Cut Cable: It’s Not As Bad As You Think!
Even almost a year after cutting our cable, I am still getting odd looks from people when they hear that I don’t have a constantly-running television. Whenever the topic comes up, people seem to feel the need to defend themselves or their “need” for cable, even though I have offered no challenge.
That being said, I’m extremely happy with our decision to stop paying for cable television. I think it’s a decision that everyone searching for a more frugal life should at least consider. In fact, I’m sure that what my husband and I pay yearly for our cable substitutes is equal to, if not less than, what we were paying monthly for cable.
Television is a time-waster.
I realized one day just how much time crashing in front of the television after work wasted, and that was what really helped my husband and I make the decision to cancel our cable. While we had realized how much money cable wasted each month, it wasn’t until we realized that our post-work “quality” time was spent vegetating that we really got moving on making changes.
I won’t sit here and tell you that television rots your brain or indoctrinates your children into a consumer culture, but I will ask you: how much time do you spend watching TV each day? Week? Year? I found that I had a lot of time I could have been spending on doing much more enjoyable, productive things.
There are so many alternatives to cable!
It’s almost impossible to feel as though you’re missing out on something with so many alternatives to cable out there. The best part is that most of them are so cheap you can fit them into almost any budget.
One of my favorite services is Amazon Prime. At first, the price tag turned me off. However, I soon realized exactly how valuable their services were. I wasn’t just paying for the right to stream movies and TV shows; I also frequently use their free two-day shipping Prime benefit, and find many discounts on products. Amazon Prime also allows users to rent movies that are not available for free streaming, which has worked out well for us.
Of course I have to mention Netflix. This was the first cable substitute we began using, although at the time I used it mostly to catch up on shows like Pretty Little Liars (guilty pleasure). Netflix comes at a great price point, particularly if you only want to use the online streaming features. There is a greater variety of movies with the (higher priced) rental plan, which ships the movies directly to your house. While I have considered paying more for this service, I doubt the use would justify the cost in my case…
… because of the library. I live within driving distance of a few libraries with incredible movie selections. Before Netflix added NCIS to their available shows, the library was where I’d get my post-cable fix.
The only downside to the library is that occasionally libraries charge for movie rentals. This came as a huge shock to me – after all, I was pretty convinced that, short of fines for late books, libraries were committed to free services! However, at the rate I rent movies the one-time cost isn’t bad.
Hulu is another great, cheap cable substitute. With day-after availability of many popular shows, you’re bound to find something you like. I recommend the free trial before outright purchasing, of course; you may find, as I did, that some of your favorite shows are not covered. However, Hulu made up for it by adding Pretty Little Liars this summer, so I can’t find much fault in them.
Finally, we purchased an antenna similar to AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna – 35 Mile Range to watch local news and other local channels. The antenna was a good price; if you are looking to purchase one, make sure you choose one with the right range for your needs!
What would you do with your free time, anyway?
The best part about the services we have chosen to substitute for cable is that they don’t provide instant access to a nearly unlimited variety of shows. With traditional television, hours could pass before I would realize that I had forgotten the laundry in the washer, or that I still needed to grade student papers.
Now the cable substitutions are usually after-dinner treats, where my husband and I will settle down for one or two shows before calling it a night. We have learned to moderate ourselves better, since there are a limited number of shows we are interested in at any one time.
With this newfound self-regulation and the absence of cable we’ve also been able to do many more things such as:
- Read more books (currently reading: Feed by M.T. Anderson);
- Walk our dogs more often;
- Sit and talk while enjoying the other’s company;
- Remodel our bathroom after work instead of waiting until our precious days off;
- Prepare baby’s room;
- and so much more!
What ways have you found to lower your television entertainment budget? Is cutting cable something you would do?