Cutting the Cable Cord Has More Than Financial Benefits
Cutting the cable TV cord has benefits that go beyond the financial. Sure, you're saving $50 or so a month by going without cable. But there are other good things that happen when you go without cable, many which may not come to mind when you first start thinking about making the move because you're focused on saving money. (See also: Massive List of Things to Do While Watching TV)
There's the obvious satisfaction of "sticking it to The Man" and not having to support a business that won't let you pay for only the stations you want to watch. Other benefits, however, may not be so obvious. But before I get into those, it's worth pointing out that the expected financial savings might not be as good as you might think.
The Somewhat Surprising Reality of Living Without Cable
My family cut cable at our house in early June, mainly as a test run during the slow summer TV season to see if we could live without it. We also wanted to save some money, which I'm quickly realizing is being eaten up by other costs that Wise Bread has covered. While our cable bill dropped by $50 a month, we still pay for alternatives that don't look like a lot by themselves, but add up.
Here are some of them, some of which are one-time expenses and others monthly:
- Netflix streaming at $8 per month.
- Hulu Plus at $8 per month. We don't have this yet, but I can see it coming in handy in the fall.
- Occasional TV series purchase such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm," about $20 a month.
- Redbox movie rentals at $1.20 or more each, for maybe five movies a month at $6 total.
- Roku box to watch shows, a one-time cost of $100.
- Antenna for TV, a one-time cost of $25, though much more can be spent.
- HDMI cable and adapter to hook up computer to TV so online shows can be viewed. A one-time cost of $50.
After spending about $42 a month on shows, I'm only spending $8 less each month than I did with cable. (It's worth noting that we had Netflix streaming when we had cable, and I'm not including our monthly Internet fee because it's an expense we'd have with or without a TV.) Add in the $175 for equipment, and the $8 monthly savings will take almost 22 months (two years!) to pay for it. Then I'll really start saving money.
Benefits of Cutting Cable
Since I'm not saving any money for two years, what do I gain by not having cable TV? A lot, in my view. Here are some benefits.
Less Channel Surfing
Since we no longer have hundreds of channels to scan, there's less mindless channel surfing and wasting time looking for something to watch. There's something hypnotic about scrolling through channels that's sort of relaxing, but it's also a waste of time that leaves you wondering why you're paying for cable TV if there's nothing on.
Paying for What You Want to Watch
There's plenty of extra stuff on Netflix and elsewhere in the non-cable world, but it's nice knowing that I'm not paying for a channel that I'll never watch and can instead buy a season of a show I really want to watch. I may not come across a great show by accident, but I'll take that chance.
If we don't know ahead of time what we're going to watch, we're unlikely to turn the TV on. I don't want to make it sound like my family has turned Amish and we're not watching TV at all, or that we've discovered more family time and are playing more board games together and reading more books. But we are finding time to do other things, and my library card is being used more.
These are things you can't put a price on, though I suspect that even these may not be enough to prevent us from calling the cable company back in six months when we get tired of missing pro sports.