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.

  • Pumpkinfart Hammercrunch August 24, 2015, 3:06 am

    Following the words of a John Prine song, I haven’t owned a TV since graduating high school in 1999. Haven’t missed the brain sucking waste of life it for a minute.

    Mrs. Hammercrunch and I have two kids, too. No computer, iPizzle, or anything with a screen for them except for two hours on movie night outside in the tent… and guess what? My five year old son is almost done rebuilding a free 2hp 2-stroke Suzuki outboard, which we plan to sell when he’s done. This morning he fixed a remote control helicopter he collected with a scrap piece of metal from a disassembled old cell phone and chunk of modeling clay. My 3 year old daughter paints card stock which my wife uses to make all our birthday/thank you/sorry/way to go/etc cards. People love them and they are beautiful.

    Give yourself and your little turkeys some space for your own minds to work and back up. You’re going to be shocked with what they can do.

  • Markphilips September 15, 2015, 11:38 pm

    I love being outdoors: nature walks, mountain biking, powerkiting, rollerblading and exploring parks and neighborhoods and more. I also enjoy tinkering and fixing and building bicycles.

    What turned me off watching TV when we immigrated to Toronto back in 1993 was too much commercials with cable TV. Between road and off-road bike riding and college homework, TV watching had a very low priority. When I started working in lab-robotics, I traveled frequently to different US States. I was appalled by relentless pharmaceutical advertising. Fast forward few years, my girlfriemd and I got married and she wanted to keep her old TV to watch movies borrowed from the library. It took a couple of years to convince her to get rid of it. So our son would not get addicted to watching movies on a frequent basis. So I convinced her to put the TV in the garage as an experiment. Low and behold weeks turned into months and she didn’t miss it. It created more time for reading books, sewing, and other creative pursuits. So eventually, she agreed to sell it on Craiglist. To this date we don’t have a TV but we do have a Netlix subscription and watch movies using a Mac. Since I remotely work from home, the company I work for pays for the $70 monthly Internet service.

    My wife and son love to watch American football at Pizza Port within the last year. For convenience sake, they both want to get a small TV and a $40 sattelite subcription for two years to watch the Chargers. Thanks to MMM’s blog post on Ending Short Termitis, I convinced my wife that it would be best to use that money to further reduce our credit card debt sooner.

  • Tatiana September 24, 2015, 2:38 pm

    First, sorry for my English, its my 4th language and I am still learning.
    Second, with every article I read on this blog I FELL IN LOVE with this MAN(MMM)! You are so wise and kind to share your incredible experience! Such an inspiration for so many people! Your wife is very lucky;)
    I recently moved to Canada with my family and was literally shocked how people waste their time and money on everything “fancy” and cool. It seems they value brand name more than quality. Most of those I know have huge debts but keep buying “stuff” they don’t actually need. We moved from a a very rich country with millioners and very poor people to serve millioners. Believe me I know how to save. We’ve never had a cable TV not because couldn’t afford it but mostly because it’s useless and consumes a lot of time. We do have computer, TV and Internet which is more than enough. You can find tons of news, movies and info for free on the Internet these days. We used to have cell phones but got rid of them. No regrets, I’m so happy we did. We don’t have debts other than mortgage. The most important thing I am learning from you is how to invest when you don’t have spare thousands of dollars.
    Thank you Mr. Mustache for all your help!

  • Bill September 28, 2015, 9:45 am

    We cut the cable cord about five years ago. We still have internet via our cable provider, and netflix. We would probably have both of those anyway, so the savings is about $100 per month in real dollars; about $6000 in savings so far. We recently added cable since we were having a sports-addicted house sitter, and we left it attached for 3 months with various other visitors expected over that time. In all that time, the house sitter watched it a good bit, but the rest of the time we actually went to the cable twice, including when we had extended houseguests. So turning it back off was an easy choice. We read, play free apps on tablets, work crosswords, and sometimes watch netflix or one of the Great Courses that we have stockpiled and that we share with other GC buyers. Those things can be addictive, but are far cheaper than actual night classes and for our purposes, just as good. We also have a 28 foot sailboat, which has a high monthly cost (slip fees) but a low operating cost (and is green), so we try to use that at least once a week. We add three or four gallons of diesel to it every year or so, but we turn off the motor as quickly as possible once out of the slip.

