It costs me about $10 a day just to get out of bed in the morning and use the things that I’ve already purchased. Whether it’s the TV, our cellphones, the tablet, the computer(s)…you get the point, because likely you get the same bills in the mail each month that we do. Seems like life used to be more simple with less recurring bills, but I suppose (as hard as it is to believe) that it’s been about 15 years now that cell phone bills have become an expected expense, and twice as long since a monthly cable TV bill has been a “necessity” for most. Let’s not even talk about the internet, which can cost as much as $60 a month for home service. Then there’s the additional $30/mo. data package for that smartphone (each) that we’ve just got to have! When will the craziness end? WHEN, I SAY?!? OK, I’m better now, thanks for asking.
Having recently just left the corporate world, we needed to reassess our budget and decide which bills stayed and which bills had to go. Considering it is next to impossible to cancel internet and cellular service for anyone these days, we opted out of our $60 (really about $78 after all of the surcharges and taxes) monthly satellite TV bill. The savings, we figured, would net us somewhere just south of $1000 per year, and the luxury would (hopefully) not be missed by our family too terribly much. With the loss of our only “guaranteed” source of income, every extra $1000 counts! We already had a streaming player and a subscription to Netflix ($7.99/mo. for their most basic package, which is all you need to stream at home), so we would be able to eliminate and recoup 100% of that expense immediately. We took the cable-free plunge in November, and have yet to look back. Though I am still in mourning for the loss of my DVR…we don’t talk about it around the house, yet…the pain is still too much to bear.
Between the selection on the media streamer, as well as the unlimited amount of programs available for purchase ala carte on services like iTunes, not to mention the wealth of DVD’s that we literally had to blow dust off of, we have not had any hiccups in terms of visually entertaining our family. What’s more, we’ve actually done more in terms of finding family friendly programming (and most importantly, enjoyable family programming) that we otherwise wouldn’t have found previously due to the over-saturaton of media in our home. I imagine most homes in America are like mine were: Cable/Satellite TV with 300 channels and nothing ever on, Internet, Netflix, Redbox or some other DVD/streaming media rental service, and a modest home library of some favorite movies. Where do you even begin when you have that type of selection? Do we even know the extent of information that we have access to, and are we able to process it efficiently enough to make sense of? After eliminating Satellite TV from my life and still not even scratching the surface of the other services that are available to me, I can answer that question with a resounding “NO!”
In addition to cancelling our satellite TV service, we took time to look over our internet and cellular bills and make some cost-saving measures there. With the internet, it actually meant up and switching providers, purchasing new equipment (vs. renting it from them) and now we have ten times the speed for about $10 less per month. As far as our cellphones are concerned, the contract we’re tied into now is pretty good in terms of what we need, but at least we know what we are paying for, and when the contract comes due, will be able to make a more educated choice for future service needs.
The point is not that everyone should go out and cancel cable right away (so call off your goons, Comcast), but as with any life changing event, or the beginning of a new year, perhaps, it is always wise to audit your family budget and plan for the times ahead. Leaving my corporate job has been the best decision I have made in years, as it has allowed me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and focus on our family business. There has been a change in the lifestyle that we were previously accustomed to, for sure, but for the most part, we still enjoy the same things we did before. After all, we live in the same house, we drive the same cars, we walk our son to the same school every day, and we gather around the dinner table at night (more nights together now than before, not surprisingly!) and share food and stories of our day. After dinner there is some time for a bit of television…the same television, just with a different source of programming. We’ll play with the boys and do some reading a bit before their bedtime, and then we find a movie or continue one of the many different programs that we’ve started, exactly like we did before! So what, exactly, did we give up? An $80 a month bill with another two year contract…and that’s definitely something we can live without.