MMM Challenge: Cut your Cash-Leaking Umbilical Cord

The prize for this week’s challenge is about Nine Thousand Dollars, plus getting the equivalent of about 36 weeks of extra vacation time each year. That would bring you up fairly close to my own level of  leisure.

The challenge, of course, is to immediately and completely cancel your cable television service forever.

Now I will admit that TV programming has really advanced in modern years, with a spectacular array of new channels. At one moment, you could be watching a young Brazilian girl blow a Vuvuzela at the World Cup game, and with just the press of a thumb you could be transported into the deepest reaches of a smoke-filled senior center watching a bingo game. You can study the most incredibly well produced commercials for an average of 16.5 minutes out of every hour, which will keep you informed of the must-have products of the day, protecting you from accidentally thinking your current products were sufficient.

Contemporary television must be great, because everyone has it. If you’ve ever gone for a night time walk around your town, as I like to do often, you’ll notice that almost EVERY SINGLE HOUSE has flashing blue light streaming out through its windows. If you peek through into their living rooms, as I also like to do, you’ll notice that about 28% of the televisions are currently displaying advertisements, as predicted by the fraction of 16.5 over 60 minutes in the previous paragraph. The average American (and Canadian) watches about 4 hours of the stuff each day, adding to 28 hours a week or thirty-six 40-hour workweeks per year.

“No”, you may be saying, “Actually I skip all the commercials with my Tivo, and I have HBO and watch all the advanced dramas and stuff”.  Good for you! You have made your time-wasting more efficient at a cost of just a few extra dollars per month. If time wasting were our goal, and this were the Mr. Mundane Mustache blog, you would have already won the challenge.

But now let’s talk about why you DON’T want to have cable TV, or any television service anymore.

First of all, let’s be honest: you can’t afford it! If you are spending 50 bucks a month on TV service, and throwing in the electricity to run a typical modern TV (about $2/month), you’re burning $9204 every ten years. And that is assuming  that you are 100% immune to television advertising – some of the world’s smartest people are willing to bet about $40 billion per year (the annual television advertising budget in the US) that you are wrong on that.

Unless you are already retired, you probably have something better to do with $9204 and an extra 28 hours per week of free time than TV, right? Hmm.. how would that look? Is it possible to have a fun life without TV service?

Well, let’s ask Mr. Money Mustache, for starters. I haven’t had any sort of TV service for about the last 12 years. (That’s right.. we’re raising a 5-year-old child who has probably seen less than a dozen TV commercials in his life so far. Surely a good thing for a kid’s mental development and ability to focus on things).

What does a non-TV watcher do with the extra free time? I guess you could do a lot of things. I use the extra time to cook good food and take care of the house, and go out for night time walks to watch other people watching TV. I also get to play with my son a lot more than a normal dad. The extra time adds up to a lot of reading to your kids – at age 5, we’ve already burned through about 50 big novels (Harry Potters and Hobbits and such), and of course a few hundred kid picture books before that. With only five years of experience I’m still learning about how to be a good parent, but surely this kind of time together kicks the ass of family nights watching Dora the Explorer?

And the news, oh the nightly news. When you switch to getting your news entirely in written form, you are spared, for life, from the Pointless Bad News like Chilean Miners and families destroyed by car crashes. We didn’t even know there was a “Royal Wedding” until after it had happened. You just read the real stuff. Health, Science, Business, News, Politics.. it’s all there, with 100% less slow-talking fake-expressioned makeup-wearing tanning salon faces.

But don’t worry, without TV you’ll still get  your share of moving pictures. Almost everything is available on a streaming basis over the Internet anyway, YouTube has the funniest things on Earth for free, Netflix has all the commercial movies and great documentaries for $9 per month if you need it, and your friends all have DVD collections from which you can borrow any time you like!

My persuasive list could go on and on, but I think at this point, the arguments presented have been so profound that there are only two possibilities for readers:

1) You already do NOT have TV and you just read through with a big toothy smile on your face, clapping your hands and shouting out, “Yeah Mr. Money Mustache! You tell ’em! Tell it like it is! Hallelujah! Enn-Ohh to tha Tee-Vee Babeh!!!!!

2) You DO currently have TV, but you started reading this and your heart started to pound and you realized the colossal enormity of your mistake to this point, the wasted life, the frying brains of your beloved children, and you ran out to the living room and unplugged the thing immediately. Now when you finish reading this article, you’re going to look up the customer service phone number to your cable company and get that umbilical cord cut OFF!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Please share your stories of your new life without Cable TV. What do you do at night? Where will you ‘stash the extra money each month? Prosperity and happiness for all. Whew, not bad for just a weekly challenge.

  • Greg Roland May 6, 2011, 1:41 pm

    This is a very convincing arguement triple M. Expecially the free time aspect.

    I do have basic cable and TIVO. I watch at the end of the day, the news and maybe the Office or Letterman. It’s good mindless activity.

    I agree it could be cancelled, especially since we have internet as well, which we can use to stream all kinds of shows.

    If I cancelled I’d save $3,360 over ten years.

    Also, I think an equally, if not more convincing arguement is that TV is in many ways a poison. It spreads lies, causes anxiety, provides no exercise or social interaction. But potentiall it can, if used correctly, provided education or information. Everything has a good side I guess, no matter how small.

    Do you really have a mustache?

    • MMM May 6, 2011, 10:50 pm

      Hey Mr. Roland, thanks so much for joining the Mustache Forum. To answer your immediate question, yes I do have a big Money Mustache, but at the moment my actual facial hair mustache is just a prickly area blended with the rest of the facial hair. For special occasions like appearances on other people’s television sets, I may grow this out in full as an external representation of my inner Money Mustache. Remember, a Money Mustache is something that both men and women can have, so you if you meet a lady with a big MM, you don’t have to hide her from your friends.

      Regarding your own cable calculations: does your $3360 figure include compounding? For MMM 10 year examples, I usually multiply a monthly expense by 177, which is the factor that you get if you invest a monthly series of payments into something with a 7% return. If you had skipped the compounding in your calculation, then I’ll update you with the new value: your $28 monthly cable bill would compound to $4956 over Ten short years.

      Finally, thanks for digging the challenge – you are right, besides the obvious money savings, I find that a complete lack of TV temptation forces me to do much more interesting things which make my life richer in other ways. Seriously – as much as people THINK they like watching Dancing with the Stars, they are missing out on activities that are much more fun when they watch it. Like, for example, ACTUALLY DANCING!!

      • JLMA August 21, 2015, 5:02 pm

        We pay for Cable because through Comcast it was cheaper to have internet by getting the internet+Cable deal than the internet alone.

        We’re determined to get rid of Cable, but, where/how do we get good affordable internet?

        • gremlin September 17, 2015, 1:45 am

          Any reason why you need to use the cable you have?
          When “Internet+Cable” is cheaper than “Internet” with Comcast, just get the package and then don’t even hook up the cable portion.

        • Daniel Rizza October 20, 2015, 7:09 am

          I just got off the phone with Comcast disappointed, as usual. It would cost more to drop cable while keeping internet. They really are the devil.

          • Elenor November 29, 2015, 4:38 pm

            I WAS heading toward ‘cutting the cable’ but ended up deciding to only go part-way.

            I spent an hour on the phone with Comcast and dropped my internet-plus-TV-cable from $150 a month to $118. (I had, a few years earlier, dropped the TV-cable to the living room and TV-cable to the company workroom, which included dumping the cable-co DVRs in those two rooms; but, of course, the price climbed back up to $150 ANYway. (+@%+* cable co’s!)

            I ended up getting a “Triple Play” package — internet (which, they claim, “doubled” the speed); cable TV in the computer room, and a VoIP phone number/plan. I do not use that phone number and never will; although I do have (Vonnage) VoIP for the company — over the Comcast internet.

            I almost never “just sit” and watch TV. The TV is company for me (I’m a widow), it’s background noise as I work or play or read on the computer. I DO watch Doctor Who religiously (requires a mid-level package to get BBC); I watched the dancing parts on Dancing with the Stars, but the rest doesn’t need eyeball-attention, which the computer does. I intentionally watch the ‘reveals’ on a bunch of HGTV shows (but not much of the ‘doing-the-work’): I am contemplating a move to a smaller/single-floor house, so I am consciously considering what I want and need. (And what I can and can’t do to my current home.)