    • Bill September 28, 2015, 11:13 am

      Let me also add another hobby of mine in which I like to indulge. It is ham radio, an activity for frugal and non-consumer folk if ever there was one. Ham radio equipment is built to a very high standard of reusability, or at least it has been, and it is possible to get 30-year-old equipment that is still quite functional. The principles of radio haven’t changed, much like cars. The people involved in ham radio tend to be old-fashioned and frugal as well. The best thing is, there is no monthly cost. You get or build the equipment, get licensed for 15 bucks, and then you can enjoy using it for a lifetime with a very reasonable license renewal fee every 10 years (in the US). Most importantly, it is ILLEGAL to advertise on ham radio. Unlike the internet, it will never be invaded by the consumerist masses.

  • TheBeard October 2, 2015, 2:36 pm

    Loving the blog, this topic is close to my heart as trying to convince the missus to drop TV for a few years(got 6 months without once). Just wanted to say that my local library, here in rainy Ireland, also does DVDs, get them for a week and can even renew over the phone if I’m in the middle of the many series they have.

  • Craig October 8, 2015, 11:09 am

    I think it would help people defending their need for passive entertainment to look at the bigger picture. For many people the need to “unwind” with passive entertainment is a result of the stress of needing to work, and the stress of putting in a great deal of hours – the whole point of this site is to move towards financial independence, and the closer you get to it, the less you have to waste time unwinding. I’m not financially independent by any means, but I moved from a staff job to freelance a few years ago, which means much more time off for me. On my days off, I find very little need for passive entertainment, and take much more pleasure in more active pursuits – cooking, reading, exercising, etc., just because of the increased amount of free time and that I make much more money (which leads to the ability to take more and more time off).

    I think this answers the question that someone earlier posted, something to the effect of “so you’re saying all forms of passive entertainment are wrong?” – it’s certainly hard to imagine not being able to mentally unwind in front of the TV when you’re putting in 12-16+ hour days, in debt, with no independence. Once you move towards solving the underlying problem, the need will magically begin to go away, and you’ll have the energy to do things that better yourself, instead of burning up more and more precious hours of what is a very short span of time available to us in life to use properly. People should work to lessen their addiction to passive entertainment in the meantime, yes, but putting into effect the advice from this site and moving towards financial independence will do wonders for curing it.

  • GregW October 22, 2015, 7:26 am

    New reader here (reading all the way through from the start) and I have to tell you that I feel pretty good that, as part of my own fumbling efforts at cost cutting, we dropped cable almost a year ago. $60/month saving right there! Internet and Netflix/Hulu for our tv watching.
    On the other hand, our finances are in such a crazy debt laden mess reading this blog causes a mix of panic and resolve to take radical action. 😡

  • Rizza October 22, 2015, 7:41 am

    I dropped my internet speed and dropped the cable package in order to lower our bill by 23 dollars each month! Hopefully the new lower speed will not be an issue for us. I hadn’t noticed a difference yet and it’s been 24 hrs so far.

    I’ve already had an added bonus once in that late in the evenings I usually end up in front of it eating some garbage while watching the news. Nothing to watch, therefore I skipped a garbage food session, read more and got more sleep. Win, win, and more win.

  • Ray October 30, 2015, 11:36 am

    Completely agree. Paying for cable is a joke. Especially in today’s world where just about anything can be streamed [for free…if you know how to.. :) ].

    And speaking of entertainment, maybe people should also think twice about the need for spending $8-$20 for a movie in the theaters. You will probably be able to get that movie in a few days/months time for $FREE to $4.

