Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 298 - Easy Living Expense Cuts: #1 Cable

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For everyone out there trying to figure out what expenses can easily  be cut out of your budget, this series is dedicated to you. Each week, I will explore a different type of living expense and attempt to convince you that you can live without it - or at least cut back significantly. So let's get rid of......

The Beloved Cable Television
For those of you who are still reading - congratulations!! You have made it through the toughest part of this exercise which is to actually consider that cable just might not be a necessity. Food, shelter, clothing........and cable? I think not!

The Cost of Cable
First, let 's take a look at the cost of cable. I priced a typical cable package through AT&T including HD, DVR, and premium channels (HBO, Cinemax, Movie Channel, etc). Total cost per month (all prices are excluding tax): $117. I also priced a cheaper package that included less channels and also only included HBO and Cinemax: $105. Finally, I priced the cheapest package which only includes local channels: $19 + $199 installation fee. You can easily spend $1,500 a year on television! That's a lot of money, especially when you may be struggling to keep up with your bills.

The Promotion
But wait, Sarah! When you sign up for cable service, you usually get some type of promotion deal so you don't pay full price. While this may be true, that promotion doesn't last forever and you shouldn't be budgeting based on the promotion price. There is really no difference, in my opinion, between a cable service promotion and a credit card promotion. In both cases, you are reeled in with the promise of a temporary deal - a free airline ticket or reduced interest rate. By dangling the carrot, you give in and sign up only to realize that you don't earn your reward until you actually use the card. In order to use the card it must be in your wallet. If it's in your wallet, then there is a high likelihood that you will continue to use it. Once you continually use it, you have created a habit - a bad one at that. In the end, the interest paid to the credit card company could buy you 50 plane tickets.

The cable company also believes that creating a TV-watching habit will allow you to give in to the price increase after six months. In addition, the cable company so "conveniently" sets it up so that once your promotion period is over, it automatically continues your service without interruption with the updated price. How thoughtful!!

How To Watch Television Without Cable
Most, if not all, network shows can be watched on the Internet. Plus Netflix and Hulu are a great supplement with a bunch of movies and television shows to choose from instantly or by DVD. Since most laptops can easily hook up to your television if you have the right cable connector, you can play your shows through the Internet and still watch them on the television. I can't think of one show that we aren't able to watch although sometimes we may be a season behind. The only difficulty we have is when it comes to watching sports. Most of what we want to watch is either on ESPN360 or on network television, but when we live in San Diego and want to watch the Carolina Tarheel basketball games, sometimes it proves difficult. Although somehow Mike seems to find a way.

Sarah, I Just Can't Go Cold Turkey!
I'll be honest and say that the first couple of months without cable were difficult. Out of habit, I would come home and immediately think about turning on the television. There were also many nights in the beginning where Mike and I pretty much sat and stared at each other because we hadn't quite figured out what to do with our time. We eventually got over it. We were discussing today whether we wanted to reinstate cable after our debt is paid off and we both (surprisingly) are leaning towards no.

But if the thought of no television makes you feel faint, there may be a few other strategies you can implement if you still want to try to save a little money.
1. Call your cable company before the promotion ends. If your promotion deal is coming to an end, you might want to call your cable company and hint to them that you are thinking about switching providers. Most of the time they will "find" another promotion that will allow you to continue to your deal.
2. Downgrade your package. Do you really need 450 channels plus HBO? Or DVR/HD? If you absolutely must keep cable then at least consider skipping all the bells and whistles to keep your cost down.

My advice: just get rid of it! I promise you will find that you don't really need it. Plus since there is nothing ever really on anyway, you won't find yourself filling up your time with Kardashian marathons instead of doing something (anything!) else more worth your time. I truly believe you can be completely satisfied with your television viewing habits without paying for cable.

Stay tuned,
 



Have you successfully cut the cable cord? Do you have any advice for readers who are hesitant about taking the plunge?
 


9 comments:

Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder said... Best Blogger Tips

We cut our cable a couple of years ago and I made it a full year before having it restarted. I found that it was easier than I thought - although like you suggested, we took full advantage of Netflix and Hulu. 

I eventually restarted it because I really missed having the nightly news, but I'm glad we saved over $1,000 that year in cable bills.

Cassie said... Best Blogger Tips

We cut our cable three months ago and save $108 a month. We use a Roku with Hulu+ , and Netflix. We discovered several TV shows we liked on Netflix this summer and it was great to watch without commercials. We have antenna for networks (we use this rarely).

Nightly news can be found on Roku's Newcaster channel after the broadcast. Here what we do: http://beyonddave.com/2011/05/cutting-the-cable/

annabellehepburn said... Best Blogger Tips

Ohh cable. I didn't have cable for years and years, then signed up when there was a great package (that actually made my internet and phone *cheaper* for 3 months). I'm currently paying about $25/month and it's worth it for me. At least until Netflix gets better selection in Canada, I'm sticking with this basic package, I think. Jealous of you Americans and Hulu and good Netflix!

Travis Pizel said... Best Blogger Tips

I totally applaud people who go this route...I just can't get myself to cut the cord (no pun intended).  I know that my viewing habits would change to accommodate what's available from things like netflix, hulu, or free TV, but right now, cable is one of the "splurges" that I allow myself. 

The $60K Project said... Best Blogger Tips

@Cassie Cassie, thanks for the advice! I'm going to look into a similar subscription system for NFL and college basketball.

Cassie said... Best Blogger Tips

@60K When you discover how to get UNC basketball, let me know. I do not want to trade my saving for for a tab at the sports bar !

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter said... Best Blogger Tips

We recently got rid of our cable too and it actually was easier than we thought. Not only are we saving money but we realized how little time we have to watch Tv anyways. We were just wasting money. I think someone who is hesitating should track how much tv they watch to see if it is worth the cost.

Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances said... Best Blogger Tips

I never had cable. Most of the shows that we like are in regular channels anyways. With regards to the sports game, I usually watch them online, thanks to espn3.com. If not, I just watch the highlights.
Anyways, nowadays, I have not been watching any TV at all.

The $60K Project said... Best Blogger Tips

@Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances Wow - NEVER had cable? That is quite an achievement!

and @MissT - I think most people assume giving up television will be very difficult. Tracking TV habits is a great idea for those on the fence.

@Cassie We've got a few tricks up our sleeve to get UNC bball. I'm happy to share.

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