Cut the Cord and Save Thousands
You might remember a couple articles ago I said I wasn’t going to tell you to cut the cord (eliminate cable TV), well…that didn’t last long. Learning how to cut cable TV out of your life will be one of the quickest, and potentially most fulfilling financial moves you can make.
We will get into the specifics of the financial benefits in a second. First, I want to touch on the psychological and social benefits that cutting cable has shown us. To start with, we aren’t paying someone to market to us relentlessly. According research, a channel plays almost 17 minutes of commercials for every hour of broadcasting. Nearly 30% of your time watching TV is dedicated to selling you things you don’t need.
Your van isn’t good enough anymore because it doesn’t have a vacuum cleaner built in. Your vacuum isn’t good enough because it doesn’t run around your house on its own. Your House isn’t good enough because it looks like the before picture on an HGTV remodel. Remember when you actually had to go to the computer to order something online like some sort of Neanderthal? Thanks, Alexa! I don’t know how we ever survived without you.
Manufacturers are selling laziness and convenience, and consumers are eating it up…figuratively and literally. As evidenced by the growing waistlines of Americans in spite of more “diet” and “low-fat” options than ever before. According to this study, published by the American Psychological Association, children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising. Both groups watched the same cartoons for the same amount of time, but Group 1 was shown food related commercials, and Group 2 was shown commercials for other products. Yet we ask ourselves why childhood obesity is so prevalent. Everyone consuming are becoming exponentially weaker because of it, physically and mentally.
Another huge benefit we’ve seen is that because we don’t watch the news, we aren’t nearly as stressed as others. And this isn’t just anecdotal, this survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard School of Public Health polled more than 2500 people, and 1 in 4 reported to having a great deal of stress. And these people that reported having a great deal of stress mentioned watching, listening, or reading the news as one of their biggest daily stressors.
I promise we’ll keep this as unpolitical & bi-partisan as possible. We don’t care if it’s FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC, BET, or MTV. News Flash: (pun intended) the news sucks. All of them are sensationalist, fear mongering entities that are only interested in viewership so they tell you a 5% snippet of an actual news story, picking out the part that fits their viewership, and pair it along with 95% of opinions and “analysis”. The news is incredibly divisive and self fulfilling.
You’re a conservative, and you watch conservative news that paints liberals as the socialist enemy who want to destroy everything you love. You are a liberal and you watch liberal news that tells you that all conservatives are closet Nazi’s who want to destroy everything you love. I’m sure at some point throughout your day, you interact with someone who has different beliefs than you, and you may not even know it. Yet, somehow, you’ve managed to do it day in and day out. Do yourself a favor and cut off the news, and you’ll find that the world is much more pleasant than you’ve been led to believe.
Now onto the financial benefits. These should be obvious, but when laid out in front of you, they might be a little more compelling. According to the FCC the average Cable TV bill is $65 before taxes and the other misc fees that always seem to pop up on your bill. But, according to this report by the Leichtman Research Group, cable costs are up to an average of $103 per month, and those costs have risen 39% from 2011-2015…almost 8 times the rate of inflation. So if you pay for cable, it’s safe to assume that you are paying somewhere between $800-$1,250 a year for the privilege of being marketed to. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m with you. Sure, I’m going to be marketed to at some point or another…but why would I pay to be marketed to?
Also, think of all those channels you are constantly scrolling through and 90% of them you’ve never watched once. Why are you paying for those again? Oh yeah, they’re all packaged in, and you can’t only pay for the channels you like. You scroll through this extensive guide, and don’t see anything you want to watch, you then lower your standards and scroll back through again.
You’re telling me there’s nothing better to be doing? Reading, doing some overdue housework, walking outside, or learning some DIY skills seem much more useful than watching Walter White cook up some meth, or the Kardashian’s revolving door of relationship issues. Something even more egregious is that some people pay for cable, and still pay for subscription services like HBO, Netflix, Hulu, etc. on top of this. But why? These products can standalone by themselves. There are a number of other alternatives as well. Here’s a few of the alternatives and a brief description of them along with the price.
- Sling TV – $20
- A relative newcomer to the game that provides condensed amount, if you consider 29 channels “condensed”, for $20 a month. For $5 more you can add individual packages like sports, news (lol gross), comedy, kids, and movies.
- YouTube TV -$35
- 52 channels for a pricier amount of $35 a month. They also offer add on’s but they’re more expensive, and not particularly worth it. $11 bucks extra for Shotime…no thanks.
- DirectTV Now -$35 (kind of)
- 100 channels for an introductory price of $35. But soon that’ll jump up to $60. And it has options that push it up to $80 a month. Which is hardly better than regular cable.