  • Mark L November 23, 2015, 9:36 pm

    I have not had cable since living on my own. I have found it to be an immense waste of time. As a child I was brought up on TV and was quite fat into my young adulthood. I tossed the TV and am disgusted by its use for children. It breaks my heart to see children bask in the glow as they fill their faces with shit food. MMM you are a man that shares so many of my values and I am so happy I found your blog. Thank you :) (And yes my response was a #1)

  • Julie November 25, 2015, 3:18 pm

    We haven’t had cable for over a decade. We do log-in to my dad’s Netflix every so often for a movie or documentary. The thing that really floored us the first year was that our kids had very few Christmas wants. Without commercials, they weren’t asking for the new, hip toy of the year.

  • Mitchell McConnell December 28, 2015, 10:28 am

    Great site, and a good article. My wife and I did not have any TV for the first 20 years we were married. We did have an LCD projector and watched movies via DVD. Now, I have everything the cable company offers, but I have an excuse. I work for the cable company, and get it (almost) for free.

    Seriously, the problem is going to be this. If everyone cut the cable cord tomorrow and wanted to just watch “over the top” Internet shows, guess what will happen to the price of Internet service? That’s right, the overall cost will probably remain the same. So triple play costs $150 per month, and so will plain vanilla Internet. If they really get smart, they will make the triple play cheaper, as their advertisers would prefer.

  • Tyler Tennessen January 20, 2016, 6:29 am

    Hey Triple M!,
    I am a new reader to your website and I love it! I was thinking about cancelling our Satellite TV lately, and I did some math. We pay $80 per month for a service we RARELY use right so that would save us 80*12= $960 per year! But no you mustache folk have showed me to think about stuff in the long term. 10 years of this (assuming rates dont go up which we know they will), would be 80*12*10= $9,600 !! Invested at a 5% return after inflation, this equals out to over $12,000 in just 10 years! thats a $21,000 swing! over 30 years this would save us from spending $28,800!!!! Being invested and expecting a 5% return this equals over $65,000!!!! That is a $100,000 swing from getting rid of a TV service we rarely use. Thanks for helping me get my mindset right!

  • Cooper January 20, 2016, 4:19 pm

    I just want to reiterate that you can get way more TV show ‘s via Hulu (and CBS / ABC etc website) than you will need. For Free! Yes there are commercials, but I just mute that tab and switch to my YouTube I have on the other for 2-ish minutes.

    Since graduating college 7 years ago, i have never paid for TV service. I hate the cable company enough over just internet service, that I have the minimum I can mentally afford [buffers], 2MB, all for $16/month (total: after tax and fees). Buy your own router, save a thousand bucks.

  • Bob January 29, 2016, 1:12 pm

    I am a new reader having discovered your site on the recommendation from the YNAB forums as I try to manage my money better.

    I had cut the cord back around Thanksgiving before I came across your post and got rid of my DirecTV service as well as steppind down to a cheaper phone service. We have replaced it with Hulu and a service called PlayOn that is $60 for a lifetime subscription and records the programs to a computer and skips the commercials. After two months none of our kids miss it and we have taken a $150 bill down to $18 (Hulu and phone) for a monthly savings of $132, or MMM way of $15,840 over 10 years.

    I do enjoy the humor of your posts and since I’m starting from the beginning, hoping you are still writing now.

  • Ron Parker February 26, 2016, 9:04 am

    I travelled for over ten months recently and that cured me of my TV. But I did happen to go to the town near the Chilean mine where the miners were trapped for 70+ days and all survived. That is a worthwhile story!

  • Clara March 1, 2016, 1:30 pm

    I completely agree. When I was in college I accidentally broke my TV set. (putting it on an ottoman can cause it to fall, who knew?) Anyway I went months without watching TV, which improved my grades. Now years later I don’t really watch TV anymore, instead I’m an avid reader. I use the time to learn about things that interest me. I’m still occasionally a little behind on current events. I use yahoo to catch up on what’s trending everyday, and surf the internet to find any info that’s important to me, like the current election.

