Cancel the Cable for Holiday Peace

Photo by sburke2478

Want to see fewer ads this Christmas? Watch a little less TV.

If you’ve ever thought about going without TV, now really is the ideal time to try!

We’ve been without it for almost three years, and I appreciate that the most during the holidays. (Maybe during the election, too.)

We don’t have to watch after-Thanksgiving ads, we don’t hear false promises of what will make our loved ones happy, and we don’t have the noise. It’s worth it.

Going without TV doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We do have the television set and DVD player, so we can watch movies when we want to. I can watch something online if I want to. I have more control over what Lane sees.

Now when we watch something, we have to be intentional about it. We can’t just turn on the TV.

Another tactic is to leave the TV unplugged. When you’re reaching back there to plug in the TV, it gives you a few more seconds to think about if that’s what you really want to be doing.

We all have such an input-overload right now. Take back a little peace and quiet.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I’m so with you on this one. I’d love to cancel cable – my husband however feels strongly different about doing so.

    • Know exactly what you mean…would cancel it…but Hubby starts complaining. about what is left for him to watch. He can’t stand for it to be off..even goes to sleep with it..but I turn it off when I go to bed…I can’t sleep with it on. :)

  2. My husband is the same as Denise’s husband. I will say that we don’t watch as much television and we do have the DVR so we can speed through those commercials. :)

    Amy´s last blog post..Our Favorite Cocoa Mix

  3. I finally convinced my husband to cancel cable after the election. I has been a dream of mine for a long time. We still have the television for movies and we’ve actually watched several in the past month.

    I don’t “shop” nor do I see Christmas on TV so the holidays are of my own making. It is truly wonderful. :)

    Nina´s last blog post..Cybils Picture Books (21 quick takes)

  4. Excellent plan – we try and avoid the TV as much as possible and watch the crackling fire instead.
    I’ve personally stopped watching TV altogether since about three years ago and simply watch DVD sets and programs bought and downloaded or streamed online. I love TV programs, but I hate adverts. Avoiding adverts and TV-channels means that I don’t get bombarded with product advertising, and I also don’t suffer from the curse of ‘just watching one more thing’ because when my chosen episode or DVD ends, it *ends*.

  5. I am so glad to find someone else who has reached the same conclusion about t.v.! We got rid of it about 9 years ago (but we watch selected movies and videos with a DVD player, as you do) and it was, hands down, the best decision we ever made — both as parents and as people trying to live mindfully and productively.

    I highly encourage anyone who’s thinking about dumping their cable connection to DO IT! A whole new world of free time and peacefulness will open up for you.

  6. Denise & Amy, definitely. Keep the cable if your husbands want it. Doug thought about turning it back on for football season. He usually goes somewhere to watch the games.

    Camilla, good point about missing the previews. Watching one show usually means watching the next one too.

  7. I’ve been considering this for a while now. The problem in our home is that my husband is a sports fanatic. We live in a remote area so we can’t get any channels in with an antennae. I’m still holding out for it though. Seems like such a waste of money and time to me. As a compromise we’ve picked a few nights as “no tv nights.”

    Nicki´s last blog post..Mmm … Christmas Goodies.

  8. Rachel,

    I love what you said about having to be “intentional” about what you watch now. So true.

    We have been without TV for almost 3 years now as well and are so thankful that we are. I don’t really miss it and know that we are better off for it. I would probably watch way too much history channel and food network if we had it. I also love that my two year old has no major media influence from our home. No TV, no cartoons, no commercials, no political ads. There’s enough trash in the world. It’s nice to have a haven from it at home.

    We watch videos on our computer when we want to, but not very often. It took me a while to get used to it, but I’m so glad we did.

    Thanks for another encouraging post. Also, thank you for the no spend month inspiration. We have learned so much from this, which I hope to post about this week.


    Shannon´s last blog post..Menu Plan Dec. 14

  9. I love being TV-free. I can’t think of a bigger waste of time than watching TV. We have a projector and a DVD player and play movies on the wall like in a real movie theater. So nice to sit on your own couch and eat your own food and watch a good flick. It takes a while to set up the projector, too, so the girls don’t watch more than once or twice a week.

