Back in 2011, I cut cable for a purely monetary reason. I was handling a huge mortgage on my measly nonprofit salary as my divorce was going through and a lot of things were deemed ‘luxury’ and had to go. But the decision to cut the cable cord was definitely one of the best I’ve ever made.
It started as a necessity to makes ends meet, but it ended up being a decision that has changed my habits immensely. Prior to quitting cable, I more often than not spent my nights after work in front of the TV aimlessly watching whatever was on or even worse, some horrible reality show of D-list celebrities letting cameras into their lives. I rarely watched PBS and neglected reading, watching documentaries or independent movies in favor of watching The Wedding Planner or whatever random cable movie was on for the 30th time.
Post- cable, I found much better and enjoyable alternatives for my viewing entertainment. I used an over the air antenna for local channels and upped my Netflix account to include instant viewing and 2 DVDs at a time. I started reading more and find myself now often spending an entire night without even having put the television on at all for anything. This past fall, I added basic cable again to get a few more channels than what my antenna could offer to me. My house is at the bottom of a hill so sometimes with wind or storms the antenna didn’t work, which was most frustrating at times and being super into Downton Abbey, I wanted to insure PBS coverage on Sunday nights during the winter. The basic cable package only was $20 a month, but I found that because my habits had changed, I still wasn’t watching any of the channels still. After I was given a wonderful iPad as a Christmas present from my aunt, I spend much more time watching things in bed or on the sun porch, further eliminating the need for the cable. I kept a diary in April to see how often I was using the television for anything other than DVDs or Netflix— in the whole month ( minus the time I was in Holland), I turned it on to watch an actual TV show only twice. The decision was easy to get rid of the cable again.
And now, I’ll ever look back. A few weeks ago I babysat my friends’ son while they were at a wedding– in the eleven hours I was at their house, I watched a Red Sox game and then the Mad Men marathon on AMC. Didn’t change the channel once or even do a whole lot of channel surfing to see what their satellite TV could offer me. My entertainment preferences have shifted hugely- I am catching up on PBS and BBC miniseries ( if you haven’t seen Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, you’re missing out- I can’t believe I didn’t see it until now!), watching a lot of documentaries, and finally tackling the huge movie list I have. I’ve re installed the antenna on the television to get local news, but in the two weeks it’s been up, I haven’t even done that.
Before, I used the television as a crutch to avoid thinking and feeling. Sure, there are still days when I’m exhausted and come home to watch a few episodes of The West Wing instead of reading a book or writing, but it’s something I’m choosing to watch because I enjoy it and it is interesting to me, instead of just putting something random on to pass the time to bed. It’s entertainment, not escape.
If you’re thinking about cutting cable, it’s not as difficult as you think it will be! Try not using it even for a weekend and I think you’ll see what a difference it makes in your every day, plus on your bottom line!