  • Stephanie March 9, 2016, 10:25 pm

    My Husband ad I own a TV, but it isn’t connected to anything except the PS3. We go to the library for books and movies and TV shows. We can watch the shows for free (after everyone else…but who cares?) and *BONUS* we can watch it when we want and never have to see commercials. We only see those when we go to someone else’s house and they are watching TV. Usually we get sucked into TV so we try to be very intentional about when we choose to watch things. It’s only at night when all other things have been done, and not every night at that. I’m pleased with our set up. I’m even more pleased to see how much money we are already saving. If you already are going to the library for books, just look into the DVDs and CDs that you can check out as well. My husband also likes the audio books for his commute to work. Which you will be happy to know that he drives a used prius.

  • Gary E. March 13, 2016, 12:57 pm

    I have struggled with this one for a long time. Finally, I called Directv last week and sliced my service down from $225 to $75 (eliminating all premium channels, boxes in two rooms, and the whole home networking). I wanted to go lower but I can’t see my way to dropping Fox News, especially in an election year. I know they do show a lot of needless stories to fill the schedule, but when breaking news happens, I want to have the option to watch live coverage. If it weren’t for that, I might cancel service altogether. I have a Roku with the FNC app, but it’s just teasers. Sky News is a live feed for free, but it’s British. With no better solution, I’m paying 75 a month for FNC. Btw, if anybody’s response will be motivated by an opinion about Fox News, then please just pretend I said MSNBC.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 14, 2016, 7:10 pm

      Great start, Gary.. but TV news is pure brain rot trivia, no better than reading celebrity magazines. Cut it out entirely, use that time for to go out for an evening walk and then just do a casual occasional weekend reading of The Economist and Scientific American.

      Take a quick side trip and learn about the Low Information Diet: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet/

      The only thing you need to know about the election is when and where to vote.

      • julie March 15, 2016, 12:07 pm

        When I studied history, one of the suggested causes of WWI was the rapid advancement of technology, allowing news to travel more quickly than people were use to and not allowing for a time to reflect and think.
        As for “needing” breaking news. Who really NEEDS it if it is not information that you will immediately act on. I need to know if there is a snow emergency (don’t go into the office) or chance of flooding (check the basement and the recheck the drainage around the house). I can wait to find out the outcome of most debates, voting etc.
        I’ve lived without a TV for years. I often play the local music station but will even turn that off on days I want solitude. And I’ve spent time in locations where I had no access to the “outside” world for weeks at the time. And I still get A LOT of “news” without even trying.
        Anyway Gary, you can be a well-informed voter without the TV. One idea, you could go cold turkey on the cable. Put that $75 aside and then in a month treat yourself to a bar or restaurant that shows the cable news!

  • Megan C. March 23, 2016, 11:58 am

    I called Comcast to try and negotiate a lower rate on my internet, and the only way to lower my rate (by $11 a month) was to ADD cable. I don’t have a TV so will never watch it, but just thought it might be useful to others to know that if you have a service provider as stupid as Comcast sometimes it’s cheaper to add cable to your internet package.

    (I also begged them not to send me the cable box, but the guy on the phone insisted that he had no control over the system and it was already effectively in the mail. What is wrong with this company?? It kills me that they are my only option for internet where I live.)

  • Andrew June 8, 2016, 8:34 am

    I used to be a TV hog. My excuse was my stressful day job…and it was stressful. I fell into a routine of watching every single Vancouver Canucks game. In 2011 when they made their run to the Cup final I watched over 80 games which equates to over 160 hours of time suck. In case you missed it they lost in the 7th game and then a bunch of morons decided this was a good excuse to riot and wreck our city. After that I dropped hockey and switched to watching golf. I consumed so much golf that I actually got tired of the golf channel.

