I Need Help Canceling Cable – Save Time And Money

by The Happy Rock on July 16, 2007

largest_plasma_tv.jpgMy wife and I are struggling to cancel the cable once again. We talk about it every time our Comcast bill goes back to normal price. We have internet + digital cable + DVR for about $122 a month. I usually call and tell them I am going to cancel, and they start offering some deals. I never take the first deal or two, and usually end up negotiating to a price to around $85/month for about a year. I have actually been paying full price for way too long now. Why?, because I really want to cancel cable. I am scared that I will call and renegotiate rather than actually canceling. Once that is done I will probably settle in for another year. So instead, I am ‘wasting’ $40 dollars a month, because I can’t pull the trigger(but want to). I need help. My wife and I both are willing to go for it, but neither of us has been motivated to action. If we wait until fall, when new episodes of Lost, Heroes, and the Office come back on, we will be sunk. With that said, here is the plan…

First, I did a little research for ammunition and motivation. I will share the highlights of that research in an upcoming post.

Step two is where you, the reader, come in. I hope to use The Happy Rock to get some feedback, success and failure stories, advice, and motivation. Here is what I am looking for :

  1. I know most of us cringe or rebel when we entertain the thought of ditching cable, so let me know why I should keep it.
  2. For those that were bolder them I am, let me know how getting rid of cable has worked, or not worked.
  3. Possible alternatives. The family would only really miss a few shows, no more then ten : The Office, Lost, Heroes, So You Think You Can Dance, etc… I was thinking about Apple TV as a replacement for cable. A half dozen series passes would be much cheaper than the $700 plus it costs for cable. Any other options?
  4. Kick in the butt, slap in the face. Tell me I am a wimp, wasting money, time, whatever.
  5. Anything else I am missing?

Step Three : Cancel the cable, or keep cable and negotiate a deal again.  My research shows canceling cable will save us a lot more than just money.

Share that wisdom! PLEASE.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Engineer July 16, 2007 at 11:56 pm

Are you in a remote area where you actually need cable TV? All of the shows are on over-the-air network TV for me. I don’t subscribe to cable, and except for a few months over 25 years ago never have. Network TV has more programming on than I care to watch.

There are alternatives to the cable company DVR box. I have a Windows Media PC that records HDTV to its disk drive for watching at my convenience. A large up-front cost to be sure. But at $80 for cable may pay for itself.


Engineer July 16, 2007 at 11:58 pm

BTW, my browser (Firefox) did not render the dialog box for the anti-spam exchange in a fashion that was apparent (no border was displayed). You might want to look at this if you’re not happy with the number of comments you’re getting.


Clever Dude July 17, 2007 at 8:40 am

Ditch the cable. We’ve had basic cable ($20 per month. Free with antenna) for about 4 years. Spend the money on netflix/blockbuster online and rent those shows when they come out on DVD.
I normally don’t like leaving my links on other people’s sites, but I did just write about my own problems with “upgrading my viewing experience” today. Maybe that will give you some answers :)


Double Eagle July 17, 2007 at 9:17 am

Knowing you as well as I do, I know that if you really felt you were wasting money with cable, you would have cancelled it a long time ago. I can’t believe that you’re able to tighten down every other aspect of your financial life with impressive discipline, but that you can’t ditch cable.

The shows you mentioned are all available over the air, as Engineer said, so you could get an antenna and keep watching them.

Also, consider that you’ve created a financial position for yourself where cable television is a luxury that you can allow yourself if you want to. There’s nothing wrong with splurging on something like that, if it’s not putting a real dent in your finances. If you really want to drop it, you simply will. But if you’re torn, then where’s the harm?


The Happy Rock July 17, 2007 at 9:34 am

@Engineer – I did get a $30 antenna from off Amazon a while back and the picture was watchable, but be no means crisp, especially for ABC. I would lean towards DVD rental or iTunes. Also, I think I would rather not have access to TV, so that everything I watch would be much more conscious decision. I will miss Phillies games, which are on cable.

@Engineer(2) – I have been looking into the spam textbox problem, thanks for the heads up.

@Clever – Thanks for the input. It helps to see other doing the same thing. As for the link, I like them as long as they are relevant(and it was).

@DoubleEagle – As you can see, it is a productivity thing first, then a money thing. Saving $700 a year is very nice, but having more quality time for wife, children, friends, and business opportunities is were I think the biggest benefit may come from.


Double Eagle July 17, 2007 at 10:52 am

I get where you’re coming from with the productivity, but will cancelling cable fix that problem? Wouldn’t you have to ditch your TV altogether? I understand that there’s more program selection on cable, but if you’ve chosen to let yourself be distracted by the television or to spend time zoned out in front of it, chances are you’ll find something on broadcast channels to fit that bill, even if the program quality isn’t there. If it’s not too large a burden financially and you’ll miss some of the things that you’ll lose, then keep it and just teach yourself to turn it off when it’s affecting your productivity or your family time.


beth July 17, 2007 at 11:29 am

(hooray, the spam box is fixed!)

