Mar 1, 2010

Unnecessary Expenses: Part 2 (Merrick)

In Part 1 of Unnecessary Expenses, I mentioned the girl who told the news how grateful she was that she finally got a job, because she didn’t know how she was going to pay for next month’s cable bill. So let’s start there for Part 2.

First of all, let me just say right now that I don’t have anything against cable. Cable is included as part of our condo HOA cost, so we enjoy watching the news, the travel channel, HGTV, sporting events, etc. Please don’t get me wrong; cable is great, and if you have it I am not going to talk you out of keeping it.

However, if money is tight because of a layoff, poor budgeting in the past, an unexpected emergency expense or disaster, or a myriad of other reasons, I hope it is obvious to you that between paying your grocery bill or your cable bill, the cable bill is the unnecessary expense. Obviously the girl scrounging for money just to pay for TV did not exactly understand that cable is a luxury item and not a necessity.

if you find yourself trying to cut back on expenses because of reason X or reason Y, think about what expenses are really necessary. Think about what you really can live without.

Also, consider the abundant FREE alternative options such as hulu.com, which allows you to watch nearly every TV show episode imaginable for several weeks after it has aired. For sports fans, espn.com lets you watch many games online, gives you real time updates on scores, and posts article after article on sports commentary. For you news watchers, cnn.com provides blog updates, podcasts, video clips of news highlights, and of course tons of articles that will give you all the news that you could ever want.

Bottom line, cable is a luxury. If you can afford it and feel like it’s a good use of your money, then great! Keep paying for it. But if your budget is tight and you are looking for ways to cut back, consider cable a good option because it will save you a significant amount each month, and everything that you wanted to watch is still available by so many other means.

So now I’ll ask you: do you have cable? Is it worth it? If you don’t have cable, what are your alternative options?

16 comments:

Heather said...

When I did a study abroad in the Middle East, it ASTOUNDED me that the poorest little shack or cement block dwelling had satellite. The rooftops were a maze of antennae. For some people, lots of tv seems to be as much or more of a necessity than food. For me, we don't have cable, but do get four or five channels, including PBS and NBC. So at least we could watch Olympics. We've loved hulu and online alternatives.

Melinda said...

We recently cut off our cable to cut costs- yes AFTER college football season. ;) It hasn't been as awful as I thought it would be. Most of what I watched was not necessary. I agree with your suggestions of hulu and the like. I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have internet, though...any ideas there?

Carly Jane said...

Um, we don't have (or want) at TV... so cable is definitely a luxury in my book. I will say the amount of the olympics online is lame (only time I've really wished for a TV in the last three years is usually during the olympics).

How about internet? My husband and I debated whether this was a need or a luxury when we moved and no longer could bum it off the campus we lived next door to (and my husband attends). Anyhow, I was great with child and about to stop working... and was pretty sure internet was necessary for my sanity. My husband gave in (thankfully). But what do you think?

TheMoncurs said...

We have a tv but get zero channels. We also don't have a land line. We kind of like that our kid doesn't care for tv and that our standard nighttime activity isn't sitting down together to watch a couple hours of mindless programming.

So it saves us money AND we get a sense of moral superiority. Win win!

Packrat said...

I think I've mentioned before that we haven't had TV reception for years. We do have a TV set and a DVD player and occasionally rent movies. Now that we have discovered YouTube and hulu, even that has become rare.

We have to have internet for our business, so luckily that isn't an issue. However, we all could survive without it, but do we really want to???

Gretchen said...

We don't have cable, but we get PBS via antennae for my kids and that's all that we ever want. I wish my kids didn't love TV so much, but I take solace in the fact that they only have PBS to watch and none of that other junk on cable.

My husband and I are movie junkies though. But you can rent a lot of movies for the same price as cable! We will probably never pay for cable but always have a TV set because seriously, watching movies on the computer sucks.

As for internet, I consider it a necessity, but I'm perfectly content to only pay for the slowest version of DSL or whatever. I can't stoop to dial-up, but the upgrades beyond that don't make sense for normal usage.

Parkers said...

I have a hard time believing that there will ever be time that paying for TV will ever be worth it for us. We have a digital antenna, so we get the basics: PBS, ABC, NBC, FOX. That gives us a few cartoons for Lily, and the news, LOST, the Olympics and The Big Bang Theory for us :) It was a one time cost of twenty dollars.

Nicole said...

We have cable, but it was because th cost for internet and cable with a promo rate was cheaper than the cost of internet alone, with the promo rate ending soon, so will our cable--there's so much in the way of free entertainment, who needs to pay for the junk?

In slight defense of the woman in this story--she might have been in a contract situation, where the fee to get out of the contract early might have been more than just completing the contract. Not that getting into that situation is smart, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. That being said, I have a goal to avoid contracts for luxuries. We'll see how well I can do. :)

Amber said...

We have limited basic cable - the $13 package that you have to remind the company that they DO offer something that inexpensive :)

It's great b/c we get PBS when I need to bribe the kid for 1/2 an hour and the regulars (NBC and such).

It also is not as tempting for me to watch it ALL DAY LONG. I know if I had access to HGTV & A&E my kid would be dirty, the house a mess and dinner still frozen :)

Mary said...

We do not own a tv set. In fact, someone gave us one for free about a month ago and after trying to think about where we would even want to put it we gave it to someone else. We just don't need one at all. We do have a tv tuner in our computer and have it hooked up so we get the basic 10 channels such as PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. Mostly where we watch shows is online. We use hulu and the networks own pages to watch episodes of shows. I really don't understand why people pay for television.

Bart said...

Whatev - cable is worth every cent we pay for it. All zero cents we've ever paid for it.

Carole said...

I'm PROUD of all you non-TV watchers!

We didn't even own a TV for the first 10+ years of our marriage. Since then we've owned a few, but they've never been hooked up to watch live TV. We're a DVD kind of family.

I'm glad to hear there is another generation coming up that is shunning the dregs of TV-land.

You've made my day!

Sara said...

I'm a lone cable person on here, it looks like. I DO want to change that, though. Should I just bite the bullet and cut it all off, or would you guys recommend just downgrading it to basic (without my beloved DVR)? Melinda, You and I should talk...

Leslie said...

If you are considering the purchase of a cable/satellite contract, read the fine print. I got satellite last year and signed a two-year contract. To get out of it early, it will cost me $500. Of course, now that all of the free-ness has expired, it would be cheaper to just pay the $500.

Gingerella said...

After March, we're not getting rid of cable entirely, but dropping down to a lower tier of service to save about $30 a month. Why after March? Because Ginger Rogers is star of the month on TCM and being the huge GR fan that I am, there's several movies of hers playing that aren't available on DVD that I'll get to see for the first time and record. TCM is in the tier that will be going bye-bye (sniff); I can live without it for awhile....I think.... ;) For the things my husband and I enjoy watching on TV, there's no online alternative, plus, we don't have a laptop or wireless service so sitting huddled around the computer desk to watch our evening's entertainment just isn't an option for us.

The Liddells said...

We used to have cable, but got rid of it about a year ago. We just don't really watch TV anyway, never really have, and when we did, we found that we would neglect things that needed to get done to watch some show. If we do want to watch a TV show, we put it on our netflix (even though we may be several seasons behind) and watch it that way. Plus, there are no commercials, which is a major plus! For TV shows such as American Idol, which I do like to watch, my parents just record it on their DVR and whenever I'm there, I watch it.