Should You Get Rid of Cable TV? What If You’re In Debt?

get rid of cable1

I’m not hear to tell you that you should get rid of cable.  I personally don’t have cable TV but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the value it provides to many who have it.  You have likely heard the many arguments out there for why you should get rid of cable, including:

  1. You can get similar services from the internet for less money
  2. You should focus on paying off consumer debt before spending money on something you can do without such as cable
  3. Cutting Cable entirely will give you more money to spend on other things or save
  4. Watching Cable TV is addicting and can take a lot of time, making you less productive
  5. If you get rid of Cable TV you can be more creative and active

Instead of looking at cable TV as a frivolous, unnecessary expense, I would argue that it really comes down to two questions:

“How much is cable TV worth to you?” and “how do you want to spend your time and money?”

Instead of coming to a quick conclusion as to whether you should get rid of cable, take the time to really figure out how much it’s worth to you.  Do you feel as though you are getting a lot of entertainment value for the money you are spending?  Might there be a cheaper/better/more fulfilling way to get that same amount of entertainment?  If you like to watch a lot of premium programming, then chances are you won’t want to get rid of cable.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, however, before you commit to your next month of cable, make sure you take the time to figure out how much cable is worth to you.

Is watching a lot of TV how you want to spend a lot of your time; if not, is it time to get rid of cable?

Do you enjoy spending 2-4 hours in front of the TV every night watching premium programming?  If so, you probably place a high value on cable TV.  The question you must then ask yourself is: “is this REALLY how I want to spend so much of my time?  You may find that you are happier spending time with friends and doing activities outside the home as opposed to watching cable TV.  Even if you get rid of cable to give it a test drive, the cable company will be happy to take you back at any time.

If you don’t watch a lot of TV but like to every once in a while you should seriously consider getting TV/entertainment from other sources such as Netflix, Hulu, or from public programming.  $60-100 is a lot to pay for a few hours a week of TV.  You may find that a service like Netflix actually helps you get more enjoyment than picking up the remote every once in a while and trying to find something on worth watching.

To figure out if you should get rid of cable, look at the tradeoffs you are making to figure out how much it is really worth to you

When you hand over $60-100 for your cable TV bill every month, are you thinking about other things you could be spending that money on?  Take Netflix for instance.  If you decided to get rid of cable and instead bought Netflix for $8 per month, you would save $52 per month if your cable bill was $60 per month.  That’s savings of $624 per year!  Imagine what else you could you could do with that extra money.  You could save more, pay off debt, or spend it on other things. If, after reading this, you are saying to yourself “Cable TV is completely worth $624 per year” and you can’t imagine a better way to spend your time, then you have passed the test; you should probably not get rid of cable.  If, however, you are questioning whether it’s worth it, get rid of cable for a month or two and try a few different alternatives.  If you can’t stand being without cable and the alternatives just don’t provide the same amount of entertainment, at least you can go back to cable knowing that it is totally worth it to you.

If you have a lot of consumer debt do you need to get rid of cable?

If you feel like you’re buried in debt and you’re having a difficult time paying it back, you have a tough choice to make.  If it means a lot to you, I have good news for you: you DON’T have to get rid of cable.  But you DO have to get rid of something so you can pay off your debt.  You will have to make some difficult decisions and figure out if spending money on cable is worth the other trade offs you will have to make to balance your budget.  Whatever you do, don’t let your consumer debt continue to balloon out of control.  You don’t have to get rid of cable, but make sure that you cut something out of your budget so you can afford to pay back your debt.

Getting rid of cable is not about needs vs. wants

Of course cable TV is not a need like food is a need, but just because it’s a “want” does not mean that it isn’t worth paying for.  Hopefully many of the things you pay for can be wants as opposed to pure needs.  That said, the key to deciding whether or not to get rid of cable is truly understanding if the cost is worth it and if there are alternatives that could help you save money while getting the same amount of entertainment.  To help yourself quantify the cost, try multiplying your monthly bill by 12 to get your yearly cost.  Then multiply that number by 5 years; at this point you will see that you are paying quite a lot over time for cable TV.  If, after adding up those amounts and making sure cable fits into your budget, you decide that it is worth it, don’t get rid of cable.





  1. R S says:

    I’m currently considering going down this route.

    One thing I have been looking into recently is how well an over the air antennae would work. I am hoping to visit a store and speak with a knowledgeable sales associate about the option of receiving the major news networks over air in HD and then canceling the cable TV (which recently put me in a bind with fewer options, less quality, same price as before). Although there is an initial one time upfront cost to purchase the hardware,it appears to be equal or less to what I am already paying per month for cable, and it is only a one time fee.

    Has anyone else tried this method? Thoughts? Successes or failures?

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