What will you do while you’re home today? Perhaps you’ll throw in a load of laundry, do the dishes, or even take your dog for a walk. More than likely, though, you’ll end up sitting your rear end on the couch, consuming cable television—television that costs far too much.
This, according to a recent New York Times article, How Much Do We Love TV? Let Us Count the Ways (2016), has been the societal trend we take when arriving home. Americans spend an average of five hours and four minutes per day consuming television in one form or another. Not only is this negatively impacting our day-to-day psychological and physiological functioning, but it’s also stretching our wallets thin.
Leichtman Research Group, a company that annually surveys American households with TV’s, found that the average monthly cost for cable in 2016 was $103.10—over $1,200 dollars a year (Fortune). Let’s note, too, that this is the average. Some people are spending well over this number, while others are at or below the figure.
Now, we know what you may be thinking: $100 a month isn’t really that much. I make that in a days’ worth of work or less. Hey, I really enjoy my television. Stop trying to take away my freedoms!
It’s more money than we think.
Yes, we understand this figure might not seem daunting. But think about it, $1,200 a year over a decade is $12,000. But don’t forget, cable costs have risen 39% between the years 2011 to 2015 (Pressman). This means your average cable bill could be well in the $200-range in a few years. Multiply that by 15, 20, or 30 years of paying for cable, and you’d have enough money to purchase yourself a small house or a brand new car.
We’re talking $30K, $40K, or even north of $60,000 worth of TV watching over a lifetime. No joke. Take $200/month, multiply that by 12 months and you get $2,400/year. Multiply that times 25 years of watching TV, and boom. $60 G’s worth of Game of Thrones and Fixer Upper.
Now imagine taking that same $103.10 ($1,200/yr.) you’re currently paying for cable and investing it instead. Over a 25 year period, making a modest 7% annual return in the stock market, you’ve made over $84,000. Not lost 30 grand, but made nearly 85G’s.
This begs the question: How much do we really value our cable? Truly consider it. Is sitting in front of your television for a few hours every night worth $60,000 over your lifetime?
It hasn’t been a sacrifice.
We got rid of cable four years ago by taking the leap and buying an HD antenna for $20 from Wal-Mart (which hasn’t been replaced). We concluded we would stream Netflix using Apple TV and watch local television channels using the antenna. And guess what? It hasn’t been a leap at all. In fact, it’s been a surprisingly smooth transition. We haven’t missed any of the miscellaneous channels we’d mindlessly surf through. We’ve actually come to appreciate our free local channels and our streaming service (which is $11 a month). The time we once filled with the endless consumption of junk TV has been replaced by spending our time meaningfully. We walk in the evenings, go the gym together, we read or write, or we just talk. These side effects alone have been worth the switch, but we’ve also saved a significant amount of dough the past four years by cutting the cord (in the ballpark of $6,000).
Some sources insist that by replacing cable with a plethora of other services like Hulu Plus, YouTube Red, Netflix, and HBO’s service, we’ve negated all the savings. This is true. Here’s why the sheer amount of TV consumption should be a topic of personal reflection.
We stream Netflix and only Netflix. At one time we also had Hulu Plus but found we never watched it, so we did what you should do in any toxic relationship, we dumped it. Netflix’s content has sufficed our needs, and perhaps the most productive thing we’ve implemented after finishing a series is committing to not beginning another one for a prescribed amount of time (1 month or once we’ve each read 2 books). This keeps our TV consumption on a leash, and it neutralizes the addiction that comes with binge-watching.
Want to cancel cable? Good luck. As soon as you begin the process you’ll be sent through the wringer of 3 to 4 associates who will offer you more channels and packages for less money. They might cut your current bill by as much as 75%. That’s what happened to us—going from a $150 cable and internet bill to, WOWZA, $24.99/month! How can you turn it down?
You can. This “deal” will last a few months before they begin to gradually increase your bill, causing you to either nag them again, threatening to cancel, or capitulate to the subtle yet substantial increases.
A cable company’s ability to toy with your monthly cost by such a vast margin demonstrates (1) how low their overhead costs are and (2) how easy it is to be a slave to cable—pressure sales and ‘great’ deals making us feel guilty for taking back our money. This is borderline offensive and should insult our intelligence. Continue to say no until you get to the last associate. You’ll be glad you did.
Lay Cable to Rest
There’s great news. You can break free from the leash of your pesky cable company. You can save hundreds of dollars a month, thousands over the course of years, and instead do more meaningful things with it. You can pay yourself instead of a company whose primary goal is to take your hard earned dollars. You can get back time which otherwise would’ve been spent endlessly watching television that doesn’t add value to your life.
In memory of Cable, 70 years old, Your Home
Cable, known by his friends as “damn criminals” passed away in his sleep last night. After fighting a long battle with dependency on the American consumer, Cable finally went home to his final resting place. He lived a happy and prosperous life, becoming very successful early in his career. Being an active member in his community, Cable was beloved by anyone he met—he didn’t know a stranger. Cable is survived by his lovely wife, Reading, a daughter, Satellite, and one grandson, Apple TV. You may send your condolences to your local saving or checking accounts.