Cutting Cable

Last month we bit the bullet. We got rid of cable. WE GOT RID OF CABLE! Ahhhh! That’s a sigh of relief, not a sigh of panic.

When we moved into our house five years ago, we didn’t get cable. In the beginning it was because we couldn’t get anyone to come out and give it to us. They claimed we didn’t have enough houses in our development. About a year later they came door-to-door and tried to give us a good deal. We declined. It was the only way we had a leg up. If they didn’t want our money, well then we weren’t going to give it to them a year later. So we lived almost three full years without cable. We had an antenna that got the basic channels so I was happy enough watching prime time television. Bryan on the other hand, was missing the History Channel and Discovery Channel. Like, bad. Around the time we got our dish, DVR was becoming popular. Remember, we had zero television payment before getting a dish. So, we got one DVR for the living room and a couple of receivers for other rooms in the house (our bedroom being one of them). We couldn’t justify doing any more DVRs in the house, even though it sounded awesome to have one in the bedroom.

And then we fell in love with the DVR. Like, bad. It was amazing. It was everything we didn’t know a tv could be! In the beginning we had all.the. movie channels so we took full advantage of lazy weekends. Also, we had nothing else to do after going out the night before. (Heh, pre-kids life was so rough.) We recorded series and watched them together when we had time. After we had kids, it became our dates. After the house was quiet, we turned off all the lights and watched an episode or two. It was relaxing. (Or, is.)

Over the past year we struggled a lot with how expensive it was. It was painful to look at that line item each month. On the one hand, Maximus could have access to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse whenever he wanted. (Of course we run the remote.) And, we had our precious DVR. I can’t forget Bryan’s “special” channels either. But, were any of those things worth one hundred dollars a month? (Full disclosure: I can’t actually remember how much it cost. I feel like at the end we had cut back plans enough that we were hovering under one hundred when you added in tax.) Finally one night I said, “cancel the cable.” I’m like that. Out of the blue I commit and want it done. Now. Bryan would prefer to think things through and make sure we make the right decision. I’d rather see results. Either way, we decided to buy Apple TV. So, we budgeted for the box that month and put in our regular cable amount, too. (Because we assumed we wouldn’t get that good of a prorate when we cancelled. And we didn’t.) A bonus when we bought Apple TV, we bought a returned unit so we saved $10!

You know when your university alumni association calls and asks for donations? You have to say no to them 8-10 times before they can accept the answer. No, seriously that’s how our university works. Well, Bryan had to go through numerous employees, supervisors, and managers before he could cancel the darn thing. And! He had to wait 24 hours before he could really cancel. Because he’d have cancel remorse or something?! What the heck! So eventually he was able to cancel and they sent us a box to put the receivers in. We sent them off and thought we were done with them. We got a check for $3 because canceling at the beginning of the month only saves you $3, obviously. Bryan has received a phone call from them almost every week day since we cancelled. They want us back. For a cheap price. They also want to know if we’ve returned the receivers, which we did as soon as the box arrived. It doesn’t feel like our relationship is over quite yet, but we’d really like it to be!

Sorry, DirectTV. We started a new relationship with HuluPlus and networks online and we’re doing just fine now. And it’s ok that we don’t have the Disney channel, we pull up old school Mickey Mouse on YouTube. This also means we don’t want to poke our eyes out, instead we remember the good ol’ days when cartoons were a little “rougher.” We pay $8 a month for a HuluPlus subscription and we do a happy dance about the rest of that money going into savings!

We have a pretty fluid budgeting process and we’re in the repetition phase of it, but that doesn’t mean we stop looking for ways to save money. I’d love to hear from my readers! What have you done lately to cut out a monthly cost?

Note: We haven’t been reimbursed by any of the above companies. We’re just looking for the best way to still get tv without paying cable prices. 🙂

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My personal financial planner

If you’ve been around this space for a while you know we live by a budget. Bryan does all the monthly work and I try to keep us on track each month. (Haha, and by try I mean I help him by trying  to pay attention to spend.) He tries to track spend halfway through the month so we know what we’ve got left. Last week he was working on tracking and sent me a summary email. The message included notes about categories that we had used up and how to deal with checks that are cashed months later. It was riveting for him to write and me to read.

“See that food is busted. Your dinner Thursday will have to come out of another category. It’s pretty much Abees that killed us this time. We need to stay out of those places that have waiters and waitresses.” Good call, sorry to those who serve food. It’s not worth our spend at this point in our life. We can make food that tastes just as well if not better. And we pay you more.

