Not Another Top 10 Reasons to Cancel Cable List

Not Another Top 10 Reasons to Cancel Cable List

Image by wicho via Flickr

We get subscribed to our cable television and phone services through the local (monster) cable company.  Last month (and quite a few months prior) our bill was $115.01 (13% sales tax hurts).  Internet isn’t even included and we shell out $1380 a year.  This had to stop.  We decided we had to cancel cable and find more cost effective solutions.

Enter the great resources over at HowToSaveMoney.ca.  I had already used Saving Mentor’s site to research the best rewards credit card available to us and new this site would do us wrong, assuming SM had covered the Internet TV topic.  Of course he had covered saving money when you cancel cable and I was set to explore a few more great articles.  However, we also get our home phone service via cable but SM has a great guide on MagicJack as well.  We were set to convert.

Let’s be clear – while we want to cancel cable we still want access to watching some television programs and maintain our ability to use a home phone.  This is where we looked for alternatives.   For whatever reason (familiarity?) a lot of people remain brainwashed that they should be paying for television, phone and Internet bills – often totalling $150+ per month.  By consistently switching service providers or trying to bundle to get the best deal these folks are spending far too much time and paying far too much money for their “necessary” services.

I can’t consider how the cable companies provide “service” as sustainable business models.  This thing called the Internet came out years … decades ago.  People use it avidly to stay connected via their phones, making money online or even to avoid  Paypal currency exchange and other similar activities.

Our Phone Use Habits

We haven’t yet gotten on the smart phone band wagon meaning we maintain a land line in our home.  I rarely use it myself but Mrs. SPF keeps in regular contact with her parents and siblings in Quebec and her uncle in Rhode Island.  By “regular” I mean that it makes sense for us to have an unlimited long distance plan which we received through the cable company.

Thing is we’re paying a whopping $58 for the phone line (which comes with a slew of calling features of which we use two: Call Display and Voicemail).  $58!  You’d think someone with an interest in personal finance wouldn’t allow this to happen, but we did.

If I Cancel Cable What Will I Watch?

The same shows I currently watch!  I won’t list them all but suffice to say that I went through the online TV guide and wrote down every show I watch and the network(s) that serve up those shows.  Lo and behold, I can cancel cable and still get access to these show by watching the television shows online.  I suppose that leads to the question: Aside from saving money, why did you cancel cable?

Cutting Back on Television

I watch too much TV.  Sure I multi task while I am blogging but I do get distracted from writing or other tasks involved in writing articles.  But i’m finding at times I watch TV just for the sake of vegging out.  I’m not being overly entertained and certainly not education, let alone productive.  I decided I need to cut back on how much television I watch.  When I cancel cable I no longer can simply grab the remote and get an immediate fix.

No Regular Television for our Kids

But what about the children!?!?!  We’re going to save their young forming brains and severely limit their television watching.  When Mrs. SPF and I were kids (we’re 9 years apart in age) television was a treat.  We might get 30-60 minutes a day – if any at all.  I remember our 12″ black and white TV and no cable for the first 10 years of my life.  Whatever did we do?  I went outside to play – rain, snow or shine.  I played with other kids.  I played with toys that forced me to use my imagination instead of having a box force feed me ideas.  I didn’t turn out so bad – i’m sure our kids will be OK.

The Technology Needed to Cancel Cable

Surprisingly, not much.   I have an EnergyStar laptop.  EnergyStar is key as the only way to get the phone via the Internet as the device I use, the MagicJack, needs the computer to be powered up for the device to run via the USB port.  However, as I researched this article I learned of another product, MagicJack Plus that plugs directly into your router which removes the need for the laptop to be on at all!  Save money AND energy – perfect!

I also bought an energy star 21″ HD compatible LED monitor so I can continue to multi-task while I compute.  This was a choice, not a necessity.  I went with a monitor as it can be moved around easily enough for when the family watches the odd show or movie.

1 HDMI Cable. We want to have high definition when we watch shows or movies.

Up Front Investment

MagicJack Plus costs $70 for the hardware + first year of service and then $20 per year for the phone service.  In addition, being Canadian we get to pay $10 more than Americans do (any wonder why we like cross border shopping?) just because we’re Canadian and need a Canadian phone number.  Lastly, if we want to port our current phone number (which we happen to like – and we don’t want to call a zillion companies/people who have this number) there is a one time fee of $20.

