When my partner and I lived in Denver for a year, we didn’t have a television, and we didn’t plan on buying one. We didn’t think we needed cable TV. In fact, earlier we had spent over a year without television in Israel.
As a teenager, I was glued to the TV for hours each week, watching at least four hour-long shows a week, and in college, I discovered binge-watching, mainly via DVDs. (This was even before Netflix and other on-demand services hit the market.)
In the last few years, having lived without any cable TV package, I realized that those hours I used to spend watching shows can actually be used to connect with other, real people. The best advantage of not having TV is the ability to spend quality time with my partner. Watching television together is not an engaging activity for us. Yes, we do enjoy some TV, and every once in a while, we will watch a movie or TV show, but there is no reason we need to spend an arm and a leg each month on a cable subscription to do that.
When I read Lance Cothern's article on CentSai in which he talked about how his family actually saves money by investing $55 a month on cable, I felt that I needed to present my point of view.
We save more than $55 each month by saying no to cable. The best part? We still have great entertainment. Here’s how we save money — and even, if I may add, strengthen our marriage — by cutting the cord on cable TV:
Alternatives to Watching Cable TV:
- Play Games – We recently bought Pandemic, a board game you can play over and over again with a different outcome each time. Cost: $30.
- Read – We love to read and we love the library! I also love to study Jewish texts, which can be studied together in pairs. Cost: transportation to get to the library.
- Play Music – I’ve acquired several instruments over the years, including a cuatro guitar from Venezuela and a ukulele that I received as a gift. If you don’t have money to buy one, make your own! Cost: depends.
- Take a Walk or Exercise – In the summer months, it’s so easy to take a late afternoon stroll in the neighborhood after work. Cost: nothing if you’re just going outside. If you want to join a gym, some are only $20 a month.
- Do a Meet-Up – Groups are popping up all the time to meet new people and do new things without spending money. Whatever your interest, there is a group on Meetup for you. Cost: only transportation to get you to the meet-up.
- Have a Gathering With Friends – We knew a couple who had game night once a month with friends, and each month, a new friend brought games, so you wouldn’t have to buy more than one or two games for the entire year. Cost: $30 to $50 for a game
- Learn Something New – My mom recently started learning Spanish with Duolingo, and my partner has been learning DIY renovation skills online. Cost: free.
- Watch DVDs – My partner and I have acquired tons of DVDs over the years, mostly of our favorite movies. Cost: because we already own them, there is no extra cost.
- Take a Class – Whether for fun or for professional development, you can take a class outside of your home or online. Spending that $55-a-month of would-be cable fees on classes is a good deal, whether it’s a cooking class, dancing lessons, or a professional development seminar.
- Have Projects – If you are artsy, spend your money at the art store instead. You may find that $55 a month can go a long way!
But sometimes all you want to do is tune out reality for a night. If you still want to watch TV, there are plenty of cheaper options:
- Hulu – $11.99 per month for no commercials (or $7.99 with commercials).
- Netflix – $9.99 per month.
- Amazon Prime – $99 per year, or $8.25 per month.
You can pick and choose which service you would like. The only one we would pay for is Amazon Prime – mainly for the shipping discounts. If you want all three services, that would be $30.23 a month, plus the $19.99 a month for internet, for a total of $50.22 – still less than Lance’s $55 a month for cable TV.
Every minute we don’t watch TV, we spend it in each others' company — loving, learning, and caring. You can’t really put a price on that, can you? But I know it’s good for my bank account, too — as I just proved with a $4.78 advantage over cable!