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Who needs cable TV?

October 28, 2011

We didn't actually use a scissors to cut our cable TV, but it does make a good visual.

How we cut the cable and cut our expenses

It is easy to confuse needs and wants in a world with continual increases in technology. Remember, needs are things one needs to survive such as food, water and shelter. Generally, everything else are wants.

Things we may think of as needs are really wants. Cell phones are quite convenient, but they are not needed for survival (I am sure some of my readers will disagree with this).

My wife, Kerri, may argue that her favorite coffee drinks are needs, but they are wants as well. Unlike water, which we all need to survive, one does not need a $3 cup of Joe to live.

Cable television is entertaining and can be educational and informative, but it too is a want. My family and I thoroughly enjoy our TV, but when we received a letter from our cable company stating our cable service was going to increase by about $30 a month, we needed to seriously consider our options.

First, Kerri called the cable company to discuss other packages at our current rate. When she learned there were not any options at this price, we decided to cancel our cable.

Before some of you think we are certifiably insane, let me say that we did not give up television altogether (although that would not be so bad either). Instead, we opted to try internet TV. We purchased an Apple internet TV receiver and signed up for Netflix for $8 a month, which allows us to stream all movies and shows that are downloadable through Netflix.

In addition to the cost savings, we have noticed some major pros a few weeks into our cable-free lifestyle. No commercials is a definite perk. Our TV watching is more deliberate as well — no more mindless channel surfing to pass the time. Instead, we have to decide what to view when we sit down. It is nice to be able to watch what we want when we want, not be confined to cable programming.

I have enjoyed watching earlier seasons of shows such as “30 Rock,” which I began to follow a couple seasons in. I also have seen movies such as “G.I. Joe” and “Iron Man 2.” You can’t beat $8 a month for unlimited TV and movies. It even beats the great $1 a movie per night Redbox movies, which we do not have to use anymore. Our entertainment expenditures undoubtedly will go down.

There are so many more educational shows for our daughter, Quincy, to watch, and because we have to select the show, we do not have to worry about her seeing something that is not age appropriate for her, which could happen if she were flipping through cable TV.

Kerri likes watching some of her favorite shows from back in the day such as “Ally McBeal.” She has enjoyed starting newer programs from the pilot episodes through this past year’s season including “Brothers & Sisters” during 3 a.m. feedings with our seven-week-old son, Brooks. As the saying goes, all is well in the world when Mama is happy.

We can find shows not available through Netflix on the website Hulu.com, including “The Office.” We purchased a cord for $7 on the internet that allows us to connect our laptop to the TV in order to watch these online shows on the big screen.

Some may find a few downsides to this service. For instance, we do not receive live TV. We cannot watch local or national news programs. I do not get NFL football, which Kerri probably would say is a plus, but I can purchase a package to watch games online. For us, these are not deal breakers.

We have gone from paying around $50 a month for cable TV (which was going to become $80 a month) to $8 a month. The savings are huge.

What are some wants in your life that you could do without? Getting rid of cable is one option that works for us, but it may not work for you. The enjoyment you receive from this form of entertainment may be worth the price. Maybe there is another monthly expense you have taken for granted that can be cut or significantly reduced.

It all comes back to your priorities. For us, cable was not that important, and we found a way to get just as much entertainment while saving quite a bit of money as well.

Keep track of your monthly expenses, and if you need to adjust them to reach your financial goals, determine what you can cut or eliminate. Who knows, maybe next month instead of watching cable TV or going to the movies, you will be catching up on old episodes of “Cheers,” thanks to internet TV. I definitely would say “Cheers” to the amount of money you could save.

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