I hate recurring bills. But since I can’t avoid them completely, I do my best to minimize them.
For a long time, I actually did avoid one of the more common recurring household bills: Cable TV. (Okay, I know “cable TV” is a misnomer in this day when so much programming is delivered via satellite or the Internet, but you know what I mean.)
I’m fortunate because no one in our household is all that into TV. So, for a while, we got by with an over-the-air antenna that sort of picked up a few of the major networks. Still, even I found it annoying when I wanted to watch truly important events such as The Masters or The Open Championship and I couldn’t quite make out the golf ball from all the static.
So, I relented, and signed up for the most basic cable package available. For $19.07 per month, we had nice, clear access to the major networks.
That was fine until one of our kids got interested in soccer and became good enough to make a club team. It didn’t take too many Saturdays of sitting on the sidelines to realize how woefully deficient I was in my new role as a soccer dad. Not only did I have to keep asking people to explain soccer’s offside rule, but I soon realized most of our son’s teammates watched a lot of pro soccer on TV.
Certain that cheaping out on TV would stunt our son’s development as a soccer player, I began looking into the options. Almost immediately, I was shocked by the crazy prices, and the equally crazy number of channels, which made Springsteen’s 1992 song, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”, seem quaint.
So, I took a deep breath, thought about what channels we actually needed in order to watch what we wanted, did a little research, and signed up for Sling TV at $42.14 per month. That gives us access to more than 70 channels via both of Sling’s “core” service offerings—Sling Orange and Sling Blue—including enough sports channels to be able to watch games across several pro soccer leagues.
Our other TV-related expenses include reluctantly sending Netflix $7.99 per month. We used to pay $9.99, but then I found out about its $7.99 “basic plan” option for those willing to make do with access to just one screen at a time. I still find this bill hard to pay since we pretty much never find anything worthy of a family movie night on Netflix, but it has a couple of shows that our youngest likes to watch, and I’ll admit to having enjoyed watching a few episodes of the documentary series, “Abstract.”
Lastly, we average a couple of Amazon movie rentals per month at $3.99 each, or 7.98 per month. We use Amazon because some movies available there can be watched through ClearPlay.
Total? $77.18 per month.
Oh, we also pay $55 per month for Internet access, although I don’t consider that part of our TV package since we use the Internet for other things as well. We used to pay more for Internet service, but a new company started offering faster speeds at a lower cost in our area and guaranteed their price for five years, so we signed up.
My advice? Don’t react to this cable/satellite/streaming service special deal or that one. Be proactive in thinking about what you really want to watch and then shop the various services. If it’s been a while since you’ve done that, you’ll probably be surprised at the number of options available. And you may just be surprised to discover that it doesn’t have to cost over $100 a month to watch TV.
What programming services do you use, why did you choose them, and how much do you pay?