            Am I making excuses? Mebbe-so.

            • Lynne November 30, 2015, 9:59 pm

              You should seriously consider just switching to Netflix…they have Doctor Who. :)

              Re the background noise – I would much prefer silence or music, or maybe the radio if I want to feel more of a presence of other people; having a TV going all the time sounds vaguely exhausting to my introverted self. But I have never in my adult life had cable, and it’s made my TV tolerance go way down. I barely have enough patience to sit through a whole movie these days. :) You obviously feel differently – though if you tried going TV-free for a while, you might find you like that better. The way you describe using it right now sounds mostly like a habit that’s just…there, not something that’s actively adding value to your life.

              (Aside from specific shows you like, but you can get those in a lot of other ways that won’t cost you an extra $100/month. That compounds to a lot of money you could probably come up with a more enjoyable use for. I know I could! …says the person who doesn’t like TV very much, I know. But still.)

            • Brent Weaver March 21, 2017, 10:04 pm

              I’m a Comcast / Xfinity customer here in Denver, CO and I’ve had 120mb down, 10mb up internet-only plan for about two years now at $59 per month. No contract. Just call their customer service, be diligent that you only want internet-only and are going to cancel if they don’t give it to you. BUT, the trick is to stay on the phone and not give up. When you hit a dead-end, just ask to be transferred up to the next level or to someone else. I think it took about 30-45 minutes total, but got my bill down from ~$100 per month to $59 forever (or until I call in for my annual renegotiation). My script is something like this:

              Me: “Love the service, only need internet. And I have some real budget issues and need the best speed for around $50 per month. I really don’t want to cancel… if we can figure this out together, you’ll be my hero.”

              Xfinity: “I have a triple quadruple bundle with all this legacy crap I can sell you for $150 per month – but we’ll give you HBO for free… how does that sound?”

              Me: “That would be awesome. Except remember, I don’t want TV. I only want internet and I don’t want to pay a lot. I need you to get me internet for like $50 per month with no contract.”

              Xfinity: “I can offer you internet plus a landline for $85 per month.”

              Me: “Great, we’re getting somewhere. Like I said, I don’t need TV or landlines, just really fast internet. You guys are the best and I’ve really enjoyed your service… I’d hate to cancel, but if I need to do that, I will.”

              Xfinity: “I will have to transfer you to our account cancellations team to process your request.”

              Me: “Great… but I don’t want to cancel. I just want internet-only for $50 per month. Dig deep my friend.”

              And so on and so forth. It’s a battle of attrition.

            • Ravi October 13, 2016, 1:52 pm

              If you have Comcast, please read this. I always used it to my advantage – It really works:


            • Gina January 30, 2017, 9:05 am

              Ravi, I used to do those things you suggest, but Comcast has become VERY stingy in recent times. Several months ago (not long after I started reading this blog), I tried canceling my cable entirely and the price of internet alone turned out to be as much or slightly more than I would pay for a bundled package of cable + internet. And in my area, the ONLY other competitor is AT&T, which is basically a different company dishing out the same B.S. I did try switching to get the introductory rates, which were sweet, but the installation guy couldn’t run AT&T’s cable on Comcast’s lines and there was no easy way to run the lines to the TV in my living room without running ugly cables that wrapped all around the outside of my house and running across half the room, which I would not allow. My take is that these cable companies have figured out that they’re losing customers in droves to superior and more flexible streaming services, so they’re wising up and bumping up the price for internet service fast enough to allow for all that streaming. My guess is that the TV competition will cause them to continue to raise the price on their monopolized internet service simply because they can (because they own the infrastructure) to levels that the average person is currently paying for cable and internet. The days of $150/mo for internet service are probably not far off. I hope I’m wrong but my experience with Comcast thus far suggests otherwise.

    • youngwannabemustache November 23, 2012, 6:38 pm

      It’s funny. The only reason I have cable through comcast is for sports and the Walking Dead on AMC.

      I’m 24. I just did the math of what I’d save over my lifetime if I cut cable today.

      It is a big number. The zombie apocalypse can wait til it’s on DVD.

      Thank you for pointing this out (that which should be obvious) MMM!

      • Bob Sayer May 22, 2013, 12:39 pm

        You don’t need to stop watching TV just because you cancel cable. Using my antenna I am able to get over 40 channels for FREE, and the content is much more interesting than a reality show about Snookie (whomever she is).

        $80/month for canceled cable * 10 years == Almost $10,000 saved.

        Hulu fills-in my desire to watch new episodes of Walking Dead or the Syfy channel. I also supplement my free time by reading Fantasy & Science magazine (a mere dollar per month) or surfing the web which also has plenty of entertainment.

        • Alex September 13, 2015, 11:29 am

          If you’re watching the Walking Dead, chances are you are the Walking Dead

      • Brenton July 29, 2013, 2:54 pm

        You can just buy the entire season on Amazon/iTunes for $30, which is less than 1 month of cablr TV. As for live sports, I’ve found that there are ways, legal ones, to watch all but a few events on TV.

      • David Robarts June 25, 2015, 1:05 am

        Live sports is probably the biggest excuse people have for paying for TV (I find that I barely have time to watch the few OTA sports that I am interested in); but think of all the tickets to see actual games in person you can buy by cutting cable!

        For the cost of a few months cable bill, you can set up your own PVR system to record shows with an antenna.

    • Vi June 29, 2018, 2:47 pm

      When we were teenagers, my older sister loved watching soap operas, and I hated them. She was addicted to them and had to watch (and wouldn’t play with me). I think that’s when I first realized how much I disliked tv. Then, when I would catch myself becoming a zombie, just by watching ads, I got really angry that someone was taking my attention when I didn’t want them to. So I stopped watching tv for over a decade. Fast forward to today, married to a guy for three years now, and perhaps because he used tv and radio to help him learn English, he is kind of addicted to news and Colbert. We don’t have cable, but I’m a little infuriated that we even watch news. I prefer having the choice of opening my news emails if I want to, scrolling thru the headlines, and picking a news story to read if I want to/aligns with my interests/questions about life.

      My burning question is, how do I reconcile life with someone who would have an extremely hard time giving up tv? He also has other very non-Mustachian habits that I’m in a quandary as to how to deal with. There might be a post later on about interpersonal hacks as they relate to FI, but I’d imagine one of the biggest issues to getting your ‘stache if you have a life partner is if said partner is not really on board. How to convince??

  • Peach Fuzz May 6, 2011, 9:30 pm

    Here, here. At our house, we have no cable. Didn’t for years, but I got frustrated by my inability to watch Important Events. So we got it again. Then we remembered it sucks and we can watch all Important Events either on the Internet or by inviting ourselves over to people’s houses (makes for a fun social time anyways – election party anyone?). However, an amazing thing happened. They turned off our Basic Cable – and we have cable anyways! We get about 6 channels, but one is the CBC – which carries most Important Events – and one is the one with all the home improvement shows – which is what I liked to watch anyways. Best part – it’s free! Problem is, now I am still watching it. Grrr…

    • MMM May 7, 2011, 7:44 am

      Nice! I am very impressed that you had already voluntarily canceled the cable before even reading the irresistible argument. But your point is an excellent one – free TV is better than expensive TV, but the best TV is none at all because of the counterintuitive magic trick it plays on you to find new and even better activities. So TV service is actually worth less than zero.. yet everyone pays for it. Weird, eh?

  • Brad May 7, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Ok – so the first step is admitting right? I seem to be an insatiable TV watcher that is into the worst of the worst (Desperate Housewives anyone?). This argument has been gnawing at my brain for years – thank you for writing it down. And with the ability to purchase individual shows for internet streaming the time is NOW to make it happen. Perhaps the slight extra effort in purchasing individual shows and the pain of making the individual payments will be enough to wean me from the majority of my wasted TV hours.

    I’m going online NOW to cancel my satellite subscription.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • MMM May 7, 2011, 1:19 pm

      No, thank YOU for making my day, Brad! It warms my Mustache to hear about MMM readers taking real action.

