Saving Money On Things That Used To Be Free: TV

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One of my pet peeves is paying for something that used to be free. When we moved to the country one thing we discovered was that TV reception was poor at best.  Everyone told us we would have to get a cable or satellite subscription if we wanted to watch TV.

As you can guess I immediately went on a mission to defeat that issue.  When we lived in the city we had an * antenna in the attic that provided excellent reception – that was before digital TV.  But once we moved here we were able to get acceptable reception with the same set-up. Then came the digital change.

Digital TV Converter Box. When we moved to the country we discovered TV reception was poor at best. But we didn't resort to a monthly cable bill - see how! #TexasHomesteader

First we had to either get a converter or buy a new TV.  We were able to obtain a converter for free through the FCC program. But then there was the issue of signal strength and this proved much more difficult. As you all know the digital signal is weaker and much more finicky than the old analog signal. But we refused to give up.

First we installed a booster on the antenna.   This helped, but we would regularly lose reception to weather conditions and the signal was still weak so the picture was less than stellar.

Antenna Booster. When we moved to the country we discovered TV reception was poor at best. But we didn't resort to a monthly cable bill - see how! #TexasHomesteader

Next we tried mounting the antenna as high in the attic as possible. But it was still very unreliable partially due to our solar decking in the attic blocking the signal. I contacted a local TV service company who reported they could install an antenna on a 30′ mast and run the necessary cables for $600.

Heck $600 will get several months of cable TV. We almost caved in and subscribed to cable.  But we decided if raising the antenna was the problem we would mount it as high on the roof as possible.

After installing the proper bracket and pole to the peak of the roof and properly grounding against lightning we were able to get the antenna about 25′ up. (our roof peek is about 20′ and the pole is 5′) BINGO!

Once the antenna was up in the air and clear of our solar decking the reception improved dramatically.  RancherMan then went online and found the station locator and with a compass set the antenna exactly where it needed to be.  We live approximately 75 miles from the Dallas towers, which is considered the fringe area.  That means all of our station signals are weak but 90% of the time we have an 80%+ signal strength. We have over 80 channels available. Not bad for a one time investment of about $150.

Rooftop TV Antenna. When we moved to the country we discovered TV reception was poor at best. But we didn't resort to a monthly cable bill - see how! #TexasHomesteader
As you know, broadcast TV is sometimes less than tolerable now days. Cable and satellite offer many more channels but most of them are repetitive or of no interest to a lot of people. Thanks to a relative we discovered a little-known device called a * Roku.

We have DSL internet and a wireless modem so this is better than cable and is a one time purchase of less than $90 (base model is about $50). The Roku gives us access to hundreds of free internet-based channels including movies.

Now don’t confuse this with cable, there are no “live” broadcasts through this device. But news is broadcast after the fact, and countless shows are available on a replay basis. One of my favorite Roku channels is Crackle. It’s essentially Netflix with a 30 second commercial every 20 minutes or so. And it is absolutely FREE.

There are also home improvement channels as well as cooking, DIY, documentaries, old movies and cartoon channels. And guys, there are hunting and fishing channels too. So for a one-time expense of about $200 we have broadcast TV and the next best thing to cable, but without the monthly bill.

Roku - Watch TV over the internet. When we moved to the country we discovered TV reception was poor at best. But we didn't resort to a monthly cable bill - see how! #TexasHomesteader

If you live in a rural area don’t give up on affordable TV.  And if you live in the city, still look into the Roku.  Cut that cable bill your bank account will love you.

~TxH~

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43 thoughts on “Saving Money On Things That Used To Be Free: TV

  1. Joann Woolley

    I have a few friends who have Roku and think we should switch – my husband is a big sports fan and doesn’t want to give up sports related programming…. sigh.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yeah, it’s always hard for the sports fans to switch. RancherMan is a huge Mavericks Basketball fan and he’s been able to work around not having cable and enjoy most games, although there have been a few games he’s had to miss. ~TMR~

      Reply
  2. Mary Gilbert

    We cut the cable a little over two years ago and purchased a Roku. We love it!!! Can’t hardly tolerate going somewhere and having to suffer through cable tv.
    Thanks for sharing on No Rules Weekend Blog Party!

    Reply
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  5. Gretchen

    Question for you. We are moving to a small farm in Fannin County, near Bonham. What do you use for internet access? My husband will be working from home and will need the best high-speed access available.

    Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Gretchen, Bonham is a great town! We’re not far from Bonham and we use AT&T for our DSL. I can’t say I recommend them but they’re one of the few DSL options we have out here. (As long as you never have to call them for anything, the service itself works just fine.) Congrats on your move – how exciting! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  7. Tami Lewis

    We also live in North east Texas and we live off grid. We are so rural that we don’t have phone lines or the ability to get power! So we live off grid. And we have given u on tv lol so we use a generator to power a tv and dvd player and stick with dvds.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Hi Tami, It sounds like you’ve got a great solution for your family. We really wanted to be off-grid too & just couldn’t make it work financially. (although getting set up with the electric company was severely cost prohibitive, alternative energy options were just out of our reach) We compromised by paying the exorbitant fees to get electricity run to our home and then NOT using as much of it as we could each month. Our electric bills are shockingly low and we love it! I’m secretly envious of your off-grid status… So glad you stopped by! ~TMR~

      Reply
  8. bunnyfreak

    We love your Roku. We now have two. You should check out the private channel nowhereman. This channel has many feeds for news stations, home, education, networks (we watch David Letterman top ten lists).

    For Baseball Fans – You can watch live games through an MLBTV subscription on Roku. While this subscription is over $100 bucks, you get all the games for the season. (For non-subscribers there is a daily free game.) Much cheaper than when we purchased Extra Innings package through cable company.

    Reply
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  10. Lisa Lynn

    Personally, I could live without any tv…but hubby likes his football and ‘needs’ the direct tv sports package, lol! I don’t look at the bill, because I know it will make me hopping mad! Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/06/the-homeacre-hop-23.html

    Reply
  11. Heather

    Hello there! Have you had your Roku for very long? We received one for Christmas a couple of years ago and after using it for 6 months, it just completely stopped working. We had the same model that you have in your picture, so I am curious if you have had similar problems. PLEASE NOTE that this was an isolated incident. My sister and her husband have had the exact same model for over 2 years and it works splendidly. Visiting from TALU.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Heather, we’ve never had any trouble at all with our Roku. If I were in your shoes I’d contact the manufacturer and let them know. I’ve found that most times the manufacturer is eager to make things right, or at least reduce the cost that would be involved in buying a new one. Good luck! ~TMR~

      Reply
    2. Beth McIntire

      If you’ve only had the Roku for 6 months, I recommend contacting Roku about a warranty replacement if you haven’t already. I had a remote control go bad on my Roku before the one-year warranty was up, and they sent me a new one. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  12. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    Good Morning! You’ve been featured at Tuesdays with a Twist! (And we’re SO excited that you already have the button up!!!)
    Looking forward to seeing what you share this week!

    http://back2basichealth.blogspot.com/2013/06/tuesdays-with-twist-10-party.html

    Reply
  13. Deanna

    Great timing! We dropped satellite two weeks ago because Dish wouldn’t give us new equipment and DirectTV frustrated me. So, we thought we’d just do without until a better deal came through. Now that we’ve been watching tv on the antenna and I’ve been debating over Roku or Hulu Plus through the HDMI cable, I don’t think we’ll go back to satellite or cable.

    Reply
  14. CelloMom

    TV is never free: we are thrown the programs in return for our willing eyeballs to watch the commercials of “sponsors”. You can regard it as manufacturers’ direct access to our “Buy” button. And they push it all the time. What truly puzzles me is that we consent to pay (e.g. for cable) for the privilege of being presented with incessant commercials urging us to buy things we don’t need.

    We don’t have TV in the house. I consider it our small act of civil disobedience: to cut away from the consumption machine. And it’s healthier for our children.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Daisy, there are no live broadcasts from Roku and the likes that I’m familiar with, but we get the races over the air with our antenna on regular TV channels. ~TMR~

      Reply
  15. Kathy

    We’ve used Roku for a while now and we’re pretty pleased with it. Sometimes Hulu Plus loads slow but I can tell you that I have not regretted dropping the satellite yet. Between our HD antenna and Roku we have most everything we want.

    Reply
  16. Manuela@ A Cultivated Nest

    We bought an HDMI cable and hook it up from our tv to our computer and watch shows that way. Most stations carry their shows except the newest one on their sites and then Hulu has lots for free. We also have Netflix and you can stream tons of movies and shows for under $8 a month.

    Reply
  17. Darlene

    Hi Stacy, We haven’t had cable for years. It’s an expense I would rather skip. It’s also a reason to stay glued to the t.v. and become couch potatoes. We have have a huge movie collection that we’ve had since my girls were young. Now my granddaughters watch them. We also watch movies and tv series on line which is great because we can watch it when we want to rather than work our schedule around the shows we watch. Project Free TV is completely free. They keep up with the television series but have not added any 2013 movies yet which is fine with me cause there are all kinds of other sites to watch movies free.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We haven’t had cable for years either Darlene, and I’m shocked, SHOCKED when I hear how much it costs! And those that do have cable are constantly noting they have many (expensive) channels and still nothing to watch. Like you, we like to be mindful of our TV watching times. I think TV offers a valid entertainment value, but oftentimes it becomes just a repeated vegetative state if you’re not careful. LOL ~TMR~

      Reply

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