Do You Need Cable?

I recently just completed moving, which was both exciting and overwhelming.  And it’s not just things like packing, finding help, driving, and all of those things that bogged me down; it was also the trivial things, such as figuring out what I wanted to do about my TV services when I moved.

I’m fairly certain that I hear, once a week, that I don’t need to have cable.  This, of course, is a ridiculous assertion.  Of course I need cable!  How else am I supposed to view a week’s worth of sports throughout the course of one day? I always rationalize by saying that having cable saves me money by because I’m not tempted to go out and spending money on food while I watch games.  So to those of you who say that I don’t need it…you are correct, but it’s also complete hogwash. 

Homer Watching Sports

In order to be fair, I decided that I would sit down and actually examine if what I have is what I actually needed, or if there’s some way that I could actually stay satisfied and improve my finances at the same time. What I’m learning is that I am paying a crap-ton—this is an official form of measurement in my household—for very little—in terms of watch I actually watch.  In going through the channel listing of my current TV package, here are the following channels that I watch on a regular (at least 1x/week basis)…in no particular order (no laughing):

  • ABC
  • NBC (Parks and Rec!!!)
  • FOX
  • CBS
  • USA
  • ESPN
  • HGTV (That’s right…I watch House Hunters)
  • Golf Channel (That’s right…I watch Golf)
  • Big Ten Network
  • Comedy Central
  • ESPNU
  • ESPN2
  • NFL Network
  • WGN (I suffer through many Cubs games each year)

So…that makes 14 channels.  Does anybody want to take a guess as to how many channels are included in my package? 

249.

For those of you playing at home, that’s 5.6% of my cable package that I actually use.  How about we take it one step further?  How many of these 14 channels that I watch could I watch live online?

4. 

Finally, how many of these channels could I subscribe to a service like Hulu and/or stream them from my iPad to my TV so, in essence, it’s like I’m just watching TV normally? 

12. 

Basically, all of these numbers indicate that I've been wasting my money and that there should be a way for me to save money every month. 

I pay about $70/month for these 249 channels.  On average, the cable company says I pay $0.28 per channel.  Not too bad, right?  Well, when you think about it in terms of the number of channels that I actually watch the numbers turn out this way: 

$70/14 = $5/channel 

That’s quite a difference!  

Essentially, what all of this amounts to is that I’m overpaying for what I’m actually using and by utilizing some creativity, I could save some serious cash, without sacrificing what I feel like I need. 

I challenge you to analyze what you're paying for and figuring out a way to save money. If you come up with a way, tell us on Facebook (IU MoneySmarts) or send us an e-mail at mnysmrt@iu.edu.  I'll post the best responses as they come in...