How to Survive Without Cable TV


I was 5 months pregnant and a week away from my last day at work when my husband told me the shocking news. “Honey, I cancelled the cable!”

Back then, there weren’t many cheaper alternatives. We eventually got used to being without cable, but when we got tired of watching the same DVDs again and again, we explored some of the many options that are now available today.

Video Streaming

The subscription cost for services, like Netflix, is reasonable, and you get a good selection of programs for everyone in the family. The problem is trying to agree on one thing!

Most of these companies also offer a free trial period so you can see which one fits your tastes. We did the free trials, and at first, we were excited to have “TV” again. I’ll be honest with you though. After being without cable for many years, this was just TV overload for us.


In my college apartment, we had an old TV and some rabbit ears antenna that was wrapped in aluminum foil. My roommates and I would watch fuzzy reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (I know I’m dating myself) when we didn’t want to study. I was hoping to have moved on from those days, so the thought of getting an antenna was not very appealing until we saw this ….

A flat antenna
[affiliate link]

It’s thin, matches our walls, and best of all, didn’t need foil to get good reception. We tried it, but unfortunately, this just didn’t work for us because of where we live. We only got a few channels and not any we cared to watch. However, this might be a good solution for you, depending on your location.

Streaming Players

Players, like Roku, use your home’s internet to bring entertainment to your TV [affiliate link]. I wasn’t really into getting anything like this because it seemed only useful if you had a Netflix subscription.

But one day, my husband came home with a Roku Streaming Stick [affiliate link]. He took advantage of a store program, where you can trade in a used cell phone for store credit, so he didn’t pay a thing. Looks like I’m not the only bargain shopper in the family! We’re not subscribed to any streaming services, but we still get a number of free channels through Roku [affiliate link]. If you’re willing to pay the upfront cost of this nifty little gadget, it may be a worthwhile investment.

The Internet

The major TV networks make most of the current episodes available on the internet for free. Sometimes, you have to wait a few days after the original air date, so just excuse yourself when your friends start talking about what happened in the season finale. This really works for us because we’re more intentional about how we use TV. Instead of mindlessly surfing through all the channels, we plan for TV time.

The Public Library

Children's DVDs.

Older DVDs at the library tend to be scratched up but I found ways to avoid this. Our library has a “new releases” shelf, where you can check out those movies for a shorter period of time. These are usually in better condition. See if your library has something like this.

Also, libraries often allow you to put items on hold through their website and will contact you when it comes in. Before a movie is released on DVD, our library will sometimes order it and create a record for that item in their database. So, even before they receive it, I can already request a hold on it through their system.

And the best part: it’s free!

Have you explored other alternatives to cable TV?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

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35 thoughts on “How to Survive Without Cable TV

  1. Great post!
    We’ve never had cable tv! We use some of the things you mentioned here: library checkouts, antenna for local stations, a little online streaming (very little). We like movies much more than television. How many times have we heard someone say “I’ve got (fill in the blank #) of channels and I STILL can’t find anything decent to watch!”? I don’t want or need commercials, and neither do my kids. PBS has limited ads, for which I am grateful. 🙂

    1. I remember one time, my kids came home from sleeping over at the grandparents’ house, and they had a long wish list of toys they wanted. Where did this sudden desire to want so much come from? Later I found out it was from all the commercials during the Saturday morning cartoons. They know how to get to our kids too!

      1. YEP!! When Joshua has seen commercials he has immediately fallen for it, and WANTS the product (even infommmercials!) lol

    1. Yes, it’s not easy for sports-lovers. I’m on a quest to find a way to be able to have the sports fix without paying for cable! 🙂

  2. I have a blu ray player with capabilities to play Netflix, Hulu and, of course, blu ray discs. We got rid of our cable over five years ago. I don’t miss it very often anymore.

  3. We still have BrightHouse Cable TV because my fiancé needs it for Sports channels, but anything else we just watch Netflix or Hulu, we invested in the AppleTv device, (similar to Chromecast) and it’s made life SO easy!

    1. Yeah, I see that those streaming services are helpful because you can pick what you want to watch rather than just settling on whatever is on and wasting your time. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    1. One of these days, someone will start a company that offers live streaming to watch sports so we can all ditch cable. Until then, my husband just goes to his parents’ or a friend’s house to watch. Thanks for your commment!

  4. You have a good list! We have gone without cable in the past and we enjoyed the library and our Roku player. We have Amazon Prime to use with the Roku. We love the shows available on there. They even have a good selection of kids shows including Veggie Tales and Sesame Street, some of our favorites.

    1. I like our Roku too. We’ve watched the same stuff on our computer, but it’s nice to see it on the TV rather than having everyone crowd around the laptop.

    1. It really is expensive. When we switched from two incomes to one, we knew this was one thing we had to let go.

  5. Love it! We also do not have cable and feel without it we spend more time as a family going out and doing things, not simply sitting in front of the screen. 🙂

  6. We gave up cable a couple years ago and have not missed it. We do have a antenna for the local channels but we never watch them. We have replaced cable with the radio. We listen to music now and find we are not spending hours starring at the TV. Now we are working on puzzles, talking or reading!

    1. Yes, there are many non-TV alternatives that sometimes we forget about until TV is removed. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Great suggestions! We’ve never had cable either. Netflix through the Wii is fine for us. Besides, when we do go somewhere with cable it’s like a special treat. =)

    1. It does become a treat to watch something when the TV is not constantly on all day. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I used to have a digital antenna but we live right by train tracks and about 2 go by every hour sometimes more so it caused a ton of interference. We also live in the middle of nowhere when it comes to internet. Streaming does not happen very well either. I just learned to live without t.v. My Mr. Sexy on the other hand had to get dish. I barely pay any attention to it. I put it on mainly for noise.

  9. This is something we’re going to have to look into in the near future, I’m sure. I’ve thought about signing up for Hulu or Netflix, but I’m not sure yet. For now, we’re sticking with cable.

    1. The nice thing is that there’s so many alternatives. Nowadays, canceling cable doesn’t have to mean no TV at all. Thanks for dropping by!

  10. We haven’t had cable ever in our married life. And we haven’t even had a television in the past three years. We stream some videos through the computer from Netflix or from Hulu if there is a certain show we are currently keeping up with (like MasterChef now).

    My kids have seen very little actual television. The other day when I played a video for them using a service that had commercials (Hulu, maybe?), my son was confused and annoyed that a different video was playing. He had no concept of commercials, haha.

    Even with no cable, though, it is easy to watch things to excess. We go through periods of watching too much and then needing to scale back a little.

    1. You’re right. Eliminating cable and opting for these other ways of entertainment doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll use our time wisely. When we signed up for a Netflix before, I was watching way more than I should have simply because it was there.
      My husband and I are also into watching Master Chef. Who do you think will win?

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