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27.12.2012 in Saving Money by Lena Gott 5

Do We Really Need Cable TV? What Are Our Alternatives?

Recently we went through a few household budget changes.

We added a new baby to the mix, restarting all of the baby-related expenses from hospital bills to diapers and feeding.

With the addition if our third child and a simultaneous big increase in my husbands travel schedule, I also found myself using a house cleaner and babysitters more than I’d like to. We now also have two kids in preschool for the time being.

Unfortunately all of this extra spending didn’t come with an offsetting income increase. :=/

So lately I’ve been tinkering with our monthly budget to try to figure out what we can let go of in exchange for some of these new costs.

Do We Really Need Cable? We Pay Wayyyy Too Much!

Once I sat down with our household expenses, I realized that the largest non-essential item in our monthly budget is our cable/Internet/phone bundle.

What started out at $99 per month for a cable/phone/internet bundle (with basic cable and limited bandwidth), has now ballooned up to $160 per month! Somehow I felt like $99 was a good deal, but paying $160 for the same service (actually, worse service, because they keep deleting channels from the lineup), seems unthinkable!

I don’t need an accounting degree to realize that we pay way too much for our dinky cable subscription each month!

$160 would easily pay for both of my girls to participate in an extracurricular activity, including recital fees and outfits. I’m thinking dance and gymnastics. Seems like a good trade to me!

What Would We Do Instead If We Didn’t Have Cable Television?

If I didn’t have cable television to watch, the first thing I’d tackle on my personal to-do list would be my digital photos. Maybe, just maybe, I would actually get around to making all of those photo books on my to-do list!

What else would I do if we cut off cable TV? A few things that come to mind…

  • Listen to music   Cut cable tv to save money on monthly household costs
  • Read to kids
  • Blog
  • Nap
  • Sit less
  • Text
  • Pinterest
  • Cook
  • Meal plan
  • Clean

As far as I can tell, there are way more benefits to cutting the cord than keeping our cable subscription. I’d be more relaxed, get more done, and perhaps even be in better shape!

Pros and Cons of Not Having Cable Television

For my husband, doing without cable would likely mean not being able to watch college football games on ESPN. When he tried to watch them online recently, our service provider blocked the website.

For me, the biggest reason to keep cable is the ability to randomly watch a show here and there when I have a rare free moment or some quiet time. Whenever I somehow manage to get all three kids to nap at the same time, sometimes I just sit and watch a cooking show for a little bit. Also, it’s kinda nice to be able to get my kids set up with a show every now and then while I make an important phone call.

But I suppose I could do both of things without cable; they would just have to be planned and limited to what we could stream.

Alternatives to Cable TV – What Are Our Options?

As you can see, I’m leaning toward getting rid of cable, but I just need to figure out the ESPN sports issue and determine an alternate setup to get the shows we really like.

That’s my next step. In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on what others have to say about this issue. Below are a few good articles I’ve read recently.

What Others Are Saying About Cutting Out Cable – Alternatives, Pros and Cons: 

Cable TV Too Expensive? Why Not Try Cheap Alternatives to Cable? – Ryan Guina wrote an excellent post about many different ways to enjoy television shows without forking over money for cable.

How We Watch TV Without Cable Service – The Frugal Girl, Kristen, writes about her cable-less setup that combines Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a Roku to get the family’s television fix without a costly monthly cable bill.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Cutting Cable – If you’re looking for a fairly comprehensive analysis of the dollars and cents of doing without cable TV, this post at Apartment Therapy is a great resource. They’ve addressed the elephant in the room – the inability to get certain ESPN sports programs without a cable subscription. This one hangup could turn out to be a deal breaker in our house!

You Cancelled What? Life Without 200 TV Channels – I pay double what Pam did for way fewer than 200 channels, and even she justified cutting the cord. If you are on the fence as I am, this post lists some valid pros and cons to cutting cable television out of your life.

Cutting Out Cable – Can We Do It?

I have to admit, I’m this close to just getting DirecTV or Dish Network just to have an equivalent service without as high of a cost. But deep down I know we don’t really need cable and would likely enjoy our lives more without it.

I’ll post more about our decision process and which cable alternatives we end up going with when we have everything up and running. Wish us luck!

Do you have a cable tv subscription? If so, have you considered cutting out cable? If you live without it currently, what are your suggestions for alternatives to cable?

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Lena Gott

I'm a CPA turned SAHM of 3 little ones ages 2, 4, and 7. I'm a mommy by day, blogger by night. Join me as I write about fun kids activities, family finances, and losing 50 lbs after baby #3.
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This article has 5 comments
  • I cut my subscription to premium cable 2 years ago and don’t miss it all that much. I do however still get the basic channels through my HOA dues, and a few extras and HD stations sneak through so watching sports isn’t as bad. If you don’t have any budgetary restrictions, or get any entertainment value from it, I think it’s pretty cheap to go without it for the sake of not having it. But, then that’s just my opinion (personally I didn’t get the entertainment value out of what I was paying).

  • Dorethia @ #MoneyChat 15.01.2013 2:14 AM Reply

    I’m always tempted to buy cable around the holidays when I have down time. No different this year – once again I called and once again – I just could not make sense of it. The prices are ridiculous to me – I can afford it, but don’t want to really. I bought a BluRay WiFi dvd player, HDMI cord and subscribed to NETFLIX streaming. It was good enough this holiday season and beyond. Much better than paying an expensive cable bill each month….

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