We did it. We cancelled cable TV. It almost caused a rebellion from our four kids. No more Adventure Time? No more Phineas and Ferb? No more History Channel? (Yes…one of my kids is a history buff. He does not get that from me.) And…I’ll admit…I was having a hard time envisioning life without Top Chef. But, we did it.
This is something we had talked about for months. We were spending $85 per month for our service and we knew we wanted to trim excess spending this year. So, we whacked it.
Within the first 24 hours of no cable, the kids banded together and presented us with a plan to get Netflix. They would each kick in $2 of their own money per month to cover the cost. I was initially impressed that they had worked out a less expensive option and were willing to pay for it themselves. I almost went along with it. Almost.
Frank and I felt strongly that our family needed to break the TV habit. So, we said no to the Netflix idea. Living in the Atlanta area, we are fortunate to have very good antenna reception and found that we could get 10 or more clear, HD channels for free. We are three weeks into our new lifestyle and things are going much better than I expected.
The Good Side of Killing the Cable
- We are saving money. $85 per month adds up to $1020 savings per year.
- We are choosing other activities. We are all reading more; in fact, I actually had to tell my 11 year old to stop reading and get his homework done. The kids are also doing more outside --- riding their bikes, jogging and have Nerf gun wars with the neighborhood kids.
- We are making more thoughtful choices and planning ahead. I look at the TV guide from the newspaper and we plan the shows that we want to watch. It’s good for the kids to practice some delayed gratification.
- We have watched shows as a family. When there is a show that we want to watch, we have to all watch it at the same time. Our “record it & watch it later” process is gone. It’s kinda nice to share some laughs together.
- The kids are seeing that choices aren't always easy to make. Having hundreds of channels to choose from at any given moment definitely has some entertainment value. But…having an additional $1020 at the end of the year is more important.
The Down Side of Killing the Cable
- The grumbles. All of us have grumbled and complained at some point. We’re breaking a habit here so I guess we are allowed a few withdrawal moments.
- The microwave. As good as our antenna reception is, if the microwave oven gets turned on, our reception is fried. I try to only heat up my coffee during commercials!
- Waiting. We have found that most of the shows that we like are available online, but we have to wait a day or two to see a new episode.
- Video Games: Initially we saw an increase in video game time. However, with some restrictions from us, that has decreased back to its normal allotment.
So…for now we are going to stick with the no cable plan. I like that my kids worked out a budget-reducing alternative on their own and were willing to pay for it themselves. That in itself was a good financial lesson for them. Andrea at So Over Debt mentioned that she uses the Apple TV as a replacement for cable. Maybe later in the year I will have the kids research Apple TV and other options. But I'm not in any hurry.