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When my son was a toddler and the income from my photography business was slim, my husband and I took a look at our budget and wondered where we could make cuts. There were some things we weren’t willing to give up, but cable TV (or satellite, which was our only option out in the country–I will use the words cable and satellite in this post interchangeably ) was no longer bringing us much joy.
We weren’t the type of couple to commit to watching a new TV show together on a weekly basis. Either one of us would be busy or just not interested in watching TV at a set time each week. He was into Castle; I would turn on HGTV while I edited pictures. Holden couldn’t get enough of Paw Patrol in the mornings. However, between all of us, we were only watching a few hours of TV a week–while most Americans are watching TV 5 or more hours per day.
Our bill kept climbing, yet the quality of service from our provider declined. If there was any wind or rain within the vicinity of our dish–forget about it. After dealing with the frustration of not being able to watch we wanted, there were times I didn’t even want to bother trying. Our cable provider didn’t exactly rush to fix the problem so we could watch the premiere of The Walking Dead, you know what I mean?
PULLING THE PLUG
So it was pretty obvious that ditching our cable service was the way to go. We had some hesitations, of course–I worried about not being able to watch the Olympics or the World Series, admittedly the only two sporting events I’ve ever cared about. What about the Oscars? Was I okay with missing out on all of these? It’s just not the same to watch highlight clips the next day. And what about Holden; were we terrible parents for taking away his favorite shows?
Ultimately, we decided cable wasn’t worth it. In 2012, we “cut the cord” and have never looked back! Initially, we didn’t replace cable with anything else. Due to our location, our sole internet option had a low monthly limit. A streaming service would have resulted in an astronomical internet bill. You should have seen the concerned looks on people’s faces when I told them I didn’t have cable, satellite, Netflix, or anything of the sort. “I uh… just watch DVDs sometimes.” Sure, people felt sorry for us, but I didn’t envy their cable bills one bit. I’ve never looked at the numbers, but I bet we saved on our electric bill too–our TV was hardly on.
THE PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS
When a better, unlimited internet service became available in my area, a friend finally convinced me to get a Netflix subscription. At under $10 a month, we have access to a lot of the shows we’ve always loved and tons of new movies. A few months ago, we added Hulu. Combined, we’re spending approximately $16 a month. Compared to our cable bill, which was over $40 and rising, we are still satisfied with our savings. We’ve considered dropping Hulu for Amazon Prime Video, which is $99 a year–and of course, that includes all the other Prime membership perks like free shipping.
One of the biggest pros of having subscription streaming services over cable is the ability to bingewatch what we want, when we want. I can watch Shameless until I have to force my eyes to stay open, instead of catching one episode a week with traditional cable. My likes and dislikes are so flighty, anyway–I’ll bingewatch a show for a week and lose interest for a while. As I said above, committing to a weekly show is just not my cup of tea.
There are some downsides, of course. I didn’t get to see the fabulous Lady Gaga rock the Superbowl halftime show, and I could only read about the Oscars on Facebook. Part of the joy of watching an event live is the sense of community–not being able to participate in those “did you see that?” conversations makes me feel out of the loop. Still, it’s not enough to convince me to go back to cable.
MORE FAMILIES ARE CUTTING THE CORD
More and more families are swapping cable for streaming services, or they’re ditching paying for TV altogether. A friend of mine, Sandy, said her family is content just watching the occasional DVD. “We have more time to do other things. We’re more connected as a family,” she said. “Our lives aren’t scheduled around what’s on TV.” My friend Cortney’s family gave up cable two years ago, which they’ve replaced with multiple streaming services. “Since I’m a Prime member on Amazon, I also use Amazon Video.” Cortney mentioned some cons, too, like watching shows weeks or months after everyone with cable has already seen them. “You have to be careful of spoilers on social media.”
Bottom line, ditching cable is not a decision I regret. You simply learn to live without it.
The images in this post were used with permission.