I recently celebrated my own version of financial freedom day. In the same week last month, not only did my youngest graduate from college but I cut the cord with my longtime cable television provider.
I felt as if I had just given myself a pay raise.
While watching the graduation ceremony was a point of pride, ending the relationship with the cable company was more of a fist pumper.
I had been a triple-play customer, relying on one company for high-speed Internet, cable TV and a landline phone. But after many service and quality issues, my wife and I decided to break clean.
Out went the modem, the set-top box and the digital adapters.
Looking at the math, it wasn’t too hard a decision. We had been paying about $200 a month for service, or $2,400 a year, including taxes and fees. That ranked it near the top on our family budget — not as much as food, about the same as cellular, but more than electricity, water and clothing.
While it felt liberating after canceling, it was also a bit unsettling, especially because of the loss of my favorite sports cable channels.
Sports, after all, was the lure for signing up for cable years ago, but all that programming comes at a high cost. Keep that in mind when your kids are clamoring for the bonus sports packages, which aren’t part of the standard service.
Though we’re cord cutters, we are not totally off the grid.
Given the limited cable options in our neighborhood — one other company provides service while two more are on the way — we decided on a temporary solution.
For the television, consumers have plenty of viewing options available, including video streaming services. But we opted for a portable antenna — which works much like a set of rabbit ears — for about $30 and a digital signal converter for $40.
We can pick up the local channels plus a few more.
Even after paying about $70 for the equipment, we’re still coming out way ahead when you consider that the average monthly bill for cable TV is about $123 for American households, according to research from the NPD Group. That works out to $1,476 a year.
The phone? The landline is not coming back, but we still have our cellphones.
Internet service, however, has been more problematic. For the past month, we connected by using a portable hotspot device that costs about $20 a month to rent from our cellphone provider. That worked for email, but not much else.
A few days ago, our former cable company mailed out a “reconnection” promotion. I signed up for standard-speed Internet only. It costs about $40 a month, but there’s no contract, so I’m free to flee at any time.
Meanwhile, I’m keeping my eye on the activity in my neighborhood, where a small army of workers has been digging ditches for several weeks in preparation for laying cable for the other broadband companies. They’re getting closer to my yard.