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Cutting the Cord From Cable: Netflix vs Hulu vs Sling

Cutting the cord from cable is easy. We’ll show you how, and get you saving money with a little comparison of Netflix vs Hulu vs Sling.

Cutting the cord from cable fuzzy tv in background

Cable is expensive.

And dare I say….unnecessary? *gasping all around*.

Stay with me here…it doesn’t sound so crazy if I tell you that you can save $1,000 or more a year on your cable bill and not be giving up a thing (except for maybe commercials) does it?

Whether you’re trying to save money, pay off debt, are living paycheck to paycheck, that’s a lot of money!

How much are you paying for cable each month? Don’t know? Grab the bill…I’ll wait for ya.

vintage adding machine close up

It’s a lot isn’t it? According to Statista, the average monthly cable bill is between around $50 and $150 a month.

Ours was on the higher end. Current pricing for cable in our area is around $140/mo. The cable companies will suck you in with teaser rates, but then go up drastically after the initial period. Before we cut the cord, we were paying $250 a month (it started at $80).

Two hundred and fifty freakin’ dollars a month for basic cable, DSL internet (sloooow) and a phone only telemarketers called! Sound familiar?

Life Without Cable? Won’t it be Weird?

Nope. Well…a little at first, but you’ll easily get used to it…I promise. Dare I say you might even like it better than cable?

We first cut the cord from cable in 2010. Farmboy and I worked opposite shifts at the time, so I had the TV on a lot for background company when he wasn’t home. I really wanted to dump cable, but I thought it would be lonely without it.

Vintage TV without cable

And it would be weird because we couldn’t watch our favorite shows.

I was wrong.

We hooked up our Wii (we didn’t know about Roku at the time), added the Netflix app, cancelled the cable, and took the plunge.

It was a bit of an adjustment. I couldn’t watch some of my regular shows, but there were so many shows and movies, I was thoroughly entertained. And I did get to discover the joys of binge watching!

If you’ve never binge watched, it’s one of the great joys of cutting the cord from cable.

A few years later, we discovered Hulu. That was a game changer. We could watch most of our favorite shows again. And, the ones we couldn’t, like Vikings (Hulu has since added Vikings), we watched on The History Channel online for free.

In 2014 my brother bought us a Roku for Christmas. We’ve since added our ” target=”_blank”>Amazon Prime Video account and Pandora to the mix.

If you’ve never used a Roku, its easy.

How to Use a Roku

  • Choose between the Roku Stick (a little jump drive looking thing that plugs into the back of your TV) or the Roku Express (about the size of half a PB&J made on wonder bread that plugs into your TV via a supplied HDMI cord). They both come with remotes. Roku does make more models, but they’re more expensive.
  • Plug it in.
  • Use the Search Channel function and add the channels you have subscriptions to (like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” aria-label=”Amazon Prime Video (opens in a new tab)”>Amazon Prime Video, Pandora, Sling, etc.). There are a ton of free channels on Roku as well…just don’t get sucked into impulse buying any channels you don’t need.
  • Watch your favorite shows!

Frugal Hippie Tip: Paying $100 or more a month for yoga classes? Consider Gaia’s channel on Roku for yoga classes instead. You can get 3 months for $29.99 or pay a year in advance for $99.00. That’s another savings of over $1000.00 a year!

Netflix vs Hulu vs Sling: Cutting the Cord from Cable

Each service is slightly different. You can choose one, or a combination and still pay way less than you were for cable. They all have free trials, so you can take your time to make up your mind.

man watching netflix in bed

Life’s about choices…let’s make this one relatively painless.

Netflix

  • You can watch a plethora of popular movies (4,010 to be precise) & binge watch a ton of shows (1,569).
  • Netflix original shows & movies included.
  • Zero commercials.
  • Free trial offer: First month free
  • Cost: Basic – $8.99/mo watch on 1 TV at a time; Standard HD- $12.99/mo watch on up to 2 TVs at once; Premium HD/Ultra HD- $15.99/mo watch on up to 4 TVs at a time
  • Cancel anytime & only pay for remainder of your billing period month

Things to consider when choosing your Netflix plan:

  • Do you really neeeeeed HD? We truly haven’t noticed a difference at all.
  • How often would the TVs in your house be on Netflix at the same time? If there are just two of you, Basic should suffice. Have a larger family? Or a kid in college? You may want to consider the Standard or Premium.

