Cord Cutter Profile: My Cord Cutting Journey Began With a Layoff, a Spreadsheet, and a Humble Roku 3

Cord Cutter Profile is a new feature on Cord Cutters News. Each week, we’ll share the profile of a cord cutter with the details of what services and devices they’re using, how much money they’re saving, and tips to help others navigate the world of watching content without a cable subscription.

This week, it’s time for Philip to share his streaming story.

Philip Palermo

Sci-fi fan, former bank teller, longtime cord cutter.

Cord Cutter Since

Around 2013

What Made You Cut the Cord?

I was laid off from a full-time PR job due to budget cuts stemming from the 2008 recession and ever since, I’ve been much, much more mindful of entertainment spending. Our mobile bill is dramatically lower than it used to be. I also pared down our cable bill to the least expensive, most basic plan and turned to entertainment options like checking out recent movies from the local library.

Even as freelance writing and editing gigs started to build up into a sustainable income stream, I kept a close eye on non-essential spending. And around 2012 or 2013 or so, my wife and I did a thorough inventory of the types of shows and movies we liked to watch and truly assessed how much value we were getting from our cable subscription. A couple spreadsheets later, we officially cut the cord and soon bought our first Roku streaming device.

In hindsight, that layoff put me in a completely different mindset as far as managing our money and that mentality continues today. We have a daughter who’s battling a rare disease known as Batten Disease and a huge chunk of our time, energy, and money is focused on making her as happy as possible. So cord cutting has been a great financial move for us.

Amelia
Pictured above: Philip’s daughter Amelia taking a symbolic bite out of their monthly entertainment bills.

Which Streaming Services Do You Use?

(Editor’s Note: These services don’t include those I use for work.)

  • Netflix: It seems like forever ago now, but we first signed up for Netflix back when it meant receiving DVDs in those red envelopes via mail. We use it exclusively for streaming now, and it remains a cornerstone of our entertainment bundle.
  • Hulu: We added the ad-supported version to keep up with the handful of current shows we still followed. We don’t have a lot of “free” time, but I have slowly started checking out some of their original content, like Devs.
  • Disney+: Alongside ESPN+ (hello bundles!), Disney+ is the most recent addition to our streaming library. We enjoy checking out some of the classics and obscure titles we haven’t seen in ages. The Star Wars and Marvel stuff is a nice bonus, but I typically try to pick those up on 4K Blu-ray when there’s a good sale.
  • ESPN+: We added this when we added Disney+ and we haven’t explored what’s available quite as much yet. I did check out The Last Dance, which made for some excellent viewing while on the treadmill.
  • Prime Video: We’ve had Prime Video for a long time, but we don’t use it quite as consistently as, say, Netflix. The free live sports simulcast streams have come in handy for the handful of Seahawks games we can’t get via our OTA antenna.
  • Plex: I’ve been exploring some of the free content Plex has been adding of late and it’s been fascinating to see how much the service has evolved — especially since it can trace its history all the way back to homebrew media software built for the original Xbox.

Which Streaming Devices Do You Use?

  • LG B8 OLED with webOS
  • Roku Premiere
  • Roku Ultra (garage TV)
  • NVIDIA Shield TV Pro
  • Sony UBP-X700 4K Blu-ray player*
  • Sony PlayStation 4*
  • Nintendo Switch*

* While I don’t normally use these for streaming, they all support streaming services.

What Internet Plan Do You Use?

We’re currently on Xfinity’s Performance Pro internet plan, which promises up to 175 Mbps download speeds. However, we generally get around 35-75 Mbps depending on the time of day and how far we are from the router.

How Many People Are Streaming in Your Home?

I currently only know of two active streamers in our home: my wife and myself. I don’t know what our cat is up to for most of the day. But between the two adult humans, we’re usually streaming something, whether it’s children’s music on YouTube or Parks and Rec in the background while we clean the house.

Do You Have a Data Cap?

Technically, yes, although like many companies, Xfinity has temporarily waived the cap during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, we have a 1TB limit each month, and we typically use up around 650GB to 750GB of that per month. Good thing I don’t buy a lot of digital download games!

How Much Money Are You Saving Monthly?

Time to load up those 2013-era spreadsheets! At the time, we were saving around $53 per month after cutting our cable service and ditching the associated equipment rental fees. When I account for current prices on our streaming services (I miss you, $8 Netflix), our monthly savings come out to around $20 per month compared to the modern equivalent of our old, basic internet/TV bundle. Even if we weren’t saving money, however, we’re still getting more value out of streaming services compared to the 150-plus channels I’d be paying for, but not actually watching.

What Have You Done with Money You’ve Saved?

Started by paying off debt and loans and, more recently, those funds head straight to our daughter’s savings account.

What Obstacles Have You Found with Cord Cutting?

Keeping up with what’s coming and going, especially our favorite, go-to shows. If only there was a news site focused on cord cutting.

What Are You Streaming Right Now?

Since we don’t have a lot of free time these days, we typically rely on old favorites, shows we don’t truly have to pay close attention to in order to truly enjoy. For us, that means a lot of The Office, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, The Good Place, Supernatural, and Dexter among others. We’ll slowly add newer shows to the fold, and it takes us a while to catch up, but we’ve recently checked out Devs, Lucifer, Bates Motel, and Ozark.

Oh also, shout out to the delightful Puffin Rock on Netflix. Our daughter responds to the cheerful music and sounds, and we learn a lot about a lot of animals. I just wish there were more seasons available.

Favorite Cord Cutting Tip

Don’t forget about free options, whether that’s ad-supported free services, OTA content, or movies and shows available from your local library. You might be surprised how many free options are available.

Any other questions you’d like to see cord cutters answer on their profiles? Let us know in the comments.