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How To be A Cord Cutter

Simple steps to get rid of your cable company

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My relationship with cable TV has never been an easy one. When I grew up there were only thirteen channels which included the three networks, CBS, NBC and ABC (there was no Fox network yet) and a handful of local New York channels that only showed reruns and old movies. So imagine my delight when I went to visit my summer camp buddy, David Robinson, in East Northport, Long Island, and he showed me this new thing his parents installed on the TV. It was called cable television. Instead of an antenna and annoying rabbit ears, it piped in TV through cable wires.

We made grabbed some chips, plotzed in front of the TV and after watching the R-rated movie “Slap Shot” with all the swearing and nudity intact, I was hooked.

Four years later, cable TV came to Fair Lawn, N.J., but only half of Fair Lawn, N.J., and I was on the wrong side of the tracks. I recall being pretty jealous when my friends from the rich end of town paraded all the cool things they saw over the weekend on cable when we all met in the cafeteria on Monday mornings to copy each others home work.

Off to college I went. No cable TV. And really, I was much too busy getting drunk at frat parties to watch much TV. By the time I settled down in my 20s , cable TV was everywhere. All thirty five channels of it. Couple that with my VHS recorder and I was in heaven.

Cut to thirty years later. I arrived back in the United States after living in Europe and Canada for over 15 years and I was introduced to what would turn out to be my mortal enemy: a seemingly benign organization called Time Warner Cable (TWC)

Words cannot express the TWC experience. My cable froze constantly, my DVR dropped programs, my DVR never recorded programs. TWC customer services is, to put it mildly, unhelpful. Understanding their bill – and all its fees, hidden charges and mysterious taxes – is an exercise I would not wish on my worst enemy. And the bill just kept climbing.

I even tried moving to get away from TWC but everywhere I moved TWC stuck to me like a bad penny.

I heard of Cord cutting, but always thought it was going to be a pain in the ass. But my dislike of TWC was so intense that I decided anything would be better. So off into the world of cord cutters we went. I was fearful that I’d miss out on programs I liked; that I couldn’t have the luxury of a DVR and that I’d just replace paying TWC with paying a bunch of streaming services.

Six months later, I’m happy to report that there is nothing I don’t get to see and my TV bill has been cut by 75 percent.

Here are the steps to join headache-free cordless heaven:

1) You still need internet and WiFi.

2) Get yourself an outdoor TV antenna. Mine cost $75. There are around 100 TV stations available in my area to watch, including all the networks. The quality is as good as cable and it’s all free.

3) You can buy a DVR, from Channel Master or Tivo, for around $300, and record and watch whatever you want from the antenna. The downside to this is that your DVR will not record your streaming services, which is where all your cable channel content will come from. Channel Master is a one time fee and you even get an onscreen guide. Tivo DVRs include lots of bells and whistles, but the problem for most cord cutters is the $15 per month fee and the contract, exactly the type of thing you are trying to get away from. I found out, through trial and error that, really, the DVR is not necessary. I can watch anything I want from the networks on Hulu (see below) on demand.

4) Get a Roku for about $50.00 with no monthly fee. Through this, you can get streaming services.

Let’s start with the most important one: Sling TV. For $20 a month, I get live feeds of 25 Cable stations including AMC, USA, FX, CNN and ESPN. All these channels also have on-demand content available. This means I can watch “The Walking Dead,” “Mr. Robot,” “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “American Horror Story” and “The Donald Trump Show” aka CNN, either live or whenever I want.

Netflix, ($7.99 a month) is perfect for movies and older TV shows. Hulu, ($7.99 a month) has just about every network show a day after it’s on network TV, from every network except CBS. If you really love a CBS show and don’t want to watch it live, there’s the CBS All Access app for 5.99 a month.

You can even get your “Game of Thrones” or “Ray Donovan” fix via the HBO GO app ($14.99 a month) or Showtime Anywhere app (10.99 a month). Consider first what you watch on these expensive apps. If it’s just one show you watch, you are better off buying the whole season of the show on Vudu (“Westworld” is $28.99) than paying HBO GO for a year.

When added together, the money I’m spending a month (about $35.00) compared to the $140.00 TWC demanded saves me around $105 a month and I’m getting the exact same TV experience.

Sure, I have to pay for the internet, but I’d be paying for that anyway.

Cord cutting means freedom. It means only paying for what you watch. I’m a heavy TV consumer and never thought it would work for me. But I was wrong. I love being a cord cutter. I’m saving money and the best part is, of course, I never ever have to try to decipher a TWC bill ever again.

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