Monday, May 17, 2010

The Unsuccessful Recessionista: My Cable Bill

OK, so it's no secret that most writers aren't rich and sadly, we fall into the "most writers" category. JK Rowling we are NOT.

Anyways, the topic of the day in LiLa Land is how we can save money without sacrificing our basic needs (er...wants). According to lots of random bits of information picked up from years of half-watching Oprah and The Today Show I've learned that there are ways to save money without making any drastic changes in your day-to-day-life. These changes include:

  • Skipping Starbucks;
  • Dining in; and
  • Scaling back cable.

So, I've got one and two DOWN. I'm proud to say my Skinny Vanilla Latte habit is almost completely kicked. I'll grab a latte from Dunkin' Donuts once in a while, but my daily caffeine fixes are a thing of the past.

We're also pretty good about avoiding restaurants. The truth is, I actually sort of enjoy cooking, and eating out with two kids isn't exactly relaxing, so we've got that one covered.

But when it comes to my monthly cable bill, I'm literally being raped by AT&T uVerse on a monthly basis. In fact, I'm humiliated to publicly admit how much I pay for the privilege of watching all of my favorite shows. Suffice it to say that I'd be able to buy lattes for an entire small country with the money I spend on cable, internet and phone.

So, like clockwork, every few months I channel my inner Suze Orman and dutifully call my cable company to see what I can cut out to somehow make my cable bill less than the cost of the average American's rent.

And every single time I call they tell me that I can save $10 by cutting out movie channels except HBO. Ridiculous, right?

Now some of you recessionistas might be wondering why I don't just ditch HBO. Well, that's easy:

Suze Orman would HATE me.

53 comments:

salarsenッ said...

Sorry, my lady, but alas...I am a sucker for shows like 'True Blood'. That's why we ditched the dressing channels awhile ago. Couldn't get anything done, plus the expense.

Yeah, I'm an oddity, no doubt. It is a cost saver, though.

Dang,that picture you posted is tempting, though.

Tabitha Bird said...

Go girls! Save that money :) And if your drop the pay TV you will have so much more writing time...right :)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

LOL. I can so understand your addiction to cable. I don't have it, but I live in Greece where the TV SUCKS and I'm always forking out dosh for DVDs. Sad state of affairs ... ;)

Natalie Aguirre said...

You need a few pleasures in life so don't be too hard on yourself. We don't go out to eat much either. It definitely saves money.

Jen said...

I can so relate to this!!! I watch what I spend and you are right I can cut little things to make a difference but it's the letting go that seems to be the hard part! Who knew!!!

AT&T U-Verse is brilliantly addictive, they know you don't want to live without it (which that's normally where you say - I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT -) realistically I can I just choose not to. However I think when the hubs and I are working on regular schedules we will be discussing what to keep and what to get rid of.

Eating out is awful for us but with opposite shifts it's an easy excuse... shame shame.

Loretta Nyhan said...

Oh, I'm guilty of this one, too. There is no way HBO is going anywhere with True Blood coming up. And Weeds is on Showtime. Can't miss that!

I don't want to think about what all that money could add up to over the years. It could probably pay for our retirement home in Michigan.

Laura Pauling said...

We all have our weaknesses. It's so easy to get sucked into tv shows! As easy as it is to stop at Starbucks or DnD. Good luck with um, downsizing cable.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Hey, at least you're trying to cut back. So many people out there still haven't gotten that we're in a recession. Good for you for being ahead of the curve. =o)

Summer said...

We decided to completely cut cable when we moved; we were already watching 75% of our shows on Hulu anyway, not to mention the piles of Netflix'ed shows. It hasn't been too hard at all.

I won't announce to the interwebs how I watch True Blood, though. :-)

Susan Fields said...

Try Netflix instead! Movie channels are frustrating for me because they never have the movies I want. With Netflix, I'm in control, and we've never had a movie channel. I don't know which is more expensive (my husband pays the bills and I'm blissfully ignorant), but I do love adding movies to my Netflix queue!

Candyland said...

Haha. I don't know about you, but losing my cable isn't gonna happen unless we're about to be homeless. But right now the hubs works for a cable co. so we don't pay for it.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Ha! I have the same problem. You just can't do it especially when they are showing snipets of next season. JUNE 13th woohoo!

Lisa said...

Alas, I too, cannot live without my cable television. I don't drink coffee, I rarely shop anymore, but darn it, I do watch tv and I'll be damned if I'm gonna give it up, lol!

Hardygirl said...

Cut the Twizzlers. Surely that would cover your HBO bill.

sf

Meredith said...

Ah, Eric from True Blood. Worth every penny. But, if you're desperate, the episodes are usually online after the air date. Not the same, but it's something.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My husband and I don't have time to watch tv, so no cable isn't a big deal. The kids don't even know what they're missing.

I don't drink coffee. That solved the Starbucks addiction/expense.

My big weakness is the bookstore. But since my husband invests in Canada's major bookchain, he supports my addiction because I'm supporting one of his companies. No wonder we have the perfect marriage. :D

Christine Danek said...