MagicJack offers call display and voice mail which we do enjoy using and unlimited North American calling.  Mrs. SPF can gab with her relatives (as she did last night in a 90+ minute call with her parents) and we get the features we have come to rely on.

The new monitor/TV cost $140 via a deal from Dell and the HDMI cable cost about $10 which included shipping.

Year one cost after we cancel cable: $230.

A quick call to our Internet provider kept that bill as is, but, we got 80 GB of bandwidth for the same price we had been currently paying (about $53 / month).  So this is more or less a wash in terms of our bottom line.

Return on Investment when you Cancel Cable

What is truly ridiculous is that after 2 short months our new hardware was paid for.  Over the course of the first 12 months we will save $1150 or a 500% ROI.  Ridonkuclous.  In year 2 when we pay a whopping $30 for the MagicJack service the investment will have paid for itself 10 times over.

So yes, this is another one of those ‘cancel cable and save money’ posts.  However, the numbers are staggering.  Given the options available for consumers today I simply can’t see how television companies will persist unless they alter their business models.  Customers are becoming much more tech savvy and in this economic climate those same customers are trying to keep as much money as they can in their own pockets.

Would you cancel cable for either the lifestyle or financial benefits?

 

73 comments to Not Another Top 10 Reasons to Cancel Cable List

  • Those numbers are really high! That’s crazy! My wife and I don’t have cable and love it. We have a cheap antenna that we use to watch major events (a couple times a year), but other than that we enjoy playing games and the occasional movie over TV.

    • It is crazy! We were making our payments automatically on our cash back CC but realized the amount we were spending was outrageous. We’ll just stream from the ‘net from here on out.

    • Jon -- Free Money Wisdom

      I don’t have cable and my fiancee doesn’t either. We don’t ever watch television. Growing up I never had cable and neither did she. It is really time waster and a money guzzler.

      • I do like to watch movies on TV. And I think everyone can take some time off for visual entertainment. And I do admit I like some TV shows too – some of the type Eric disdains. But to each their own right? I get value out of learning building and cooking techniques that I apply in life. And sometimes I just want to see what the gang is doing on Survivor.

  • Thanks so much for linking to my resources. I’m really glad they helped you out and are now saving you some money. Saving people money is the goal of my site and seeing accounts like this helps me to realize that it is actually happening!

    Doing all these things takes a little bit of work and patience, but even my wife can do all of this stuff without much intervention from me now! A little work is definitely worth it to eliminate or drastically reduce recurring costs like these. Saving that keep on giving!

  • SPF – I’m very interested in hearing more about your experience with the MagicJack Plus. I’ve looked at it online but figured it wasn’t for me since it needed to have a computer on and running. I didn’t realize you could hook it up to a router instead so it’d be always on. But most importantly – what’s the voice quality like? Can you and others tell you’re using VoIP technology?

    • The beauty of plus is not having to run the PC 24/7. The traditional MJ required the PC. Plug the device into the wall for power, ethernet cable to router and your set.
      I was sold on the voice quality of MJ when I spoke to someone one using it. No sound degradation whatsoever.

  • I want to get rid of cable so bad. And now that Boardwalk Empire is about to start again, we’re getting HBO added again.

    • I’d think you could get this show online somewhere … ?

      • Some of the premium channel shows aren’t available anywhere unfortunately. At least not legally. There’s definitely more than enough good stuff to watch without paying for premium content though – especially since it is all on demand.

        • Speaking from a neutral standpoint of someone who doesn’t really like tv (and got rid of cable months ago) yet doesn’t cheap out on the things I do enjoy “more than enough good stuff” is a rather subjective tag and. If you ask me, all of those reality shows and contestant shows are repetitive and stupid, but they draw enough attention and ratings for the networks to show them in different incarnations season after season. The more edgy and original shows (the ones that win all the awards and have people buzzing for days after episode airs) are generally on the premium channels so there is not free way to get them unless the provider website decides to put back-dated episodes up for viewing. And you know there is very little reason for the network to give that away for free.

          • Good points. I’ve personally never been driven to seek out those premium channel shows but they are higher quality from what I have heard and read. I don’t think i’ll miss what i’ve never had.

          • Well, Eric, there’s always DVD and Bluray then! I guess what’s good enough for me isn’t good enough for you. There’s lots more available than just reality TV, though!

          • I’ve never been had that desire either, and personally never had any of them not even on a free trial.

