Why We Cut Our Cable Again

Last Updated on January 5, 2021

When it comes to saving money, cancelling your cable is one of the most common recommendations made in the personal finance world. And it’s not hard to figure out why.

Between cable, the Internet, cell phones and maybe a home phone, telecommunication costs are expensive. According to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the average household paid $191 per month (or just under $2300 per year) for these services in 2014.

And some people, like those of us living in Northern Ontario, pay a lot more. Before we decided to cut our cable again, we were paying $280 a month (before tax) for the second lowest bundled package available to us. And another $9 for Netflix.

Of that, $65 got us about 100 channels. While that isn’t really a bad price, it was a waste of money when we only watched maybe 15 channels, yet were forced to pay for more. (Although, Canada is supposed to be introducing “à la carte” cable by the end of next year, which might make it a more affordable option again.)

Regardless, paying $300 a month to watch tv was too much for us, especially while I struggle to find full time employment again. So we decided to cut our cable again. After all, the Internet can do what cable does, but cable can’t replace the Internet.

For the Love of Television

I have always been a tv watcher. Always. So it was kind of a big deal when I first decided to cancel my cable a few years back. But I was new to this personal finance world, and cutting your cable is the second thing you must do – after you stop buying take-out coffee, of course.

I adjusted fairly well, as for whatever reason I still got a handful of channels for free. One of which was AMC, so it helped to still be able to watch Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead. It also helped that I was working 60+ hours every week. And had my sister’s Netflix password.

But when R and I moved in together, our rental came with a promotional free year of cable and Internet. We were both excited by the novelty of having cable again, and it quickly replaced the other forms of entertainment in our life, such as going out and socializing.

As the end of our free year approached, we decided to keep our cable. Changing the account into our names meant we were “new” clients and were eligible for a 50% discount for our first 3 months, and our DVR was full of shows and movies we hadn’t gotten around to watching yet. But once this promotion ended and we got our first full-price bill, we decided to cut the cord, once again.

Between R’s shift-worker schedule, and me either not working or only working part time, it didn’t make sense for us to commit to another monthly expense, especially when we didn’t always know our monthly income.

But That’s Not the Only Reason We Decided to Cut Our Cable

Another big reason was me. Or more specifically, me trying this whole self-employed, working from home thing.

I quit my part time job just days before my cat died, which didn’t leave me in a good place mentally speaking. I spent most of my time moping around the house, and watching a lot of pointless tv. It was a distraction; something to do to keep my mind off of other things.

The problem is, “other things” also included being productive.

And that was okay at first. I needed the time to grieve, to adjust to being unemployed again, and to figure out what to do next.

But I ended up getting myself into a bad routine that involved too much tv, and not enough of anything else. I would tell myself that I’d just watch one show while sipping my morning coffee and then get to job hunting, writing, or cleaning the house – but I’m sure you can guess how well that went.

So, when R and I were once again trying to decide what to do about cable, I voted to just get rid of it. I hoped that by eliminating my main distraction, I could actually start to take my unemployment seriously, and start to make something positive happen.

Did It Work?

Within a couple of weeks of being cable-free, something positive was happening. I found myself an accountability partner (well, she found me). I published a profile on a babysitting website (and now babysit the cutest little girl a few times a week). I added more online/freelance job boards to my daily check list (and have applied for a few). I even sat down and made a real debt repayment plan with some help from The Penny Hoarder.

Now, I’m not saying it was televisions fault that I got stuck in that slump for so long. And unfortunately, I’m not saying that simply cutting your cable will make you a super productivity machine either. But it absolutely helped me.

I still sometimes get sucked into watching “just one more episode” on Netflix, but I’m so much more conscious of it now than I was with cable. It probably has something to do with the 20 second countdown between episodes, reminding me that I’m just wasting time.

I waste much less time now.

And we have an extra $65 each month.

YOUR TURN: Do you still have cable? If so, do you consider it to be a distraction? If not, what sort of things distract you instead?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Saving Scotts*

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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21 thoughts on “Why We Cut Our Cable Again”

  1. We got rid of cable last year and just watch specific shows on Netflix and Hulu. Watching too much televisions really can get distracting , and I get so much more done when I’m away from the T.V. and staying focused.

  2. I think it’s great that you learned you can live without it AND saw a direct positive result in productivity. I only watch what I have DVR’d which keeps me out of that “one more episode” or “I just need to see what happens” thing. I am also very selective about adding in new shows (no matter how good they look) because it can really be a time suck and although I enjoy it I don’t want to spend all my free time watching TV. That being said it is EXPENSIVE. Right now, I love my little handful of shows and am not ready to give them up or map out how I’m going to watch them without cable.