  10. Nicki, “no tv nights” are a good idea!

  11. We also quit watching broadcast tv about 6 years ago. At the time it was practical because my husband was in grad school and working full time and he needed us to keep the home a good ‘study zone’. After that though we just never felt the need to ‘waste’ our time with tv. Now when we do see it – we are only more determined that we made the right choice. There is so much trash and commercialism. I hate to think what that negative influence would be doing to our kids!

  12. I’d gladly give up TV except to use it for DVDs and movies that I want to watch. Like Amy and Denise, though, my husband won’t go for that. However, I think I have finally convinced him to cancel the cable once we install our digital converter box. That way he can still watch the Spurs and football on TV. I also like Nicki’s suggestion of no tv nights. Maybe my husband will agree to that!!

    • LOL…we got the digital converter box (s) they sit in the closet as it was not enough for him…so here we are still paying for cable.

  13. We’ve been cable free for a few months now and we love it. I do keep a few videos on hand for the kids when they need a distraction, but generally the TV isn’t used. Though, the cut down to nothing was easy for us since we were already barely watching it. But it’s still a great idea for everyone, especially since it’s one less bill to pay.

  14. my husband and I decided to not get cable when we got married so we could save for a house. We’ve never looked back. I would never get cable again! We save a lot of money and waste much less time watching TV. We do get the major network stations in our area, and will watch some shows at night, and we have Netflix so we watch a lot of movies. So Here! Here! glad to see so many people are with us.

  15. I wholeheartedly agree: I’m living at home with my parents currently and I swear the TV is on constantly!

    My husband-to-be had an excellent idea for our home: put the one and only television in our bedroom. We won’t have to decorate around it in the living room, we won’t want cables running into the room so we’ll skip that, we’ll watch the occasional movie before drifting off, and we can haul it out for public viewing if we REALLY feel the urge. Hopefully it’ll help us be more intentional, too!

    Marian´s last blog post..Home

  16. I really enjoy not having the constant distraction of Cable TV on at our house. We have an antenna and get a few channels, but we don’t spend much time around the TV.

    The funniest thing is when I tell people that we don’t have cable, and then I say we don’t have internet, or a home phone. Some people think it’s because we are “behind the times,” when really we just don’t want to spend the money on something that is not a necessity. I’d rather go on a vacation with that money…

    I wonder how much money we have saved for the past 5 years from doing without these luxuries.

  17. I didn’t have a TV for several years, and then my sister and her husband gave me a new, flat-screen TV several months ago. I would need cable, which I don’t have, to get decent reception on several stations.

    Sometimes I forget that I own a TV now. I only watch a few hours of programming each month, and I think it’s nice to have. Some anti-TV people can be a teeny bit self-righteous about not owning TVs.

  18. We do what Rachel does: no tv/cable/antenna, but we watch movies on our oversize computer monitor whenever we want. The fact that picking a movie/tv series on DVD to watch is a lot more deliberate than just turning on the tube and looking for something interesting really reduces the amount that I watch.

  19. You are much braver than I! I think I’d have an actual revolt on my hands if I got rid of the cable, the ring leader would be dh! lol Some days I love being curled up under a blanket w/coffee in hand watching a TV program then there are other days I wished I could just chuck the whole thing out the window!

    Jennifer´s last blog post..Blizzard Blues Buster

  20. V. Higgins says:

    My DH was laid off last week so the first thing to go was the cable (especially since they had just raised our rates without notifying us at all). I’ll miss the Discovery channel, but we can set up his computer to plug into our TV so we can stream shows if we care to. I’d rather watch my Remington Steele DVDs than 90% of the TV out there anyway. :-P

  21. We have been cable free for a few months now, and I absolutely love it. We do get a few channels through the antenna but I mostly watch that for new and weather. We are going to look into one of those pc adapt tvs so that we can stream shows off the internet as well. I get to choose what my kids watch and when, which is easier to do when there is no remote glued to their hands. We always did preview the children’s movies and shows but this makes things alot easier. No tv means more family time in our home, which is always a good thing!

