Getting Rid of Cable/Satellite and/or Your Phone Land Line

Although you may think that cable or satellite TV is part of life's necessities, they're really just extra services that you should subscribe to only if you have plenty of extra money each month — after you pay all of your other financial obligations. It is possible to live without them, and you'll read a whole lot more if you get rid of your TV altogether.

If you're using your cell phone most of the time anyway, consider getting rid of your land line, too.

Because you're probably cutting way back on your expenses, don't overlook these simple ways to save a lot of money. Prices for these services vary greatly from one area to another, but here's an example:

  • Cable: $43 per month × 12 months = $396 per year

  • Land line: $47 per month × 12 months = $348 per year

  • Total Annual Savings: $1,080 per year

Think of this: If you're currently trying to pay off $2,500 in credit card debt and make no other changes to your income or expenses except to get rid of your cable service and land line, you'll be debt-free in less than two-and-a-half years.

And you'll save even more if you are paying for premium movie channels or if your land line has several premium features or offers free long distance.

Okay, so perhaps you accept the idea that these services do cost money and that you'd be in better financial shape if you got rid of them. Your sense of resistance comes from not knowing how you could possibly live without them. The following sections share some tips.

Alternatives to Cable and Satellite

Instead of subscribing to cable or satellite TV, which offers you dozens or even hundreds of channels to choose from, record every network and public-television program you think you'd enjoy onto an eight- or twelve-hour video cassette.

Also, as friends switch from VCR to DVD, ask whether you can have their old videos. Build up a collection of favorites to rewatch anytime the urge strikes. Don't forget your public library, either: most loan DVDs of movies, documentaries, and miniseries free of charge, and some even loan popular series, too.

If you're using cable, satellite, or DSL to connect to the Internet, be sure to find an alternative before getting rid of these services. To connect via cable or satellite, you need to be subscribing to those services in some way. To connect via DSL, you must have a land line.

If you get such terrible reception in your area that you can't even watch TV without cable or satellite, you have two low-cost choices. one is to sign up for just the basic cable coverage, which gives you network stations, public television, and perhaps a few other stations, a feature that usually costs $10 to $15 per month.

The other is to stop watching TV broadcasts and either only watch DVDs or stop watching TV altogether. Keep in mind that many TV shows are now available on DVD approximately four or five months after the last season episode airs.

One final alternative is to subscribe to Netflix or a similar DVD rental program, through which you receive between one and three DVD rentals at a time (movies, documentaries, and TV shows), sent to your home. Returns are free, and as soon as you return a DVD, another is sent to you right away, based on a list you create of hundreds or thousands of DVDs you want to rent, in order of priority. Plans vary and start fairly inexpensively. Movies are even downloadable via the Internet.

Alternatives to a Land Line

The obvious alternative to a land line is a cell phone. However, if getting rid of your land line will increase your need for cell minutes (and you will pay a higher fee for that), double check your math. Find out what other cell companies are offering their customers: Free incoming calls; free nights and weekends; night-time rates starting earlier than 9:00 P.M; free calls to customers on the same network; free text messaging; and so on. When your contract is up, if you can switch to another cell company and save money by not having a land line, go for it!

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