Cutting the Cord on Cable TV and Finding the Right Solution

If you are like most, you are or may have been a prisoner to your cable or satellite television company. Many of them require you to sign a contract and that requires you to pay that amount for a year or two, or suffer a penalty for early termination. Of course that amount is not all you pay, outside of the fees, there are cable box rental fees, DVR fees, etc. I for one was sick of it, which is why I cut the cord on cable TV!

Cable TV Cord Cutting 101

Cutting the cord on cable TV is not hard but it is scary. When you make the call to your cable company, the customer service representative, on the other end, will work hard to make you second guess your decision. They may transfer you to a supervisor, or the retention department and may even offer you a lower rate with the addition of HBO for 3 months free. Sounds like a great deal, Right? Wrong! Remember your reason for cutting the cord in the first place and stick to your guns.

Once this dance is completed and you’ve ended the unhealthy relationship you had with your cable company. Full disclosure: You will probably will not be able to break free from them completely, as they may also be providing your high speed internet service. However, if you have options (other internet providers) let them know and negotiate with your ex to get a better rate.

Now What?? – Cut the Cord Options

Now what? You have no TV and have to communicate with people. Well, you could read a book or talk to someone, you might actually learn something or connect with someone. However, if that is too much work for then you should start your cord cutting journey with an antenna. Antennas are not expensive and will provide you with some free local channels, some major networks, and possibly more. This is not a perfect solution because many areas lack a strong enough signal to local networks and it may take some trial and error to find a good location for the antenna. It is worth a try especially if you live in a major metropolitan area. You may be satisfied by the amount of television you get and decide you do not need any additional service. If this is the case congratulations, now invest that money for your retirement (a topic for another discussion).

Beyond an antenna, there are many options to replace a very costly cable bill. The range of options are vast, as is their cost and content. If you are comfortable watching shows and movies on your computer then you can find free shows on websites like YouTube among others and not have to pay anything beyond your internet service provider bill. If you want to use your television, you may need a Google streaming, Apple TV, PlayStation, or Roku device to view online content on your big screen. Using these devices gives you the option of watching free content or paying for a subscription service like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, Disney +, Apple TV, and Philo. This is not a complete list of the services available but these are some of the most popular.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The good news is there are a lot of options, but more than you will ever watch. My suggestion is to pick your service based on household viewer taste and content offered. For example, in my home we subscribe to Netflix, YouTube TV, Amazon TV, and most recently Disney +. The reason for our selection is: YouTube TV has all the major networks, local television, as well as basic cable channels, and unlimited DVR storage all for about $50 a month. Netflix has original content, recently released movies, and plenty of content for kids. Amazon TV comes free with my Prime Membership. Disney + is a new service and we decided to give it a trial.

Listing all of these services is making me realize that we may have too much and could save some money by dropping a few. The idea is to pick a service or a few that make sense to you and your situation. If your family loves Disney, then Disney +, and YouTube TV might be right for you (YouTube TV offers the Disney Channels whereas Sling does not). Match your interests and that of your family to the channel offerings and program variety of each service and pick one. If you pick too many, as apparently I have, then you may be paying more than you had with cable.

Mix it Up

Picking the right mix of streaming services, free or paid, will provide you with more than enough content than you had with cable. Be aware of the danger of having too many services and take advantage of the flexibility that these services offer. I read an article that reminded me that streaming services do not require the lengthy contracts we have become conditioned to expect from our content providers. Streaming services are monthly, if you have seen everything on Disney+ or Netflix, then try Apple TV or Hulu for a month or more. If Disney+ adds another season of the Mandalorian and you can’t wait to see baby Yoda, then sign up for another month. Use the flexibility to your advantage.

The Cord Cutting Solution

There are many benefits to cord cutting. The most obvious to me is saving Save-Moneymoney, which is why you must not get caught up paying for all of the streaming services. There is a ton of content and a lot of options, so pick one and enjoy it. Binge watch a series in 30 days or less, then cancel the streaming service and pick up another one the following month. This is an easy way to get great content, pay for what you want, and save money. I haven’t had cable since 2012 and don’t miss it at all.

Don’t forget…you could always read a book.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas that you would like me to explore.

All the best,

TryItMan

Cheap Cell Phone Service for Seniors and Other Wise Individuals

Cheap Cell Phone Service for Seniors and Other Wise Individuals

The Problem with Cell Phone Service

Smart Guy choosing prepaid phone service
Smart people know saving money and great service can be achieved by using prepaid phone service.

Cell phones have replaced the landlines of yesteryear. Although there are still “Landlines” out there, they are often no longer the primary phone number for the majority of the population. I have a landline with a Voice Over the Internet Protocol or VOIP service that I keep at home as a back up. It is rarely used but very inexpensive so I keep it. This is a topic for another discussion, but the task at hand are cell phone services.