      Your kids will surely appreciate the extra 10 grand in your wallet by the time they reach University age too! :-)

  • Andrew May 10, 2011, 12:25 am

    Great blog post! I kind of fall into the first category. I’m a soon to be college grad (this week) and when I move I’ll only be paying for an Internet connection! I don’t watch TV outside of live sports anyway and what better way to get to know people in a new location than going out and watching those sports at a restaurant/bar.

    I have to agree 100% on getting news entirely in writing. I can usually get more and better information in writing in a fraction of the time it takes the hour long news programs.

    I really liked the post and you have me reading your others as well now! Great job.

    • MMM May 10, 2011, 9:54 am

      Thanks Andrew – great job to you too! .. And glad you are reading around on the site now.

      As I said to another newgrad guy in an earlier comment, you are in an exciting position because if you start having fun with building some money now, you can be “RETIRED” before you even have any sort of family responsibilities (if you happen to be planning a family at all that is, no assumptions of course). And if you end up reaching independence with no kids around, it’s also great – just more unscheduled roadtrips with your friends, a work schedule of your own choosing, and 70 years of remaining life in which to grow your mind and have fun.

      After making the transition from workaholic New Graduate to sleep-deprived New Dad most of a decade later, I was sure glad I didn’t have to get up for work anymore. Parenting and a real career are just a bad mix – they both deserve your full attention if you want to kick ass at them.


  • Jenny May 22, 2011, 10:25 am

    Just wanted to let you know that I cancelled all but network channels, andnow $40 a month saved now!

    • MMM May 22, 2011, 11:06 am

      Wow, that is huge!! Congratulations on your newfound riches, both in money and in lifestyle.

      We’ll have to work on those “network channels” later, once you gain strength from this first accomplishment ;-)

      • Jenny May 23, 2011, 9:38 am

        Yes, well, Matt isnt too thrilled, since he watches baseball regularly all summer, and apparently not much is shown on network TV. So we looked into MLB.tv, which apparently also blocks everything out locally anyway. Between the cable companies and sports networks and “contracts and agreements” no one wins. So, it looks like he’ll be listening to all of them on the radio, which is fine with him, but he’s a little disappointed. The next step is just doing an antenna instead of $20 for the super basic cable we have now, but that will take time to set up. And even then, we can probably move to just renting thngs on netflix or watching instantly without missing anything at all. At least we got rid of the annoying cable box! Oh and the cable comapnies dont let you go easy, they tried to alk me into a zillion other things!!!

        • Jenny June 21, 2011, 9:46 am

          And – you would be so proud of us AGAIN! I’m actually cancelling all of our cable and we got antennas instead – saving another $20 a month, and the antennas and converters we got for free from my sister. We have an appleTV as a gift, and since we got it, I found we were never watching TV anyway, so we’re done! Good bye cable company (except we still get internet through them, so I guess it’s not all goodbye).

  • Rove May 25, 2011, 11:55 am

    I haven’t had a tv for about 7 years or so I am in the first category
    ” 1) You already do NOT have TV and you just read through with a big toothy smile on your face, clapping your hands and shouting out, “Yeah Mr. Money Mustache! You tell ‘em! Tell it like it is! Hallelujah! Enn-Ohh to tha Tee-Vee Babeh!!!!!”

    Full disclosure: there are 3 televisions in my condo right now but I don’t turn them on. The landlord kept the cable connection & is paying for it even though I asked her to disconnect & said she should take the TV’s (they are new).
    I don’t consider tv for entertainment. It makes me anxious!

  • Sarah May 25, 2011, 3:26 pm

    My mom had to live with us for a time. We don’t “do” TV, and I told her the $$ for the TV is nuts! She argued it wasn’t that much $$. Guess what, when she moved out my electric bill went down by 30%. She was only staying in one room! Also, when we moved into our new house, the internet was off for 20 days. No computer. The next month (after internet being on for 30 days) my electric bill was $30 more (and it was warmer out side). Now, I shut the computer off and don’t believe the computer company who swear it’s a low amount of money to leave it on all the time. Ha!

    • MMM May 25, 2011, 10:23 pm

      Very interesting stories, Mrs. Sarah.

      Just for reference, the maximum amount a giant television could possibly use (300 watts at 12 hours of use per day), is 90 kWh, which is about $10.80 at average electric rate of 12 cents/kWh. I suppose that is about a third of my household electric use, so I believe you!

      I don’t believe your computer could burn $30 of electricity in a month, however, since in that case it would have to be using 900 watts, 12 hours a day – impossible unless it has a small blowdryer built in. Even the most monstrous alienware multi-graphics-card computers don’t use that much. The computer I’m typing this on right now, including the 20″ LCD monitor, uses about 60 watts at its peak (3.5 watts in standby mode).

      But when it’s warmer inside your house (as it is in summer) your fridge does use much more energy to keep cool.

      • Sarah May 26, 2011, 12:01 pm

        Here is how I calculated my computer cost. The below figures are at the computer running full tilt and not going into stand by (I have 4 kids, the computer gets touched a lot).

        Power used at maximum (Pmax) = 375va

        So now calculate the total power used in 24 hours,

        P(max) * 24hrs = 375 * 24 = 9000va or 9000W (9Kva or 9Kw)

        If you pay, for example, 10 cents for each unit of electricity, then your cost of running
        the machine is :

        9 * 10 = 90c per day

        If you wish to know the monthly cost, then calculate as follows:

        90 * 7 * 4.3 = 2709c or $27.09 per Calendar month.

        The 4.3 in the above equation is the multiplier required to calculate any figure on a
        calendar month basis.

        I calculated how much the computer uses by this calculation:
        Your computer has a 300W (300Va) PSU and runs at 120V, therefore it will draw
        some 2.5A from the supply

        300 / 120 = 2.5 where

        300 is the maximum power of the PSU
        120 is your supply Voltage.

        On for the sake of argument. If my computer only ran 80% of the time, using the same calculations it would cost only $12.70, which the refriderator probably does make up the difference, or the oven because my baking increased this last month. It also sounds like I need a newer model of a computer. :). Ha, like I would spend the $$.

        • MMM May 26, 2011, 4:29 pm

          Nice Calculations, Sarah! But remember you’re talking to a retired Electrical and Computer Engineer here. Did you actually MEASURE the total power drawn by your computer over a 24-hour period using a kill-a-watt energy meter, or just read the back of the power supply?

          The ratings on the back of a power supply do reflect the maximum possible draw that computer could make, but it is almost impossible to get the computer to use that much power, because there is plenty of unused power supply capacity in reserve most of the time. Much like a car engine – my car can burn 10 gallons of gas per hour at maximum engine output, but when driving 60MPH, I measure its usage at 1.5 gallons per hour (which works out to 40MPG).

          To suck the full 300W on a typical Dell or HP home computer, you would have to take it apart, and add a few very high-end video cards running in tandem. Then load a modern video game, and play it continuously at maximum screen resolution in such a way that the video cards and CPU were all running instructions continuously on each of their many cores.

          My oldschool under-the-desk computer has a 500 watt power supply, but I recently measured its usage and the main box used 45 watts during normal typing, and 110 during video gaming. The monitor uses about 25 when on.

          The other difference in our results comes from my assumption that you were only turning it on 12 hours a day instead of 24 hours. Yeah, it is definitely a good idea to turn every computer off at night (or at least on standby).. no matter how modern it is.

          • Sarah May 26, 2011, 5:31 pm

            Alright, you got me. I was so proud of my calculations. :). No, I didn’t measure, I read the back of the CPU. Drats, I do have the ability to measure it out, but am a bit lazy. :)

      • Bakari Kafele June 2, 2011, 9:06 pm

        12 hours a day, eh?
        I know a few households that leave their TVs on 24/7

  • Heidi May 26, 2011, 12:44 pm

    My husband I haven’t owned a TV since moving out of our respective parents’ houses half a lifetime ago. We simply cannot handle someone redirecting our attention every 5 minutes (unless its our kids). We do use Netflix during the winter months.

    I appreciate you loudly celebrating the joys you’ve achieved through your choices. I’m sick of talk that makes people feel not so bad about the bad consequences of their choices. Buy cable= waste money. Eat sugar=get cavities.

