Hello! John and Jerry here!  We are two life-long pals looking to help you out with a big decision.  Do you get rid of your cable tv after all of these years and go with something different?  Well, John and Jerry have a saying:  “When values are clear, decisions are easy”.  One of our big values is to save money on stuff like entertainment, so we have more money to spend on what really matters–family, travel, helping pay for college, craft beer, the occasional cheesecake and not so occasional TOWER of onion rings!  So heck, if you can save $20.00 bucks a month cutting the cord to cable, why wouldn’t you?  Maybe it would help if we told you that Jerry saves over $2,000 a year from not having cable.  No joke.

So why wouldn’t you do it?  Why haven’t you cut the cord to cable yet? Probably for all the same reasons that we dragged our feet, hesitated, procrastinated and didn’t take action.  At least, the same reasons Jerry waited.  John jumped right in, but he is like Rain man when it comes to anything technological.  Jerry is not so technological. He once consulted the manual on his toaster to see which way the bread had to go in (“Oh, it goes in vertically, not horizontally!  Oh, so much easier!”) So if you started talking about cutting the cord to cable and you get a deluge of words like Kodi and Firesticks and WIFI and Hulu and Netflix and…Jerry’s eyes glaze over and he goes into that happy daydream he is laying on his pillow, then he realizes his entire pillow is made of cheesecake, and..well, the rest is private, but you get the idea.

But don’t worry, we have done the research, we have walked a mile in your Birkenstocks, we have wrestled with the same dilemmas that now face you, and we think we can help!  There is lots to learn, lots to talk about, but let’s break this elephant down and eat just a couple of pieces at a time.  In this article, we’ll take a bite on some of the hardware options you need to think about, and we’ll just nibble a little on the kind of shows you can watch after you cut the cord.   Here are a couple of tips to get you started in the right direction.

Cut the cord–Hardware:

Step one:  Decide to cut the cord to cable

Step two:  Call the cable company and tell them you want to leave them after all these years. It’s not them, it’s you.  They have been great, but its time to move on… you know the drill.  Don’t back down, don’t get seduced by their offers and promises:  “If you stay, I’ll do all the dishes”, “If you stay, I’ll stop drinking out of the milk jug”, “I’ll stop farting as soon as we get in the car” …It’s not true. You’re breaking up for good.

Step three:  Well, you’re not breaking up altogether.  You need to keep some kind of internet service, so you may need to keep your internet from the cable company. It is just so darned fast!  So, I’m breaking up with you, but can you still be my date for my aunt’s wedding next month?

Step four:   Decide what kind of hardware you want to get.  After you cut the cord, you have to have some sort of hardware to have a streaming tv service.  There are two types of hardware that are made for streaming:  set-top boxes and HDMI sticks.

Set-top boxes

You need something that grabs the tv signals out of the air and puts them in your tv.  One of the things that does this is something called a set-top box.  Why?  Because it is a box that goes on top of your tv and just sets there!  HA!  Several companies make these boxes.  They are all about eight inches square, and have a cord that plugs into your television.  There are several companies that make set-top boxes, with names such as Amazon Fire, Roku, AirTV and Google Chromecast.  An advantages is that on many set-top boxes you can increase storage capacity for recording programs.  A disadvantage is that they will take up some room on your entertainment center.  And they are a more expensive that the next option, which is the general category of HDMI sticks.

HDMI sticks

HDMI sticks are another way that the mysterious, invisible tv signals can get into your tv.  They are all similar in that they look like fat flash drives and plug right into the USB port on your television.  The advantage is they are usually cheaper and there is less clutter sitting on your entertainment center.  They don’t have any storage, but they stream programs just fine. John and Jerry actually have an HDMI stick.

Antenna

There is a third piece of hardware that you can get, if you want. This one is totally optional  Many of the streaming services like Hulu and Netfflix don’t provide local channel access. If you want local sports or news, you can pay a fee and subscribe to some services like YouTube tv or Sling tv, or…you could buy an antenna. There are lots of options for antennas. The technology has developed a lot and has come a long way since the days of bunny ears and tin foil on top of your tv, or your dad climbing on top of the roof to adjust the antenna after a wind storm. By the way, if those references don’t mean anything to you, we say to you, and not for the last time–screw you for being so young!  Check out our article on the best indoor antennas to buy.

Cut the cord–Programs to watch:

Decide what you really like to watch on tv.  The reason cord cutting works is that you try to only pay for the channels that you watch.  With cable television, you pay for access to hundreds of channels that you may never view.  So if you are deciding to cut the cord, look at what you really like to watch.  If you are a fan of “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, make sure you can subscribe to Hulu from your device. If you are a sports fan, there are different types of streaming bundles available from such services as Sling TV for a reasonable cost per month.