Do you want to save money? Do you feel you don’t have enough time to do all the things you want to do? I have a solution for you… ditch the cable TV.
According to Fortune.com, the average cable bill in 2016 was $103 per month, with bills rising 39% from 2011 to 2015. Now is $103 per month going to change your entire financial trajectory? No, but if you are looking for ways to save money and get your cost of living expenses down, this can be a part of the strategy that gets you there.
The added bonus that has surprised me the most about cutting our cable was how much more time I have since I don’t watch TV daily. I used to feel like I was always behind on housework, didn’t have enough time to spend with my husband, didn’t’ have time to work out…etc. According to the New York times, in 2016 the average american adult spent 5 hours per day watching TV. Now I didn’t watch quite that much, but when I cut out TV, I found I have almost 2 extra hours per evening to get stuff done. I also find that I am happier when I exercise, spend time with my hubby or get more done around the house. I feel like I am in control of my life and my time. And I don’t miss the TV… I did at first, but as I formed the new habits, I found I rarely even think about TV.
On to the details, do we never watch anything on TV? No, we bought a ROKU, Antenna and a DVR. All of these are 1 time purchases with no monthly fees. The ROKU gives us access to amazon prime which we have mostly because of the free shipping, but the online content is a major bonus. The kids can access PBS kids programming from the ROKU for free and some other cool things like National Geographic. If you want to subscribe to Netflix or HULU, you can access those accounts through the ROKU. We bought a ROKU Express, currently 29.99 on amazon. You can spend extra for a fancy pants 4K more high definition HD one, but we have been very happy with our express model.
Why the antenna if we don’t watch TV? That is a great question, my husband can’t live without watching the Seattle Seahawks play. So, we have this antenna for the 16 or however many games are in their short season. Also, I enjoy Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife. Before you purchase an antenna, be sure you have a clear line of sight to the TV station radio towers in your area, this is required for the antenna to work. How do you figure that out? I liked TV Fool signal locator, it let me put in my address and gave me a map of the local TV towers in relation to my house and which channels could be picked up with what type of antenna (indoor, roof mounted, etc). If you want to check it out, visit:
Once you have verified that you have a spot to mount the antenna that has the line of sight required, you can look at antenna options. We went with the Open Box Spectrum Antenna, which was $170 at the time, now it is $40.00 because technology has already evolved in the 3 years we have had it. The average outdoor antenna from Spectrum Antenna is now between $70-$120.
Why a DVR? Well, same as above, to record the Seahawks in case we aren’t home or we want to pause the game for a snack or bathroom break…but in retrospect, I don’t think we needed it. We almost never use it. We record things and then don’t watch them, the DVR fills up and then we just delete it all. So I don’t recommend you get one unless you have some shows you can’t live without that you might want to record.
The DVR is the big ticket item. We bought a channel master DVR which was around $300, you also need an external hard drive, we bought a 1 terabyte drive for $60.
ROKU: $ 29.99
DVR and external hard drive (optional): $360
If you bought all of this equipment and cancelled your cable, it would only take you 5 months to pay off the cost of the equipment with the $ you save not paying for cable. After that it is just dollars in the bank that you can save, invest or whatever!
What could you do with that $103 if you saved it each month? Let’s look at how it would grow if you invested it in an investment with very modest returns, say 5% for 5 years. With compounding interest that $103 per month would grow to $7,171.16, if you kept investing it for 10 years, it would grow to $16,323.59. I hope your investments are getting more than 5% interest, so let’s look at the growth if you were getting 10% returns. In 5 years, the $103 per month would grow to $8,300.49, in 10 years it would grow to $21,668.52. That is enough for a 20% down payment on a $108,340 investment property. That investment property could produce $600 per month in cash flow indefinitely. Can you see the amazing potential of investing even if you start small? Alright, now go cancel your cable, just try it and see how much more time and money you have.