  • Kevin M May 27, 2011, 2:59 pm

    We’re in to year 2 of no satellite/cable TV. It has been terrific losing that $75/month expense. We realized most of the shows we like to watch were on network TV anyway, so we were paying all that money each month for a couple hours of entertainment – not a very good value. We still watch too much TV in my opinion, but at least we’re not paying for it!

  • Bakari Kafele June 2, 2011, 9:04 pm

    I’ve been thinking about maybe having weekly no TV days.
    Now that my new mentor is suggesting it, its even more tempting.

    I have never paid for cable, I bought a digital converter box ($10, the government chipped in the rest) and have a roof antenna (came with the RV)

    My “tivo” (actually a replay TV) needs no subscription, and I got it for free (no, actually, I got paid to take it, one of the perks of being a hauler)

    However, no matter how free it is in money, the time sink factor remains. And what really is the point of finding ways to increase leisure time if I just waste it on watching TV?

    • MMM June 2, 2011, 9:08 pm

      Yeah, you should definitely cut the cord altogether. TV programming, and especially those noisy shitty ads they are always playing, is TOXIC to a good mind. If you’re smart enough to hypermile a biodiesel work truck, you are TOO SMART to be wasting your mind on TV!

      • CSR February 13, 2013, 7:00 pm

        Mr. Mustache…

        You, sir, are far more entertaining than TV :)

        My wife and I got rid of our cable subscription a bit over a year ago (Before we got married, I went years without TV at all. I don’t particularly care to be “programmed”), when we realized that if we wanted a bigger house, we’d have to cut some outgo somewhere. TV was the easiest place to do it.

        Since then, my wife has made hundreds of dollars selling her old clothes on facebook in the miraculous amounts of spare time.

        I’ve recorded an album, and have made my computer pay for itself multiple times over by lending my skills to the local community college.

        Amazing how much more productive you find yourself when there’s no little time-sucker-machine going in your living room.

        Also, our kids actually PLAY OUTSIDE. What a concept.

  • jessica w July 18, 2011, 2:25 pm

    MMM, I LOVE your blog, I have just found it and can’t stop reading post after post. I love how your blog has the next recommended article it is a great feature.

    But back to your question. I am 23 and married, and I grew up most of my life without TV. I was born in Germany and were shockingly were encouraged to play at make believe, playing outside, and lots of reading. I had lots of siblings to keep me occupied as well. Now we weren’t completely sheltered; for special times we were allowed to watch all the Disney movies, and some others.Once we moved to the USA, my parents got a TV,but we were still I think allowed one show a day, but that was it. Once I got married, my hubs and I were too cheap to pay for cable among other things. My nieces also don’t watch TV, and it is amazing to see how much more advanced they are than their friends who do watch TV. Now my husband and I do love movies, but like you said hulu, youtube, the library, and friends are great ways to see movies. The only downside to not having seen much TV is I am horrible at
    any pop culture trivia games, but I can handle sticking with dice and card games. Thanks for posting such great stuff!!

  • Dancedancekj September 11, 2011, 12:50 pm

    Honestly, for the people that still watch TV (myself included) I can’t see why you would even have a TV set or a Cable subscription (just watch it on your computer). As you’ve said, most anything worth watching is on Hulu – for FREE. I personally love taking my laptop and doing other things (organizing my kitchen, sweeping the floors, doing dishes) with the Hulu going in the same room.

  • thebigchuckbowski October 12, 2011, 10:02 pm

    Just found your blog on Lifehacker and I’ve been reading it all night and enjoying it greatly and then I got to this article.

    Look, I get the arguments against TV especially if you’re not a sports fan, don’t care about major events, and really aren’t that interested in TV in general. If that’s the case, yeah, it’s a huge waste of money.

    However, as an AVID sports fan, I can’t miss a game. Season tickets, gas, food to go to all the games would cost me approximately a billion times what cable costs me. Not to mention the 4 hour roundtrip which adds up to a lot of TV I can watch. Going to bars to watch the games and having to pay for a meal and a couple beers would cost approximately a thousand times what cable costs me. Now, maybe you can say to stop caring about sports. Perhaps that’s a valid argument but we’re all aloud our ONE vice, right?

    So, just in sports alone, cable is the cheapest option.

    Then, when you consider the amazing shows that are on TV, cable really does make sense. For every Dancing with the Stars and Desperate Housewives, there’s a Mad Men and a Game of Thrones. To me, great TV shows are far superior to any movie imaginable because they actually have this thing called character development which isn’t possible in 2 hours. In a lot of ways, TV is very similar to novels. I never understand the readers that hate on TV. What do you do when you read a book? Lay on the couch and stare at a piece of paper. Is that really so different from laying on the couch and watching moving pictures? Now, yes, some shows you can get online for free and some shows you can wait until it’s on Netflix. I get that and I’ve done those calculations before. But, the value I get from being able to talk about those shows with friends and coworkers and getting more in depth by reading blogs outweighs the money cost to me.

    And, the DVR thing, which you glossed over is a huge deal. I have a rule that I never watch TV that isn’t recorded (except for sporting events and election nights) and it saves a significant amount of time on commericals and also greatly reduces the number of trash shows that I may have mindlessly watched if I just had the TV on all night.

    I still have time to read (on the 3rd book of the Game of Thrones series which I would have never gotten into without my lovely television, thank you very much), still have time to read your blog, exercise, etc.

    But, I don’t commute, so that helps.

    Now, video games? That’s a never ending money (and time) pit.

    • MMM October 13, 2011, 11:42 pm

      Heheh… that is a very nice love story to Television that you’ve written there. I’m surely not going to convince someone like you, but here is the alternate take on the lifestyle I am suggesting in this blog:

      You don’t have TIME to watch TV. There is too much out there to learn and accomplish! Fuck watching other people play sports – learn the sports yourself! You’re right that TV is similar to novels (except most novels are written for smarter people than most TV shows, so at least you improve your own reading/writing skills by reading novels). But even better than novels are real Non-fiction books that teach you things! That’s what I read each night. I have no time for fluffy stories and character development – I need to develop my OWN character! Learn to cook, work on starting your own business, renovate your house. All of these are things that you’ll find yourself doing if you don’t give yourself the option of passive entertainment.

      Yes, some of the shows are absolutely awesome, just like chocolate cheesecake is super duper delicious. Which just makes it even more important not to leave these things around to tempt yourself with them. Make your life more challenging and less cushy – and prosper!

      • thebigchuckbowski October 27, 2011, 3:09 pm

        Don’t know why this comment was never emailed to me so I haven’t responded, so here’s my response a couple weeks later.

        With that argument, any passive activity where you aren’t actively learning something is a big waste of time. Reading fiction? Nope. Enjoying a nice fall evening on the deck? Nope. Even just playing with the kids is a waste of time with that rationale.

        Also, there are some pretty good nonfiction shows out there as well. I’m probably going to finish part 3 of Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” tonight.

        You’re arguing from the point of view that a television is an unavoidable sinkhole of shitty reality shows. It really isn’t. Just like my shelf of liquor that has basically remained unchanged for years, I can avoid giving into temptation because I have self control just like any adult should. Like I said, I only watch shows that are recorded and since I only record shows that I think are really really good then I’m not watching that crap. And, I am NEVER tempted to turn it on if there’s nothing in my recorded list. I find something else to do.

        Do I sometimes consider that watching sports is a waste of time? Sure. But, it’s just too much damn fun.

        • Tamara May 19, 2012, 8:23 am

          thebigchuckbowski, You may never see this, since I’m replying so late, but someone else may, so I’ll bother and do so anyway, Reading is not a passive activity, even if the novel is fiction of the most lightweight kind. The brain is firing away as you go. The same is also true about listening to the radio. TV viewing, on the other hand, is a completely passive activity that leaves most people feeling more worse off than when they started. There are reams of scientific studies that support this . . . do a search and you’ll be overwhelmed with information.

          I don’t think most of us need scientific data on this topic however. Most of us already know simply by the difference in how we feel when we watch TV for an hour vs. doing, literally, anything else.

          • thebigchuckbowski May 19, 2012, 10:49 am

            I’m still getting the emails so I saw this.

            I’m sorry, I don’t care what study you want to link to but there is NO WAY that somebody’s brain is learning more when they’re reading the Twilight series vs watching Mad Men.