    • I found that last year most of “my shows” had ended, so I’m not really sure what’ll be airing on cable this year that I’d even miss – except the Mindy Project. Most of the shows I like don’t air here in Canada, at least not on the cheap channels.

  3. We do have cable, but only because it’s a part of our condo fees. I think it’s $29/month or so for basic. I’m sure we would debate it, if we had to pick for ourselves!

  4. Oh cable! How much I hate and love it, all at the same time. I love it due to the fact that it is free entertainment for us (it is included as part of my BF’s job perks). So for us, staying in and having a movie or show marathon actually makes for a frugal date night. But other times I feel so sucked in! How much of a good thing can I take?! I’ve been trying to limit myself to a certain amount of TV shows and basically stick to those a season.

  5. We don’t have cable either, but it’s mostly because our TV really sucks but we can’t justify buying a new TV… so if our TV is really bad (poor speakers, poor quality, small, etc.), why pay for cable? Besides, between Netflix, watching things online, or going to friends/family’s houses to watch big stuff (Game of Thrones!), we don’t really need it.

    I bet you’ll love having that extra $65 every month! That’s a huge reason to get rid of it 🙂

  6. So glad that you did this!! I hope it helps you stay focused and motivated 🙂

    What jumped out to me most, though, was that Canada is heading toward a la carte packages. We so need to move there!!! I only “need” Disney Junior and a few channels for NASCAR and I’d be set…

  7. Sounds like cutting cable was a great decision in terms of boosting your productivity! I wasted way too much time watching TV on the couch, while heavily in debt and depressed about money. It was only when I forced myself to proactively try to make money in the evenings rather than watching TV that I began to start paying off my debt.

    I’m glad self employment is starting off well for you! Keep going – you can do this!! 🙂

  8. “I was new to this personal finance world, and cutting your cable is the second thing you must do – after you stop buying take-out coffee, of course.” Hahaha, I’m still laughing at this. ;0)

    I think after so many years in jobs where there was no TV reception, I just don’t care about it. If I can’t watch it on my computer, I don’t need to see it.

  9. We cut our cable 5 years ago, we lived in an area that only had dial up Internet, (yes I’m still alive to tell the tale) so Netflix was no-go for us. We did just fine, well I did, my husband after a while went crazy and started working extra hours so he could have it back. We only got it back when we moved in with my father, when he was diagnosed with cancer and needed help. I still refuse to pay for cable, the family will watch it, and I love the background noise but the radio for me is sufficient. The only time I stop to actually watch it is for the 6pm news. After going without it, I don’t find it a distraction anymore, even though it’s always there.

  10. We cut the cord around a year and a half ago. We still get almost all of our shows that we were watching before. And his parents, who live in the guest house, decided to get cable for themselves. (Despite all of our buying them Roku devices so they could get Hulu and/or Netflix. And we’re all home all day, so that excuse doesn’t hold water. But whatever.) They had an extra line, and they had it installed in our bedroom.

    I’m still not interested in just about anything on there. After a year and a half, we’re too behind to enjoy the shows we had been missing. But my husband gets a wrestling show back that he likes, and I did get sucked into some American Ninja Warrior episodes with him the other day.

    Although, once Stephen Colbert is on ABC, which doesn’t cooperate with Hulu, I’ll be thrilled for the access. So I guess I should just stop complaining!

  11. I was in the same boat as you but with Netflix. Since deciding to never watch it unless I’m cooking I’ve been WAY more productive. I need an accountability buddy though!

  12. Yes! Cable is such an unnecessary expense. We cut our cable years and years ago and we haven’t missed it at all. It is a huge money saver. Plus, most shows can be streamed online and we do splurge on a Netflix account 🙂 We actually got rid of our tv a few years ago too and now just view everything on our laptop. I find it helps us to cut down on viewing time. Good for you!

  13. I cut the cord a year ago, not because I needed to climb out debt, but because I finally realized I was paying for little more than the right to be advertised to. Cable TV really is like sugary fare — addictive and sometimes mildly exciting, but debilitating and completely unsatisfying.

    I now watch much less TV, read and listen to music more, and when I do watch via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS, or whatever the app may be, I choose higher quality viewing, in part because it’s much more readily available.

    Back to my first point: in the US, prime time TV is taken up by 30% ads, sports broadcasts by 40-50% ads. And then you have all the marathon infomercials, scrolling ads, product placements in show… Who in their right mind who accept such a barrage of commercial messaging, let alone shell out big bucks for it?


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