Frugal Hippie’s pick: The Basic Netflix Plan. It’s $48.00 cheaper per year than the Standard Netflix Plan and $84.00 less per year than the Premium Plan. Again, consider how many people will be watching at one time.

Hulu

  • Watch TV shows from popular networks the day after they air (or anytime thereafter).
  • Hulu original shows & movies included.
  • Commercials included (depending on plan).
  • Watch on 2 TVs at once with Hulu or HuluPlus
  • Free trial offer: 30 days for Hulu, 7 days for HuluPlus
  • Other options: Add HBO $14.99/mo, Starz $8.99/mo , Showtime $10.99/mo & Cinemax $9.99/mo if you so desire.
  • Cost per month: Hulu (with ads) – $5.99/mo, Hulu (no ads) – $11.99; HuluPlus – $44.99/mo (no ads, includes 60+ live streaming channels).
  • Cost per year: Hulu – $71.88/yr; Hulu (no ads) – $143.88/yr; HuluPlus – $539.88/yr
  • Cancel anytime & only pay for remainder of your billing period month

Things to consider when choosing your Hulu plan:

  • Can you live with commercials? At $5.99 a month…we do! And it gives us an excuse to get up and get some ice cream.
  • Do you neeeeed live streaming shows? Can you wait a day?
  • Check the site when signing up for specials. They regularly do special rates for Premium channels, which you cancel when your favorite show isn’t on.

Frugal Hippie’s pick: The Hulu basic plan. The difference between HuluPlus and Hulu with ads is $468.00/yr…that’s a good chunk of dough. And, if you MUST have live, streaming channels, you could save $168.00/yr by choosing Sling over HuluPlus.

Sling

  • Watch TV shows, news & sports from popular networks live, just like cable (some can be viewed later as well).
  • No original Sling shows.
  • Commercials included in all plans.
  • Free trial offer: 7 days
  • Options: Choose from 3 plans. Orange ($25/mo) , Blue ($25/mo), or Orange/Blue Combo ($40/mo). Each plan includes different channels with the combo having the most.
  • Cancel anytime & only pay for remainder of your billing period month

Things to consider when choosing your Sling TV plan:

  • Check for specials. As I write this, they’re offering your first month at 40% off. Alternately, prepay for 2 months in advance and get either a Roku, or an HD antenna (for local channels) free.
  • For live, streaming shows, Sling is the cheaper alternative to HuluPlus (by about $468/yr).

Frugal Hippie’s pick: The choice of Orange or Blue plans really comes down to what channels you regularly watch. For specials, if local channels are important to you consider the HD antenna deal. Bear in mind that HD antennas usually work well in big cities. Live in the country? Go for the free Roku.

Choosing How Much to Save by Cutting the Cord From Cable

How much you want to save per year is up to you. We chose Basic Netflix & Hulu with ads & we have more than enough to entertain us. I suggest starting with the lowest priced options…you can always add on later if you want.

Cable isn’t a necessity. TV isn’t either. But, you don’t have to give up the comfort of entertainment to be frugal!

Woman watching TV and eating popcorn in bed

We all need to escape the stresses of the world sometimes and shows and movies provide an easy (& now you know an inexpensive) way to do just that.

Grab your loved ones & some popcorn and settle in for a movie night…on the cheap.

cutting the cord from cable tv with snow

Affiliate disclaimer: When you click on & purchase a product through links found in our posts, we may or may not receive a small commission at no cost to you. Our integrity cannot be bought – we only recommend products we know rock, or have researched enough to believe they do. Remember your goals though…don’t purchase anything that won’t further your frugal hippie, debt free life!

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