Cutting Cable Saved Over $70 per Month

by Mike on February 24, 2010

Last summer, as I was plowing through debt with gazelle-like intensity, I decided I was going to do something radical. I was going to completely cut off my cable in an effort to save time and money. This was a big move for me as I always have my television on…even if it was just background noise.

My plan was to shut off my cable for the summer months and speed up some debt payoffs. I would use the extra time for reading and to devote to side projects I’ve been wanting to get started. On July 1st 2009 I called the cable company and told them to shut off my cable effect on July 6th. I wasn’t sure how successful this project would be and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure by starting 4th of July weekend. I calculated the difference in my cable bill, and using online bill pay I immediately allocated the additional funds to the next debt in my snowball.

Most of the television shows I like are available online. The first couple of weeks went by relatively quickly as I got caught up on the latest season on NCIS. I was also able to watch the latest season of Hell’s Kitchen and Survivor (Hi, my name is Lakita and I am a reality TV junkie…).

The Hulu Effect

I decided to check out Hulu and see what other shows may be available. However, there were some interesting side effects

1. When I ran out of shows to watch, I started watching shows I wouldn’t normally watch…just because.
2. Sometimes I felt obligated to watch shows that were in my queue. The irony is, unless they are about to expire, I can really watch them whenever I want

I had to remind myself I was doing this to save time as well as money!

As time went on, I missed television less and less. Between summer travel and side projects, I was able to stay occupied, however I didn’t know if the slower pace of the “off season” would cause me to miss cable, or at least television. I resolved I was going to take advantage of the government coupons for digital antennas. I received my DTV coupon, but I let it expire!

At the time of this writing, I’ve been cable free for 7 months and counting. Eventually I’ll get a digital antenna and someday I’ll probably return to cable. But for right now, I’m in no hurry.

The financial savings are undeniable: $70/month applied directly to OPERATION DESTROY DEBT. Rather or not I saved time could be argued. There was a period of time when I actually watched more television online (like when I discovered LOST and watched the first 5 seasons over the course of a month). There are other times where I would come home and work on side projects, study or read. I think my productivity increased, but not until the latter months.

If you want to increase your cash flow – cut the cable! You may not have to cut it completely like did, but if you decide to, you may find out that you don’t miss it as much or at all.

Have you cut or decreased your cable bill? (Or thought about it…)
What effects did it have on your finances?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Daddy Paul February 24, 2010 at 9:46 am

Aside from saving money you will clear your mind. I am so much happier when I don’t watch the boob tube.

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Jackie February 24, 2010 at 10:01 am

I haven’t watched TV regularly (let alone cable) since about 1991 (although I do watch about 2-4 hours a week of stuff from Netflix) so can’t really speak to the cable bill specifically, but I have cut other things out and experienced the same sort of thing. I think at first you find a substitute for whatever you cut out, and then you substitute something else for the substitute, etc. Eventually the benefits of just changing completely or to a particular level become evident, and you start to wonder why you ever spent money on the thing in the first place. Anyway congrats on the extra money to put toward debt each month!
.-= Jackie´s last blog ..You Don’t Have to Be a Superstar to Do Work You Love =-.

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PF Journey February 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

@Daddy Paul: So true! The few times I do watch “regular TV” like at a friends house I easily get fed up with all the commercials and other things that zap my time.

@Jackie: Thanks for sharing Jackie! Makes me wonder if I will ever go back to cable :)

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Ken February 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

We did downgrade our DISH plan to basic after a promotional period with HBO and some other channels. We never watched them or missed them. I have heard some grief from wife about not having Hallmark channel but she is finding substitutes. We are also getting rid of Blockbuster this week.
.-= Ken´s last blog ..“Money Nerd” Cardinal Sins =-.

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Patrenia February 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Not sure if I can get by with this one…It’s not me, it’s the kids and the hubby :-). They would have a conniption fit. I was though, a few months ago, able to switch providers which allowed me to save a bit of money as well as get a free DVR. I’m not a fan of watching many shows as they air, I’ll record and watch at a more convenient time. This is a great savings though for those that can get away with it.

