Cutting the Cable and Saving Money

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How much is cable TV costing you a month? Further, how much entertainment value is it bringing you?

Be honest. How much time do you spend watching the Hallmark Channel, Speed, Animal Planet or others like it? If you scanned your lineup of cable channels, you might be surprised at how few of these channels you actually watch.

That is why it is time to cut cable to save money.

Cable TV is far from inexpensive. According to figures released by the Federal Communications Commission in May 2014, the average U.S. household paid $63.03 a month for expanded basic cable service. That comes out to $756.36 a year. found in 2013 that 45 percent of U.S. adults think that cable TV is a waste of dollars. The problem is, so few of us react on that correct assumption. Too many cable consumers believe that there are no other options for TV watching today.

Thanks to the Internet though and streaming video technology, there are plenty of alternatives to cable TV. Moreover, these alternatives are far less costly.

Consider the biggest provider of streaming video, Netflix. The company offers unlimited streaming for $7.99 a month. New members, though, starting in January of 2015 will face an increase of $1 a month for the same service, according to Netflix. Even with the higher fees, that is still no more than $8.99 a month for unlimited streaming of TV shows and movies.

Of course, Netflix might not provide all the movies or TV shows you want to watch. You can add Hulu Plus to your streaming list. Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month, too. The service specializes in TV shows, streaming most of them starting one day after they air.

If you want to build a truly impressive streaming video library, consider adding Amazon Instant Video to your subscription list. Subscribing to the service is free to Amazon Prime members. Non-members will have to pay a fee for most every video selected. These fees vary. You might be able to rent a TV episode for $1.99 for a 48-hour period. A newer movie might cost you $4.99 for a rental. This can add up if you are not careful, but it is far less expensive than taking the family to the movie theater.

The good news about streaming services is that you can watch movies and TV shows on your TV screen through a number of devices. Do your children own a Wii or PlayStation? You can stream video through these devices. You can also buy a set-top box that streams for you. Roku, Amazon's Fire TV and Google's Chromecast are attractive options.

These devices can range from $35 to $100 or more. However, once you set them up -- provided you have wireless Internet -- you gain access to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. You also gain access to plenty of free channels that are less known, channels that specialize in everything from classic horror movies, black-and-white dramas, sci-fi shows and westerns. There are free channels for every taste.

Even if you buy a streaming set-top box, subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, you should still save money each month compared to cable TV subscriptions. Also, when you rely on streaming video, you only pay for the channels you want and will actually watch.

Even better? The technology behind streaming video is improving annually, making it the perfect time to cut your cable service and enjoy the lower entertainment expenses that come with such a move.