  22. i have actually been cable free for several years, and have very seldom missed it.

    it’s nice to listen to a bit of holiday music while playing board games with loved ones instead of the tv.

    na0´s last blog post..cancel your cable

  23. We have been TV free for 5 years. We haven’t missed it. Though we do download a few of our favorite programs from stations such as the History Channel and Animal Planet and of course Comedy Central onto our laptop. We receive these shows free of commercials and are able to use the programming as a homeschool resource. TV free? Oh heck yes!

    Jessie Earth Momma´s last blog post..Oh, Precious Sleep

  24. We realized there was too much on cable and we were barely watching anything — although my son was watching animes. He found another source on-line to watch those shows, and we just let the cable go. It wasn’t worth it. We have a DVR and can record the few shows we want to watch without the commercials. Sometimes after recording some shows we realize we didn’t really want to watch them anyway. We have more control over what and when we watch something.

    We got rid of our newspaper too! It was creating excess paper — due to all of the ads. Due to getting a smaller car we couldn’t take to the recycling place like we did when we had a van. We get most of our news off the internet now, a few magazines & backup on TV & sometimes radio.

    We are definitely opting away from TV, and we’re better off for it.

    Suzy’s last blog post… <a href=”~ a merry little Christmas ~ with a few favorite things or not ~

  25. We haven’t had a TV since the first day of the olympics when we moved it to plaster the walls, don’t really miss it.

    If I just HAVE to watch something then I need to plug the TV card into my laptop and that is how I can watch it.

    Personally, I prefer to read a book

    MammaBug´s last blog post..Breastfeeding how long is long enough?

  26. Agreed! I have not bothered to fix the TV aerial for years and am down to about 2 channels, sometimes 1. Luckily, nothing I am missing anyways :)
    I really like the idea of using the quiet space to be…and reading is one of my favourite pastimes.

    angelvalerie´s last blog post..So it’s Christmas

  27. My Dad got rid of our TV when I was 6 years old, now I’m married with a daughter and 33 years old and still don’t have a television in my home. It’s so peaceful!

    Blessed´s last blog post..Privileged

  28. @MamaShift: I am saving for a projector! I love the idea of watching movies properly – really immersing in them. Some friends in Norway have a projector and we play Mario Kart on a huge size on the wall, lol.

    @Rachel: Zackly, and I guess we avoid the risk of seeing spoilers for next week’s episode of programs too! ‘No TV’ nights are a good idea – probably made easier by a TV cabinet you can close, I know that would help me avoid switching it on automatically.

  29. I’d love to get rid of the cable! We were without it for a year but not having the sports on TV drove my husband crazy. Now we have the DVR and it has cut way back on our TV watching. Plus we never watch commercials.
    I wish I had the guts to get rid of the internet!

    Andrea´s last blog post..WIN SOMETHING!

  30. I think living without TV is super for family time and conversation. We’ve been without TV for about 13 years (since we got married.) I would have to say Christmas is the one time of year I *wish* I had a TV! There are so many wholesome programs at the holiday season and I have so many great memories from “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “A Christmas Carol” and others I watched during childhood. Last week we went to the video store and loaded up on five DVDs (to watch on our computer) to share these memories with our own children.

  31. For those who need a compromise I wholeheartedly recommend TIVO (DVR). There are somethings on TV I’d like to see, but when we sit down to watch, it is intentional. We only watch shows we truly desire plus, we fast forward through the commercials thereby cutting down the amount of time we actually watch.

    When the kids need some down time (no more than 40 minutes per day per child or 2 short PBS Shows). They can watch what they want and we are not tied to someone else’s schedule.

    It is the perfect solution for the family where one person wants to get rid of TV and the other wants to keep it.

    No, I don’t work for TIVO, I’m just a devoted user.

