Cutting cable TV allowed us to have control over what we saw and be more intentional about the media we consume. For one, I do not miss the $100+ monthly bill at all. We still have Hulu and Netflix but those subscriptions are only $8/each which is very reasonable. Last year, we also tried out Sling TV to watch sports but we realized that it was not worth the $25/month cost so we canceled it after the free trial.
More and more people are deciding to “cut the cord” and go without cable and instead use streaming services, or quit TV altogether. We’re not quite ready to quit TV altogether but we have “cut the cord” and have not had cable for 2 years now. As a former HGTV addict, I can say that it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
So, how did cutting cable help our minimalist and waste-free goals?
Did I mention we were paying over $100/month for cable??
Looking back, I can’t believe we were ever okay paying that much to have like 1,000 channels of which we watched maybe five of on a regular basis and three of those were channels that we could get for free with an antenna! The savings alone should motivate more people to cut the cord and move to an antenna and/or streaming services. That’s $1200/year that could go towards debt repayment, vacation, or retirement funds instead.
No commercials = no temptation to think about junk you don’t need.
This is particularly helpful with kids’ programming. You can’t want what you don’t know exists. Although we tried our best to limit TV to only PBS stations which have minimal, mostly educational ads, the kids still sneaked in some Nickelodeon or Disney channels. These channels are full of advertisements of new (plastic) toys and it served as a constant “wish list” for kids. Our kids are pretty content with their toy collection (we are not minimalist in this regard yet) but they are kids, and when they see something new and cool, they’re likely to say, “I wish I had that” or “Can you buy that for me?” Eliminating the ads eliminates these awkward questions (they’re awkward for me because I don’t really want to say, “put it on your list for Christmas” when it’s something that I would never buy). The kids didn’t really notice when the cable went away. They just learned they had to push different buttons to get to what they wanted to watch and that was that.
No HGTV = no more obsessing over a never-perfect enough home.
I teach about consumerism and I always tell my students about my “aha!” moment when I no longer had 24/7 access to HGTV home improvement shows. I was semi-addicted to HGTV and I would put it on in the background when doing chores, not even watching it but just out of habit. I never realized how I was always looking for ways to “improve” my house and wishing it looked different. My spouse would give me “the look” anytime I proposed a new idea. HGTV was having the same effect on me that I was trying to avoid with the toy commercials for the kids. It made me think that my house was “not enough” and that it needed to be constantly worked on and improved. I had a mental list of “projects” that I wanted to complete around the house even though we do not live in a fixer-upper. Once I stopped watching HGTV, I became more content with my home. I realized it is functional and while it may not have all the bells and whistles, deep down I don’t want to spend money on that stuff. I’d rather spend it in experiences with my family (or food, I’m a foodie!). This doesn’t mean that I don’t like to have a nice, modern home because I do. But I am much more practical about things now. My main priority is function, not fashion and I’ve applied this to everything else in my life too.
So, what did I gain by cutting the cord?
- More money! We needed this to achieve our debt-free goals. We’re not quite completely debt-free but will very soon achieve this great milestone (except the mortgage for now).
- More time with family. We rarely put the TV on at our house anymore. Sometimes I miss having the news on the background but most of the time, I’m glad I don’t. We spend more time outdoors and entertaining ourselves in more active ways.
- More time to read! I am a professor so I read quite a bit for work but very little for pleasure and that had been a sour spot on my “goal list” year after year. I always told myself, I didn’t have time to read with everything else going on in my life but I didn’t realize how much time I was actually wasting (see HGTV semi-addiction above) that I could’ve been spending reading instead. I now use the Overdrive App on my phone to download books from the library, for free, and read or listen to on a weekly basis. This has been a major accomplishment for me and I couldn’t be happier about it.
I would love to eventually become a completely TV-free home but my spouse will probably fight me on that one ‘til the day we die. For now, we have found that streaming alone works for us.
Have you cut cable yet? If not, what are you afraid of? Share in the comments.