            The interesting thing about TV is that, yes, maybe while you’re watching it, not much is happening upstairs (or at least not as much as reading). But, if it’s really good show, you’ll be thinking about what you saw and what could happen for the next 7 days. Whereas, with a book, you just keep reading, you’re probably thinking about it when you put it down, but if it’s a good book you’re not going to put it down for more than a day. I can have some of my best revelations about a TV show on the 5th or 6th day after watching an episode. When, I’m reading a book, I’m 20 chapters down the line by that point.

    • Lily December 26, 2014, 11:24 am

      A friend of mine realized that cable tv year round was actually more expensive than going to a sports bar regularly during football season. Doesn’t work for everyone of course- it helps that he has no childcare expenses, only cares about one sport, and roots for the local team. It’s still on the expensive side for a hobby, but now he’s getting beer AND nachos AND company in addition to football, for a bit less than he was spending on cable. And he’s not watching as much tv the rest of the year.

    • Sarah Anne April 5, 2015, 10:40 am

      This is years later, but I thought I’d point out anyway that you are in no way required to buy a meal and several drinks to watch a game at a sports bar.

      I’m a fan of English soccer. Games are occasionally on network TV now that NBC owns the viewing rights in the US, but has just been true the last couple years. Before that ALL the games were on cable.

      The package required to get Fox Soccer Channel at that time was $70/month. Buying a $2.50(PBR)- $5.00 beer and nursing it for a couple hours is $14-$24 with $1/drink tip per month if you are watching a sport where your team plays once a week. But the gain is more than just an at least $46 / week savings.

      The comraderie of watching with the other fans is priceless. And since they watch the same sport you tend to see the same people repeatedly. I definitely have “soccer bar friends.” They actually caused me to often end up spending even less as occasionally soccer friends bought me a drink making my cost essentially/$0 for the game!

  • Katie October 16, 2011, 6:59 pm

    When I lived with my parents I wasted so much time watching tv. They still have the thing on all waking hours. When I moved out I vowed I’d never get a tv and to this day I never have. I knew if I had a tv I would watch it too much…it’s a good way to zone out after a long workday. Unfortunately the Internet fills that void pretty nicely, but I like to think it’s slightly less crappy because a lot of the time I’m learning stuff and reading interesting blogs. Hubby is addicted to movies and anime but watches it all online. We have two shows that we watch together (on at different times of year) so once a week we curl up together on the futon with a laptop. We have Netflix but don’t use it much. I hesitate to cancel it because it’s nice to have that big library of movies available when the urge to watch strikes (as it does about once a month).

  • Jane October 18, 2011, 12:10 pm

    We cancelled our cable at least a year ago. My husband was an avid ESPN watcher and I loved my DVR and we really thought we were going to go through withdrawal. Great news! We don’t miss it one bit!

    Full disclosure: we still are totally addicted to TV and waste way too much time in front of the set. But we watch a ton on Hulu (free until last month, when we upgraded to Hulu plus for $7.99/month, a far cry from the $100+ we were spending on cable every month). We also go through series from the library/Netflix like they are water.

    Most big football games are on the basic antenna channels, and husband also finds many many games live streaming online. For the occasional one he can’t find, it’s a good excuse to watch the game with a friend or for the cost of 1 beer at the bar around the corner (no gas req’d).

    Bottom line, we still need to work on better using our time but we’d never go back to paying for cable after living without that bill!

    • Jane October 18, 2011, 12:13 pm

      Forgot to mention we bought a $20 HDMI cord which allows us to use our TV screen like a second computer screen. So we can watch all kinds of free/cheap shows accessed online up on the big screen.
      Of course you could argue we paid money to waste our time, but when you weigh it against a cable bill and factor in the pleasure it does bring we feel it’s super worth it.

      • Elenor November 29, 2015, 5:00 pm

        I use a Roku box ($100 purchase a few years back) on my living room TV. (I’m only ‘in’ there when I’m in the kitchen cooking or cleaning; it’s a ‘great room’ so the living TV is visible from there.) I download documentaries from YouTube, convert them (not sure I still have to, but I’m in the habit now) and save them to an external hard drive that plays through the Roku box. (Not a big movie fan — watched one from Amazon Prime a year+ ago through the Roku.) (I also have a Roku box down in the company workroom with another ext. hard drive.) Since I don’t watch movies, Hulu isn’t attracted, and Amazon Prime serves.

  • Dan October 27, 2011, 1:46 pm

    We have basic cable (which is required for cable internet by our internet company), with only the first 20 channels available, for $48.38/month. It was originally $43.xx 3.5 years ago and has crept up with stupid fees.

    In order to get that deal I had to negotiate, and they offered me this plan that is not advertised and, I suppose for people like me who complain about $99.00/month bundles.

    Of course, I would do away with the basic cable aspect if I could get internet connection at home any cheaper.

    What do you do for internet connection, Triple M?

    • MMM October 27, 2011, 2:53 pm

      I guess I’d compare the price to DSL and any wireless data services available in the area, and get the cheapest one that met my speed requirements. Either way, I wouldn’t hook up a TV even if the service was available, just because it’s worth less than zero and thus I’d be punishing myself by turning it on :-)

      • Jane November 2, 2011, 10:38 am

        If you’re in an apartment/condo/townhouse – consider sharing WiFi with your neighbor. We split the monthly $36 bill evenly with our downstairs neighbor – we both get great internet at half the price!

      • Kris May 2, 2013, 5:16 pm

        Just found MMM a few days ago. I’m learning a lot! We have cable in order to get Internet. I wish there was a way around that in our area.

  • Travis November 4, 2011, 9:30 am

    I did the cable cutoff a couple of months ago and it is fantastic! In Canada the cable/internet costs quite a bit more than in the States. I was able to drop my monthly bill by $100! I’ve got Netflix and I hacked my AppleTV with XBMC so I get all sorts of fun and free or nearly free streaming! Very glad that I did it. I can feel an itch on my upper lip… I think it’s my money mustache growing!

  • Mike Key January 4, 2012, 12:13 pm

    I’ve been cable free since 2005. I’ve only ever had internet service, although I have top tier service there because I’m a web developer, so cost justified. We only own one TV and only stream movies on netflix. Don’t even own a DVD player.

    I’m also trying to convince people to cut the cable!

  • Jessica January 9, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I would love to cancel our cable and spend that four hours per day doing something more productive or relaxing.By the way, I’m not spending four hours a day, but my husband probably logs that much time. He loves The Daily Show and Fox Soccer.
    Cutting the cable would save $10,440 over ten years, and may even increase our earning potential by redirecting time spent in front of the tube. Any ideas for persuading a TV addict to kick the habit?

  • Oelsen January 9, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Here in Switzerland our national state TV will be mandatory for middle to high earning house-holds. Thus wasting perfectly good 3.500 Swiss Francs over ten years!

    What a waste. (I download the state radio podcasts. But they are worth the 1.600 for ten years. It’s just the mind numbing TV that makes me vomit.)

  • October MacBain January 19, 2012, 3:00 pm

    Yay! I’m in Group #1! When we cut the cable cord some months ago, we cut our home entertainment bill in half. We still have devices that use the TV (Roku, Netflix, XBox), but now there are some nights the television doesn’t get turned on at all. We spend the extra time saved cooking some amazing meals, which has saved us even more money.

    This savings, coupled with minimalizing and selling some of the other excesses, has given us the planned ability to pay off one high-interest credit card (done), two student loans, and a mini-van by April 2013. The only debt will will have after that (barring catastrophe) is our mortgage.

    For Mac users with the desire to eliminate their debt the best way possible, I recommend DebtQuencher by NoThirst software (http://nothirst.com/debtquencher/). It has helped us tremendously!