  32. I love the idea of consuming less in general and the idea includes spending less on pointless things. Great post and nice looking site. I can’t quite figure out why consumption hasn’t become a big no-no, in fact people still seem proud of it. There needs to be a type of score, like a GDP where we can track our distance from equilibrium. How’s that for the genesis of a post. Think I may write about that this weekend.

    Bruce > The Big Desk´s last blog post..The US Needs a New Car Company

  33. I click clicked and here I was – I REALLY like your website! I am on a journey to living a simple life with my two daughters, so your website is a neat “find” for me. We don’t have cable either and just watch movies that we rent or check out at the library. It really helps keep the mind clear of TV clutter (ads and/or shows that suck out the brain cells)! Thanks for sharing your ideas! Keep ‘em coming. :) MM

    Meriann´s last blog post..Daily bread in the way of good deals

  34. i dislike tv. my husband uses it to unwind. but then again, he would love me on the computer less and i use the internet to unwind. :)

    nicola´s last blog post..i swear, this only coincides with the new year.

  35. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog for awhile now and thought I’d finally comment because I totally agree with no TV! My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years and have never had a TV as a couple. We’ve never really missed it (although now that we live in China we get a craving for American TV and culture every now and then). We do watch the occasional movie or TV show on our laptops. One of our favorite pastimes, however, is reading aloud to each other. We’ve read some great books and have enjoyed discussing the books and guessing how they end together. We plan on continuing this pastime with our kids as they get older and hope it’s something we’ll enjoy doing as a family.

  36. I think I would die if i cancelled TV, heh. I still have to overcome cable.. I have overcome HBO and all those extras that the cable company makes so much on because no one watches but everyone pays. I do like to watch the business channels and they are only available on cable, unless someone can point me other wise..

    Bill M´s last blog post..Investing 101: How to Pick a Mutual Fund

  37. I sort of chuckled when I read the title…we were just without electricity for 6 days and I said to the family, hey we ought to cancel the satellite tv service since we seem to be getting by fine without it this week.
    Everyone cringed…but the funny thing is we have now had power restored for about 18 hours & the tv has yet to be turned on!!!

  38. Ever since I moved away from my TV-loving family, I’ve completely ignored TV. Granted, I watch a show or two on the internet, but I’m totally unwilling to pay for cable. In fact, we have a TV simply for the console games, but we totally ignore our family’s odd looks when they ask us why we haven’t seen the latest TV-show fad.

    We get out more and spend quiet time together — it’s worked out great: for our health and our relationship.

    psuklinkie´s last blog post..Festive Food

  39. Great post! People often ask me how I have time to do the various things I do, and part of the reason is we don’t have tv! We’ve gone without it about three and a half years now, and we really don’t look back.

    In fact, now that I think about it, in this house where we are house-sitting, we DO have tv, but we’ve been here several days, and I don’t think either of us has even thought about turning it on. I still like to watch movies occasionally (on our laptops), but I find the sounds of tv jarring if they are just going on in the background now.

    Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last blog post..Overcoming Frustration

  40. We had no cable for 14 years – we cancelled it to save money and time. Now with grown children, it has returned recently but I am finding it is not that good so it may be cancelled again (we do have the converter boxes too). It is my husband who wants it but he doesn’t actually watch it much. I think he should keep a record for a week of what he actually watched – and mostly it is recordings of shows on regular TV.
    Can’t get rid of the internet- I need it for my job.

  41. My husband never watched TV. He’s always been a bit of a gamer junky, so it’s very rare for him to want to do something as passive as watching TV. If he can’t control the main character, he just isn’t interested! As for me, I grew up watching TV. As a teenager, the TV went on when I got home from school and it rarely went off before I crawled into bed.

    When we moved in together, we got cable because “that’s what grown-ups do.” We made a lot of these sorts of decisions, actually. The hubby never watched TV, but it was unthinkable to him that a household should not have one.

    But after two years or so, I realized that we were paying nearly $100/month for something that my hubby never watched and that I only rarely had any time to. I was a full time university student and just too busy studying to spend an evening zoned out. So we got rid of it.

