Almost a year ago my family took the plunge and gave up cable TV. It was a tough decision. I knew cable TV was an expense we could do without, but my whole family loved having cable. My husband liked the sports. The kids liked the kids shows. And I loved the Food Network and HGTV.
The fact was, though, that cable TV was expensive and was interfering with our other financial goals. So we cut the cord, so to speak.
Do you know what? For the most part, we don’t miss it. That was a surprise to me!
The first thing we did when we cancelled the cable was buy a good antenna. We mounted it on our roof and connected it to our cable line, so the one antenna works for both televisions. Unless the weather is horrible, our TV picture quality is as good as cable. We get five local digital channels and a handful of lower power local channels.
We also subscribe to Netflix, so we can stream television programs and movies to our TV. We began using Netflix as a source of documentaries for our home school, but now we use it for watching regular television shows and movies, too.
Finally, my husband, the NASCAR fan, subscribed to NASCAR RaceView, since he can no longer watch 2/3 of the NASCAR season on TV. It’s not a perfect solution, but he agrees that paying $80 once a year is better than paying $50 every month.
I will admit that I was probably the biggest cable TV abuser. I loved having the television on for background noise while I worked around the house. Since we gave up cable, though, I’ve learned to appreciate the quiet, at least when my kids aren’t running around the house.
My kids have also found other things to do. They play outside more. They read more. There aren’t many shows they need to watch. And when they do want to watch something, there are no commercials, since they watch shows on Netflix. Fewer commercials means I don’t hear sentences that begin with, “Can we buy…” very often anymore.
Overall, cutting out the cable has improved our family time. We spend more time together interacting, rather than spending our time together with our eyes glued to the television.
Giving up cable hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. For my husband, there haven’t been really good alternatives to sports. He can’t watch Monday night football. NASCAR RaceView isn’t as good as watching NASCAR races on TV. And he misses Sports Center.
I miss having a DVR. I loved recording live television to watch later without commercials. As I look ahead to August, I noticed that I will miss most of the Olympic gymnastics competition, because I’ll be camping. It’s my favorite Olympic sport. I sure hope I can find it on the internet somewhere when I return from my camping trip.
Overall, I’m really happy we gave up cable, and I’m not going to subscribe again anytime soon. The quality of our lives has improved, and we’re less reliant on the TV for entertainment.
I will continue to look for alternatives to watching sports, though. My husband made the biggest sacrifice in giving up cable, and he’s been a real trouper about it. As alternatives to cable become more common, my hope is that one day soon we’ll begin to see alternatives to watching major sports programs. I know my husband would be thrilled.
Do you have cable or satellite TV? Have you considered giving it up? Why or why not?
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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