Confession: I love trashy reality TV.
I think it has something to do with the people-watching aspect of it. How other people live their lives, especially any of the Real Housewives, the Kardashians, or the Teen Mom girls, is fascinating to me. Yes, I know it’s all staged. Don’t judge. I still love it.
A perfect Sunday in 2012 would have consisted of me, on the couch, with a blankets and a snack, watching a junky reality TV marathon. Heck, that still sounds like a pretty good day to me.
But when Mountain Papa and I got married and decided to tackle our heaps of debt, one of the first things we cut from our budget was cable. Bye, Teresa Giudice flipping tables. Bye, Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live. Bye, marathons of House Hunters.
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At first it was hard to give up cable. Really hard. I still had half a season of Real Housewives of New Jersey to finish! Would Theresa and Melissa ever get along? I needed to know!
But, like everything else I wanted to watch, I found away to watch it online.
We used our Apple TV more and subscribed to Netflix and Hulu. We got an antenna and rediscovered basic cable.
It did take a little time to get used to not having instant access to all of our favorite channels. I never felt deprived, just a little annoyed at the extra effort required to find a show. Plus, I discovered a lot of awesome new shows.
I soon began to realize that a lot of my former TV watching was mindless. With cable, I would turn on the TV when I was bored, or tired, or when I just felt like having some background noise in the house. Needless to say, the TV was on a lot.
Eventually, a funny thing started happening. I started watching less TV.
Now when I try to watch TV for background noise, I become paralyzed by the number of choices available. The Netflix library overwhelms me if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. More often than not, I just give up on the idea of TV altogether before I’m able to find something I feel like mindlessly watching.
I’m Crafty Now
Since cutting cable, I’ve discovered bunches of other ways to pass the time. Some of the things I’ve done over the past few years since cutting the cable cord include:
- Made a baby blanket
- Made a matching doll blanket
- Made cross-stitch wall hangings for Baby Bear’s nursery
- Patched clothing
- Taught myself to knit
- Started quilting
- Baked delicious treats
- Started a child care business
- Transcribed for money online
- Started a blog
- Read tons of books
I probably wouldn’t have done most of these things if I still had constant access to the magical allure of the Bravo network just a remote click away.
Time & Money Comparisons
In my neck of the woods, an internet and 200-channel cable bundle costs $100/month. An internet subscription alone is $40. Add in the cost of Netflix ($9.99/month) and Hulu ($7.99/month) and it costs around $58/month to be cable-free. That’s a savings of $42/month.
Since I was such a mindless TV watcher before, I have saved tons of time by cutting cable. In an average week pre-cutting cable, I would watch around 4-5 hours of TV per day. Now, I watch only about one hour of TV per day, if that. I’m saving around 90 hours each month with my new TV habits.
Unintentionally More Intentional
I’ve unintentionally become more intentional about my TV watching. I only turn the TV on if there is something specific I want to watch. And, maybe it’s because I have a kid and less time, or maybe I’m not seeing the commercials for upcoming new shows, but as time goes on the list of things I want to watch shrinks.
This transformation in my TV viewing habits seems crazy considering how many countless hours I’ve spent investing in the televised “real” lives of strangers. And if cable were to start pumping into my TV now for free, you better believe I would be right back to mindlessly taking in Kourtney and Khloe’s latest shenanigans for hours on end.
If I Can Do It, You Can, Too
Somehow, though, my life feels fuller now. My interests are more varied. I’ve learned new skills.
If you’re looking to save money in your monthly budget but hesitate cutting cable because you don’t think you could go without, just do it.
If I can survive life without cable TV, anyone can.
And who knows, you might really like the person you become without it.