Considering Expenses: Why We Got Cable

by mzumtaylor on July 23, 2012

in Budgeting,Considering Expenses

Cable is expensive and over-rated

I’ve always thought that cable was over-rated. Most of the time when I look at the “deals” that the various cable companies are offering (“Try these three services, for only $200 for six months!”), I just shake my head. Getting internet and having Netflix and Hulu Plus has always seemed like a better deal.

So, ever since we’ve moved to Colorado (two years ago last month), we’ve been without cable TV. Frankly, I haven’t missed it. Sure, there’s nothing to mindlessly watch when I’m procrastinating doing the stuff I know I should be doing, but there’s also nothing to mindlessly watch when I’m procrastinating, which I shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

… Except when it isn’t

But, in June our internet bill jumped from $45 to $75. I knew why — the 6-month special offer I’d signed us up for in December had expired — but seeing that change reminded me that it was time to call the cable company and see if they had any new offers for us to replace the one that had just expired. (It’s amazing what people can/will do for you if you just ask nicely.)

When I called, the very friendly customer service rep informed me that there were no “internet-only” specials at this time. Bummer. I’d been using such specials to keep our internet bill below $60. Without those specials, internet could be as much as $85 (depending on monthly taxes and fees) for the foreseeable future. Not cool.

As soon as I expressed my dismay at the higher price, the rep told me that there was an offer for internet PLUS cable that would only be $57 for 6 months, and $77 for another 6 months (with a 2-year contract, we could get those prices for 12 months each). I was skeptical, because as I mentioned, I don’t really need, or even want, cable. We’ve been getting along just fine for those 2+ years on the internet plus our Xbox 360 plus Netflix and Hulu Plus, thanks.

Because all those little charges add up…

But then I thought about it. Our internet costs have been between $50 to $75 a month (depending). Our Xbox Gold Membership is $9.99 a month, which you have to have to stream Netflix, etc. Netflix is $16.67 a month because we have the “streaming + 1 disc” option. Hulu Plus is $7.99 a month.

All that together is $84.65 to $109.65 a month (depending on the current price of internet). Which means that getting cable and internet at $57 for 6-12 month and then $77 for 6-12 months could potentially reduce our monthly costs, because it would mean we could cancel at least Hulu Plus (-$7.99), and possibly streaming on Netflix (-$7.99 again). (We “can’t” get rid of the Xbox Gold Membership for other, video-game related reasons.)

So, now we have cable

Having weighed the options and done the math, I decided to go for it. I opted for the no-contract 6 month version of the plan the rep offered me.

My plan: If it looks like it’s going to save us money, I will call back and get the contract version. If it looks like it isn’t going to make that much of a difference, I’ll leave it no-contract and call them in 12 months to see what new, money-saving offers they might have.

The cool thing about cable

And having cable means having access to the Olympic Games, which I’m actually kind of excited about. And being able to watch the Superbowl (commercials) without trying to figure out how to stream it (them) over the internet.

Not to mention access to BBC America, so we can watch the new Doctor Who when it airs. :) And Ben will have access to baseball games. And I’ll be able to watch my Syfy summers shows when they air, instead of a month behind (despite their tech-savvy target audience, Syfy still hasn’t figured out this whole “streaming media over the internet” thing).

The downside of cable

It’s right there, just waiting to entertain me! I can turn it on and channel-surf until I find something good and…

No.

When I gave the go-ahead for the rep to schedule our service appointment to have cable installed, I promised myself that I was not going to ever just channel surf and veg in front of the TV. I’ve really enjoyed how productive I’ve been able to be these last few years without ready access to cable’s 200+ channels, and I’m not willing to give up that productivity.

It will be a challenge, I recognize, but that’s what willpower’s for, right?

What are your thoughts? Are you pro-cable or anti-cable? Do you have a cable substitute? When was the last time you called your cable company to ask for a deal?

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