Cutting the Cord, a Saga (El Fin)

by Lindy on May 9, 2011

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(A follow up to Part 1 and Part 2)

In last week’s edition of Cutting the Cord, I left you on the couch du négativité.  The one created by the firestorm of complaints that rained down when we told the kids we’d cancelled cable.

But I’m sitting on that couch as I write this, and I can proudly report that the negativity is no more.  We’ve been cable free for a month, and we survived!

There were minor grumbles the day after that initial blow up, but once the kids realized that they still had access to all their favorite shows, I never heard another peep.  Cable, what cable?

Let me introduce you to our new television BFFs:

Netflix

We started our cable-free adventure with just Netflix ($7.99/month), which is the greatest invention ever, and makes up most of our television viewing.  Actually, 100% of our kids’ viewing is through Netflix. They stream it through the Wii where the format is so user friendly that even two-year-old Baby Rock can use it.

Hulu Plus

But we (adult members of the household) didn’t want to give up some of our favorite television shows (Modern Family, Parks & Recreation), so we signed up for Hulu Plus (also $7.99/month).  We stream this through the PlayStation.  But we’re considering ditching it altogether.  Some of the shows we watch (Project Runway), though available on Hulu, aren’t available for streaming to the television.  This is kind of lame.  And other shows (Top Chef, Mythbusters) aren’t on Hulu at all.

Apple TV

In comes Apple TV.  Oh, how A-Rob has been wanting an excuse to buy Apple TV.  Cutting the cable has given him that excuse.  It allows us to stream shows that we purchase through iTunes, which are available as individual episodes or as a season pass.  Different shows range in cost from $15.99 to $54.99 per season, and since we only have a handful of shows we care about, our annual costs should be way less than we were paying for cable.

Plus, Apple TV lets us stream our iTunes music through the TV, so it’s like the best stereo ever.  We also get to use our iPhones as remote controls, and that makes us feel all fancy and cool.

HOW MUCH ARE WE SAVING?

For cable we were paying $101 per month.  With Netflix and purchasing shows through iTunes, we’re estimating to pay $30 per month at most.  We may actually decide not to purchase some of those shows and that number could be smaller.  At $30 a month, that’s a savings of $71 monthly/$852 annually.  Pretty good, considering we’re still getting to watch everything that we want.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST PERK?

That’s easy NO COMMERCIALS, EVER!!!!!

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST IRK?

Netflix parental controls are sucko.  You basically have to set your entire system to only allow PG movies if you want to have any semblance of control over what your kids have access to.  There is no override for parents.  We currently have everything wide open because of this.  It’s okay for now since our kids are small and don’t yet know how to be devious.  But I hope Netflix gets this figured out before they get older and curious.

DO THE KIDS WATCH LESS TV?

I was hoping this would be the case, but no, it’s not.  However, the lack of loud annoying kid commercials has made the house feel a lot more calm in general.

ANY UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

Yes, my only clock in the living room was on the cable box.  I am now sans clock.  I think I must purchase this one from Uncommon.

Victorienne Clock Uncommon

Twist my arm

DID CANCELING CABLE TURN YOU INTO WEIRD FRUGAL FREAKISH OUTCASTS?

As far as I can tell, we’re still pretty normal.  And, um, did you read the part about our iPhones doubling as remote controls?  I think that actually makes us cooler now.

DO YOU FEEL DEPRIVED?

I’ll admit, the first week or so without cable I felt a little naked.  After so many years of living with it, it was hard adjusting to not having it at my fingertips.  But now, I can honestly say I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.  I actually would be a little disappointed if I had to have it back.  Weird, huh?

IS IT FOR EVERYONE?

NO!  My intention in writing this is not to make you feel bad if you still pay the cable man.  I don’t believe that cutting cable is the key to financial success and all must obey.  It’s just our way of cutting out the fluff that isn’t important to us anymore.  If it’s important to you, then keep it!  And don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.

One final thought.

I’ve changed a lot in the past eight months of my financial journey.  If you’d told me I was going to be cancelling cable (and be happy about it) eight months ago, I would have run the other way with my hands over my ears.  I did a lot of pouting and stomping my feet in those early days.  I didn’t want to sacrifice.  I didn’t want to be one of those frugal types who sat around in the dark and played board games.  I wanted to LIVE!

