Can You Give Something Up And Be Happier?

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give-up-your-cable-billDecember brings the last month in the Happiness Project. I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year already but I’ve had a wonderful time trying out different ideas. I was excited this weekend when I sat down to read what was in store for December to wrap things up.

Instead of adding something new to the list for the month, the author decided to focus on following the past tasks every day and just doing the best she could. As she put it – Be Bootcamp Perfect. Hardcore. Just like bootcamp. Over the past 11 months, I gave a lot of thought to applying the project to my own life. Not fitting it into my life so that it was convenient for me, but pushing myself to think creatively and stepping outside my comfort zone for new things to experience.

I ended up trying a lot of things that I never would have without this project. I definitely had my favorites along the way. A few that didn’t occur to me that I was even doing until I put thought to it. For December, I’m going to revisit some of my favorites but in a new way. First up is July’s task to Give Something Up. I’m doing this in a creative way instead of donating clothes to charity which I usually do any way.

This time of year I always review my finances and look for ways to lower bills and save a bit more money. If you don’t usually do this, I really suggest that you try it. Why do I do this annually? Well it goes back to the time when I had first moved to Texas and was laid off. I had no source of income and no idea how long it would be before I did have money coming in. I started then to save money, but still do it every year because it’s a pretty simple process with big payoffs.

I list out all of my monthly bills and cancel anything that I don’t need. I then call the remaining companies to see if they have a better deal. If they do, great! Free money for me. If not, I check into switching to a competitor as an option. The big bill this year was the cable bill. It was huge and kept rising since I was no longer under contract. I called and they didn’t have a better deal.

I did some research into other companies but came to the realization that most of the TV we watched was either on broadcast TV or on streaming video. Hmmmmm, interesting observation. I made the decision a week ago to cut off the cable and just wing it with an antenna. Yes, we are cable and set top box free. Here’s what we are doing in case you are thinking of doing this yourself. You will need the following:

  • High speed internet connection (cable, fiber or DSL)
  • Digital antenna
  • Roku box (optional, but nice for streaming video)

I got a couple cheap digital antennas from Amazon and put one on each TV. We get quite a few channels (about 75 altogether) and can watch HD broadcast TV without any trouble. We didn’t even have HD when we had cable so this was a very nice upgrade! Amazon also had a special on the Roku boxes so we can watch streaming movies and shows with my Amazon Prime membership. They have tons of free options and also some that you need to pay to watch. I already had an Amazon Prime membership so this was no extra expense.

I purchased a Hulu Plus membership to watch tons more shows and movies for $7.99 a month. I thought that was a pretty good deal for what they have. We can use our Hulu membership through the Roku boxes in addition to on our computers. That’s been keeping us happy for the last week of TV viewing. I still can’t get over the clarity of the picture. All in all, I spent $18 each on the antennas and $39.99 for the Roku boxes – $120. These are one time charges.

I pay the $7.99 a month for Hulu so it boils down to $8.64 with tax. Not bad in exchange for saving $130 a month! Saving that kind of money for retirement or something fun to do definitely makes me happy. If you add in the family time that The Kid and I now enjoy talking and playing the Wii instead of watching TV, it’s priceless.

Would you ever consider giving up your cable and going free?

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