  • CG January 24, 2012, 10:13 am

    I had the privilege of going tv free for about 5 years during my childhood. My mom did it as a disciplinary measure and it worked. We(5 kids) fought a lot less and obeyed more when we weren’t exposed daily to the zombie machine.
    I’m super proud to say that our family has never subscribed to cable tv. My sports loving husband tried to make me feel guilty for years about not getting it into the budget. Our only options in 2000 were digital or Dish. I’m remembering that the cheaper option was somewhere around $65 a month plus installation. Entertainment is the very last item that should be worked into a budget and there was no way we could get ahead in the long run by paying so much on something optional. I also feared that I’d leave it on constantly and never get anything done. I like “educational” background noise, especially documentaries. But I remembered those zombie moments as a kid and I knew I had to set limits that would protect my mental health. Too much of what I like is more than I can process and enjoy..
    We do have a tv though and it’s on a lot more than I’d like. This month is the last month we’ll have streaming Netflix so that should help. That $8 a month comes out of my own personal spending money. The kids have dvd’s we got them for their birthdays. We use the tv for homeschooling. And we have video games although we have less and less time to actually play them. My kids have to earn the privilege of using the tv by doing chores. We use a PlayLimit gadget for this.
    I also have to disagree with people that say “Anything you want to watch is online for free”. Not so. I like to watch classic old movies and tv shows. 75% of those, in their entirety, are not available online, not even on Netflix. The library is a decent source for these though.
    My kids are so funny when they see “real” tv. Recently, my 9 year old saw a commercial for a train set at the dentist’s office. He kept talking about it as if it was part of the show, like a story in how the kids were playing with the set. He totally didn’t connect that you could go to a store and buy that set. Success!

    • Kristen June 10, 2013, 7:06 pm

      A few of our “over the air” channels play classic TV shows, and we’re about to get a new over the air movie channel of some type. I am really trying to convince my husband to cut the cable, but he is addicted to baseball (stupid MLB blackout rules). I would be happy with just PBS for my daughter and I.

  • Bob January 29, 2012, 11:09 pm

    I had to laugh when I checked the date of this post because that was the same week I cancelled my cable. Go figure; I participated in the challenge before I knew it existed. I’m loving not having cable. I have more time to get things done and the shows I do watch online take less time because there aren’t any (or as many) commercials. There was only one show that I really liked that I would have to pay for, but I keep talking myself out of it. I have a co-worker who buys the series on blu-ray as soon as it comes out. I have no way to play blu-ray, but I’m invited over anytime for a monster marathon.

  • msclydefrog February 24, 2012, 10:50 pm

    I don’t have cable or even an HDTV (I have a moderately overweight SDTV that I got for free from my boyfriend). Honestly, when the gals at work are prattling on about the Boogey Men’s Housewives or whatnot, I’m thinking “Gee, while they were watching this, I was teaching a music lesson at a pre-tax rate of about $40/hour… and I was enjoying it!”

    I do admit that sometimes I waste hours tooling around on the internet… but then I kinda make up for it when I stumble upon a place like this!

  • Brandon February 25, 2012, 10:09 am

    Irony: One of the ads on your site for this posting is for the Verizon FiOS Triple Play Package. :)

    I’m new to your site, and working my way through all of your postings. Very inspirational stuff. Thank you!

  • CNM March 21, 2012, 3:01 pm

    I stumbled across this article and my husband and I have been living almost cable-TV free for many years. It just so happens that it is less expensive for us to bundle our internet and cable TV than if we were to have internet alone. So, we have cable and that provides us the networks (CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS) and that’s all.

    I found that when we had a larger cable package, it was never a satisfying experience. It was a paradox of choice- we always felt that there had to be “something better on” because we had 60 channels.

    Now, here’s my question- what about Netflix? Is Netflix a cash-leaking umbilical cord, too? On the one hand, there is no obvious advertising and no commercial breaks and you actively choose what to watch instead of passively staring at whatever’s on. On the other hand, it’s still just watching TV which is frequently a time waster regardless of what is on. We have Netflix, but I wonder if the same arguments ought to apply and we’d be better off cancelling it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 21, 2012, 6:49 pm

      I still like Netflix, just because it provides an infinite amount of entertainment (movies) for 8 bucks a month. There’s no need for cable AND netflix – Netflix (or one of its many competitors) already provides way more than you have to watch!

      Of course, we only end up getting time to watch about 3 movies each month, so we could easily live without Netflix either.. but for now it’s on the list of “things to cut if we ever run short on money”. For people in debt, I’d say lose the netflix and just read more free library books :-)

      • Cas February 3, 2013, 2:00 pm

        Also, for people in debt, one can sign out dvds. Our local library allows you to take them out free of charge for 1 week. And, because there are no holds ever on them, you can renew them for another week if you found something much more interactive as a way to spend your time. We typically sign out 2 movies a week (yes, some documentaries), to watch on our giant screen the husband purchased this Christmas. Sigh, not my choice. I’m also still trying to cut our satellite subscription… but, there’s hockey, and one of the daughters has her shows she “can’t miss”… Small steps. In other ways, we are doing well.

        • 2HeadedBoy2 December 11, 2014, 5:33 pm

          I’m a little late to reply (I just restarted this blog from the beginning so I could read all the comments as well as the posts), so you may have since figured out an alternative. However, if you haven’t, your husband might want to check out Hockeystreams.com. It has every hockey game available for live and on-demand steaming with no local blackout restrictions. I use Ballstreams, the basketball equivalent, and it’s great. It’s $100 for a year’s subscription (I think the hockey one is $110), which is still pricey. But if that’s what’s standing in your way from cutting out cable completely, it may be worth checking out, as it’s still less than $10 a month over the course of a full year.

      • Nadine May September 20, 2013, 11:48 am

        I have been with out cable for about 11 years now since, my husband and i started living together despite the fact that he is a media professor, he teaches students how to make movies and t.v., we are able to watch shows that his former students work on with hulu or netflicks occasionally. We did get a roku box for about $50 5 years ago though which allows us to watch netflix on the TV and there are plenty of free channels, PUB-Da hub has all the public domain classic, and Tune in which helps us to listen to NPR over the internet since our radios don’t pick up that signal. i have the tv and the roku box on a power strip which i turn off when leaving the house so there isn’t leaking energy when we aren’t home. i am new to the site but really love all the practical advise, i was raised by hard core hippies so alot of it is old hat but nice to know there are similiarly minded folks out there

  • sdp April 11, 2012, 7:14 pm

    I too am in cat #1. I have never paid for tv. Growing up we had 5 channels and except for the first 24 hours of every school day and except for any daylight hours of every weekend, oh and except for after dinner seven days a week if i still had homework, except for those restrictions, I was allowed to watch as much as I wanted. I didn’t.
    I can tell within five minutes of entering any sports bar who the folks are who grew up without tv in the house, we are the ones that CANNOT no matter how hard we try, pay attention to anything other than the 15 tvs on in every corner. good luck trying to get me to ignore it if its on, I never had the chance to learn that skill.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 11, 2012, 9:41 pm

      Man, I am definitely with you on that TV ignoring problem. When I stay in hotels with breakfast buffets, I’m always shocked that they have some shitty news program blaring from a big flatscreen on the wall. WHO THE FUCK NEEDS TO WATCH THE NEWS, AND A BUNCH OF PICKUP TRUCK ADS, WHEN THEY’RE TRYING TO EAT BREAKFAST!?!?

      Shit man.. some mandatory jazz trio playing at a low volume in the background at breakfast time, and a few copies of The Economist left strategically lying around, would completely fix most of this country’s problems, just by replacing the mental poison force-feeding that these people are enduring along with their powdered jelly donuts and white bread toast.

  • AnxiousDad April 13, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Been satellite/cable free for a year now. My biggest loss was Fox soccer, but you needed to have a big package to get it included with Dish network. I now get my soccer fix over the internet using foxsoccer2go.com and the Daily show/Colbert report (required viewing for our household) are free from comedy central. That and free antenna channels does us nicely. I would love to save the money and abandon the soccer, but you can only go so far…

  • Coach Adam May 11, 2012, 1:10 pm

    This is so awesome. I was baptized in the waters of MMM just yesterday, and as of 10:00 a.m. tomorrow when I turn in my HD cable box, I will no longer be a cable television subscriber! That will save me a good $70 per month! That will now go toward my wife’s student loans.

    I do enjoy watching some TV shows occasionally (like one or two shows a week). I’m considering getting Hulu Plus for $8/month to get my fix. So I guess that’s a net savings of $62/month. Not bad!

