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The Obligatory Cable Cutting Article - Part II


In last week's post Matt shared some very useful tips on how to cut your cable bill and some possible alternatives. About a year ago the Future Mrs. and I took the plunge as well. After months of trying to rationalize it away and convince ourselves it wasn't really worth it or that it was too hard to switch we finally parted ways with our cable subscription and the monthly bill that tagged along with it. Little did we know that it would be such a great decision for us not just financially but also personally.

The decision to cut the cord wasn't made lightly. We studied our various options to replace it, ran the numbers to estimate the savings, tried to figure out an exit strategy in case it didn't work out and even kept the cable box around for a couple months while we tested out alternatives just to be on the safe side. It's surprising how easily a simple thing like cable can become such a big part of your life that cutting it out becomes such a large decision. This in and of itself should be a red flag. Should something as simple as a source of entertainment be that big a part of your life? After all, it's for fun. It's not really a requirement for living like food or shelter.

Now the financial part of the decision is pretty easy to get, after all who doesn't want to save roughly $1,000 a year? Just check out what that extra money can do to your savings in our compounding interest calculator for example. But the surprising part we realized is that there are hidden benefits to cutting cable that aren't financially related and didn't even come up during our decision making process. So if Matt's financial argument from last week didn't convince you, allow me to add a couple more points from the non-financial side of life:

You can get more time in your schedule to work on other things.

The amount of time that I got back in my schedule was astounding right from the beginning. Within the first couple of weeks I noticed that I was spending less time just sitting in front of the TV essentially burning away my evenings or weekends. That extra time quickly grew and has allowed me to work on other projects and goals I always wanted to work on - for example this blog. Have work around the house you always wanted to do, a book you've been meaning to read, or a gym membership that's collecting dust? It's surprising what even a couple of extra hours per day can get you when compounded over time.

You can be pickier and more flexible with what you watch.

With standard cable, the programming on each of the channels is defined for you (with the obvious exception of On Demand). As a result it's very easy to just pick something and put it on for the sake of having it on. The problem with this is that it's a bit of a false choice. You're picking from that which the cable companies have selected to put on and there's a much bigger world of content out there even with the hundreds of channels available today. We try to manage our queues to have a good range of different types of movies, TV shows, documentaries, etc. and get to pick from this any time we want and as the mood strikes. Not only is the flexibility helpful but because we have to make a choice (the channels haven't done that work for you) it means you have to want to watch something that much more than just turning on a channel.

You can expand your horizons.

The vast catalogs that are on online streaming platforms is pretty incredible and the ability to get a wide range of content lends itself quite naturally to exploration. We've watched a lot of older TV shows, documentaries, foreign films, etc. that would be much harder to find these days using more traditional means. Additionally, the recommendation features are quite handy at helping to find ideas of other items you may also enjoy. I find it much more entertaining to find content this way that filtering through just what is currently available on the cable guide.

While these are only a few examples of the benefits we have noticed during our year or so without cable I can comfortably say that we have not looked back. We find ourselves not just watching less TV but watching TV in a better way by focusing on that which we really want to watch. The extra time has given us the opportunity to focus on so many other things in our lives and I wouldn't trade that for anything. After all, there's so much more to life than spending several hours a day in front of the TV like so many Americans, on average, do these days. So what will you do with your new found riches and time? Have any other tips on cutting the cord? Let us know - we'd love to hear from you.

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