The Lyons haven’t had cable in over four years, and guess what? It’s awesome.
When Chris and I lived with roommates we had one TV in the family room with DirecTV, a DVR box, HBO, NFL Sunday Ticket, and internet. I don’t remember what our bill was. It was split between the five of us (don’t ask), so it wasn’t actually that much per person. Still not a great excuse.
If one family was living there like normal people, and not five adults, it would have been an absolutely ridiculous cost. We didn’t even each have TVs/DVR boxes in our bedrooms, which would have just ticked the bill up even higher.
When he and I moved out of the “Country Club” and into our own house like actual adults right before we got married, we just never got cable. We realized that we didn’t really watch that much TV. When we did it was mostly mindless and there were way better things we could be doing with our time, especially living in Hawaii!
How do we live without cable?
We have an Apple TV, with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, which was already probably more than we need. Three and a half years later we still have no cable and we don’t miss it at all. In fact, we just canceled Hulu a few months ago because we realized we didn’t really need that either.
I don’t include Amazon Prime Video in our “cable” cost because we don’t have Prime specifically for the streaming. That’s the cherry on top of the sundae. We’d have Prime even if there was no video streaming piece of it.
I don’t know exactly how much money we’re actually saving by not having cable, because we’ve never had cable just the two of us- we only ever split it with roommates, and it was all along time ago. BUT, for the sake of this post, I looked at what we most likely would be paying if we did indeed have cable right now. That’s pretty much the same thing, right?
How much does cable cost?
We have Verizon FiOS internet, so I looked at what it would cost us to have a cable/internet package. Of course with the “bundle” we’d get a landline as well. We don’t need a landline, but it’s slightly cheaper to have the bundle than doing cable and internet separately (go figure).
We have two TVs, one in the kitchen “sitting room” and one in the basement family room. The package I priced out is for two TVs, only one DVR box, one of the channel packages, and the lowest internet speed (and therefore price) I can pick.
What does the cheapest option look like?
This option comes to $103.99/mo for months 1-12, then jumps to $118.99/mo after that. If I choose a two-year contract the price is $103.99/mo for months 1-23, then jumps to $113.99/mo after that. The two-year contract comes with “$200 towards Google and Nest smart home devices.” We’ll talk about that later.
The cheapest cable/internet package I can get is over $100/mo. It doesn’t even include local channels(!) but never
The lowest channel package means you have to pick a group of channels, you don’t just get all of them like the good old days. The options are things like action & entertainment, sports & news, kids & pop, home & family, there are a few more.
Each package has over 250 channels which may sound like a lot, but only in the lane of the category. If you want channels for sports and home, or kids and entertainment, then you need more than one channel pack. Guess what? That costs more.
The cheapest option isn’t actually that realistic
If we wanted the channels we used to watch, two DVR boxes (one for each TV), and the internet speed we have now (one step above the lowest) we’d be over $150/mo without breaking a sweat.
That still doesn’t take into account the cost of the router, local channels, and plenty of other little odds and ends you can add on to tick that bill up and up.
Our internet bill is $50.59/mo for one speed step up from the lowest. Netflix is $10.99/mo, totaling $61.58/mo or $739/year.
Chris and I were both online grad school students for a while and since we don’t have cable we do a lot of streaming. We opted for a slightly faster internet speed for this reason. I don’t remember what the price difference was when we signed up but it was small considering the speed difference. We consider it money well spent.
He also travels quite a bit for work so we have the “standard” Netflix package which allows two devices to watch at the same time vice the “basic” package for $7.99/mo that only allows one device at a time.
Remember how I’d have to pay more for local channels? Negative Ghost Rider. We have old school bunny ears and get about 15 local channels.
I can hear you laughing, and I don’t blame you, but I’m quite serious.
These are the exact ones we have, and they work great. We have one set for each TV, and they cost us a whopping one time purchase of about $14.00 each. They sit behind the TV and we don’t even know they’re there. Enter your zip code here to check the signal strength of various channels. It says “calculations assume an outdoor antenna 30 feet above ground level.” Our downstairs antenna is very much inside and about 2 feet above ground level… and it works like a champ.
Get to the savings already
If we went with the cheapest cable/internet package option I could, outlined above, at $103.99/mo for the first year, that would pull cash money out of our pocket to the tune of $1,248 per year.
Wait! What about the $200 credit for some fancy smart home devices? If you were already going to purchase one of these items then there’s a very thin argument to be made. However, I bet you don’t need it. When you look at the numbers below I’ll bet it no longer seems like a screamin’ good deal.
For the sake of even comparison lets look at the total cost of each package over three years. Three years takes into account before and after the two-year agreement.
- With a two-year agreement: $3,864
- Without a two-year agreement: $4,104
- Internet and Netflix only: $2,217
We’re saving a minimum of $1,647 over a three year period, which is about $46/mo.
So many other options
Take that $46 and invest it in a low-cost index fund, then add $46 to it each month instead of sending it to the cable company. At the end of just the three
If you had paid that money to the cable company and not saved it, the difference is even greater: you’d be negative $1,647 instead of positive $1,850, which is a net worth difference of $3,497.
To spice things up a bit, make a one-time investment of your three-year savings of $1,647 and put it into that same low-cost index fund right now. Add nothing to it for the next three years. You’re looking at about $2,075 in three years or a net worth difference of $3,722.
One more: start today and put $46 into that fund every month for the next 20 years. You’d have over $25,000. If you would have sent that $46 to the cable company every month for those same 20 years you’d have spent $11,040 assuming ZERO inflation/change of cable prices (which we all know is ridiculous). That’s a net worth difference of over $36,000.
Ok ok, I could give you a dozen other numbers, but you get the idea. This what the very basic cable and internet package is costing you. I’m willing to bet you don’t have the very basic cable and internet package. That’s $36,000 in 20 years – not even your lifetime, just 20 years – out of your pocket.
Is having cable worth that much money to you?
If you really think about it, consider the alternatives, and decide that cable television is something you truly value, then I fully support your decision. I’m certainly not going to stand in your way, nor judge you for that decision. This is a strictly judgment-free zone and guess what? It’s none of my business anyway!
My main goal for this post is to get you to stop and think about it. Stop and acknowledge what it’s actually costing you. It was costing us much more than we realized.
When we decided not to hook up cable in our new house, it wasn’t solely a financial decision. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a financially driven decision at all. We just realized we didn’t really need it. Even if it was only a few bucks a month we wouldn’t have spent the money because we got very little value from it.
Not having cable not only saves us money, but it also saves a lot of time! It’s much harder to get lost in a random marathon of whatever and lose half the day. Don’t get me wrong, Netflix definitely allows for some serious binge-watching. At least they have the courtesy to ask “are you still watching” every now and then!
Do you still have cable? If not, why did you decide to ditch it? If you do, have you thought about it or has it been automatic?