Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cutting Back- get rid of the TV!

After several months of unemployment my finances are taking a hit. What I get from the state in unemployment coverage in a month is a little bit less than what I used to make in a week. I've had to cut back financially significantly. Saving just a few dollars here and there really starts to add up when you are trying to live off of 25% of your old salary.
My first major change was the TV. I had always had cable, and along with it a DVR. I was paying close to $100 just to watch TV! This was the obvious and first place to make a cutback. (Which, may I add, is hard when suddenly you are at home round the clock with nothing to do.)
A little bit of research indicated that I could watch all of my favorite shows on Hulu or the network websites. My two favorite shows, NCIS (NCIS: Seasons 1-6) and the Good Wife (The Good Wife: The First Season), are both on CBS. Neither show is available on Hulu. You have to watch CBS shows on If you don't catch it within the week of airing, you have to watch it on iTunes. I quickly learned that I was not saving any money by watching shows on iTunes!
I had expected that "watching TV online" would mean more freedom to watch whenever I wanted to. This was the first myth I encountered. "Watching TV online" means a little bit of freedom to watch shows whenever you want, but not complete flexibility and freedom. Some shows don't become available online for 8 days, some are only available for 1 week.
However, the majority of shows are available for free on Hulu. Hulu truly does make it possible to get rid of cable or the antenna. The major drawback to watching shows on Hulu (or other network sites) is that you have to watch them on your computer. For anyone used to watching shows from the comfort of the couch, on a nice big TV, you do lose that advantage. After spending a long day at work, staring at a computer, sometimes coming home to spend downtime on the computer, is a significant drawback of watching tv online. There are ways around this. You can hook your computer up to your TV (works best with a laptop) with a VGA or HDMI cable (HDMI TO HDMI 6 foot cable). If your laptop and TV are both HDMI compatible, you can hear the shows through the TV as well. If you only have a VGA connection, the sound will still be through the computer (another drawback). Be sure to disable any screen savers or instant messengers before sitting back to relax.
One perk to watching shows online is that the commercials are more customized to the viewer. Through the use of cookies and online profiles, the website is able to provide commercials that are more targeted. No more suffering through commercials that are completely unrelated and interesting.
Overall Costs:
High speed internet: $33
HDMI Cable: $2.30 from Amazon

Previous costs:
Cable: $54
DVR $18

Total savings: $72 -$34.30 = Savings $37.70
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