Cord-Cutting 101: Advanced Cord-Cutter Setup

We show you three ways to tailor a cord-cutter setup to your specific needs and budget

At this point in our Cord-Cutting 101 series, you’re an experienced streamer. You’ve been streaming for years. Well, maybe months. Possibly weeks. At the very least, you know all about cord-cutting basics, devices, HD antennas, apps, and so on.

But even for the experienced cord-cutter, there’s still a lot to learn. With new services and devices cropping up every few months, it’s kind of tough to keep up.

In this installment of Cord-Cutting 101, we’re going to help you look at your cord-cutting journey from a slightly different angle.

You want to control your own entertainment destiny, right? Right. Then this is the video tutorial for you.

We’re going to show you three different streaming paths that you could go down:

Path #1: I want everything
Path #2: I don’t want to pay for anything
Path #3: I’m on a budget

There is no cord-cutting setup to rule them all—each of these paths is legitimate, each is unique, but only one of them is right for you.

Which shall it be?

It’s time to choose your own cord-cutting adventure, so let’s dive in!

Path #1: I want everything

This is the simplest path out there. You want everything, you get everything.

Does this sound like you? There’s a new streaming service that comes out—sweet, let’s try it out. The new device from Apple TV does 4K and HDR, and it’s only 200 bucks? Awesome. Get it.

This pathway sounds nice, right? Yes, it does. Are you financially comfortable? You better be. This cord-cutting setup isn’t for the faint of wallet.

Simply talking about services here, you could subscribe to YouTube TV for $65, or Hulu Live for $55 a month, Netflix for $13 more, Disney+ for $7, HBO Max for $15, Amazon Prime for about $10, Paramount+ for $4.99, Peacock for $5, and on and on and on.

How do the best live TV streaming services compare?
Live TV streaming serviceMonthly price*ChannelsDetails
YouTube TV$64.99/mo.85+View Plans
Hulu + Live TV$54.99/mo.65+View Plans
Sling TV$30–$4530–50+View Plans
AT&T TV NOW$55–$13545–125View Plans
fuboTV$59.99–$84.9995–160+View Plans

It can really add up. Suddenly, you’re well over a $100 a month for TV services! Pricewise, you’re right back where you were before you cut the cord.

It might be expensive, but it’s easy.

If you don’t mind paying for everything you want, this is just one cord-cutting path you could go down.

Path #2: I don’t want to pay for anything

You found yourself on this path because you wanted to save some money, and doggone it! you’re going to save some money.

But if you don’t want to pay for anything, you might have to make a few sacrifices. That’s just the life of a cord-cutting hero like you.

Maybe you don’t care about current trends, so it’s not a sacrifice for you to get rid of most of the popular shows out there, which happen to live behind a paywall. Maybe they’re on Netflix or Disney+ or HBO Max, but you don’t care, because, like I said, you don’t care about the zeitgeist.

For some people I know, having the TV on is just about background noise while they do their chores or workout or whatever.

If that sounds like you, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of free apps—often commercial-supported, sometimes not—that can mimic either the live or on-demand experience that you get from paid stuff.

So if you’re looking to cut all costs out of your streaming experience, check out services like Pluto TV or Tubi, among many others.

Recommended free content

If you’re looking for free content, you can find it on almost every platform around. Trust us—we’re out there looking at all the streaming services for you.

The point is there are a lot of free options out there for cord-cutters.

Path #3: I’m on a budget

Our third path is for the budget-conscious, and this is the group that I think most of us will probably fit into.

You got into cord-cutting to save some money, but you do enjoy some of the premium content that you have to pay to watch.

This path is the toughest one to navigate, right? You don’t have the same kind of simple, straightforward mindset of either buy everything or buy nothing.

But this pathway also has the most potential upside, too, in terms of balancing your content and your budget. You can get quite a lot for just a little.

With all the amazing content out there, things can add up pretty quickly if you just subscribe to every new streaming service as they pop up. Take my word for it as someone who has to sign up for every new streaming service to review it—yeah, it adds up pretty fast.

Start by finding your budget number. Is it $20 a month? Great. You can get Netflix and Disney+ for that. That’s a lot of content. $30 a month? You can get Netflix and HBO Max. That’s a pretty potent combo. Or maybe your budget is higher. Is it $60 or $70 a month? Now we’re getting into live-TV territory, if that’s what you really want.

Budgeting for live TV

Let’s talk about live TV for cord-cutters for a moment.

This is actually the perfect time to get your budget as low as possible and save some real money. Live TV is the most expensive option out there, right? You’re talking 50, 55, 60 bucks a month for streaming live TV.

Bottom line: The only real reason I can see for paying $50 or more a month for live TV service is for sports and news.

If you can survive without live sports and news (which is worth considering for mental health concerns alone), then the reasons for paying for live TV evaporate pretty quickly. That’s just one way you can bring down your budget number and save a lot of money.

Stick to your budget

Ultimately the point is this:

If you can find your cord-cutting budget number and stick to it, it can actually make your decision-making a lot easier.

If I have a budget of $40 a month, and I’m already at $37—sorry, I can’t sign up for HBO Max unless I cancel Netflix or something else. That’s just how math works.

Budget decisions can be kind of tough sometimes, but they do get easier and more straightforward if you have a firm number in mind and stick to it.

Final thoughts

So there you go—those are the three cord-cutting paths before you.

Choose wisely, grasshoppers.

If you’re not sure your home internet can support all this cord-cutting, check out our recommendations for the best internet for streaming.

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