TV Habits: Can You Cut the Cord without Sacrificing Sanity?

< Back to Money Minute

When it comes to cutting costs and simplifying the budget, the first things to be trimmed are usually flexible expenses such as eating out, extra trips, and a land line phone.  But there seems to be something almost universally difficult about giving up the television.  Most people acknowledge that they could put the time spent in front of the TV to better use, but fear losing a particular show or not being able to follow a sports team.  With the average cable cost of $64 a month, here’s a few thoughts that may help you kick the habit:

  • Netflix/Amazon Prime/Roku/Hulu – If a particular show is your downfall, Netflix or a similar service may be able to let you binge watch all you can stand for about $8 a month.  You do have to have internet at home to stream the media, however.
  • Converter box/antenna – A one-time financial investment (usually around $40-$50) can give you anywhere from a couple to a couple dozen stations depending on where you live.  This at least gives you access to the basic stations and news coverage, as well as the occasional ball game.
  • Reductions or “part-time” cable – If you can’t stand to give up cable entirely, talk to your servicer about options.  Though they may not advertise it, there is almost always a basic package that runs $30 or less in most markets.  If you just can’t handle the thought of missing, say,  SEC college football (or maybe that’s just me), you can sign up for only the months you need, then cancel for the rest of the year if there is no cancellation fee.
  • TV-free – Yes, it is possible.  My family has been completely TV free for six years, and we don’t have any plans to change.  With small children in the home, their imagination is insatiable for weekend projects, board and computer games, and reading books together.  Sports are primarily enjoyed via radio (how I grew up listening to them!) or online streaming radio and the occasional DVDs and Redbox are watched via computer.

Not having a television, or not having as many channels as you previously had, can help elicit creative options for spending your time.  For sports events, seek out a friend with a big-screen to share the time or meet at a restaurant that caters to sports fans to watch en masse.  Break out of the cycle of “having to be home” for a certain show time or having to remember to record shows.  It can be freeing for both you and your finances!
*Cable cost via a report from

< Previous Next >