Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cutting the Cord

Being in business school really doesn't give me the appreciation of the value of a dollar. When you're essentially paying ~$500 for each 3-hour lecture, and when all you're money is flying out the door anyway, each incremental dollar of expense is hard to gauge. It's just another drop in the bucket right?

But as my rebirth into the real world draws perilously near (I chose rebirth because yes, it will be messy), I'm starting to think of ways I can improve my bottom line earnings.

This becomes all the more significant since I'll be moving to NYC, the place where discretionary income withers and dies in the face of oppressive costs for everything.

I first thought I'd just augment my income by installing ads on my blog. Easy money right? Not turns our my readership has developed an immunity to those Google ads on the right. Would it kill you to just look at them and think about whether they might be useful???

Anyway, with no great ideas for top-line expansion...I turned my sights to the expenses category. In consulting-speak, I'm really looking to right-size my expenses to improve profitability.

In looking around my pile of bills, one line item catches my eye every month (and no, the answer is not impulse purchases of late-night TV products).

I'm seriously debating dumping cable TV.

As it stands right now, I pay RCN about $90 a month.

For that, I get cable internet service (which I require) and cable TV service. The TV service also costs a little more with my DVR and my HD tier additions.

If I were to cancel that (and only get internet service on the move to NYC) I would probably save ~$45 each month, or around $540 per year.

That's a decent amount of money, and begs the question of whether I really need cable TV.

If you had come to me 5 years ago and told me I would be debating this, I'd have called you crazy. But, with the advent of some great digital's not looking so unrealistic.

I have a couple key shows I really like to watch (e.g., the Office, Lost), but all of them are available online at sites like If I download some kind of media software that would enable me to watch internet video on my TV (like Boxee or others) it'd be even better.

With the money I'd be saving, I could roll that into a Netflix membership (which I've wanted to do anyway since there are so many movies I'd like to watch) and a Roku box, that allows me to stream Netflix movies onto my awesome TV. I'm a little leery of the quality, but it has HDMI output, so I'm guessing it would be ok.

What would I really miss with cable???

I could see the argument for sports, but I already don't watch a lot of live sports because I can't get my local teams. The Flyers are buried on Versus with the rest of the NHL, never to be heard from again. The Eagles are a larger issue, but I don't want satellite and as such, can't get NFL Sunday Ticket. I'm willing to go to bars for the Eagles, or at worst, could get a Slingbox installed back home with the family in Philadelphia. I wouldn't have ESPN, but I really only watch that at the gym, which will still have cable. So sports isn't the reason.

But what else do I watch? I usually turn the TV on when I'm sitting around and not working (of course all that free time goes away when I start work anyway). I see a lot of West Wing in the mornings (syndicated on Bravo) and a LOT of Law & Order (syndicated on seemingly every cable network and shown at all times)...but I don't really WATCH those shows so much as have them on and root for Jerry Orbach to say something snarky.

So I'd miss out on that, but I'd have Netflix and all the movies I haven't been able to see. Plus with some software (admittedly, stuff I'd need to figure out), I could watch my shows through the internet on my TV.

I'd probably save a couple hundred bucks...

That could buy me a whole bunch of Snuggies and Shamwows.

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