Cut TV Bills – DFA Tip of the Week – 2/2/2009

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There are many ways to reduce costs in our every day lives, so to help do just that each Monday I will post a money saving “Tip of the Week”.

This weeks tip involves…reducing your cable or satellite T.V. bill.

When my wife & I moved into our new home on April 20th, 2007 one of the first things I did was to call Comcast and have them come set up our Internet service.  Running a close second was having DirecTV come and install our satellite television service.  In the past I have always had cable TV but I was so sick of dealing with Comcast I wanted to cut them out as much as possible.  I would have used an alternate Internet Service Provider, but there are no other viable options in our area…so I bit the bullet.

Using DirecTV at our new home was my first experience signing up with a satellite T.V. service.  It came as no surprise when they were offering me the world to sign up.  In times past with Comcast I have always had the basic extended plan that offered around 70 channels for $50 – $60 and that was always fine with me.  When deciding on my DirecTV package I wanted to choose something similar and ended up with a package around $65/month…or so I thought…

As time went by, my bill started increasing by a few dollars here and there until finally my most recent bills have been $85.  There is no explanation for the increases; my wife & I have not ordered any pay-per-view movies or added to our plan in any way, so the increases have confused me.  I tried calling their support but “DirecTV Support” is one of the biggest fallacies ever perpetrated upon the American public (pun intended).

Most recently we decided to subscribe to Netflix for their “2 out at a time – Unlimited” plan for $13.99/month.  Since we also have an XBox 360 we have the ability to stream select shows and movies directly from Netflix at no additional cost.  This past weekend I tried the service out and was very impressed.  My XBox, which is on our 1st floor, is connected to the Internet via our wireless router which is on the 2nd floor.  Despite all this, the speeds were enough to stream even HD movies with little to no interruption.  While watching the movie, the service made one adjustment a few seconds into the movie, then never blinked again.

To make a long story even longer, basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m VERY close to canceling my DirecTV service and just watching DVD’s and TV shows via Netflix and Netflix/XBox 360 stream.  I’m also looking into setting up Ubuntu Desktop Edition (which I’m already using successfully at work) in conjunction with Boxee on a slimline desktop PC which will enable me to watch TV via the Internet.  Boxee has also recently added Netflix support.  To read more about using these technologies together for your home entertainment center click here.

Regarding pros & cons of getting rid of your current TV service, my main Pro is obviously that I would cut my bill from $85/month to $14/month. Here is an additional list of Pros & Cons:

Pros

  • Times when you would normally watch TV you can do something more constructive like read, pray, exercise, do home projects, spend quality time with your family, or catch up on some sleep
  • The ability to record your shows lets you watch them at your convenience
  • Fast forward through commercials
  • Watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and many other Internet Video sites through your TV
  • Manage your pictures, music, video and more via the media center of your choosing (XBox 360, Boxee, etc.)

Cons:

  • No “real time” TV service
  • Set up cost of getting an XBox 360 or Netflix compatible DVR or new entertainment PC or something of the like
  • If Internet is down you cannot download new shows (but you can still watch what you have recorded)
  • High Definition programming offers are limited (but they are limited in cable & satellite TV as well)
  • Have to learn a new system/interface (this may be a good thing…learning is growing right???)  🙂

What do you think?  Would canceling your current TV service be that bad? With the onslaught of alternatives popping up every day like the ones mentioned above, are you considering canceling your service and replacing it with something cheaper?  Give your comments below!

Click here to see all past DFA Tips of the Week.



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1 Mom

Well, my boy, I am very impressed with the idea that you would disconnect from Direct TV, so you can have time to do more “productive” things. Americans are so conditioned to turning on the tube. Recently, I had my cable TV turned off, but kept my internet and phone part of the package. I found that I did not miss TV at all, (except for Andy Griffith on TVLand) and I WAS more productive around the house and more social with family and friends. Spent more time researching on the internet for good deals on stuff and information on going “more green” in my house. I want to take disconnecting from the TV a few steps further and use the time saved to gather wood for heat, grow my own fruits, vegetables and herbs for preserving and cooking, investigate alternative ways to make a living that are not dependent upon a paycheck from some corporation, and find ways to substitute for electric power and gas that are independent from the “grid”. Because I am in my mid fifties, I also need to invest time in strengthening exercise so that I am able to mitigate the effects of arthritis and that I can keep strong enough to be able to sustain the level of physical activity to facilitate these changes. Not only will I save money, I will become stronger, healthier and less dependent (therefore less fearful) of the crazy economic rollercoaster our government has put us on.

2 DebtFREEk!

All of what you said is awesome. Here’s another point that comes to mind…I love how when you submit yourself to the will of God He changes your desires! I no longer desire to sit in front of the TV all day to watch this or that. Instead I’m motivate, as you are, to better myself and my situation. Mainly so I can free myself up to become more of a servant for God’s will in my life.

That is really the whole point of this blog…to become debt free so I am truly free to go and do what Christ has for me!

I’m excited about your endeavours…make sure you keep us up-to-speed on your progress!

3 Mom

Hey, this month’s Readers Digest has an article about how to hang on to more of your cash. It is pretty good. Another good resource is Crown Financial Ministries.

4 DebtFREEk!

Ha ha…it’s funnyou you bring CFM up since their ministry is a large part of what I’m using to help guide me to biblical debt repayment and elimination.

See my detailed mention of them in this post about My Starting Debt Amounts.

5 Dan Jolt

Personally, I think the times of cable TV are over anyway, so why not throw it out now a few years early?

Unlike you’re depending on live sports coverage,
a high speed Internet connection, occasional DVD rentals and over-the-air free digital network TV offer so much of the cable’s content, so that there’s no point in paying $50 or more for it every month.

6 DebtFREEk!

I completely agree Dan! Also, another benefit to getting rid of your TV service is that you will read more and become more apt to pick up your other hobbies. This will undoubtedly make you more productive and truly is a good thing!

Thanks Dan

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