Do You Really Need Cable?

It’s not always easy to admit that there are certain things in our life that we splurge on unnecessarily.  I’ll be the first to admit that I love technology and that I probably spend too much money on “tech toys” such as my beautiful MacBook Pro or my game systems or those Bose headphones that I bought just about a month ago.  It’s nice to be able to spend your hard-earned money on things that you want, but it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to differentiate between needs and wants.  When you are unable to pay your mortgage, loans or utility bills because you spend too much money on your latte at starbucks or on the newest video games you have a problem.  I’ve compiled a list of a few “wants” that people often confuse with “needs.”

Cable TV

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do I can often be found watching the Food Network, the Discovery Channel or HGTV.  Up until recently (my wife and I just moved into our own place) I have never had to pay for TV service before.  I almost decided to forgo cable entirely but decided to go ahead and subscribe to basic cable service.  I have 70 channels for (the first six months) an extra $10 a month (on top of my internet bill).  Do I need cable?  Abolutely not.  If I could not afford it I would drop it in an instant.

I will say that basic cable is not terribly expensive but once you start to subscribe to premium channels the bill can really start to add up.  A digital cable package through Cox with 1 premium movie service costs $65.90 a month.  Throw in a HD receiver and a DVR and your bill goes up to $88.90 a month.  Compare this to the cost of basic cable at $19.95 and you start to realize that maybe it’s not really worth it.

For a potential savings of $1,066 a month (mas o menos) consider dropping cable altogether and hooking up a good old antenna to get your local channels.

The Daily Starbucks

How many people do you know who absolutely can not live without their daily latte from Starbucks?  Are you one of them?  Did you know that if you spend $4 a day 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year that you’re spending $1,040 a year on coffee?  Do you really NEED a latte from starbucks?  Why not consider making your own coffee and save yourself a huge chunk of that $1,040.

Cell Phone

How much does your cell phone bill cost every month?  Mine is typically in the $90 dollar range (that’s for two phones sharing 700 minutes with 1000 text messages).  Are you paying for premium services such as unlimited text messages, unlimited data or even unlimited talk?  Now here’s a kicker: Do you really truthfully honestly NEED unlimited text messages and unlimited talk?  My guess is no.  If this is the case then why are you paying for something you don’t need and probably don’t use.  Consider lowering the number of minutes you’re paying for a month or the number of texts.  If worse comes to worse maybe you can just, oh I don’t know, wait to talk to your friend until after you get out of work or class.  Maybe you’ll do better on your next test or on your work project.  Who knows.

Booze… Lots of Booze

How much do you pay for that drink when you go out to the club or the bar?  $5 – $6 dollars?  I went to a club down in Mexico and I had to pay $3 just for a bottled water (I don’t drink), so I know that the alcohol has to cost a pretty penny.  Why not save yourself some cash and have a drink or two before you go out (don’t forget to use a DD), and then finish off the night with some of your own alcohol.  I’m willing to bet you can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year by doing this.


I consider myself to be a fairly fashion-minded person.  I often receive compliments on the way I dress and I manage to do this while spending very little on clothes.  Over the past six months I’d say that I’ve spent just a wee bit less than $100 dollars on clothes.  I still wear clothes today that I purchased 4 years ago, and on a regular basis as well.  I buy clothes that will hold their style well because they are less trend-driven and have more of a classic look.  I also look for sales before I purchase my clothes so I don’t have to pay full-price for them.  With this being said it’s obvious that (unless you’re a full-time nudist) clothes are a necessity.  However keeping up with the latest trends and fashions and spending hundreds of dollars a month on clothing is not.  For savings of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars a year you might reconsider your clothing purchasing habits.

What Do You Have To Say?

I want to hear your opinions.  What do you think about my list and what other “wants” can you think of which people often confuse with “needs?”

4 responses to “Do You Really Need Cable?”

  1. Got here from MoneyNings Festival…

    Cable? Nope – don’t even have TV, altho two channels would come in. Get news and weather off the internet. Don’t miss TV at all.

    Don’t drink coffee nor booze, so saving that 🙂
    Spend under $200/yr on new clothes, and that includes shoes – they being replacements for worn out ones.

    Cell phone – luckily employer pays for that 🙂

    Movie rentals – nope – thru local library – free.

    Buy books – nope – thru local library and extended coastal library connections.

    Veggies – not much – I grow a great garden on my city lot – food not lawns 🙂

    Excercise/gym – nope – garden takes care of most of my needed exercise – that and running after the grandkids.

    Landscape timbers, lumber, garden containers – nope – all free for the searching at the local dump/transfer station/recycling center.

    Sewing fabric – (I do a LOT of sewing for gifts and grandkids) – get the $1/bag at rummage sales and stuff them full of colorful fabrics/dresses/robes/etc.

    I don’t have the game boxes, ipods, electronics stuff. I have an 8 yr old Forester and a 34 yr old pickup. Guess I go for usefullness over fancy stuff!

    But I’m very content as well as excited about life – and that’s all that matters to me.

  2. Cable is not expensive? My position was just terminated so cutting back on lots of “stuff.” My local cable provider told me these prices. I am trying to drop movie channels but on a special promo package and they wont put me in another promo pckg.
    Basic cable (channels2-27) $19.99/mo
    Basic internet (important for job searching)$44.99/mo +$3 for modem lease
    Expanded Basic Cable $44.99
    So I am looking at a min of a $67 bill for basic cable and internet. Oh and did I mention this is a HUGE increase from a little under 2 years ago?! Talk about digital cable transition affecting everything! The cable company has us where they want us (renters) since we cant put dishes on our blgs!

  3. Robyn,

    Not sure why you asked “cable is not expensive?” because I did state (I thought fairly clearly) that premium cable can get quite expensive. Sounds to me like your internet package is a little bit on the pricey side. Can you not purchase an internet package that is cheaper (but offers a lower speed)?

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