Laura and I haven’t had cable television for about a year now.
We went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and looked at our budget for ways to “cut the fat.”
You know, the needs vs. wants debate. I wanted HD programming with premium sports channels, but when our cable/internet bill reached $120 a month, I questioned whether we really needed to be able to DVR high school lacrosse.
The answer was “no” and more like a “NO!!!” from Laura (she’s never been big on watching TV). So I called the cable company, cancelled the cable service, and negotiated a lower price for just the internet. Our internet payment had already gone up the previous year to $45 a month compared to the original $40 a month fee we agreed to at first. Now without bundling with the cable, the sweet little customer lady said my internet bill would now be $52.99 a month!
I had just read an article in Consumer Reports about negotiating with internet providers and decided to try my hand at it. I asked for the rate a new customer would pay, which got our bill back to $40 a month. A tip for the future.
Anyway, back to cutting the cable cord, here are some good reasons to consider:
1. Extra $$$
We were paying $70 a month for just cable. That’s $840 a year. And for us that’s also the amount of an extra house payment, the camera Laura had been dreaming about, the guitar amp I had been wanting, or a very nice weekend get-a-way. According to a 2010 article on CNNMoney.com, a study by Centris showed the “average digital cable customer already pays almost $75 a month” and more than $100 a month for packages with upgrades. Also, cable prices have went up an average of 5% each year. I’ve never had satellite, but I assume that can get pricey as well with all the options they offer. I read an anonymous post on a newspaper article about increasing cable prices and the reader said “you’re paying a lot of money so stations can advertise to you.” Think about it.
2. You can still watch “TV” but for “free”
How you ask? If you have a newer widescreen TV, like a plasma or LCD, it should have a built-in digital tuner. Just connect a set of good ole fashioned “rabbit ears” (antenna) and you should be able to pick up local stations in HD or at least in digital. If you have an older CRT or tube-type television, it has an analog tuner so you need to purchase a digital converter box since stations no longer broadcast in analog (except for the random TBN station we get with fuzzy visions of Carmen and Joel Osteen). The new digital signals are stronger and provide great quality picture and sound. Most of the programming we want is on the local channels, so no need to pay a high monthly fee for stations we can get for free.
Another option is watching television programming online. Of course, you’ll be paying for internet, but this is usually a lot cheaper than cable or satellite. Sites like Hulu.com make up for not having DVR by allowing you to watch the latest episodes of popular shows on demand at no cost or membership! You can pay a low monthly subscription for Hulu Plus for more options and fewer commercials, but the free edition is sufficient in my opinion. Also, if you’re a sports fan like me, ESPN3.com, which is provided through most cable internet companies, lets you watch just about any game and again, for free. Newer TVs make it easy to connect your laptop to your big screen or better yet, some come with built in Wi-Fi and applications for watching movies and shows instantly online. Game consoles and Blu-ray players can provide Wi-Fi capabilities as well, so don’t think you need to go out and buy the new $2000 flat screen if you want these options.
3. Other benefits
Besides saving money, you’ll find yourself watching more educational and news programs on stations like PBS, instead of watching the latest Kardashian show or a Bridezilla destroying everyone in her path. As entertaining as those shows can be, you’ll learn more from watching a couple of episodes of NOVA than most kids are learning in undergrad now-a-days.
With these changes you will most likely watch less television in general. This leaves you more time to read, exercise, study for the GRE, learn how to play instrument, or whatever it is that you know deep down is really what you want to do with your time. Personally, two people in my life have always been anti-television; one earned her PhD at age 26 and the other finished at the top of his class in med school, has already owned his own practice, and is pursuing a musical career on the side!
Just try it. Most cable providers do not have contracts so you can cancel at it any time. It might be difficult to cancel satellite, but you could downgrade to the most basic package until your contract expires.
Trust me; the sun will still come up in the morning. I can still watch College Gameday, I just have to watch it at the gym on Saturday morning while on the Arc Trainer. I can still watch the big game on ESPNU, I just have to go to a bar and invite a few friends, which is more gratifying than watching it alone at home.
If you find that the world stops turning without cable, you can always go back, but so far I’m enjoying a few less pounds on the scale and a few more dollars in my bank account.