            Mentor, I didn’t say good enough for “me”, just that it may not be good enough for people in general, which is why I mention the ratings. If you read what I wrote, I said I don’t have cable to begin with, and I really don’t care to have it again to be honest. I think you just read my comment wrong I attempted to take myself out of the equation in the first sentence.

          • My apologies, you’re right. I guess the point I was trying to make is there is so much free content available that no single person could possibly consume it all. Of that free content there is still tons of “good stuff” to keep any normal person busy. So why not choose the good stuff that is free rather than paying for the good stuff that isn’t?

            I know an argument can be made for doing so – I just think it is a rather weak one.

          • Hey, no worries. I understand. I only watch a few network shows, but I do see how people would spend the money on things like cable that they can learn and grow from like HGTV, DIY channel, Food Network, etc. I guess it’s just a matter of personal preference and convenience.

          • The beauty is that you can get those channels online for a fraction of the cost. If you don’t care to watch, fine, but know you can find a lot of good stuff via that Internet connection you plan to keep. The phone and cable TV may not be a necessary $100+ expense each month.

          • True – but more might be available online than you or they realize at first. Both HGTV and Food Network have full episodes online. The Canadian versions of those two channels also have full episodes online too.

            Where you get into real deficiencies are with ultra premium channels like HBO and the like.

          • You’re both preaching to the choir (so to speak). I get my hockey fix on Yahoo Sports which shows a couple games during the week and don’t have to subscribe for the one or two channels that even broadcast games in the US–we’re not lucky enough to have TSN and Hockey Night in Canada down here. And don’t even get me started on the home phone service. I haven’t had a landline in 5 years, and can never understand why some people continue to pay for it when they never use it (although it may be their safety net, but that’s their call)

  • SPF – are you part of some beta test group? When I google MagicJack Plus it appears as if it hasn’t been released yet . . .

  • I wish I were as brave as you. Not sure I could turn off the cable. We have considered it because we pay a pretty penny for it. Maybe it is time to consider an alternative option to get our television fix.

  • Market Maker

    I have never understood the reason for paying that much money for cable. Why? Regular TV offers as much to watch as cable and its free. How many of you ACTUALLY watch all of those channels that you pay for? Over 30yrs you could save $30000.

  • No! It costs me roughly $2 per day for entertainment.

    • Isn’t it better to pay $0.30 for home phone, unlimited local/US/CAN calling, all the usual calling features + get the shows you like to watch?
      This isn’t a post saying TV or entertainment suck. It is more about the VERY viable options to get rid of traditional forms of media, replaced with worthy substitutes, for pennies on the dollar.

  • I cancelled traditional cable awhile ago. I have to admit to using “grey legal area” method of watching TV now where I download a season series of a show I like. I not only save money, but I am more efficient, because I can watch a “1 hr show” in 40 minutes and then get back to something more productive!

    • What do you mean by “grey legal area method”?

      • He means using file sharing to download the shows that other people recorded off TV or obtained in some other way and then shared online. These channels clearly violate copyrights because all advertising is stripped out.

        It is a very convenient way to do it though because you can often get shows in HD, queue and entire series to download overnight when you’re not waiting, and then watch them at your leisure. There are also a multitude of streaming device that you can use to get the shows of your main computer and onto the big screen. Kind of like your own personal Netflix or the old Napster for TV shows and movies.

        I’ve avoided doing this just to try and keep things legal. Although, I must admit I’ve caved a few times and watched episodes that I couldn’t find elsewhere via MegaVideo, which is essentially doing the same thing. That’s only happened a few times.

  • We canceled our premium cable several months ago and I don’t miss it at all, and I really like the $60/month it saves. I usually just watch network television anyway. I did keep the HD and DVR, though. That’s worth it to me!

    We did keep the kids channels and a couple of non-basic channels. Our daughter is limited in her daily TV watching but having some of the kids channels like Nick Jr is great.

  • We canceled our cable months ago and just download shows online. We watch very few series anyways so it never amounts to too much. We also signed up with NFL.com for football game streaming. We are huge football fans and it is cheaper than paying for cable all year.

  • It’s hard to argue with your cost-benefit analysis. That’s an impressive ROI, and your ahead by being more selective about what you are watching too. We pulled the plug on cable last month, and so far the rabbit ears and Roku have us happily awash in HD awesomness.

  • MagicJack is OK but I prefer Skype. The quality and ability to talk on a hard wired phone are OK with MagicJack but the support is not as good as Skype.

