receiving an astronomical bill from Spectrum. The monthly cost had risen to nearly $200 (though that figure included home internet). It felt ridiculous to be paying so much for something that I was using less and less. 

Yet, I still wanted access to cable networks like FX and AMC, as well as all the local broadcast channels. I also wanted to be able to record shows on a DVR to watch later. And I wanted to access everything in one location, without having to hopscotch through several different apps. 

So, I turned to our list of the best cable TV alternatives, which stream live TV and offer cloud DVRs. I ended up choosing Sling, as it fulfilled all my requirements at great value. After a few weeks, I felt good about that decision, despite the occasional bugs and blips. 

Now, a full year later, I'm still happy about my cable replacement strategy. 

How much I've saved by cutting the cord

As I noted in the first part of my cord-cutting saga last year, the Spectrum bill that instigated it was $185.08. If I had continued paying for cable, I would've spent around $2,220 for the year. 

Instead, by opting for Sling TV, I spent much, much less over the last year: $699. 

I signed up for the service's Orange & Blue plan, which costs $50 per month and comes with all 47 channels they offer and 50 hours of cloud DVR. 

Sling TV free

(Image credit: Sling)

Sling doesn't carry all of the local broadcast networks, however, which was a hard requirement of mine. But their AirTV Anywhere device hooks up to an antenna, so you can pull in local channels, record programs and watch them at any time on the Sling app. The AirTV Anywhere costs $99 (a one-time fee). 

So, when you add 12 months of Sling Orange & Blue to the AirTV Anywhere, my final bill (as I said above) comes out to $699. Which means I saved over $1,500 by cutting the cord on cable TV!

And since I plan to keep this set-up, that AirTV Anywhere fee amortizes into even bigger savings. Over two years, I'll pay $1,300, when cable would've cost $4,440 (or even more). That's over $3,100 saved!

What I've learned by cutting the cord

Like I said, cutting the cord has truly been one of the best decisions I've ever made. And I'm happy with Sling, though the service can be glitchy at times. I can't say I've never rethought that choice and been tempted to go with YouTube TV, but Sling's value is really hard to beat. 

The first thing I learned is that new tech isn't always the best. A fancy HD antenna wasn't really doing a good job of pulling in local channels, so I replaced it with an old-school, rabbit-ears cheap antenna for just $12. While the signal can get fuzzy or disrupted by storms, it works well most of the time.

a cable box, coaxial cord and power supply on the counter top after cutting the cord

A Spectrum cable box, ready to go back. (Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The other thing I learned is how flexible live TV streaming services are. When I finally canceled Spectrum, it required two long phone conversations with customer service reps, who each doggedly attempted to persuade me to stick around. Meanwhile, if I ever cancel Sling, I know I can do it quickly and easily, with the click of a few buttons. [Editor's note: not all live TV streaming services are so great about this. DirecTV Stream made me have an online chat where they tried to woo me back] 

Additionally, it's a breeze to add premium channels or extras for a month or two. For instance, if I want to watch Yellowstone season 5 this fall, I can sign up for Sling's Comedy Extra package to get the Paramount Network (plus MTV and several other channels). Then, when the season is over, I can simply cancel it. I can do the same thing with Showtime and Starz. 

Outlook: I'm never going back to cable

That kind of flexibility is unthinkable with a cable package. Sure, you can get HBO and Showtime through your cable provider, but when you want to cancel? Pffft. A headache-inducing phone call is the heavy mental toll. 

And though it's not exclusive to Sling, I can watch TV from anywhere. I can access live TV, my recordings and on-demand content on my television, phone, tablet, computer and any streaming device. No need to wait until I'm home to see the latest episode of Top Chef or What We Do in the Shadows. 

Cutting the cord has been incredibly freeing, in addition to being much more economical. I want this for everyone!

Next: You can also read about how my colleague cut the cord with Sling TV and almost switched to YouTube TV.

Kelly Woo
Senior Writer

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.

  • Rich 1944
    I can also get all of my 10 or 12 channels I watch from Sling. But I can also get 15 of my choice from Spectrum Choice including the Over The Air Broadcast Channels as their Streaming Only Option at a reasonably low cost. But I only need Sling Blue.

    Now for those of you without the ability to use an antenna, there is still hope. You can get all the Broadcast shows the next day or a few days late from each channel's website.

    But since I have been able to get Hulu basic each year of the last few years on Black Friday for one or two dollars a month, I use Hulu to get my broadcast channels the next day except CBS and CW and their other programing which include a lot of cable networks that most people don't know about like Fx for example.
    Reply
  • BookGeekIN
    admin said:
    Here's why cancelling cable was one of the best decisions our senior writer ever made.

    I cut the cord a year ago — here's how much I saved and what I've learned : Read more
    This all sounds good, but you never mention what you are now paying for broadband service as part of the cord cutting savings. And what about possible data caps? Just need a little more information. Tha ks!
    Reply
  • Rich 1944
    BookGeekIN said:
    This all sounds good, but you never mention what you are now paying for broadband service as part of the cord-cutting savings. And what about possible data caps? Just need a little more information. Tha ks!
    In case you don't get a reply from the author, with Spectrum in my area (Florida) you pay $49 a month for cable internet the first year ($45 bundled with cable) $60 the second year, and $75 the third year. Back when I had cable several years ago and after I cut the cord, I needed to quit for a month and go with the phone company and then come back in order to reset first-year prices. I would do it about this time of year when there wasn't much on Cable. In my area and as far as I know in other areas there are no data caps with Spectrum
    Reply
  • Rich 1944
    BookGeekIN said:
    This all sounds good, but you never mention what you are now paying for broadband service as part of the cord cutting savings. And what about possible data caps? Just need a little more information. Tha ks!
    Just to round out the information according to Suppose.TV which has Spectrum Select TV with third-year cable internet at about $200 (internet according to my other post) and probably that is low because it is first-year Cable TV
    Reply
  • thabilldozer
    Huh, I find it rather interesting that the article never mentioned what internet provider they use. In order to use Sling or any other streaming service you MUST have an internet connection. For any serious streaming the barest of minimums should be at least 100mbps. I love these articles about cutting the cable... only for them to leave out that one thing.
    Reply
  • Rich 1944
    thabilldozer said:
    Huh, I find it rather interesting that the article never mentioned what internet provider they use. In order to use Sling or any other streaming service you MUST have an internet connection. For any serious streaming the barest of minimums should be at least 100mbps. I love these articles about cutting the cable... only for them to leave out that one thing.
    The article does say the internet provider: She said, "As I noted in the first part of my cord-cutting saga last year, the Spectrum bill that instigated it was $185.08 "

    That is why I filled in some of the details about what Spectrum charges for the internet. I also check with someone that has had cable and internet with Spectrum for several years and that person is paying $212 a month with the lowest level of cable called Select.
    Reply
  • Rich 1944
    Rich 1944 said:
    The article does say the internet provider: She said, "As I noted in the first part of my cord-cutting saga last year, the Spectrum bill that instigated it was $185.08 "

    That is why I filled in some of the details about what Spectrum charges for the internet. I also check with someone that has had cable and internet with Spectrum for several years and that person is paying $212 a month with the lowest level of cable called Select.
    I should have added that almost no one that wants to use the Spectrum app would not have Spectrum internet because it is usually the only real one in town and if you want to use the app without Spectrum internet you can't get locals and some cable channels on the app without Spectrum Cable.
    Reply