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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mama Bear Moxie: Cutting the cord

Cutting the cable cord has worked out for columnist KristinaPhelan’s family (Matt Rourke / AP)
By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

In an effort to save a few dollars off the family budget, many families are choosing to forgo cable and switch to other television options. We had friends who cut off their cable a few years ago and raved about how they didn’t even miss it. So, we decided to cancel our cable service last year in an effort to put just a little bit more of our budget into retirement.

At first, I was nervous. I mean, how was I going to keep up to date with the latest news, watch my favorite shows or watch my beloved Seahawks? If you have never canceled a service, let alone a cable service, you would be surprised at the amount of last ditch discounts the company will offer you to stay. Canceling a service like this, and maintaining your salvation, is an art. (Kidding of course). After I spent longer than I wanted on the phone talking to a customer service representative who was not happy with my simple one word answers to her questions, I hung up and felt relieved. And, we really haven’t missed it.

Although my husband wanted us to forego television shows all together, I wanted to watch some shows even if we didn’t have full cable. We were already Amazon Prime members, which is about $100 per year, so that part was easy. All you need is a smart TV and internet service. We have found Amazon Prime is a nice option for those older series shows that were once on cable . It is always a good way to watch interesting documentaries and the popular shows, the Amazon Originals, that are available only for Amazon customers. We usually will rent a movie for the kids off of Amazon Prime although there are some downsides. Not everything is included with the Prime membership, but they are available for usually about a $3-$4 rental. Some movies that are out are only available for a full movie purchase, not a daily rental, which is annoying. But, there is always something else to choose if you don’t want to spend the money.

We also have Netflix, which is about $8 per month. You need internet service for this as well. I like Netflix because each member of the family can have their own profile. The kids have theirs, which tailors what they see to kid approved shows, while the adults have their own with their choices. I like that my kids know that they can only watch their profile on Netflix, and I love that Netflix tends to have more of the wholesome cartoons that I grew up with (no Disney channel pop princess-like shows). I also like that, since you already pay for the monthly service, everything on Netflix is included. One of the downsides about Netflix is that they don’t release shows until the next season starts on cable, so you are about six months behind on any current shows that you want to keep up on.

Hulu is another option that we haven’t signed up for. This service is a lot like Netflix and is about $8 per month if you want to watch commercials. You pay an extra $4 per month if you want to watch commercial free. Hulu has more of the shows that are currently on cable, and you can usually watch your favorite show the day after it airs on cable. The amount of shows that they offer is a lot less than Netflix, but if you want to keep up with that latest episode of your favorite show, Hulu would be the best choice.

Overall, this experience has been great for our family. I don’t miss the commercials or the news as I can access recent events on my smartphone. I wouldn’t recommend going cable-less if you are a sports fanatic though. We have purchased NFL Game Pass for two years now to make sure that we get to watch the Seahawks play. We don’t get to watch the games live but do get to play the condensed version of the game the day after. Still, for us, the decision to cut our cable and save the money has been great, and we don’t plan on ever going back.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. www.mamabear Visit her website at