  • If you can justify it through phone use then that is cool… As for what to watch, I reckon Netflix streaming on the lowest cost package or Amazon OnDemand could be a good void filler…. Lot’s of free content is available online too, just need to plug your laptop into the TV.

  • That’s awesome you have a seperate internet provider…that’s my biggest issue. The cable company in my city is the ONLY cable company I can use, they have a monopoly other than satellite dish companies. Satellite only offers DSL connection, and that is a lot slower and less stable than a cable connection…and without bundling internet with cable, they make it virtually unaffordable.

    • We actually use DSL but we’re so close to the hub the speed is great.
      We could use the cable company for Internet and not other services. We’ll check them out next year :)

      • I SO want to get BellAliant FiberOp. Download speeds up to 70mbps and upload speeds up to 30mbps. My area was actually one of the first places in Canada/World to have internet via optical fiber. I had download speeds of 8mbps back in 1996 and then they took it away and replaced it with DSL a few years later. We finally have fiber again and speeds have FINALLY surpassed what they were 15 years ago.

        Haven’t been able to justify the cost increase to myself yet and they make their package pricing so attractive it seems very difficult to get the internet just by itself. I’m hanging on to my 7Mbps DSL with crappy upload speeds for now.

  • They seem to have to shout at each other.

    Maybe they argue a lot? ;)

    Great article. The amounts saved are quite impressive and you have some perfectly good and reasonable alternatives.

  • I forgot about how bad they are in Canada, shame really that they started so terribly :(

  • Jen Krall

    Hehe good reasons indeed, beyond the fact that cable wires are the most annoying thing ever and you have to do a gemini c group untangle or hide them behind your television in order for things to look pretty. Nice post

  • We cancelled cable about 6 months ago haven’t missed it at all. Kept the LAN line with the cheapest plan, under $30 a month. Kept High speed cable and between boxes and Netflix I can watch pretty much what I want and we watch way less brain cell destroying media. Figure we save $40 to $50 a month with this system.

  • Not an option in our house…Good or Bad The Wife and I always have the TV going in the background.

    FWIW, if you have a new blueray or PS3 you can connect to the internet through that and don’t even have to bring the laptop to the tv.

    • Why can’t you just stream the TV in the background? What case do you make that insists on paying for cable TV service?

      • Ease. I pay for the ease of just turning on the TV and putting on whatever sport/news program/rerun/new show that is on at that time.

        The Wife loves her DVR and I don’t think the $1,200 I’d save is worth the speedbump in the marital bliss category.

        • I’m lucky Mrs. SPF barely watches TV and when she does it tends to be online, on-demand. When she wants a show, instead of buying a DVR she just finds the show on one of the network sites and plays it. She doesn’t get real time but a lot of the shows she wants to watch are on after she is too tired to stay awake so she catches them after the fact anyhow.

  • Great job! I need to look into how many of “our shows” we can watch online. We also have netflix…which I just saw jump to $21 a month. Can’t understand that price when we used to only pay $8 (smelling a future post….:)).

  • We cancelled our cable a few years back for the financial benefits. It was rather disturbing at first but things got better. There are so many options out there.

  • Taming Our Finances

    Glad I came across this article. Canceling cable is something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while, but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet. We too have a telephone line as it is connected to our home security system. I’m going to look into magic jack and see if that would suffice. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Hi Jeff!

    I literally just had this discussion with myself last night. I think it’s the fact I’m a new graduate out on my own, fending off the surmounting bills for the first time.

    The points you made were all valid. My bills are about the same ~$100/month, so when you tally it up to the $1000/year range, that’s a lot of money for a recent graduate! Thanks for giving me the tipping point post to encourage me to stretch my dollars :)

  • Bethey

    Thanks guys for all of the info and for the much needed encouragement on making the wise choice of quitting cable and looking for other less expensive options. One question though: I wasn’t aware that we could still get channels using an intenna — at least in Canada anyway. Am I mistaken?

  • Urdu Shayari

    Great job! I need to look into how many of “our shows” we can watch online. We also have netflix…which I just saw jump to $21 a month. Can’t understand that price when we used to only pay $8 (smelling a future post….:)).

  • Jenna Jones

    Any device that runs XBMC is all you really need to watch any movie for free

    My setup is Jynxbox Android + XMBC + 1channel plugin = MOVIE HEAVEN.
    Look how easy it is to find any movie within seconds and free http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxqTH1qSX_c

  • Exam-Results

    We cancelled our cable a few years back for the financial benefits. It was rather disturbing at first but things got better. There are so many options out there…

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