    It’s pathetic. Fortunately with my children (separated) we have have both used TV sparingly. I think their mom has cancelled TV altogether…good for her. At 10 they never ask to turn on the TV. When my son wakes up early he grabs his Harry Potter book and plows through it. He reads a 660 page book in 10 days. It’s crazy. Now I’m not bragging that I’m some sort of super parent. I make mistakes all the time but keeping our children away from TV and games has been one of the single best decisions I’ve made in my life. They are both incredibly fit and they have now learned that TV is completely unnecessary.

    So what about me? I’ve had a game before reading this blog of phoning my internet supplier and continually arguing for better pricing. I do this at least every 6 months. I currently have TV, Internet and home phone for $100 including taxes which I know is very good. The last time I called and said I don’t want TV. I want internet and phone. The reason for phone is family across the country and work calls (crappy cell service on the company phone). Anyhow, this package crap gets you. They told me I would pay more to only have the 2!

    My new strategy is to figure out how to exist without the home phone and go cable only. I’m also going to experiment with cutting cable for the 2 summer months where I take vacation and try not to be in the house. This will save me over $500 per year which is huge.

  • Livvy July 25, 2016, 11:17 pm

    When I was about 9yrs old My parents decided to cut out TV altogether. I remember in my spare time I would climb our tree and watch the neighbours TV through their window.
    Not my parents goal I’m sure but at least it got me outside!

  • Lady Locust August 5, 2016, 4:23 pm

    Dang. Was looking forward to learning how to stash another $9k+. We don’t even own a TV. It goes like this: “Have you seen. . .?” “We don’t have a TV” “Oh so you like have Netflix or get movies?” “No, we don’t own a TV” “Well, how do you watch movies? On your computer?” “We don’t watch movies.” (Awkward pause) “Well, what do you do?” “We live:)”

  • Brian L. August 5, 2016, 6:07 pm

    I just came across your blog from a post on Fed Trader. What have I been missing?!!! Well I just reduced my FiOS/Internet bill to from $130/month $60/month by opting for internet only. In my household, we stream shows late at night after the kids are in bed for about an hour. Other than that, the kids will watch some YouTube or Netflix cartoons for about 20 minutes in the morning while I get ready for work and take them to day care.

    Thanks for the great blog! Here’s to making my on Money Mustache!

  • Sunny August 31, 2016, 3:52 pm

    My boyfriend & I haven’t had cable for a few years now. We do have internet, and rabbit ears, so we can get the local stations for free, which suits us just fine. A few months ago, we decided to kick it up a notch, and took the time that we were spending on the evenings watching tv and got 2nd jobs. Might as well get paid for those extra 28 hours of free time, right?

  • Gromm November 14, 2016, 1:30 pm

    This is funny.

    Because we pretty much raised our children on Netflix, Youtube, and internet-sourced entertainment – until about three years ago when we moved and our strata council forced a cable box on us. We still don’t watch a lot of network TV, although occasionally some commercial-laden stuff creeps in through the PVR.

    You know how my kids (now 10 and 6 & 1/2) waste their time? Watching the video-gaming channels on Youtube.

  • Jen December 20, 2016, 8:26 am

    My mother and father in law were wasting alot of money on a fancy cable package, only to sit down and watch the news every night. They switched to a digital antenna ($30.00, one time cost) which works very well where they live. They now get 10 stations, all high definition digital, and pay nothing. Maybe for some people like my parents, this would be a good compromise (although you will still be exposed to TV ads). Also, when they wanted to watch a movie, the used to ‘pay per view’, now they borrow a DVD from the local library.

  • Hoyagirl January 7, 2017, 12:01 pm

    We’re huge fans of football… any suggestions of cutting the cord and still being able to get stuff like RedZone and/or NFL? It will take A LOT of convincing to get my hubby to do this!