For years, I was paying the big cellphone companies hundreds of dollars a month for their service and a number of unexplained fees. In my experience, the worst offender has “the largest and most reliable network” but shall remain nameless, Can you hear me now?. Becoming increasingly tired of these fees I searched for better options. After jumping from carrier to carrier only to realize they all have additional fees, some more than others, I stumbled upon a mysterious and slightly uncomfortable option…prepaid.

Prepaid, It’s Not Just for Bad Guys Anymore

If you are like me you watch a lot of cop shows or action movies and the bad guys always have prepaid (burner) phones. Yes, Burner phones are of the prepaid persuasion, but I am not suggesting that you become a bad guy or throw away a perfectly good phone. I wouldn’t do it, nor should you. I either want to keep my existing phone or buy one at a reasonable price and add a service plan that matches my needs. Right now some of you are saying to yourselves this guy is nuts, he’s living in a fantasy world, or this will never happen. The truth is it’s happening now, this magical type of service really exists and has saved me thousands over the course of a decade. The problem is it is not yet mainstream.

In Prepaid We Trust?

The problem with prepaid phone service is it is not trusted by the masses and therefore not mainstream, or the norm. I live for not being mainstream, because most mainstreamers are broke or struggling, and living on credit. I don’t want this for me or you, which is why I try to find a better way to have the same conveniences of mainstream for a better price and perhaps better service.

Prepaid is trying to come mainstream by advertising on television, and offering their product in large retailers such as Walmart and Target in the US. But in my experience many people are afraid to change because they just don’t trust that their service will work the same or be as reliable as what they are used to. I try to help, but cannot force anyone to save money or do anything else that they do not want to do. But if you are still reading this then soak up the savings and continue on.

In general, there are two types of companies offering prepaid 1) the first is the large widely known phone companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, etc).  2) the second are the lesser known prepaid companies (and there are many) that offer service on the same towers as the big guys. Let me reiterate my last point, the prepaid companies offer service on the same towers as the big guys.

Same towers = Same service

In essence, this is the same service as the major carriers. The proof is when I dial for assistance I get an operator from “the largest most reliable network in the US”. By the way, that is the same company that was charging me all those hidden fees, but now I know exactly what I am going to pay each month regardless of my usage. Long story short, my service is great and so is my bill.

The Fine Print

Some things you must know, not all services are equal. What is meant by that is know the coverage maps of the major carriers and find out which carriers towers your prepaid service is using. For example, In my area Sprint does not have the best of coverage, so I would not use Boost Mobile or any other company that uses Sprints coverage for my service. You may have carriers in your area that do not cover well. Do your homework and find the best coverage for your area, and then find a prepaid company that uses those same towers. Some companies like StraightTalk use multiple carriers for their service, so if you have an AT&T phone you would use the AT&T SIM provided and place that in your phone’s SIM slot, if you had T-Mobile, or Verizon you do the same for those phones.

It is stated on most prepaid sites that the customers who are in contract directly with the phone service provider will take priority over a prepaid customer. I have read this on several sites but have never experienced a problem or a slow down of service for the decade I have been using prepaid. That being said, some prepaid companies offer 3G versus 4G service, which is obviously slower but for most not noticeable. The example I am thinking of is SIMPLE Mobile, which was offering 4 lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month. That is $25 a line for four people, which is a great deal that I did not partake in, but was tempted.

Last of the fine print, you have to buy your own phone. This can be accomplished by purchasing phones online, in retail stores, or using an old phone from a previous service. Please make sure the phone uses the same SIM type as the previous service. There are two different protocols for phones that I am aware of GSM or CDMA. I made the mistake of trying to put a GSM SIM in a CDMA phone, long story short it won’t work.

Get What You Need, Pay What You Want

Stop paying the hidden fees, and hoping your didn’t go over on your minutes, texts, or data. Find a prepaid plan with the coverage and service that you need at a fixed price that makes sense for you. Imagine getting what you need at a price you can afford. Having a fixed price month after month helps anyone to manage their money better, live on a budget, and reduces stress…not to mention therapy bills.

I think prepaid plans are the perfect cheap cell phone plans for seniors, so much so that I put each of my parents on one. Not only is it good for seniors but my wife and I both have our own prepaid plans that we have had for many years. I was an earlier adopter (over 10 years) but my wife was initially resistant.  She grew tired of overage fees for texting and now loves her unlimited plan. Remember, you don’t have to be a bad guy to buy prepaid cell phone plan, but you can be a wise ass. Haha!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and came away learning something. Your feedback is always welcome. Be well.