For those of you who still have cable, ask yourselves how many times in the last week you have searched through all of those hundreds of channels only to say, "There's nothing on television!" My husband and I found that we were doing that pretty often, and that when we did watch television it was on the free networks. Almost 4 years ago, we cut the cable cord, and we have never looked back. Sure, we occasionally miss the hockey games that aren't shown on regular TV, and I really enjoy those cooking shows on the Food Network, but for the most part we haven't noticed a huge change.
When we made the change, Hulu wasn't available and the Create PBS channel either wasn't around or wasn't shown in our area. (Now those are handy in getting our "fix"). After we cancelled, we used Blockbuster.com to rent movies at a lower rate so that we didn't feel "deprived". After a few months, we found that even that wasn't a necessary expense and cancelled the service.
How has it made a difference? Not only do we spend a lot less out of our budget but we also spend a lot less time wasted in front of the TV. When I'm around the Food Network, I can waste A LOT of time watching those shows. While they are enjoyable and I'm not knocking the networks, I find that I get a lot more accomplished in a day and spend more time communicating with my family when I do not have access to cable.
If you have older children, they will most likely revolt at the thought of cancelling cable. Sit down and talk about it as a family. Decide on some alternatives to help ween down--maybe reduce the cable package for a few months, then cancel and invest in Netflix for a few months. As always, do what works for you and your family. For us, this was a change that we are very happy we made.