  • Jodi January 11, 2017, 1:04 pm

    I haven’t had any sort of TV service (or Internet) in my home that I have paid for. Ever.*

    I enjoy doing a lot of things besides watching TV like working out, cooking, reading, writing, taking care of my condo, and enjoying more time with friends. All of a sudden a show like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones becomes an event with other friends instead of just watching it alone at home.

    People think I am absolutely nuts for not having TV service (but especially home Internet). But, if everyone thinks you’re crazy then maybe you’re doing something right!

    I don’t think I’ll ever have cable!

    *I have lived in a situation where it was in the house because a roommate paid for it.

  • Jamal January 25, 2017, 2:21 pm

    This is spot on. I don’t have cable but I have netflix and I purposefully choose not to watch TV on weekdays (I don’t actually have a TV but I use my laptop). I read more often, eat dinner in peace and quiet more often, and I do much more thinking than before (planning, pondering, analyzing). I even get more sleep! Without TV I don’t feel the need to “finish just one more episode” which typically turns into 4. Now I wake up at 4:30AM everyday and seize the day.

    By the way, I too am an Engineer! (Mechanical)

  • Nmp222 January 28, 2017, 12:09 am

    I agree with many of your observations, however, for many of us the real cost is not cable TV but our internet connection. I only spend about $10 a month on cable TV but I spend $90 on having an internet connection. What can be done about that?

  • Maciej Kozlowski February 16, 2017, 6:40 am

    Yeah, MMM, you tell them!
    I haven’t watched any TV since high school, that is for about 15 years. My wife is pretty much the same. We actually do have a TV, but it is only a glorified monitor for hooking up stuff to watch movies/play games on really old consoles (to my defense, I only do it a little bit. Youtube is a worse problem for me). The thing that we both cannot stand is when we go to someone else’s place and the blasted TV is CONSTANTLY ON! I mean, dear Odin, they aren’t even watching this stuff, it’s just on and eating electricity and brain cells ALL THE FREAKING TIME! What’s wrong with you people?

  • wendy April 8, 2017, 7:50 pm

    It’s now (APR 2017) been a bit over a year since I read this post whilst reading MMM from beginning to end… I did immediately drop my cable to internet + ‘the most basic TV possible’ because, as several mentioned, Comcast makes that cheaper than internet only. I also unplugged my TV and moved it out of my living room for a while, so see what it was like…. and then sold the TV when I realized I didn’t really miss it.
    I pay for some video on my laptop (Anthony Bourdain fan), but generally I just spend more time reading, walking, cooking, crafting, and doing other things instead. I sometimes go to a sport bar and cough up for a drink or two to watch an NFL game (guilty pleasure that is diminishing). It is still much cheaper than the monthly cable bill & electricity. I figure I’ve spent 1-2 months worth of previously budgeted cable money (at the most) in the past 14 months. Added bonus: besides time, it also frees up space by not having a TV the focus of the living room. It’s funny to watch someone visit who doesn’t know…they can tell something is weird…”Where’s the TV!?”

  • John4 May 1, 2017, 11:42 am

    Congratulations, 3M, on all of that reading to your five year old!

    My wife and I have didn’t buy a TV until our oldest started dating. We got one then so our daughter could bring boys over to the house and watch movies with them. But, we didn’t get cable service and we didn’t put up an antenna to get a broadcast signal; we only used it to watch videos. Today, my wife subscribes to Netflix, but we still don’t have cable or get a broadcast signal.

    Our kids are grown now. But, when they were young, I *did* read to ’em a lot. I think it made a difference. Five of my six kids have, or are currently working on, advanced degrees. My academic star earned a P.hd. in political theory from Harvard last year. (And it was a funded program, 3M: Harvard paid *him* to earn that degree!)

    Thanks so much for your blog! :-)

  • Leda May 3, 2017, 11:20 pm

    Ok I don’t watch the TV. Internet is the only big additional expense I can try to cut out this summer. Yet, I like to work and write on my computer. I worry I may just end up overspending in the cafe. I am taking the car insurance off for the summer and looking for a way to rent out my extra parking spot if possible.

