Yup, we did it. It was far more traumatic than I had anticipated. But, the cord has been cut and this family is officially off of the cable bandwagon. To quote my original anti-establishment hero, Bart Simpson, Time Warner can eat my shorts.
So far we have done blogs about the emotional toll our debt has put on the family, and how we have taken back some shopping just to make it to payday, and gone thru the various levels of denial around the mountain of debt before us. But, in my eyes, we have yet to make a single positive, planned-out, well-executed step to spend less money each and every month so that we can put that toward our debt. So, this was my triumphant action toward that first action. My symbolic stamping of my foot and saying to my 4 year old “There is no more Scooby-Doo in this house!” Rut-Roh, Shaggy.
Almost each and every financial blog or article you read about reducing your debt says you need to cut out cable. Pick a blog, and I guaran-tee ya that it will be in there. Looking at the budget, we pay $140 a month to Time Warner for the services they provide. While $45 is for the internet and the other $95 is for the digital cable, HD, and two DVR boxes. Notice I did NOT say movie channels, nor special packages, nor various On-Demand listings; just basic cable with the ability to record a couple of shows at a time, the guide that tells you what is on, and channels up to 999 in regular and HD (of which we probably only watch about 5 channels).
Why was this so traumatic? Well, we’re an American family that likes our TV. Diane and I work hard during the day and night, and like to fall asleep watching reruns of sitcoms we’ve seen dozens of times. We are children of the ‘90s and can relate any problem we have with a Friends episode. Challenge us sometime and you will be both amazed and feel sorry for us at the same time. Our kids view watching TV as a reward and something that can be taken away if they do wrong. They don’t watch a huge amount of TV, but there are times when we are working on deadlines at work, or trying to design a blog, or participating in a Twitter chat, the TV would be turned on to Scooby Doo or Good Luck Charlie for 30 minutes of peace and quiet to get whatever we need done. I’ll admit it…sometimes the TV is a babysitter for us. Bite me.
The things is, and make no mistake about it, we need the money. The $100 a month ($1,200 a year) we spend in cable will help us build back up the savings account and start the snowball rolling on paying down those credit cards. Rather than that money going to the deep pockets of Time Warner, Inc…a company that basically rules the world, it needs to go to American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc, etc, etc to clear our name. That is money that we earn and it needs to help us climb out of this hole, rather than keep digging the hole. There is always $100 to cut in your budget, and, hopefully, this is the first of many.
The last way to look at it is that cable is a privilege that we have lost. We were careless with our finances early on and the price is some of the luxuries of today. I mean, we already pay that price with almost no family vacations, very few Christmas and birthday presents (except for the kids), and trying to keep our frequently tantrum-throwing vehicles running instead of buying better ones. But, this is an every-day privilege we have lost and it impacts the whole family. I mean, I have had cable since I was a mere lad that had the box on the top of the TV that had a sliding selector needed to change the channel. Our first remote control was wired to the cable box…you could always find that thing by just following the cord from the unit to its hiding place under the couch.
But, we will not be without forever. With the advances of technology and wireless streaming devices, we will have our Friends reruns and Scooby Doo playing before too long. Using Netflix, Hulu and several other nifty streaming packages, we will not be the family lost in the dark ages. The challenge that I face is finding a way to allow these players to stream to our TVs in a way that allows captioning and subtitles. You see, my friends, the beautiful and lovely Diana is hearing impaired and can only watch TV while reading the magical words under the moving pictures. Without those words, she might as well be watching the wall. So, yes, there are a million and one articles online that describe in pain-staking details how to get Hulu Plus to play on your TV using a Samsung Blu Ray Player. There are absolutely zero articles that will say if those players support the captioning services that Hulu Plus provides. Netflix has captioned several of their instant titles, but unless I want to physically hook up a laptop every time we want to watch TV, that isn’t practical. Plus, doing that would certainly slow down the growth of this blog. So, I am off to find said alternative and I promise that there will be a follow-up article about the solution that is put in place. When the next guy is searching for the same thing, it will be well documented with cute stories, frustrating sighs, and at least one picture of an animal acting with human emotions.
First step – taking back the DVR boxes and turning off the cable. Check
Second step – breaking the news to the family. Check
Third step – find an alternative utilizing free (or nearly free) services. Uhhhh….
Fourth step – train family to run said services. Kids eta: about 5 minutes. Diane eta: Uhhh……
Okay, not exactly planned out and well executed. I got the ball rolling anyway.
Oh goody. More electronics stuff to learn, more remotes to add to the giant basket and more things reliant on our shaky home Wi-Fi. I already have to ask the kids for help to play a DVD or stream Netflix. I am so looking forward to this……
Have you gone without cable? Was it traumatic and required therapy or freeing? Which Friends episode that this remind you of??