    Honestly, we’ve never looked back. My co-workers spend a lot of time talking about the latest shows, but most of it just seems so dull! If anything, it makes me glad that I spend my time doing more exciting things. Every so often, they will talk about a show that sounds interesting so I will rent it when it comes out on DVD.

    I think shedding the TV was one of the best decisions we ever made. It’s horrifying to think now of what I could have done with all my time in my teen years. I could be a rocket scientist by now if I’d only spent that time studying!

  42. i LOVE this idea! Its something I’ve been wanting for a long time too, but my husband isn’t quite on board yet either. We just keep it off and unplugged except when we watch movies or sports.

  43. Amen, sister! We gave up TV for lent a few years back, and have never gone back. The one exception being football for my husband, during which we mute/turn off the tv for commercials. It’s amazing how transformative it is to remove yourself from commercial influence– and how enriching it is to seek out other sources of fulfillment; reading books together, sitting by the fire, baking together in the evening. And several years into this, I can honestly say we don’t miss it one bit!

    Adele´s last post…Winter Magic

  44. We’ve been without cable for six months now and its been wonderful. We have an old computer hooked directly to the tv so we can watch things online or on netflix directly on the tv screen. One side effect I didn’t expect…I realized I was eating less and losing weight. I no longer had those commercials to tempt me or make me hungry! I never would have thought they had that much control over me, but they did! How sad…but how liberating now!

    {ang}´s last post…Study Buddy

  45. I agree. I think the most important thing we have done to reduce TV watching is to not have the TV in the living room. We put it in the den. The kids never get to watch “tv” only movies (I take that back, we watch america’s funniest videos with them occasionally) and my husband and I only watch recorded programs or movies after the kids are asleep. No ads. Reducing or eliminating tv is probably the most important step one can take to try to have a more satisfying life.

    juliet´s last post…The cure for endless war?

  46. I wish I could talk my husband into this… it would not be the kids…it would be him…and only because of college football. aaarrrggg!

    Tina´s last post…Constant Motion

  47. My husband and I made a decision 7 1/2 years ago when we got married to never have cable or satellite. It has been one of the best decisions we’ve made as a couple. We have Netflix so we can watch the movies we want but we never find ourselves in front of the tv mindlessly channel surfing.

  48. We’ve been TV free since 1999 and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now I can’t even imagine living in a house with TV. We keep the TV in the closet and roll it out to watch a video about twice a week. It’s a great middle ground for us.

    Mary Beth´s last post…knitting, resumed

  49. That’s funny – we actually turn on our satellite for a few weeks over the holidays to take advantage of Christmas movies (the kids and I like this). Otherwise, we have two free channels. The kids don’t have media time during the school week and do have a set amount of time for weekends. My husband likes to be able to watch news and Hockey on Saturday nights but doesn’t like movies or other tv. We also keep our tv in the basement, so it is not obtrusive. (Also, I can be upstairs reading, for instance, while by husband enjoys a noisy hockey game:))

  50. I haven’t had a TV in my house for almost 3 years now and it has been great. If I do want to watch some series, I’ll just download them from the net and it’s ad free.

    Penny Basket´s last post…Making money from recycling

  51. Since we moved into our own home (yay!) 6 months ago, we haven’t had cable or any stations, for that matter! And I love it! We do still watch movies, but obviously we don’t have to worry about commercials! :) It’s amazing the other things you can do with your time. :)

  52. I’m really surprised at how many other families there are out there with no t.v.! Sometimes I think I am all alone on this, but maybe that’s cause it’s a choice to make up here in Northern Canada where the winters stretch from November to April and it’s so cold and dark outside you want to do nothing but curl up in front of the t.v. under a warm blanket. So we do watch quite a few movies and t.v series on DVD over the winter, but it is still intentional and I love the fact that our 2 yr old watches almost none. He’s does watch some Sesame Street on You Tube and the odd short DVD, but there are no adds and I have complete control.