  • Tamara May 19, 2012, 8:42 am

    Solely due to the persuasive powers of MMM, we gave up cable last month, plus our land phone, and are now ahead about $1,200 a year. I negotiated hard for our last remaining service – internet, and got the new customer internet promo rate of $29.99 a month + nuisance fees. We bought a couple of Roku’s, and use the cord to hookup our laptops to our TV should we wish to watch something on the big screen – just enough of a hassle to turn it into a once a week exception rather than a nightly thing.

    Instead of watching nightly TV we are taking our dog for a nightly social walk now, which both she and we are enjoying. There is a whole contingency of neighbors with dogs that like to meet each evening on the greenbelt running through our neighborhood, that we never would have met otherwise. I’ve also picked up needlepoint again after years and years away. I’d forgotten how stimulating and fun it is to craft something by hand. We’re organizing closets and decluttering, finding games and puzzles in the process we’d forgotten about, bringing them out to play with each other instead of watching TV in the evenings. We also are spending more time reading and more time talking. I’m making uber fabulous dinners, which my husband happily cleans up for me afterward. So yes, no question, life is infinitely richer without the boob tube robbing both our brains and our time.

  • Zachary Ward July 12, 2012, 2:57 pm

    There is a subreddit for this: http://www.reddit.com/r/cordcutters

    You’re welcome.

  • Dan July 19, 2012, 10:05 pm

    I cut the cable and gave up TV entirely 12 years ago. Now, I get all my information from the internet. At the time, the money savings were very much secondary to the huge time savings – I wanted my life back. Well, I did save enormous amounts of hours on TV watching every week, but looking at it honestly, I have found that ever since giving up TV, I spend *at least* that many hours on web surfing. Sure, it’s mostly high quality information I’m absorbing (I’ve probably spent at least six hours on your blog since I discovered it last night, and will probably spend many more over the next few days. I don’t game at all, I do facebook quite a bit also, but this helps meet social needs without the expense of going out as much as I’d like to. But, really, all this fascinating-but-aimless web reading takes a lot out of productivity for other things.

    I can’t even conceive of giving up internet service, though. I’ve been without service at home for as long as a month for various reasons, and it’s torture – it drives me out of the house to use coffee shop internet. Not to mention, my best work-at-home income prospects are all internet based. Any tips for getting control of internet usage, without cutting the net connection?

    • Teresa Benson August 23, 2014, 11:23 am

      I always unplug my computer when I start surfing, and usually move to another area well away from the power cord. Then when I get the warning about Low Battery, it’s more than just having a timer go off– I’d actually have to get up and go to a different part of the house if I want to keep surfing without the computer automatically hibernating. The getting up and changing locations (and acknowledging the existence of other family members) is usually enough to break the spell and get me to turn it off.

  • JC August 19, 2012, 7:17 am

    What about shows that are great to watch, like Jeopardy!?

  • Alex September 12, 2012, 8:42 am

    Ok, we are guilty of this. I approached the better half over the week-end about cutting off cable. (We currently have a TV-phone-internet cable bundle). It will require a lot of work on that front…

    What about an A/V entertainment center at home? Someday when I replace my work computer with a better performing one (before I throw it against a wall for being too slow on photo processing), I was thinking of using it as an HTPC connected to the net for streaming and free content, on demand, instead of cable. Is that still too TV dependent? It seems I would feel equally guilty of still have the equipment, but not using it… misplaced, I guess?

    What do you use to watch the documentaries or other A/V? Do you still watch occasional DVDs with the family? Kids movies?

  • Kim September 25, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Just wanted to let you know we’re cutting our umbilical cord today after 10 years of trying to convince my husband we don’t need it. I’ve never wanted television (after living without it during university and being a natural born cheapskate) but my husband is a sports and tv fan. The ability to stream shows and the impending hockey lockout finally pushed him to see the light. My next big step is to sell the second car and commit to bike/bus commuting…

  • Wendy October 3, 2012, 2:38 pm

    MMM – We get our internet through the cable TV provider – no other choice where we live. This kills me. We do not watch TV. We maintain a Netflix subscription because we like to use that the “rent” a movie for a cheap date night in. I have tried to cancel just the cable part of our service and the cable company then tells me that due to our services being bundled, our bill will actually go up if we cancel the cable and keep the internet. How this adds up I will never understand. Meanwhile we’re stuck paying approx $57 every month for TV we don’t watch and internet we use a lot. Anyone else experience this dilemma?? Find any ways around it??

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 3, 2012, 2:41 pm

      That’s a pretty common dilemma. If you have already shopped around for internet access from other providers (DSL, wifi, and 4G and Wimax operators compete with the cable company in my area), and think you have the best deal, then congratulations, your work is done!

      I’d just suggest avoiding the temptation to plug a TV into the service – netflix or other movie services already have plenty of higher-grade stuff.

    • Cameron October 25, 2012, 4:24 pm

      Ask them to give the numbers. I’ve had friends who work for service providers, and what they mean when they say, “if you cancel you cable your internet will go up” isn’t that you will pay more per month net. What they mean is you are getting a discount on your internet and that will be more per month. They are just not saying that you will save the cost of cable. Lets say that internet and cable separately are $35 each, but if you bundle then they give you %20 off. So you pay about 28 bucks each. Now if you cancel one, the other will $35, so sure you’re paying more for internet then you are now. But you’re also saving about $20/month on cable that that you aren’t paying for. Anyways I’d ask how much a month your internet would be with out cable, and compare that to the total of what your paying now

    • Dona August 27, 2013, 11:10 am

      I just called our internet co. (the only provider in town), and said that I was not a heavy internet user (did not game or download), and the amount that I was paying ($57 a mo.) was just too high for me. I told them that I really did not want to cancel my service, but may have to, and asked if there was anything they could do to lower my bill. They reduced my bill by $20 per mo. on a “one year special price” basis. They said after a year, it would go up again , but still would not be as high as it had been. Doesn’t hurt to make the phone call.

  • rubin pham October 5, 2012, 2:12 pm

    i use an indoor antenna and get uncompressed hi def tv.
    most of the times i watch pbs which is not so bad.
    the last time i watched network news, i saw diane sawyer and david muir blamed the chinese for american economic problems.
    i stoped watching commercial tv after that.

  • Doug October 8, 2012, 3:12 pm

    You can rent a lot of videos (or better yet, borrow them for free at the library) for the cost of cable TV. I never have paid for cable TV and probably never will. If I had cable TV, I would just waste more time watching junk shows.

  • Cameron October 25, 2012, 4:16 pm

    When me and my then girlfriend, now wife, moved in together we could not afford a TV, let a lone cable. I worked minimum wage, and she part time. Before that I would watch for hours a day. After a few months we found we didn’t miss it all. 7 years later we have a TV (I use it as a monitor for my computer) but no cable. We still get odd looks when we tell people we don’t own a TV, or have any cable even basic.

  • babar October 26, 2012, 9:27 am

    For those who need a use for that TV after cutting the cord (my wife finally agreed to it last night after I showed her how easy it is to watch her shows online, woot!), check out the mini-itx form factor PC ( http://www.mini-itx.com/default.asp for example) as a tiny home theater. That site has links on the right margin where people built the CD case-sized PCs into every day objects and you can then web browse, listen to music, or pop in a dvd in the drive for a movie. IR remotes can be used, or wireless keyboard/mouse.

    As a IT nerd I’m considering this option, along with a digital TV over air antenna, unless we give the big TV away and gain half of our living room back!

  • Queen Zan October 31, 2012, 1:21 pm

    We are renters and not only do we not have cable, we pay our next door neighbors half of their internet bill so that we can log on wirelessly. We have done this with 3 neighbors VERY successfully. We watch what we want to watch on netflix streaming, etc. and don’t miss tv at all.

  • Carrie November 1, 2012, 9:04 pm

    We just cancelled our tv/internet/phone bundle last week. For many years we had no cable at our house and were grateful to get back 4 hours of our day. Then in a moment of football weakness, we did get a bundle from Verizon installed at our house. Almost immediately after having it installed (and football season ended) we regretted it but, at that time it was just easier to have it there when we needed it. Two money-wasting years later, our contract ended and after some negotiating, we’ve gone back to our internet-only ways. Since Verizon is streaming football games live on the internet this year, we’re still getting our fix and for everything else we have an old analog tv with a Roku box and Netflix. Overall savings going to internet only after factoring in the cost of Roku and Netflix: $45/month or $540/year!