So difficult to cut the cable. Even though I don't watch TV that much, I can't cut HBO. True Blood and Entourage--just can't cut it.
I'm right there with ya on taking the kids out to eat--such a hassle.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Here's my week advice: drop HBO and other expensive channels and wait the six months it takes for the DVDs to come out. Then, go to the library and rent the seasons.

Also, I love how you linked to JK Rowlings site, but I'd be really interested to know how many people clicked the link not knowing who she is. :)

Janet Johnson said...

Go you! Cutting back isn't easy. Good luck!

But wow, I've got all three of those covered. I'm feeling frugal!

Kim Harrington said...

This will be the third year in a row we add HBO on the day True Blood premieres and cancel HBO after the True Blood finale. :)

Natalie said...

LOL. I don't have trouble limiting TV (we only have an antenna and it's pretty much only used to watch PBS and 30 Rock), but we all have our weaknesses. Mine is Costco. I go in for milk and come out with new clothes for the kids, delicious pre-made dinners, flowers, new dishes, and doggie toys.

Heidi Willis said...

We had HBO free for a month and I lived in constant fear my kids would channel surf and see or hear something I didn't want them to. I'm freaky controlling that way.

We stick to basic cable, but I'm lucky that my TV addictions are on the cheap channels. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Oh my gosh! You're cutting down on the restaurant eating? Noooo....That's my favorite thing! But my hubby and I cut it down to once a week, with just him and me (our own little date...he is so awesome...I love that man). So it all works out in the end. =)

Kim said...

I'm WAY too cheap to pay for HBO, etc. I'm old skool and remember getting up on the roof to move the antenna around for better reception after a big storm. I had a fit when I first started having to pay for TV. I've come a long way and finally caved by getting DVR and HD. I don't know how I'd ever come to grips with paying for premium channels though.

~Jamie said...

Yeah, so I pay nine bucks a month to the cable company, and just stream everything through my PS3 with Playon. With hulu and netflix, I seriously don't even miss cable. :) I just watch the sexy vampires later, when there's a DVD--then I get to watch them ALL at once.

Christina Lee said...

SIGH. yep we're slaves to HBO as well!

Dara said...

Limiting TV hasn't been too difficult for me--we've only had basic cable in the two and a half years hubby and I have been married and I've learned to find other things to do--mostly, spending hours on YouTube, watching my Netflix movies or shows on Hulu. Hulu's free and we don't spend more than $15 a month on Netflix.

My issue is cutting back on eating out. We only give ourselves $20 a week each for eating out, but I normally go through mine in 2 days :P I cook at home but since the grocery bill has gotten way too high lately, we're re-evaluating what we can cut back on at the store. I want to get a deep freezer and buy in bulk, but right now I can't do that with the tiny freezer I have.

middle grade ninja said...

A resourceful person of a dubious nature might watch True Blood online and drop HBO. But that is illegal and should never be done!

jessjordan said...

I had to choose between HBO and Showtime, b/c my GOD having both is expensive. So ... Showtime (Weeds and United States of Tara) won out. Of course, I hadn't even started watching True Blood then, but eh ... that's what Netflix is for.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Now I know what my problem is! I eat out way too much and I should stop that so I can call Uverse, add HBO and finally get to watch True Blood, because the books aren't enough dang it!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Hey, you're better than me. I always look at my cable bill (which is actually not cable, but satellite) and think I KNOW I could be paying less than this if I switched companies--and probably get more channels. I just can't find the will to deal with calling around and changing my Tivo and the FEAR that there might end up being a few days in the changeover where I wouldn't have TV. I mean...the HORROR! :)

Krispy said...

Cable addiction! I had it, or rather, I had major DVR addiction in college when I had it. I also discovered though that the ability to record lots of shows meant I watched more shows than EVER. Now that I'm DVR-less and have to fight for TV time, I find I don't miss a lot of the shows I used to watch as much as I thought I would.

On the other hand, I can and do watch most of my shows online now. So maybe there's some way you could shift the bulk of TVing to interwebs and save more on the cable end of things? But your shows would have to be available online and you'd have to NOT mind watching on a smaller screen I guess... Hmm, tough call.

Scott Tracey said...

Starbucks Iced Vanilla Frappuchinos are my own personal monetary black hole.

I swear, if Sam's Club had them by the crate I would probably buy them.

Cable and internet were the two things I could NOT cut back on. Everything else I could, I did. Got rid of my cell phone, stopped going out so much (if at all), not buying new clothes every season.

It's hard being economical!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Ah two of my fav. things True Blood and a Skinny latte from Starbucks. Oh, and the odd bar of chocolate.
I'd give up the latte too, not the True Blood.
Somethings are too good to miss. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

How I hate you, Cable.

HBO=True Blood

Showtime=United States of Tara/The Tudors

Starz=Spartacus Blood and Sand(is there a rating for Holy Hell-Cover your eyes?)

Cinemax=Pretty sure they are throwing that in for free at this point.