He signed his name and included a new signature.
Husband, Family Financial Tracker, Dish Washer, Lunch Maker, Dream Killer.

My husband is a funny guy. If you can’t laugh with him you’ll cry about all the dreams that he’s killed. 😉

In all seriousness, budgeting has saved our life. We spent a few years throwing away a lot of money on food and fun. At the end of the year we didn’t have anything to show for all the money we’d lost. Yet, we had all these goals for big items that we wanted to buy and felt like we couldn’t because somehow we didn’t have any money. So we started following Dave Ramsey’s plan and we’re in control of our money! It takes away the stress of finances. (Ok, for the most part. It can still be a little stressful when we want something and are putting our money elsewhere.) If we’ve learned anything about marriage, it is to remove as many stressful obstacles as possible.

Budgeting OUR money

I’ve gotten a few questions about how we budget so I thought I’d answer them on here.

Do you have separate accounts?

We used. Then we took the leap to join them. It’s difficult to talk about finances and “give up your money.” It’s been one of our greatest changes. No secrets or different ways to managing money. We’re on the same page, forced to make decisions together, using up every last penny as a family, and communicating regularly about things that can be touchy.

How do you decide if something is a monthly budget or you save for it?

We play it by ear. If we know we have a large ticket item coming up, then we know we need to put something into the save category. We spend a few months saving up for it prior to when we need it. That means our savings isn’t depleted and we feel good that we planned ahead for it. Example: As soon as we found out I was pregnant, we started saving the money that would cover my unpaid time off and also the hospital bill. We chose to stop putting money into the new car fund and the furniture fund, instead we just focused on the baby-related money. We added up what we paid for Maximus’ birth, how much nursery furniture cost, and then how many paychecks I would be missing. With 9 months to plan, it was easy to save the money in time to buy nursery furniture and pay the hospital bill. Once I start unpaid time off, we’ll transfer that money into our checking account so we don’t feel the pain of my missing paycheck. {As I typed that, I just realized that we’ll be able to move a lot of that money back into our savings account because we saved paychecks, not money needed to pay bills.}

If there’s something that’s smaller like an event or we’re going to spend a decent amount of money on clothes, then we put it into the monthly budget. Most months that’s fine and we can usually put aside our regular savings amount. If it’s a month where we have the big items too, then we decide if we want to lower the amount going into savings that month.

We don’t like to use our savings account as a checking account. The majority of interactions are money going in.

How many savings accounts do you have?

Three.

  1. We have an emergency savings account that is not touched.
  2. We have a goal savings account that is our primary savings account.
  3. We have a 529 college savings account for Maximus.

What is your goal savings account used for?

This is anything we want to buy over the next few months to few years. We’ve put the dollar amount as something over a couple hundred dollars. Right now our goals are a new car, living room furniture, dining room furniture, maternity leave, and hospital bills. Some of these items have full amounts in there and others are works in progress.

Why do you keep a budget?

We wanted to keep better track of our spending, save money quicker, and get rid of our car loan.

When we went through Financial Peace University, we fell in love with the idea of paying cash for any big purchases. We decided that we wouldn’t use a credit card for anything and we’ve stuck to that plan. If we want something and don’t have the money for it, then we just wait. By waiting we are able to decide if we need it. Because we have this savings account, we’re able to decide if we want to rearrange priorities and buy something now or start fresh and save for it.

How much of your paycheck do you put into your savings?

It varies each month depending on what other money we didn’t spend. We automatically set aside 17% of our monthly income. It’s high enough to really save money, but not too high that we don’t have any money to spend during the month. Almost every month we end up saving 25% of our take home.

Do you feel like you don’t have any money to have fun with?

No. We have entertainment money, personal money, and restaurant money. We made a conscious decision to save money so we can live the life we want to live. We have more money to spend now than we ever have before.

Do you feel like a budget constricts you?

No, it’s the opposite. A budget helps us live more freely. We’re able to save money to buy the things we’ve been dreaming of getting, but never had the money for. We’re able to live the life we chose to live. We’re being smart with our money now so we can build good financial habits for the future.

What keeps you motivated?

Bryan stays motivated on a daily basis by listening to the Dave Ramsey show. He pulls up pod casts on his phone so I can listen to them if the questions relate to us.

We both stay motivated because we developed a strategy for paying off our house in 10 years!

Lastly, because we want to “live like no one else, so later we can live like no one else.”