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PF Journey February 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm

@Ken: I couldn’t justify a Blockbuster or Netflix subscription when there are several Redboxes and Blueboxes (I don’t know what Blockbuster is calling them) within a 2 mile radius of me.

@Patrenia: I understand that! Sometimes the cost is greater than dollars…in your situation it would cost peace in your household! If your switch was on promotional price, be sure to call and ask for an extension when the promotional period is over! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

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Joe February 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I like your debt attitude Lakita,
I am not a big tv person, but can’t survive without the internet (i know i can always go to the library). So we just subscribe to the basic channels about 13 plus the internet our monthly bill is about $40.
.-= Joe´s last blog ..Time to write your will =-.

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PF Journey February 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thanks Joe!
I also kept the Internet…of course I could have saved more if I cut that too. I actually thought about but I don’t think the cost would have been worth it. I’ll be the first to admit, I probably need to “unplug” more often, but canceling my Internet was not worth the cost difference.

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Kevin@OutOfYourRut February 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I’d LOVE to eliminate cable TV. It’s my family!

I agree, life is better without TV and I applaud the fact that you’ve managed 7 months without it. Funny thing is that when TV is gone, there’s suddenly more time for everything else.

Internet’s a different story. Addictive yes, time consuming certainly, but it seems to be a necessity these days. I always feel that I’m saving time, if not money, by using email instead of making calls.
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Save Money on Car Repairs with Car-Part.com =-.

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Ariel February 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Even if you don’t cut the cable bill entirely, you can call up your direct tv or comcast service and ask for their best rate at any time. I did this recently via online chat, took about 15 minutes, and it saved me $30/month just like that. Amazing.
.-= Ariel´s last blog ..How to Choose? Pay Off Debt, Save, Invest or Build a Business =-.

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PF Journey February 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

@Kevin ~ Email is MUCH quicker than phone calls! The Internet helps with my productivity (most of the time)

@Ariel ~ Great advice! They actually offered me all kinds of deals when I called to cancel my service…but my mind was made up to cancel.

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Andrew @ Earn Give Save February 27, 2010 at 9:15 am

Excellent point on the Hulu effect! We’ve got Netflix streaming on our Roku, and we have to remind ourselves that just because we’re saving money doesn’t mean we need to always be watching TV.
.-= Andrew @ Earn Give Save´s last blog ..The [almost] impulse purchase =-.

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PF Journey February 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Exactly! Wasting time diminishes the value of saving money

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Leslie October 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Hi! I loved reading your story about the cable cutoff. I did that this summer after being away for a month. It was cut off and I just decided to get rid of it. At times, I miss it but I think it was just the habit of turning on the TV, and I’m forming new habits now. I do watch Netflix streaming, and I love movies. But honestly, I think I’m watching more consciously now. When I watch something, it’s because I really want to, not just because I feel like turning something on to distract me. I am reading a lot more and the kids don’t seem to miss it ONE BIT! That’s the surprising part. Then again, my oldest daughter has a phone and Facebook seems to be the new TV for kiddos these days. But it’s the same for us with movies, when we want to actually sit down and watch something together, we watch a good movie together. Getting lots of other stuff done around the house now and it’s fun!!

Thanks for your story and for your inspiration. Oh and yeah, I like saving the money too!! I spent about $60 per month before. Where is the money going now? I need to think about that a little bit more. :)

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Chong Kong Hui October 21, 2010 at 3:22 am

I have my paid TV cut too almost 2 years ago! More time for other activity and save money.
.-= Chong Kong Hui´s last blog ..How to Setup Children Education Fund by Invest in Property =-.

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Dan November 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm

My wife and I made the decision to cut our premium channels and keep basic cable with internet service. We are saving $100 a month and can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner! I watch sports on ESPN via my Xbox 360 and the kids can watch their favorite shows on PBS and Netflix. You can even leverage podcasts to create your own personal network of shows that you can stream to your TV!
.-= Dan´s last blog ..How to stream content to your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 =-.

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