    -Miss Money Bags

    • Juan May 4, 2017, 1:22 pm

      I don’t think this post suggest cutting your internet service, just cable TV. The internet can be a great tool for learning, creating, and connecting with others.

      To keep your internet low, I’d suggest calling your service provider and trying to negotiate a deal. I did exactly that about a year ago. Spent about an hour on the phone until they finally transferred me to someone with the authority to give me a discount. The call lowered my monthly bill by $20 for one year. That’s $240 for just 1 hour on the phone! I wish I could earn that hourly rate more often :)

  • Andrew May 4, 2017, 11:49 am

    Thank you MMM.

    I just started reading, contacted my cable company and canceled my Cable and lowered my internet package to a slightly slower speed.. Saving me just over $100 a month.

    Growing up my parents were (still are) avid TV watchers and I have always had cable subscriptions even when I hardly used them. I was like many others who felt that since I was only watching DVR recorded shows or live sporting events that I was somehow justified in that spending.

    I am a huge sports fan, not just my local sports but any sports. I generally got home and turned the TV on and looked for any sports that were on and had it on as “background” noise while I cleaned, cooked or worked on other things. I’ll probably get an antenna to watch local sports OTA if possible, and just follow along on radio or online when I can.

    This is definitely new territory I am stepping into now. But I am nothing but excited.

    Thanks for the eye-opening challenge. :)

  • Philip June 19, 2017, 8:20 pm

    Great article. I got rid of my TV 6 years ago and do not miss it in the slightest. I have a Netflix account for when I feel the desire to watch a film but otherwise, I prefer to read, socialise with friends, go for a walk, go to the gym and write. Sure it means I don’t get included in the work chats about the latest “must-watch” TV show but I also don’t spend hours of my life watching other fake lives on TV shows.

    I save money on not owning a TV or having to pay any licenses and anything I want to watch can be done through my laptop. I also don’t play computer games, which saves a ton of my life sat staring in front of a screen.

  • Jason August 5, 2017, 12:44 pm

    I suppose when this article was first written the idea of no cable tv was still a new one. Netflix was around, but not as prominent as it is now. We have never in our lives had cable TV. We couldn’t afford it when we first got married and since then we’ve just used streaming services (netflix and more recently HBO).
    Even though these services are pretty cheap, they are still enormous time wasters. We sit around and watch WAY too many shows. Whenever we’re bored we just binge on hours and hours of old shows (like the Office or Cheers). I feel like because of the way streaming TV works, it’s now easier than ever to be a total couch potato and do absolutely nothing but sit around and stare at a screen all day.
    When we travel we often go to National Parks for a week or two of camping and hiking. Of course we don’t have access to the internet on these trips and we often find that we have an amazing time and I think it is in no small part due to the absence of the internet in our lives. It’s become a bad habit.
    We’re thinking about giving it all up for a month and seeing if it improves our overall happiness and productivity.

  • BalancedBooksBoulder September 4, 2017, 9:43 am

    Howdy MMM – I’m late to the party it appears, but I wanted to get some feedback from others in the Front Range. I tried to get internet-only with Comcast, only to find (like others who have commented) that it would actually cost more to not have the TV bundle. I tried every angle and was patient and polite. No dice. Has anyone discovered a way to get only high-speed internet — without moving to Longmont? I work from home and need a fast connection. Thanks in advance!

  • Tiara Chapman November 23, 2017, 7:54 pm

    When I cancelled my internet the retention rep asked me what I was going to do for entertainment. I replied that I was going to read more. She got a real kick out of that!

