One way to cut the cord: Invest in a digital antenna. They cost between $8 and $80—a one-time expense. Antennas pick up local stations, such as CBS and NBC, free. Of course, you won't get cable channels, and antennas don't work in every home. You may need to test several antennas to find one that has good reception where you live, so make sure you can return it. Consumer Reports says the $32 RCA ANT1650 is worth trying.
If an antenna doesn't do the trick, there's Aereo. It has been expanding across the country, despite legal challenges and an upcoming case before the Supreme Court. Aereo delivers broadcast TV channels to your phone, tablet, or computer for $8 per month. If you have Roku or Apple TV, you can watch Aereo on your television as well.
Consumer Reports' electronics editor Jim Willcox tried Aereo at home and says he was favorably impressed. "I got about 30 channels, and I was able to record and save shows on a cloud-based DVR."
If you still want more to watch, streaming video services such as Netflix can fill in the gaps.
If you aren't ready to give up cable or satellite TV yet, Consumer Reports says it's worth checking to see whether you can get a lower-priced plan. Paid-TV services are coming out with all kinds of special deals to hang on to potential cord cutters.