Well as it turns out, living to me means having money in the bank, because money is freedom.  Living means sacrificing what I don’t care about to pay for what I do care about.

Back then, I cared about my TV.  Now, meh, not so much.  I don’t know what specifically changed in my psyche to take me from caring to not caring, but I do know that time played a big factor. Sitting on the idea for eight months slowly eroded any misgivings I’d had in the beginning.

So if there’s something that you’d like to change, but you don’t necessarily want to, then give it time.  If it’s meant to be, your subconscious will work on it.  Then one day you’ll wake up, and that thing you thought you’d never be able to live without will suddenly be, well, meh.

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  • We have been sans cable or satelite for at least 5 years. We do still get broadcast and most of what we watch is broadcast. The rest is available on the internet after the show airs (from the company that airs it). Our tv is connected to a pc tower so it plays it on our tv screen thinking its a pc screen. We don’t watch that much (a total of 5 shows regularly and we are actually thinking about dropping 2 because we have lost interest) and then occassionally a couple of episodes of Brittish TV.

    I have thought about Netflix, but they do not (or did not) have a streaming only option. I don’t want movies in the mail to waste the fuel to get them to me and back. I would rather just stream what I want when I want. In the meantime I get my movies from the Library. Hasn’t been a movie made in the last decade that I really wanted to go see. I like my old black and whites, indies and foreign films, and if it is a musical the girls love it. We do have a Wii and thought about a Kinect (but we have friends who have one and our living room isn’t long enough, you need a minimum of 6 feet from the sensor and really more like 8-10 (which we have if we remove the furniture.

    • A-Rob

      I’ll let Lindy field the Netflix details…she’s done more with it.

      But note that Kinect only works with Microsoft’s XBox. The Wii is already a motion-sensor system, which is all Kinect is.

    • Lindy

      Actually, Netflix does have a streaming only option. That’s the one we use at $7.99 a month. I usually use Redbox when I have a hankering for a current release.

      I love British TV. And getting movies from the library is a great idea, one I always seem to forget about. :)

      I know nothing about Kinect. And our Wii is actually broken, so it currently is a glorified Netflix machine.

  • I have been without cable for about 3 years now. I realized that often when I watched TV I felt guilty for not doing something productive/social/energetic with my time. Then I realized I was paying 100$ per month for something I felt guilty using.

    There is an ever expanding group of people who want to pay ~$30 per month (some less) for creative content that they choose, I think that the big cable providers are really missing out on that market.

    • Lindy

      We were saying the same thing about cable companies. They could get so much more business if they offered an a la carte channel selection. iTunes seems to be the next best thing.

  • Great job! :)
    There are so much junk on TV and it’s such a time sink. I think it’s much better to just watch the shows that you want to watch than flipping around.

    • Lindy

      It is efficient television viewing for sure…if there’s such a thing.

  • I glad to hear it worked out.
    We use the regular Hulu, but not Hulu Plus. I don’t think it make sense for us.
    Apple TV does sound pretty cool, I know my husband would love it. He doesn’t have an iPhone, but he uses his iPod Touch as a remote for our computer when it is hooked up to the TV. There is an app for that.

    • Lindy

      I think it’s funny how downgrading from cable has upgraded our fun geeky technology.

  • I recently bought an Apple TV and I absolutely love being able to watch Netflix on my tv. I can’t remember the last time I watched cable – the only reason I still have it is because I’m on a promotion, and the cost of internet only will actually be more than I’m paying right now for both.

    I wish cable companies would wise up and offer ala carte programming. If I could have HGTV, cartoons for my kiddo, and college basketball, I’d never need anything other than the Apple TV.

    • Lindy

      I hear you on that one! I do miss HGTV. Luckily my mom still has cable, so I can mooch at her house when I need a fix.

  • I love this. I’m actually going to discuss doing the same thing with my husband this evening. Thanks for the tips. :)

    • Lindy

      I’m glad they helped! It’s definitely a system that we’re happy with.