  • MarkieMark January 4, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Well, I haven’t totally dumped TV watching, but some time last year I did cut the big cord to the cable giant (Time Warner), in favor of the cheaper DishTV and AT&T DSL service. The savings are more than 50%. If I want to watch a movie, I subscribe to Netflix (as you recommended) for less than 9 bucks and TV shows that I actually like are available through my Roku box (which also give Hulu access as just an example). You’re spot-on about the news. I see only the amount of it that it takes to hit the up-down channel button as I slide right past it (because it is poisonous). It is always better to just read the news than watch it. Cheers to you Mister Moustache. Cheers 8-)

  • Trish January 4, 2013, 7:59 pm

    You’re so right – it’s so easy and makes such a difference!
    Haven’t had a TV for about 20 years. When the kids were small, there was a small one in the basement, which they were welcome to watch. They weren’t too interested, and they still don’t watch.
    What do we do? Romantic dinners on the patio. Watch moonrises and sunsets. Talk. Discuss everything from physics to insects. Write books. Play guitar. Read. Paint. Make funky sculptures. Learn Italian. Ride bikes. Everything.
    (For internet, we use Comcast. When he came in to hook us up, he said, “Where’s the TV?” It was a first for him.)

  • ED January 15, 2013, 11:20 am

    Sold my home TV in 1991 after not using it much for over two years. Never replaced it until I bought a used 24′ Class C motor home that had a TV in it. Never turned it on and gave it away after carrying it around for 6-9 months. Have never been much of a TV watcher!

  • Segmond January 20, 2013, 1:45 pm

    I haven’t had cable in over 10yrs. Free public channels works and I rarely watch it. I have a 50inch TV with great colors and sound that someone was getting rid of because it wasn’t flat panel, and I picked it up for free. I got a roku box that was on sale with free shipping for $40 from amazon and I can watch tons of amazing shows for free if I ever have the time. I probably spend an average of 2hrs a week watching TV to relax since I got my roku. Roku is a great alternative to cable, I have convinced a few friends to get rid of their cable boxes for the one time fee roku.

    • Aristides January 21, 2013, 7:30 am

      I canceled cable TV several years ago, although I still use cable internet service. I have Netflix, but find I’m not watching it very much either. Since I enjoy learning languages, what I mostly do now is burn foreign documentaries from youtube on re-writable DVDs. It gives me my TV fix when I need one, and I’m hoping it keeps my mind stimulated as well!

  • TurnerBrewer February 23, 2013, 8:30 am

    I cut out cable TV over a year ago. The kids are no longer seduced be the latest and greatest toy commercials. We use an over the air antenna, Apple TV and Netflix. The family watches a lot less TV. I am saving over $60+ dollars a month.

  • kelly February 23, 2013, 7:27 pm

    I’ve had my own tv since i was 4 years old(43 now). I’ve always watched tv more or less. I remember the tv before cable..on tv, select tv etc….fast forward to 1999 and dish network. I thought I needed it and i’ve had it since then…the lowest monthly was 50/month and highest was above 100….it was 82/month for basic cable when I cut the cord last month(before reading this post) and i’ve been surviving off of antenna, a tv tuner for my pc and Plex on my mac and I find that not only do I not miss tv sometimes i’d rather read, garden or sleep than surf the internet for shows. I’m very happy I did it and I feel a lot better without it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 23, 2013, 10:10 pm

      Wow! You’re like a real-life version of Mike Teavee from Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

      Now you just have to gradually shed that antenna, tv tuner, and Plex (?), and you’ll truly start having some fun.

      That’s right – I’m advocating at least TRYING no TV at all, all you Hulu and Netflix series addicts :-)

      • Dona August 27, 2013, 11:37 am

        You’re on, MR. MM! As soon as I read your post, I cancelled my Netflix! Have not turned on a tv in quite a long time, & Netflix was my only source! Thanks for the excellent blogs. I’ve been reading you for the last month, getting the nerve to sell the gas guzzler (although I must say that I love my old CRV)! Just began reading from the beginning of the blogs, and really psyched about changing my spending ways!

  • Jess February 26, 2013, 6:53 pm

    It makes me SO happy to hear you talking about reading to your son – and more specifically, reading quality books. I really think that reading to your kids is the absolute best thing any parent can do (combined with never letting TV in the house EVER, which is what my parents did)

    My opinion on the matter comes from the kid side though – I’m 26 now but I remember my dad reading to me every single day when I was young. Not to sound stuck up, but I think when it comes to the benefits to your child “the proof is in the pudding”. Personally, I could read Beatrice Potter stories independently by age 4-5 (I even remember the first sentence I ever read myself – “And the mouse danced a jig on the cupboard.”) Because I was taught very early to love books, I actually found TV, movies, electronic games and later computer games to be incredibly boring. My mother couldn’t even send me to my room as a punishment, because that was where all the books were!

    The quality of the books is also important – I have almost as poor an opinion of “Dora the Explorer” and “based-on-tv” books as I do of the original shows. My dad read me Tolkien, Twain, Austen, Dickens, Saki, Bronte…even Poe! Because of that, I also developed a miles-beyond-average vocabulary and grasp of intuitive spelling and grammar (again, this is for honest review of reading to kids, not bragging!)

    Books also create an inquiring and empathetic mind. They take a child into the life of someone else..and with each new life the child experiences he or she learns more and more that other people are interesting, that other people have feelings and desires and plans and so on. Personally I think the best way to make sure you never raise an insensitive or bullying child is to make sure that they have already walked a mile in the shoes of thousands, thanks to books.

    Finally, I was a completely problem-free child. Never went through a rebellious stage, never stopped adoring my parents, never felt interested in “teenage risk behaviours”, never felt susceptible to peer pressure. The entertainment of typical teenage angst just couldn’t compete with the world of books.

    All this to say – good on you, MMM! You are giving your son the greatest possible gift =)

    (Hope this didn’t post a million times – I love your website, but my computer hates it!)

  • Recent MMM Addict March 7, 2013, 11:20 am

    Hi MMM!

    I recently discovered your blog via a friend on Facebook. I have never actually read an entire blog all the way through, but I’ve started at the beginning of yours and am loving it!

    This post struck me specifically and I wanted to share my TV story. As a kid (I’m 27 now), I’m sure my parents allowed me to watch some movies every now and then, but I don’t really remember watching any TV shows until about middle school. I specifically remember watching shows like ER, NYPD Blue, and the X-Files regularly, and maybe an occasional Simpsons episode. I started to get very tired of watching TV, however, whenever I watched with my Dad because he had a habit of changing the channel whenever a commercial came on. Then, he wouldn’t flip back to the original show. When a commercial came on the new channel, he would change to something else entirely, and you’d never get resolution on any of the shows you’ve just flipped through!

    Cut to high school, during which I watched almost no TV at all simply because I couldn’t stand the channel flipping. The TV became such an annoyance to me that I would – gasp – go outside, go for a walk with my Mom, hang out in my room, go to a friend’s house, or any number of other alternatives.

    During college, I did not even have a TV in my dorm room, but I lived with a roommate who watched endless hours of TV. It drove me absolutely crazy, having that constant noise, so I spent a lot of time out of our room.

    When I finally moved into a place of my own, I didn’t even own a TV. When friends or family would come over, every single person would comment on the lack of television, like that’s what they expected to do when they came over. Finally I started dating a guy who really thought I should get a TV so we could watch movies together. So, I got a TV for the sole purpose of watching movies (BIG mistake MMM!). I didn’t hook up TV or cable to it though.

    Then, I met my husband, and he also didn’t have access to TV or cable! He had a TV for movie-watching as well, but he had no real desire for cable or even basic TV. So, we’ve been happily married for over a year, and though we do actually have a TV in our apartment, it’s only used for movie-watching, and it’s only plugged in when it’s in use.

    I agree with you 100% that TV is not only a time-waster, but a money-guzzler. Thanks for sharing this with the world – I strongly believe, whether right or wrong, that TV is the cause of many problems for many people – financially, physically, emotionally, etc. Kudos to you for making your life what it is, and for helping others to do the same!


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