Cutting The Cord, a Saga (Part One)

by Lindy on April 25, 2011

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Cutting the cable cord

It’s hard to throw a stone and not hit a personal finance blogger announcing that they canceled their cable.

The topic is quite rampant.

When I first started reading finance blogs, I hated the kill your cable talk. I liked my TV, thankyouverymuch. I wasn’t gonna cut it, even if everyone else was.  I was perfectly happy keeping it in my budget. Could we stop talking about this already?

A few years ago, whenever I met someone who didn’t own a television, I felt like I was in the presence of both an alien and an enlightened being. They often would have no clue about the latest pop culture references, not an inkling about who got voted off American Idol last night, no idea about the new movies coming out, didn’t even know that the Olympics were on, but they didn’t care either.

It was as if they were swimming blissfully in their own post-television Nirvanas.

Even though I hadn’t encountered too many of these people, when I did, it often caused me to question my own television habits. Should I too not watch television? Could I too reach this state of enlightenment?

But I knew deep down that I couldn’t. I knew I was afraid of the silence. I knew I was afraid of my own thoughts, because thoughts can be exhausting. Especially mine.

And besides, I didn’t want to become an enlightened soul. Television was woven deeply into the fabric of my very being. I grew up watching it. Lots of it. I credit television for not only my vast knowledge of pop culture and vocabulary, but also a plethora of life lessons. That Mr. Brady was a wise man, you know.

From television I learned to say no to drugs, and that energy pills can be addictive (thanks, Saved by the Bell). I learned that people who joke a lot can do so out of low self esteem (after school special), I’m sure I even learned about S-E-X.

Because of this, I’ve never ascribed to the rhetoric that television rots your brain. And I’ve never worried about my own kids watching it, even though the National Association of Pediatrics suggests otherwise. After all, I turned out okay, didn’t I? At least, I think so.

A few years ago, cutting off your television may as well have been cutting yourself off from mainstream society. If you’re not “in the know” about the latest and greatest that comes through the tube, you may as well be living in a commune.  Unless, of course, you are living in a commune, then I suppose it’s okay.

But with the plethora of other media sources available these days, one no longer needs to live in the dark.

I learned of the first Iraqi war when President George Bush Senior broke into my regularly scheduled television program to announce it. I learned of the recent Japanese earthquake from Twitter, and the shooting of Representative Giffords, which happened in my home state, on Facebook.

And people who don’t have cable are no longer that rare either. In the past six months, any time I’ve attended a party, a baby shower, a get together of adults of any kind, at least one person has mentioned that they don’t have cable. But they still watch television, they just do it through Hulu, or Netflix, or iTunes, or Amazon. On more than one occasion I was the only chump in the room still paying a cable bill.

Just as new media is changing people’s television habits, my own relationship with TV has been changing too.

It started after my first son was born.  In the beginning, I fought to stay on top of all the latest programming.  It was the only thing that made me feel sane after the onslaught of new parenthood.  But after a few years, I realized it was easier to let go of some of those programs rather than fight  to watch them.  Instead I only watched the few that I really enjoyed.  And if I stopped enjoying them, I stopped watching.

Once I started this blog, my television time became even smaller. The evenings when A-Rob and I would keep the television off were becoming more frequent, just because we were doing other things. Paying $100 a month for something we (adults) only used for a few hours a week was beginning to make less and less sense, especially when there are cheaper alternatives.

And those commercials on Nickelodeon, blaring all day and all night while the kids sat in front of the tube, were becoming annoying.

Soon I found myself standing in a place I never thought I would. Could I, the self proclaimed TV advocate, be thinking about canceling cable?

Yes, yes I was.

To be continued.

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  • Shannon

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. I cut my cable at the beginning of the year and it has been the best decision. I’m an admitted TV-junkie, so I couldn’t give up television programming altogether. I use my xbox 360s, a Wii, Netflix/Hulu Plus/Amazon memberships (which I was paying for already, even when I had cable), and a $20 PlayOn subscription to stream programming to three televisions in our home. We’ll be saving close to $1K this year, with the only added cost being the $20 annual PlayOn subscription. I track shows with Sidereel on the web and with its app on my iPod touch.

    I have found that I do watch less TV, not because of the diminished choices (really, there have only been a couple shows I can’t stream to my TV, and those I can watch on my laptop if I want) but because I am not willing to sit through as much crap as I was when I used cable.

    • Lindy

      Wow, you guys have all the non-cable toys! It’s interesting that you mention PlayOn, I’ve looked into that briefly in my research. Stick around for the next installment of the story, it’s a doozy.

    • Shannon

      Some advice for people considering PlayOn: Do the 14 day free trial (because that’s just a good idea, to see if you’d like the service) and, if you decide to go with it, don’t sign up right away. If you wait, they will send you an email offer in a week or two, dropping the price in half for the first year. It’s normally $39.99 for the first year, and $19.99 each year after, or a one-time payment of $79.99. If you don’t purchase immediately after the trial, it will lower to $19.99 for the first year as well.