  • Oh, wow! Sounds like cable was really expensive. I must admit pay TV is our one concession to lifestyle creep. We pay about $50 for a basic package (I really only watch Food TV and MTV for SNL, but he likes Animal Planet, History Channel and all that kind of stuff), another $10 ish for movie channels, and we also got six months of free Mysky (which is the box recorder with series link recording capability plus ability to rewind, replay etc live tv. It’s changed my life. I never have to miss an episode of Glee, Bones or DH and i can watch them whenever I want.) That’s just ended though so now we’re paying $15 for that, for a total of about $75.

  • Hahah.. I like the “Did canceling cable turn you into weird frugal freakish outcasts”

    I can’t believe how cable is so ridiculously expensive!! We just signed up (I usually don’t watch, only watch news)… so will let you know how it goes. I spent 2 hours of my life watching simpsons and family guy so far, I refuse to be sucked into the television abyss! :)

    Congrats on a new positive change in your life! And $850+ annually in your pocket!

  • I have no interest in television at all, neither does Michael. The only person watching cable tv is my 20 year old DD. I’m counting the days til moving day!!

  • We dont watch Television that much but I do have cable. I am one of those people that still love the luxury of having a tv to watch current news and maybe some shows. I only watch TV on sundays and when NFL season comes around, we spend our weekends watching that as well. I was able to get a good deal on cable and internet for $65/month, down from the $140 I used to pay with a different carrier. I think the one thing to do is get what you need. Some people get “showtime” “hbo” and some other networks they barely watch. Like you, we are subscribed to netflix and that is actually how we watch most of our TV shows.

    Thanks for highlighting your savings. I was this close to cutting cable until I found a better deal.

  • I love my cable. There are not a lot of network shows we watch, but we do enjoy watching sports as a family. Plus, I have to say I am hooked on HGTV too.

    I might spend an hour a day at most really sitting and watching tv doing nothing. I do need to reevaluate my cable bill though.

  • I’m totally the opposite! I didn’t have cable for ~ 5 years, then just got it installed 2 months ago for a promotion that made having cable/internet/phone cheaper than just internet/phone.

    So, for years I was just watching streaming content from the network websites or DVDs on my laptop.

    But now… I’m getting soo addicted to cable. The options are different in Canada, though, were we can’t get Hulu and Netflix has a really limited selection.

    My promotion ends at the end of the month and I’m investigating the cheapeast way to get the channels I like best…

    • Lindy

      We were riding the wave of the cable discounts too for a while. When we initially called up the cable provider last year to inquire about changing our package, they offered us a $50/month discount for six months. That was pretty sweet! Then we got serious when the promotion expired.

  • Netflix is the bizbomb!

    And eventually you’ll get the next season of mythbusters on there streaming.

  • yea to no commercials and congrats, you, still-pretty-normal-cable-ditching wonderwoman! gotta love it!

  • I cancelled satellite a year ago and I will never go back. I have been able to keep up with most of my favorite shows through the internet. The only thing is you have to keep ontop of things because older episodes get deleted. I don’t feel deprived in the least and I probably watch a little less but nothing drastic. I love not watching commercials. I actually don’t think I could handle having cable anymore.

    • Lindy

      I’m glad it’s working out for you too! It’s really not the depravity I thought it was so long ago.

  • missannmcd

    This is exactly what I want to do badly, I just don’t know where to start. I need someone to hook everything up for me (and I mean everything) and then show me how to use it. That’s how I learn best- show me. I have all messed up equipment, some old that needs to go, and some new that I need to learn about still, i.e., my laptop and how to get a wireless router? Etc etc… The one change I made recently was getting rid of my Droid and it’s data expense from my cell bill. I have a laptop. What do I need the most technically advanced phone out there for? The laptop does everything I need it to do and I’m not a gamer so that really keeps my “technology expenses” down.
    What do you do now for your internet access Lindy?

    • Lindy

      I understand completely. If my husband wasn’t here for tech support, I’d probably not have tried. We have a wireless modem through our internet provider, as well as a Mac Airport.

  • Colleen

    Has anyone found a way to watch sports without cable or satellite tv? We’d quit our cable service in a heartbeat if we could find a way.

  • caroline

    lindy who is your internet provider? we too want to eliminate home phone and possibly cable but if you take away just the cable you pay basically the same amount for verizon fios.

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