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Cutting the cable cord (a saga)

A family is saving $852 a year and still seeing all the TV shows they want -- without commercials.

By MSN Money Partner May 19, 2011 12:14PM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.


In the last edition of "Cutting the cord," I left you on the Couch of Negativity -- the one created by the firestorm of complaints that rained down when we told the kids we'd canceled cable.


But I'm sitting on that couch as I write this, and I can proudly report that the negativity is no more. We've been cable-free for a month, and we survived!


There were minor grumbles the day after that initial blowup, but once the kids realized they still had access to all their favorite shows, I never heard another peep. Cable, what cable?


Let me introduce you to our new television BFFs:


Netflix. We started our cable-free adventure with just Netflix ($7.99 a month), which is the greatest invention ever, and makes up most of our television viewing. Actually, 100% of our kids' viewing is through Netflix. They stream it through the Wii, where the format is so user-friendly that even 2-year-old Baby Rock can use it.

Hulu Plus. But we (adult members of the household) didn't want to give up some of our favorite television shows ("Modern Family," "Parks and Recreation"), so we signed up for Hulu Plus (also $7.99 a month). We stream this through the PlayStation. But we're considering ditching it altogether. Some of the shows we watch ("Project Runway"), though available on Hulu, aren't available for streaming to the television. This is kind of lame. And other shows ("Top Chef," "MythBusters") aren't on Hulu at all.


In comes Apple TV. Oh, how A-Rob has been wanting an excuse to buy Apple TV. Cutting the cable has given him that excuse. It allows us to stream shows that we purchase through iTunes, which are available as individual episodes or as a season pass. Different shows range in cost from $15.99 to $54.99 per season, and since we only have a handful of shows we care about, our annual costs should be way less than we were paying for cable.


Plus, Apple TV lets us stream our iTunes music through the TV, so it's like the best stereo ever. We also get to use our iPhones as remote controls, and that makes us feel all fancy and cool. Post continues after video.

How much are we saving? For cable we were paying $101 per month. With Netflix and purchasing shows through iTunes, we're estimating to pay $30 per month at most. We may actually decide not to purchase some of those shows and that number could be smaller. At $30 a month, that's a savings of $71 monthly/$852 annually. Pretty good, considering we're still getting to watch everything that we want.

What's the biggest perk? That's easy: NO COMMERCIALS, EVER!!!!!


What's the biggest irk? Netflix parental controls are sucko. You basically have to set your entire system to only allow PG movies if you want to have any semblance of control over what your kids have access to. There is no override for parents. We currently have everything wide open because of this. It's OK for now because our kids are small and don't yet know how to be devious. But I hope Netflix gets this figured out before they get older and curious.


Do the kids watch less TV? I was hoping this would be the case, but no, it's not. However, the lack of loud annoying kid commercials has made the house feel a lot more calm in general.


Any unintended consequences? Yes, my only clock in the living room was on the cable box.


Did canceling cable turn you into weird frugal freakish outcasts? As far as I can tell, we're still pretty normal. And, um, did you read the part about our iPhones doubling as remote controls? I think that actually makes us cooler now.


Do you feel deprived? I'll admit, the first week or so without cable I felt a little naked. After so many years of living with it, it was hard adjusting to not having it at my fingertips. But now, I can honestly say I don't feel I'm missing out on anything. I actually would be a little disappointed if I had to have it back. Weird, huh?


Is it for everyone? NO! My intention in writing this is not to make you feel bad if you still pay the cable man. I don't believe that cutting cable is the key to financial success and all must obey. It's just our way of cutting out the fluff that isn't important to us anymore. If it's important to you, then keep it. And don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it.


One final thought

I've changed a lot in the past eight months of my financial journey. If you'd told me I was going to be canceling cable (and be happy about it) eight months ago, I would have run the other way with my hands over my ears.

I did a lot of pouting and stomping my feet in those early days. I didn't want to sacrifice. I didn't want to be one of those frugal types who sat around in the dark and played board games. I wanted to LIVE!


Well, as it turns out, living to me means having money in the bank, because money is freedom. Living means sacrificing what I don't care about to pay for what I do care about.

Back then, I cared about my TV. Now, meh, not so much. I don't know what specifically changed in my psyche to take me from caring to not caring, but I do know that time played a big factor. Sitting on the idea for eight months slowly eroded any misgivings I'd had in the beginning.


So if there's something that you'd like to change, but you don't necessarily want to, then give it time. If it's meant to be, your subconscious will work on it. Then one day you'll wake up, and that thing you thought you'd never be able to live without will suddenly be, well, meh.


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