    • Lindy

      So if you hold out they lower the price, eh? Good to know!

  • I have to say TV is at the bottom of the list of things I enjoy during any downtime I might have. However, we do have basic cable. My daughter who is 20 still enjoys watching TV but once she’s launched I’ll switch it off. BUT I would be interested in Net Flix once it offers a bit more to us Canadians. In 3 years I’ll be retiring to PEI and will likely have a few snowed in days over the long winters so definitely need access to movies. We go to at least 2 movies a week (we have a membership to make the cost lower)and I really couldn’t give those up. But the nearest theatre to us once in PEI will be about an hour and a half drive so we’ll need other options for sure.

    • Lindy

      I adore going to movies, and I am quite envious that you get to go so much. Can I be you when I grow up? :)

  • Netflix streaming is so awesome. My DS just doesn’t *want* stuff. I don’t know if that’s him or if it’s that he’s mostly watched commercial-free videos. He gets the same shows, but without commercials and on demand.

    I keep up with pop culture by reading the headlines on That’s how I know what the Jersey Shore is and who is on Dancing or American Idol or Glee. It takes waaay less time than actually watching, and they’ll link to entertaining videos when necessary.

    • Lindy

      Commercial free TV is HUGE! Especially for kids. And you’re right, there are many ways to stay abreast of pop culture these days.

  • I love my sat dish :) funny thing is we only just got it last year before that we were bunny ears only. One thing I’m adamant about though is only one TV in the house. I knew a girl who had 6 TV’s in her house!!! She would complain about never seeing her children!!!

    • Lindy

      Yes, I have been sticking to one TV in the house too. Maybe when my son gets older we’ll look at a second one, but for now, we’re happy with just one!

  • Susanna

    I cancelled my cable over 2 1/2 yrs ago – haven’t missed it though I do miss a few shows. I ended up buying some series and movies that I watch instead. tv was never a big priority with me – I prefer reading and quilting/sewing and thanks to this rotating 12 hr shift – sleeping! I think it’d be harder for someone who does enjoy a lot of tv- on another forum I recommended someone keep their cable since tv and reading are her 2 recreational things and she doesn’t eat out much, etc and can afford it. I’m seriously thinking of cancelling my home phone and internet and using the ‘hot spot’ internet that I have iwth the same company – I had to get the regular internet because the phone service required it – I currently have tracfone but dont get many calls and think I could live with just my cell phone…still debating that!


    • Lindy

      I agree that for someone who’s hobby is TV, it doesn’t make sense to cut it. If you can afford it and you enjoy it, why not? It’s all just a matter of what we can live without or not.

  • I’m as guilty as any PF blogger as having whined about cable. And still haven’t taken the plunge and cut the cord.

    • Lindy

      It’s a big step. Especially for a TV loving family like ours. It took about six months of thinking about it, and then one day it just seemed like less of a sacrifice than we previously thought.

  • I’ve never whined about it and still have it – and I don’t personally even watch TV – how silly is that? :-)

    My youngest son likes it though. We just don’t have all the iCarly and whatnot on netflix in Canada that you guys have in the US. Oddly enough, with the advent of netflix, I have actually started watching a bit of TV, maybe an hour or so a week. The last time I ever watched regularly, it was probably Dynasty, Law and Order and Falcon Crest on Thursday laundry nights. Much better shows on netflix than I’ve ever seen on TV – The Riches, Waking the Dead…

    • Lindy

      I wonder why Netflix doesn’t have as many titles in Canada. Licensing, maybe? Come on Netflix, I know a ton of Canadian pf bloggers who will give you free plugs!

      The Riches is a great show. We actually watched it when it was in its first run (on FX channel, I think). We are big Eddie Izzard fans and were also delighted to see that Netflix has pretty much all of his stand up routines…at least, in the US.

  • I will NOT be cutting the cord, nor will I complain about cable costs. My family enjoys watching sports together, and there are some shows we watch. (I am hooked on the Waltons if you can believe that!)

    • Lindy

      Sports are a big reason to keep cable, especially if it’s family entertainment. We only watch sports on Superbowl Sunday. ;)

  • Yes, cut the cord!
    We get local channels and that is plenty for us. We don’t have anytime to watch anyway. The Mrs. catches up on her shows on the internet at her conveniences and we watch movies from the library. I would join netflix if I really feel the need to pay. :D

  • Longtime old-fashioned antenna users ourselves…we’ve never had cable. Just another of the many economies we felt were well worth making on our journey to being debt free.

  • Dena

    We just canceled cable two days ago.I don’t miss it yet.We are looking into getting a converter box from Walmart to at least pick up the local channels.We will save over $100 a month.Not bad considering we don’t watch it often.

  • We cancelled cable 2 years ago. We now use hulu, netflix and watch some episodes directly from the network websites on the computer. We also have vga hook up on our tv so we can hook the computer up to the television. I love the no commercial programming for the kids on netflix.

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