So, there’s a spectrum that everyone falls on with regards to their cable affinity, and this isn’t to pass judgement, but just more of an indicator to you about somethings you could be doing better.
I mean this in the nicest way possible, though. Anyone that pays for Charter, DirectTV, Dish, etc. Essentially any big cable company. Especially those that have these along with the other subscription services. Most people I know probably fall in this category, and therefore have the most to benefit from changing this.
People that only subscribe to Sling TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime TV, Hulu, etc. although if you have enough of these, it bumps you back up to the dumbass category. Mrs. RRR and I pay for Amazon Prime, and we are lucky enough to have family members that let us utilize their Netflix and HBO accounts…which reminds me that I should probably do something nice for these people. We also use free apps to get our fix on programs that don’t come on Netflix, HBO, or Amazon Prime (for instance, I use the WatchESPN app and get more college football games than I care to watch, which is a lot).
No monthly services at all. Utilize free TV, of which there are plenty of options on the Roku (this is the only one I have personal experience with), check out DVD’s at the local library, and even borrow them from your stupid friends or family that are still wasting their money buying DVD’s and TV series. Or, even better, don’t have a TV at all. This is an extremely radical thought for practically everyone, but sometimes, radical is what we need to show people that it can be done.
Research shows that Americans are watching 35.5 hours a week of TV. With a full-time job that you have to drive to (average commute is 4.25 hours a week), and 8 hours of sleep a night, you are left with 4.5 hours a day including the weekend. All you have to do is squeeze in spending time with your significant other and your family, cooking meals, eating, exercise, housework, and all the other misc. errands you need to do. That should be easy, right? If you cut out the TV altogether, you end up with over 9 and a half hours a day to get everything you want done. Imagine what all you could do with 68 hours a week.
Lets say you cut the cord and go with the most popular option: Netflix for $9 a month.
$103 – $9 = $94 in savings every month, adding up to nearly $1,130 a year.
Imagine all the ways you could utilize an extra $1,000 a year. Like I said earlier in the article, this is one of the easiest things to cut or even drastically reduce, and you might miss it a little at first…but like most other things, you’ll get used to it and be happier with all the time and money you have on your hands.
You know, if you are broke or earning peanuts I agree. But if you choose to be a high earner and save aggressively then cable is like avocado toast or lattes. It’s just an insignificant detail that you can easily afford should you choose to partake.
Steve, I appreciate the feedback. And I agree that if you want to place your value in cable, there are other places that you could save money. Unfortunately, most people are neither high earners, or aggressive savers. The point I would make is that to afford a $800-$1200 cable bill every year, you would need to have $20-30k more invested for your retirement. For some, that could mean a year more of saving, and I don’t think cable television is worth a year of my life. But again, thank you for your perspective.
Hey, I do agree it is a very significant expense cut for many. And most people weren’t raised by wolves like my wife and I so they aren’t naturally frugal. There are lots of paths to success with few people traveling on them but you are doing an awesome job of helping people stop and think.
Great tips. You can also get an antenna! For a one time purchase of $30, I can watch all the Bachelor/Bachelorette I want for the rest of my life, and my girlfriends and I love to make a night of it. 🙂 #guiltypleasure #girlsnightin
Kristine, I don’t have any excuse for why that slipped my mind. Although, it might be because I would actively avoid any excuse to watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette, haha! But yes, an antenna is definitely another option or alternative that I forgot to include. Thanks for your comment!
I was stupid enough to get a big screen tv a few years ago(LG 62″ LED).
My justification was to watch the Discovery/National Geographic nature documentaries.
When I moved to a smaller house, I didn’t have time to get the cable set top box for a couple of weeks.
That’s when I decided to stretch not having cable for another 2 weeks……and voila…after a month I didn’t feel the need to plug in the cable..and have been free of this crap for the past 5 years.
Now when I go to my parents house my ears simply CANNOT take in any of the crap serials/ads that are blaring out from their tv.
I have a few good movies on my external hdd that I connect to my tv on weekends and play some good exercise videos when I am exercising in the morning.
That’s about all I use my tv for.
Amit, we have a very similar reaction to when we hear commercials and advertisements on television when we visit family or friends. I find myself watching the commercial trying to decipher the underlying psychology behind their sales pitch. I applaud your stoicism of holding out a couple more weeks on cable and therefore determining you not only don’t need it, but now you don’t even want it and you’re getting to hang on to all those hard earned dollars.
I don’t waste my time trying to as you say ‘decipher the underlying psychology behind their sales pitch’.
But I guess I am just too irritated by their messages to give them any of my time now.
Ad’s have only 1 purpose…to sell the product.
But the best thing about any ad is that they have to try to brainwash the customer within a very short period of time, so some of the ads are rather amusing.