How I Cut Cable

Cable sucks. It's a money suck and a life suck. Our man Richard Dedor figured out how to get his entertainment fix without the $70 per month price tag.

I think most guys in our demo watched a lot of television growing up. I still grew up mostly without the internet and I certainly grew up in an age without Wi-Fi in every house. My viewing began with Tom & Jerry, moved to Garfield and transformed into The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Or was that just me? But in all seriousness, we are all spending more and more time online in the second decade of the 21st Century, which has been argued this led to the declining television viewership numbers.

Still, most people in their mid-twenties purchase some kind of a package from their internet provider for cable or satellite service. I remember back when I was growing up we got phone service from one company and cable service from a separate company. With deregulation of the telecommunication industries came this phenomenon of purchasing products as packaged goods without thinking about them individually. It is both a good and bad situation for the consumer.

Take this for example: A friend of mine and his wife bought a house and got a package of three: phone, internet, and cable. They didn't really want the phone line, but it was part of the package (and free for the first year). Another friend recently posted on Facebook that he and his wife had finally disconnected their land line.

Ever since I moved out of the house and went to college, I have never had a “home phone number.” But I have always had a cell phone bill and a cable bill. When I moved to the big city I decided to review my budget and if I really needed cable and here is how I came to my decision to cut the cord.

1. How much television do I actually watch?

Compared to when I was growing up in junior high, I would estimate that my television viewing was somewhere around 3-4 hours per night; adding up to nearly 20 hours or more per week. Rewind to just two years ago and I was probably at, including time when I had the television on but was working, I would average it out to two hours per night. That is still a pretty high 14 hours per week. As this season of programming comes to an end, I know that my shows only take up 3.5 hours per week! I may still turn on the television during dinner or while I’m napping, but my viewership has gone down considerably.

2. Is the amount right for my goals?

Had you asked me ten years ago to get done what I am doing now and keep my viewer hours at 20 per week, it would have been impossible. But with my hours down to a much more reasonable 3.5 hours per week – less is needed – I can say that my time is being well spent now.

3. How much will I have to alter my entertainment?

The decision to get rid of cable at home has forced me to change my habits. I have had to give up the programs that I loved on TBS – mostly re-runs – but also Conan. I also miss A&E re-runs. We do get a few stations, but not CBS or NBC which means programs that I might have watched on those stations have to be watched on Hulu. (Hulu by the way has made all this possible.)

4. What does this save me?

This is an interesting question because I can answer this in a number of ways. First let’s talk strictly dollars. I just moved from Kansas City and had I done this while living there, I would have saved nearly $40 per month. (That adds up to $480 per year!) Now that I live in New York City and only pay for internet service, the money saved per month has gone up to $70 or $840 per year. Think about that, I am saving $2.30 a day by just cutting out cable!

The second way to look at this question is time. By reducing my viewing by as little as 10 hours on the low end and 17 hours on the high end, I have given myself much more time to read and create.

And guess what? I’m surviving. With Hulu and understanding that I can work around most of the issues of not having cable, it has definitely been the right choice for me.

Richard Dedor is a writer, speaker and personal coach dedicated to helping each person achieve their dreams. He ran for political office at age 18 and recently published his first book, Anything is Possible. You can find him at his blog Believe in Possible and on Twitter @RichardDedor.