How to Cut the Cord on Any Budget

4 Ways to Cut the Cord and Stream TV on Any Budget

When people ask me how much money they’ll save by cutting the cord, I respond with a question of my own: “Which type of cord cutter are you?”

With so many streaming TV options, there is no single cord-cutting solution that will work for everyone.

Which Type of Cord Cutter Are You?

But based on my five years of helping people cancel cable TV and switch to internet-based streaming services, I’ve identified four main types of cord cutters:

In this article and the featured video below, I’ll explain the four ways to cut the cord and and stream TV on any budget. Let’s get started!

1. The Max Saver – $0 to $25 Per Month

If you’re on a tight budget or don’t watch a lot of TV, consider the Max Saver strategy for the greatest savings compared to cable.

Max Savers spend between $0 and $25 a month on streaming TV, plus the cost of high-speed internet service. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $75 per month for an internet plan.

Antenna

For most people who choose this path, purchasing an antenna is the key to long-term savings.

An antenna will pick up local stations like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and dozens of lesser-known channels.

Indoor antennas like the Mohu Leaf that I own cost about $40 and work best in city homes that are close to broadcast towers. But if you live in a suburban or rural area, an attic or roof antenna may provide better coverage.

To learn more about antennas, go to AntennaWeb.org or check out the Antenna Man YouTube channel.

Free Streaming Apps

If you only rely on an antenna, you don’t need internet service. But most households pay for internet service anyway, which opens up a lot of other options for 100% free TV.

In the YouTube video below, I laid out my favorite free and cheap streaming services:


Free and legal services like Pluto TV and The Roku Channel offer a mix of live and on-demand content that’s supported by advertising. Other free options I like include Peacock, IMDBtv and Tubi

These services have libraries of movies and TV shows, but much of the content is a few years or even decades old.

On-Demand Streaming Apps

That’s why some Max Savers will want to supplement the TV they get from an antenna and free streaming services with one or two paid apps.

Netflix is my top recommendation if you’re narrowing it down to just one app.

The most popular Netflix plan is less than $15 a month and offers a massive library of shows, movies and original series that people are always talking about.

And best of all? There are no commercials with Netflix.

If you’re willing to spend closer to $25 a month, consider adding a second paid app like Hulu, Disney+ or even HBO Max.

2. The Ad Dodger – Less than $50 Per Month

The Ad Dodger is the second type of streamer and it’s becoming a lot more common.

For $50 a month or less, Ad Dodgers assemble their own custom bundle of streaming services that don’t run commercials.

They may use an antenna for broadcast TV and the free apps that I mentioned earlier, but less often because of the ads. This cord cutter also doesn’t want to pay the premium price that live TV streaming services charge.

Here’s how you could combine four ad-free streaming services and stay around $50 a month:

Streaming ServiceMonthly Price
Netflix Standard$13.99
HBO Max (No Ads) $14.99
Hulu No Commercials $11.99
Paramount Plus (No Ads) $9.99
TOTAL$50.96

Paramount+ isn’t a favorite of mine for on-demand content, but I included it in this example because it has a live TV component.

With the $10 a month plan, you will get access to a live feed of your local CBS station.

If you like CBS programming and can’t pick it up with an antenna, Paramount+ is an option that’s worth considering.

3. The Cable TV Clinger – $50 to $100 Per Month

The Cable TV Clinger is the third type of cord cutter.

This is someone who dropped their cable or satellite TV service because of the price, but they still want access to the sports, news and entertainment networks they’ve always watched.

Expect to pay $50 to $100 a month if you sign up for a live TV streaming service as well as one or two on-demand apps like Netflix and Hulu.

In my step-by-step guide for first-time streamers, I recommend YouTube TV‘s live TV service because it offers the best of cable at a lower monthly price.

YouTube TV Basics

  • 85+ cable channels in base plan
  • Local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS 
  • Unlimited cloud DVR 
  • Up to 3 streams at once 
  • Simple navigation

Think of YouTube TV, along with competitors like Hulu Live, Sling TV and fuboTV, as Cable 2.0.

They all have similar (but not identical) bundles with dozens of cable networks, so it’s not like you can pick and choose the five networks you actually watch and skip the rest. 

See this separate article for help comparing live TV streaming services and their channel lineups.

Although live TV is expensive, the most popular plans are still typically cheaper than cable. In addition, streaming TV services don’t require you to sign a contract or pay for rental equipment.

4. The Strategic Switcher

The Strategic Switcher is the type of cord cutter that the major streaming services don’t like, but this is the best way to get a variety of content for a reasonable price.

When you think about the three previous cord-cutting paths, there are compromises with each of them.

  • The Max Saver relies mostly on over-the-air channels and free streaming apps, which both carry lots of advertising. 
  • The Ad Dodger avoids the commercials, but you can pay up to $50 a month if you subscribe to three or four apps. It’s great for on-demand content, but this isn’t a live TV solution.
  • The Cable TV Clinger gets their favorite networks, but the savings compared to cable may not be significant.

The Strategic Switcher is able to save money by not getting tied down to one service or one way of cord cutting.

Here’s an example

This type of streamer may subscribe to a live TV streaming service to watch a particular sport. That’s the Cable TV Clinger track.

But during the off-season, they cancel the live TV service and become a Max Saver by relying on an antenna for broadcast TV and signing up for one or two on-demand services.

And when their favorite sport begins again, they drop the on-demand apps and go right back to the Cable TV Clinger track.

Final Thoughts

Here’s the bottom line: When you got cable or satellite TV, you probably had to sign a contract. But that’s not the case with streaming services!

You have the flexibility to decide every month if you want to continue or cancel.

Here’s my rule of thumb: If I can’t remember streaming three things from a particular service over the last month, I’ll typically pause or cancel the subscription.


I created the free Michael Saves Streaming TV Spending Tracker to help you evaluate your subscriptions and whether they’re worth your money. Get started here.

Which type of cord cutter are you? Leave a comment below and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more ways to save!


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