I am hooked.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Dish Network subscriber here. I managed to cut back our monthly tele bill by $25 -- and in doing so I bit the bullet and lost all our movie channels. Then, hubby got a big surprise bonus check (squeal!) and said he wanted to buy a flat-screen TV (Oh...). We got it home. Connected all its cords and cables. Powered it up.

The picture SUCKED. Don't worry, Dish Network said. You just need to upgrade to a high definition receiver. (Uh-huh...)

It'll only be $115 to install the new dish, as long as you commit another 24 months of your life our company's contract. (Is that all...? No?)

We'll be tacking on an additional $10 per month for the High Def programming. (Great.)

And ma'am, would you be interested in HBO and ShowTime for free for three months? (Oh, why the hell not.)

Now, the bill's higher than it was and the whole family's re-addicted to the movie channels, which will add another $30 per month to the bill, starting August 1st.

They've got us by the balls, I tell you, by the balls. *smirk*

Matthew Rush said...

I KNEW you were going to say True Blood. Because well ... that's exactly why we can't give up HBO.

We just switched to U-Verse too and it's actually going to save us money versus dish, internet and the home phone we had before.

Just sayin.

Icy Roses said...

Next semester, my roommate and I decided that to save money, we weren't going to pay for cable at all. So that should be interesting. Going cold turkey right away? I'm hoping that doesn't end up in me going insane.

I will be feeling your pain.

C. Michael Fontes said...

you know, Cable is the ONLY entertainment I DO pay for anymore. It's hard to ditch the one thing that the family can do (other than, you know... hanging out with eachother... blech!)

just kidding, I love my family. but seriously... I love my cable.

Lola Sharp said...

Eric is magnificent. I'd be his fangbanger.

I'd have to be eating out of cold cans and w/out a roof over my head to give up HBO. It's the only TV I watch.

Larissa said...

I totally have a solution for you!

I was completely obsessed with my DVR and its lovely recordings of all of my favorite tv awesomeness (including BIG LOVE, also on HBO *sigh*)...

Anyway, a tree fell on my house, and I had to move into a hotel with my three kids, who were 5 and under at the time. Buh-bye DVR. (I admit, I cried a little).

Four and a half months in the hotel, and I was (mostly) over my obsession with my shows. I had no choice. I either caught them when they were on, or I missed them.

Then we moved into a rental house, which was paid for by the insurance company, so we only got basic cable. Now I only have three or four shows I really have to watch...

So, just have a tree fall on your house and have issues with the insurance company for over a year, and you'll be CURED!

Simple.

MissV said...

Our cable bill is over $100 month and I would TOTALLY cancel it but I'd wind up divorced, lonely, and miserable.

We're keeping the cable.

Little Ms J said...

Cable is the only area that I'd be willing to give up in your list. I haven't touched a remote control in years and the one time I snuck and taught myself how to TiVo, Mr. J had a fit. Apparently he likes his women barefoot and remote illiterate.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm pretty frugal in most areas, but we've just gotta have the cable! We all like different channels, so it's hard to cut! In fact I'd like to add a couple... :)

Donna Gambale said...

All these comments point to one thing -- you ladies aren't alone!

I can live without premium channels, but my DVR... I'm addicted. I never watch TV shows when they're actually on, and then I save like 15 minutes of commercials! Though in college I only had basic cable, so I watched all my TV online... or not at all.

For the premium stuff, I just spend $8/month on Netflix, which saves me even more because I don't go to the movies unless I have an obsessive need to see something right away (SATC2, Iron Man 2, etc.)

SWK said...

Totally with you. Can't live without my vampires :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Ha!

How did we live before internet? I was thinking about that the other... life has changed so much in such a short time!

Angela M. said...

Well, you can look at it this way: cable is a great, money-saving alternative to going out to the movies. With five kids, it costs my husband and I about $60 to go to one movie, and that's not counting any snacks we might buy at the concession stand. Instead, we can watch our cable shows (and yes, we ALL watch Trueblood; the kids are big fans) for much less.

Sarah said...

I feel your pain, I really do. Is True Blood on Hulu? I've never used Hulu myself seeing as it is prejudiced against Canadians and doesn't work for me *sniff*, but that might be an alternative so you can get rid of HBO.

My vice = books and candy. How pathetic is that?

Elana Johnson said...

There are some things you can't give up. I recently went off Cafe World and Farmville on Facebook. No problem. I could give up eating out if I had to.

But cable? DVR? No freaking way. And I didn't realize that there are people out there who, wait for it, don't have a DVR. Really?? Why???

When I ask, they say it's too expensive.

To which I reply: It's worth every penny. And then some.

Suze Orman would not only hate me, she'd crucify me. Oh well. At least I'll be able to watch Glee afterward, commercial-free. Right?

Melissa said...

Last year I rented the first season of True Blood from Netflix and finished it the Sunday morning the new season was about to begin. I promptly called my cable company and told them to hook me up to HBO that day so I wouldn't miss the season 2 premier. LOL!

My husband and I sometimes talk about getting rid of cable to save some cash. And then we have a good laugh about that "good" idea.

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