Is Cable TV Worth the Cost? Review of Alternatives to Cable and Roku GIVEAWAY!


Our ROKU  GIVEAWAY’s randomly selected winner is Nicole Vosburgh whose money saving tip was to research and plan before you buy anything. Congratulations to Nicole and thanks to all participants for great tips!

After you finish your apartment search, pay the movers, and start unpacking, gosh knows you’ll be looking to kick back on the couch and R-E-L-A-X. In the old days (i.e. 3 years ago) relaxing meant cable. Without it, you often couldn’t get basic channel reception and Hulu was still a dream. These days, however, you have some choices that can lead to a whopping pile of saved cash and optimum convenience, depending on your preferences. After all, your monthly cable TV bill can be upwards of $75+ depending on your city and service provider!

We have done a bit of research about alternative ways to get your TV and here are some popular choices:

The Roku: This streaming player received top billing from CNET back in August of last year and promises excellent connectivity to Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO and beyond. Retailing from $49.99 for the Roku LT (perfect for video watchers) to $99.99 for the Roku 2 XS (best for gamers), it’s a onetime fee that will lead to numerous happy hours of video watching.  It is also a breeze to install and is only a little bigger than a hockey puck, so it does not clutter your TV stand. I happen to have  Roku myself and subscribe to both Hulu Plus and Netflix on the side.  As a result, I spend about $20 a month for my subscription services instead of cable. Plus, I can watch the majority of shows whenever I want – which I love. Definitely the best quick and easy solution!  (Amazon Prime’s $79 annual subscription subscription also gives you access to tons of  free content plus, if you are a frequent Amazon shopper, included free 2-day shipping.)Find our Roku Giveaway details below!

Apple TV: Apple TV is a nice alternative to the Roku for true apple fanboys(and girls) willing to pay the $99 purchase price. By turning your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a remote, it lets you steam Netflix, YouTube, and Vimeo videos while enjoying your music and photos from iCloud. So, whatever you have playing on your device can then be streamed to your TV – which means that audiophiles with sweet sound systems can rejoice.  While the Roku is cheaper, Apple TV offers a smoother interface. Whispers on the interwebs also point to TV being Apple’s future domain, but new products likely won’t be available for purchase for some time.

** If you’re still debating between the above, check out this CNET article from August of 2011.

Your Computer (Or iPad): You heard us – if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest alternative to cable, watch TV on your computer. You can use most TV channels’ websites and regular Hulu has access to most shows. Should you LOVE a cable show (a la MadMen), you can download it from Amazon as needed. Should you prefer this option, consider buying a slightly nicer monitor, if possible, as an investment.

If you’re still debating – enter our Giveaway for a Roku LT**.  All you need to do to participate is to 1.) like us on Facebook and 2.) let us know in the comments what’s been your best money saving idea.  We’ll pick one winner next Sunday, March 25th randomly.

** We did not receive compensation for this review. We did receive free product from Roku for our giveaway.

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Author My First Apartment

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I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (9)

  1. Avatar Derrick Matthews

    I like you on Facebook as Derrick Matthews and my best money saving idea is to setup automation. If you automatically have your money set to pay bills, put aside savings and pay any subscriptions(Netflix, Hulu) it makes life easier. All the money you see in your checking account is free money to spend on the things you want. It makes life simple instead of worrying what you can spend. I must say thanks to Ramit Sethi(and his book) for thinking this way.

    • Sisko Sisko

      Happy to hear you received your Roku. Enjoy streaming all your favorite movies!

  2. Avatar Nicole Vosburgh

    I like you on Facebook as: Mama-Nikki Vosburgh

    My money saving tip is to plan. Without researching and planning before you shop for anything, whether it be groceries, apppliances, electronics, or anything, you need to do your research and see which stores have the best prices. Find your local circulars and the best sales first. A lot of stores will actually match prices as well as long as you have the circular to prove it. By saving money wisely, you will be able to save those extra dollars to use for a family vacation, a new car, new house, or whatever your heart desires.

  3. Avatar Debbie

    Having recently moved into my first apartment in Toronto I’m quickly realizing the high cost of “luxury” items like cable. While I would love to have it, there are so many other options out there that cost less it’s hard to justify.

  4. Avatar Tiffany Salvia

    I like you on Facebook as Tiffany Salvia and my best money saving idea is to pre plan your shopping trip before you go to the grocery store. Look up the grocery store’s ad circular online and plan your meals and your trip according to what is on sale. Also, print online coupons to take to the store to save even more money. You can save hundreds a year by doing this alone. Never go to the grocery store hungry either! :)

  5. Avatar Kristen Roskowski

    Love Naomi’s idea, especially in the winter when I’m inclined to use my crock pot to make stew!

    I am a big fan of window seal tape. My place is a bit older (um, like 100 years), so even though my windows are new, there are gaps between the actual window and the frame. The tape helps with my heating bills in the winter. And it’s easier to use than the film you apply with a hair dryer!

  6. Naomi Finkelstein Naomi Finkelstein

    I’ve taken to cooking a big meal on Sundays (like a hearty soup or stew) and then bringing it to work with me for lunch during the week. It saves me a lot of money (cheaper than sandwiches and, of course, eating out) and also gives me an excuse to try new recipes every week!

    Also, making friends with my neighbor and splitting the internet bill. :)

  7. Avatar Corey Snyder

    As my girlfriend and I began to embark on our first apartment hunt around a month ago, this site has provided countless articles and stories that have helped us along the way. We find ourselves sitting on the couch browsing the site for new tips every night! We even have a folder that we keep all of the articles and check lists that we thought would be helpful during this new life experience!

    Recently we met our new best friend, Craigslist. If you’re willing to put the time into searching and doing research, you can get anything you could imagine at a huge fraction of the cost! You wouldn’t believe the things people sell for pennies on the dollar just because they purchased a newer item. It’s hard to put into an exact dollar amount on how much we’ve saved, but it’s definitely added up to thousands saved compared to buying new!