  • Tyler B April 17, 2018, 4:06 pm

    MMM – Just a reminder that most library systems today collect most video content — new release movies (as soon as they can be purchased on DVD) along with seasons of popular TV shows, old and new. Collections of e-books and e-audio books have been growing as those formats have gotten more and more popular (and there are video streaming services from many library systems, too). As long as someone doesn’t need to watch (or read) something RIGHT NOW, and can bear to be patient, they can usually watch/read it for free, if they have a library card!
    – A library employee

  • Yanis June 28, 2018, 10:30 am

    Great post. When I read the headline of this blog post I was excited, but then my heart skipped a beat when I read the line: “immediately and completely cancel your cable television service forever.” FOREVER?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Yes, yes you are. I watch about 2 hours of TV per day, and you want me to stop?! I do agree with you that a person will be so much more productive if they stopped watching TV. I lived in England for three months in a college dorm back in 2015. I did not have TV for those three months. I only saw the news when I was in a hotel room during my travels. I have to say that those three months without TV and without the depressing news were the best three months of my life! Three years later I am married with a mortgage and we have cable TV. However, we do not pay a dime for our cable and that is because our provider has mistakenly forgotten to bill us since February. Before this mistake, we were paying $60 per month. Now, our cable is “free,” at least until the provider realizes its mistake and then slams a large bill at us… for now, I will reduce my TV watching to no more than 30 minutes a day, and spend those 1.5 extra hours providing my dogs the attention they desperately desire.

  • Andrew March 4, 2019, 4:10 pm

    I do not have cable tv, I do pay for internet though. I was unable to cancel cable tv but I did call my service provider since I was inspired by this and had nothing to lose….WIN.. they took 15/month off my internet bill.
    Thanks MMM I grew some stubble today.

  • Anonymous May 29, 2019, 9:00 am

    I grew up with television and have never had one. I find the noise incredibly irritating, and hate to eat out in restaurants that have all that flickering, flashing junk going on.

    I always wonder why people don’t make the connection between ADHD and many of the other disorders of modernity and the frequent exposure to the drivel that is television. And “mindless entertainment”? Why???? Ugh.

  • Jan January 30, 2020, 8:23 pm

    Never had cable and never will.
    My engineer husband has always hooked up a nifty antenna and we have great reception for
    the limited amount of TV we watch.

    Thanks for your great blog. I’m starting at the beginning and working my through! My nephew brought it to my attention when I told him we are moving to Longmont soon!!

  • Popeye February 4, 2020, 3:10 am

    Thank you MMM for a very well crafted article.
    I’m a recent follower of the blog, but no stranger to the question of TV watching. Growing up in Scandinavia, I was fed a diet of state television and associated commercial channels. Looking back, this was mostly a waste of childhood, and I believe the time could have been better spent on more creative pursuits.
    While my parents are still addicts, some years after I became independent I decided to quit TV completely. Since then, I’ve never actually missed it. I watch the occasional movie on a laptop or with a projector.
    As a few others have commented, the value of TV is not neutral. It is negative, and enormously so. It numbs the mind and causes irrational behaviours. Then there is the so-called news – not only depressive and sensationalist, but designed to get your attention every day and, of course, feed you just one particular perspective on what is happening.
    I’d say the negative value of TV is right up there with a drug habit, and that this is a more serious matter than any money it might cost. You’d need to pay me a lot more than $100 per month to consume it.

  • Jessi W February 17, 2020, 11:32 am

    I wish I could cancel cable…but I live in Germany and even if you don’t have a TV you have to pay the monthly cable fee “GEZ”. It’s really theft!!

  • Sharon April 24, 2020, 1:52 pm

    Cable and internet are not available where I live, because we are just a bit too rural in my corner of Canada. I could go to my Aunt’s house to use her satellite tv, but there is so rarely anything of interest on, except re-runs of the various CSIs, Bones, and MASH. My cell plan is expensive, but my 12 gigs of data get me through, and by tethering it to my laptop, I can read a lot if information. A premium youtube subscription allows me to download videos when I’m at the library. This is mostly a work around solving problems, but if I could change anything, all I would change is some sort of internet access, and 5G promises to solve that problem.


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