    I must say though…during Canadian College football season I miss t.v.!! But most games I can watch online after the broadcast. And our biggest debate lately has been the olympics. Expecially since they are in Vancouver I feel like I really, really want to be able to watch them this year, but I think it’ll end up being online as well. Not quite as practical, but cheaper than hooking up the cable for a month or so (and risk not turning it off again!)

    Jen´s last post…Fix, Freeze, Feast and Toddler Firsts

    • Have you seen the Sesame Street podcasts on iTunes? They’re great and they’re only about five minutes long.

  53. I use the computer for DVDs. We haven’t pulled out our TV for old VHS tapes in over a year. With all the TV shows on the internet, there is no need for a TV or cable.

    Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth´s last post…Apple Scrap Applesauce

  54. GREAT ideas! I’ve been really wanting to unplug more but it’s so hard. It feels like I’m hooked because it’s just a habit now. Whenever I hear silence and I’m not busy it usually unnerves me. Thanks for the tip on literally unplugging the TV. I think I’ll give it a try. Worst case scenario I’ll save a few bucks yearly on electricity.

    Satsuki´s last post…Cheap Rain Hat

  55. Like your family, we have one tv and a dvd player. We eliminated our “outside connection” 13 years ago. My older children went through a cold turkey withdrawal that made me realize how addicted they were. The three youngest kids have never had anything else, so they don’t even know to complain. :)

    It’s a decision that I have NEVER regretted.

  56. So encouraging to see that so many people are thriving without such a “neccesity”! We use the digital converter box, but mostly watch public broadcasting. The quality of musical/cultural programs, historical and scientific shows, and children’s programming surprised me. We don’t miss the History channel, food network, or noggin!

  57. We have Tivos and turned on Kidzone. So the kids can only ever turn on a few shows we have approved. They cant just “watch tv”. When their little show is over they cant watch Live TV so they just turn it off. Love Tivo!

    Amber´s last post…Super Secret Spies and Agents

  58. Though we have cable (I really resent that bundles are so much cheaper), we do leave the TV unplugged and that does help to make sure we are watching it intentionally. And half the time, we still miss the couple of shows we like to watch and simply watch them online at our leisure. Hulu rocks.

    This Thrifted Life´s last post…Thrifted

  59. I’m a bit late to comment but thought I’d add the UK twist to this. We have to pay £12 a month for a TV licence – that’s just for terrestial TV – no satellite or cable. That TV licence funds the BBC, a worthy institution, admittedly, but it’s very frustrating all the same.
    I watch nothing at the moment, my kids watch CBeebies and I am SO ready to “get rid of the TV”. However, I THINK that means I actually have to get rid of the TV so no DVDs or boxed sets for those nights when we do want to watch a film.
    The law is pretty unclear on whether it is legal to have a TV in your house, even if you don’t watch actual TV. If I cancel the licence, I have been assured that I will have letters/phone calls/visitors to check that we don’t actually watch TV. All a bit daunting.
    But, yes, fully agree that getting rid of the TV is a great decision for a family. My kids are a bit clueless with regards to Transformers/Power Rangers/ Ben 10 but, tbh, that doesn’t stress me too much!
    Karen (Scotland)

  60. I wish we could sign up for a package that was *just* sports and nothing else. Football for my husband and baseball for me is the only reason we ever turn the TV on.

  61. I’m so encouraged to read about all these people (even some men!) who are low or no-TV. I grew up in a TV-heavy home and hated it. Now I have limited cable, but it’s mostly because I’m a football fan. Perhaps there’s hope that one day I’ll find a like minded man. :) Thanks for the encouragement!

    Juice´s last post…The Best Laid Plans

  62. Since we’re saving for a house, I can’t justify spending $$ on cable. I remind myself that if we got it, I’d be paying money to sit around, and that makes me steer clear of it! I don’t miss it at all. Once, pre-marriage, my roommate and I got free cable for a year on accident (Comcast didn’t realize it was still hooked up!) once it was gone we desperately missed it, so I’ve decided to just never, ever get it, then I won’t know what I’m missing!

    Anna´s last post…The Most Comfortable Heels I Have Ever Owned