Savings Challenge – Cutting Cable

Savings ChallengeLast summer, I spent some “quality time” with our financial statements and found that we were spending A LOT of money on our fixed expenses (bills that come every month automatically, that we have very little control over – or so I thought). These are what I call line items (a carryover from my cost accounting days) and I decided that I would tackle each line item to get our expenses down.

The first thing I came across is our cable (landline, internet and cable television) expenses. We were spending close to $230 a month! I need the internet for my business, but I abandoned my landline as an office phone and was only using it for faxing (an archaic function, I know, but still necessary on occasion). Now, I watch a lot of TV. I love Bravo TV shows after a long day, and with a newborn on the way, I knew I could use a little entertainment.

That being said, we were spending over $2750 a year – just on those three things. Last year, we also had Netflix, Hulu and bought movies on Vudu. Between January and August 2013, we spent $322 dollars on those three additional entertainment options. Granted, we don’t go to the movies all the time, we have kids, but that is over $3,000 on entertainment.

Looking at those numbers, I lost it. I know internet is an essential function of my business, but the landline and the cable had to go! First, I looked into my options for other entertainment. Granted, we had a blu-ray machine hooked up to two of our tv’s that could easily allow us to stream Hulu and Netflix with no problem, but it was a bit cumbersome. So I looked into the most popular options – AppleTV and Roku. There is also a new option, Amazon Fire TV, which looks great, but it came out after I already bought and fell in love with my Roku. I was interested in Amazon Instant streaming, so I tried my old Wii. It worked, but the picture quality was only 480pi, and we have a 1080pi tv in our bedroom – our most used TV.

AppleTV seemed interesting, but as we are a strict Android household, the ability to use iPhones and iPads were not very interesting. We do have iTunes for our music, but we hardly use it, it is more of a cloud server for my husband to download to his old iPod.

The  Roku seemed like a better fit for us – more channels, access to Amazon Instant Streaming, and the ability to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus and Vudu. The greatest feature was the remote with built-in headphones, so you can watch TV listening to the headphones, great with late-night feedings so I didn’t wake my husband (who has to get up super early for work).

So we purchased the  Roku 3 – wifi streaming, 1080pi, and the fabulous headphone remote. That was $100. Now to cut our cable TV.

So cable, including regular access, two DVR’s, Showtime and HBO, was $138.87. That was cut directly off the top of our bill. So instead of $230/month, we were below $100, but I wasn’t satisfied with our streaming, so we upgraded our internet speed from $51.51 to $67.99/month.

That cut a portion of the bill, now we were down to $91/month. But the pesky phone was still bugging me, and it was $20/month. So I called our cable provider to cancel our phone. I didn’t accomplish that, but I was still able to save money.

The cable company doesn’t like you to cut your phone, apparently it requires a special modem that is part of my package as a rental, and otherwise I would have to purchase my own modem – $50-100, and install it myself. Kind of scary, and it IS nice to have a land line for faxes, since I actually have a fax machine. So they offered me a deal, I keep the phone for $8/month, and it also qualifies for a bundle, saving me money on my internet. I can make 30 minutes of local calls per month with no cost, then a nominal per-minute charge thereafter. All incoming calls are free. Since I use my cell phone for all my calls, this made the most sense to me.

Now, my cable bill is $74.91/month. That is $898/year – $1868 in savings on my cable bill.

But yes – I do spend more on Vudu and Amazon Instant Streaming. I also purchase Amazon TV Shows (they have Bravo TV for 1.99/episode -SD), and broke down and purchased Amazon Prime  for the free shows and 2 day shipping. This was $86.11 after tax. The price has since raised to $99/year, but it is still worth every penny.

So my changes are as follows:

Expenditure Previous Current Savings
Cable Bill 230 74.91 155.09
Movies/Subscriptions 40.25 84.83 -44.58
Total 270.25 159.74 $110.51

So at this current rate, I am saving $1326.11/year. Take out Amazon Prime – 86.11, and the purchase of the Roku -109.50, and I am still at $1,130.50 a year. 

I know not everyone pays as much for cable, or has access to great internet service, but this is a great way for ME to save $1,130 a year. This also helps illustrate how little changes add up to BIG SAVINGS.

What are some great ways YOU have saved?

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