4 out of 5 Americans have Cable or Sattelite TV in their homes. Commercials talk about how they’ve got something for the whole family. The value of the package is built up as people often shell out as much as $60-$80 a month to pay for a cable bill.
Examining Your Budget
First of all, if you’re really struggling financially, the first candidate to go has got to be the Cable Bill. The idea of barely being able to make your utility payments while paying a bill to DirectTV is absurd.
Beyond that, its one of those things, that you have to evaluate in terms of the long-term sacrifice your making. Are you really getting the best value for your money? Are there alternatives that would work better. Its time to examine the whole entertainment package, get it to work best for you at the right price.
Are You Using What You’re Paying For?
Remember when you bought your Package and the Salesman threw in 3 free months of Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax? Or gave you a limited time trial on the football package? Limited trials and engagements tend to slip past you. Terms and conditions change. Take a look at your bill, make comparisons v. What the company’s offering and make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need.
Its fair to evaluate whether the amount of time spent watching TV is healthy. Are there things you’d really like to do that you don’t get to? You can use TV watching time as a substitute, which may limit your need, as well as opening other options.
When I had a TV, I spent a lot of time surfing channels. With a digital TV box, you can spend 20 minutes going from 2 to Channel 800+, stopping for a few minutes to watch something and then moving on. The problem with surfing channels is that its like impulse buying with your time. You often spending your time on something you never would have planned to spend it on, had you known before you sat down you’d end up watching what you did.
The question to ask yourself is, “If you could program your own Cable system using just what you like, what channels would be there? For example, here’s my AdamTV Network:
4-Political News Channel
5-Christian Channel (showing Christian movies and talk shows.)
7-Classic TV Channel
Once you figure out what you and your family really want then you can figure out, how to find substitutes.
There are many totally free Substitute for many things we want from Television. Take, my list for example.
First, lets look at online programming. There’s an increasing amount of content that’s available online at no charge. For example, take C-Span. You can watch or listen to Live Streams of all 3 C-Spans at C-Span’s website. Now AOL has introduced an In2TV service which gives you free streaming of TV hits from yesteryear. Many Christian Television channels have gone online with full streams.
If you’re into music videos, you can also find many music videos online. Also, you can listen to music on the radio.
For my Movie and Old TV shows wants, the answer is as close as my local public library. You may think of libraries as a place to get books, but its also a place you can find movies, and I don’t just mean PBS documentaries. The Boise Public Library, while still smaller than many ones in bigger cities still features numerous Video Cassettes and DVDs. Last year, I checked out 4 seperate videos from the Honeymooners Classic 39 series. Now my local library has full DVD box sents available from a wide variety of series, in addition to a pretty good video library with plenty of classic films in it, and quite a few kids films. In addition, if you’re into history or coulinary arts, interior design, and do-it-yourself, there are many free resources available at the library.
There are some less expensive alternatives to what people use Cable or Sattelite TV for. For example, if you like TV 24 Hour News channels like CNN or Fox News, you could subscribe to XM or Sirrius Sattelite Radio. You can also listen to full seasons of major sports on the Sattelite radio, stand-up comedy, classic radio shows and much more is available for $12.95 per month.
For the occassional movie rental, a discount video rental store may make sense, as many video stores have days when you can pay a low price to rent a movie like 49 or 75 cents.
In addition, I’ve made it a habit to ask for DVD box sets on gift-giving occassions. Through such gifts, I’ve accumulated hundreds of TV episodes, enough to last me through next Christmas most likely.
You can also check a Discount Store such as Big Lots for family movies. I’ve purchased a series of discs with four or five movies on them for as little as $2. Thrift stores are also sources of movie bargains for less than you’d pay for a rental.
Make the Right Choice
Now, it may be that your budget’s doing okay and that there’s not a reasonable substitute for what you and your family are getting from cable or sattelite that’s not going to cost a fortune to replace in total. If so, that’s fine, but you won’t know until you start examining your options.