Perhaps you could investigate removing the TV from your main living area, so you can start weaning yourselves from it? I’m thinking that if you make tv more uncomfortable, you’ll use it less. To that end, you might also get rid of the DVR – if you can’t get your butt in front of the tv on time, and can’t deal with commercials, you’ll start watching less and less.

I get free cable in my building and yet still never watch tv. It’s just not a habit, and I have a loathing of commercials and am too cheap to get a dvr/tivo. I have a huge preference for TV on DVD so I don’t have to deal with suspense :-)


Mike July 17, 2007 at 11:35 am

Funny you brought this up. I just saw this article on Yahoo financials: How to Earn $1 Million by Not Watching TV

That does seem like a pricey package, though. My wife and I never found the value in digital TV. By running a DSL modem ($15), standard cable ($45 when I’m not threatening to swap to satellite), and a Tivo ($8.50), we’ve been able to run a much less expensive entertainment operation. And that Yahoo article almost makes me feel guilty about that.



Will_Wisebread July 17, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I made a deal with myself: I’ll quit cable but I’ll treat myself to Netflix. DVD rentals is really the most efficient way to watch TV. I’m catching up with all the great shows I missed over the years (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Freaks & Geeks, The Office, Rome, Veronica Mars, etc). The one downside is that when people talk about current shows like Lost or The Shield I have no idea what they are talking about.


Lazy Man and Money July 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm

I wrote an article about this previously. I wasn’t able to go through with it because the HD antenna I got wasn’t good or the area I live (near San Francisco) isn’t very good. However, if it works in your area, you could get a better picture. Yes an HDTV set is a cost, but it’s one-time, not on-going – and they are getting pretty cheap.

One option is the Slingbox at a friend’s house – this could solve your Philies problem. Another option could be BrightSpot.TV. You watch commercials and answer questions in exchange for free services – they have publicly stated that they will be offering MLB.tv, but it’s not done yet.


TheHappyRock July 17, 2007 at 4:27 pm

@Double Eagle – I do agree that if my motivation was in place, then this would be a non-issue. When we are not in a motivated place, sometimes hacking can help gain perspective and motivation. Often times, we must tackle the problem and not the symptom first though.

@beth – Great idea, but we have a tiny place right now. Or main room is mini great room. It serves as our office, living room, family room, kitchen, and dining room. You seem to echo Double Eagle’s comments that habits and motivation are more important.

@Mike – I meant to mention that cable internet is $50 of that. Cable cost is about $70. Also, yhanks for the great article, I think I will use that as part of tomorrow’s post.

@Will – The sad part is that we have a Gameznflix membership too. I think we will keep that, even though right now it is not getting enough use.


John Clark July 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm

With the whole package on cable, most of us are paying big bucks. The problem arises, when you want to watch your favorite shows, for me I like the movie channels and with the number they have available, I can usually find something I would like to watch, but is it worth it.

For regular TV though and even some of the extended cable channels, you can now buy a lot of those series on iTunes and that makes it convenient, because you can watch the show when you want too. And they take out the commercials which to me is a huge bonus.

I guess it all depends on where you comfort level is. I guess I would say give it a shot if you want to later you can always plug back into the cable.

Here’s to Your LifetoSuccess,
John Clark, http://www.lifetosuccess.com


Kirk M July 17, 2007 at 8:23 pm

After I answered the comment you left on my blog I wandered over here to check out your end of things and found this post. Now I know our situations are different being that I and my wife are by ourselves and the children are all grown and gone but before we met (about 45 years ago) neither one of us had any sort of cable, satellite or even broadcast TV for about 7 years already…and we still don’t. Believe me, our lives (and those of our friends that do have children and kicked the cable) are all that much richer for it.

I’m not trying to do any self promotion at all here but I just found it amusing that I had already written a post about
this very thing a couple of months ago. Thought you might get a kick out of it plus there’s a lot more than I can put in a comment.

Good luck on your decision.

Oh, if this comment comes out looking weird it’s due to my lousy html ability.


Kirk M July 17, 2007 at 8:27 pm

About how long ago my wife and I met was supposed to read 4 to 5 years ago…not 45 (Boy! No wonder I fell old!). :)


The Happy Rock July 17, 2007 at 10:55 pm

@John Clark – I like the iTunes idea John. And you are 100% correct, just like a lot of personal experiments usually only good can come from it. Comcast will happily through deals at me if I wanted to come back.

@Kirk – I read your article, and thanks for the perspective. Not having TV does help give you more and time to think.


Tim Diehl July 17, 2007 at 11:12 pm

you’re a brave man, happy. i think living without cable is a little bit like moving from drinking flavored drinks to drinking water. at first you think ‘this sucks. why would anyone do this?’ but after a while you start to notice how much better you feel (or in the case of cable – how much time you have to do such better things). eventually you struggle to even want a soda or something other than water when it is offered (or to spend time watching lots of tv). especially given the ability you have to either borrow a season from a friend / family member, or download episodes you missed, I think it’s a good move for you. that being said, i know it’s hard. God speed, man.


AnEarthling July 17, 2007 at 11:27 pm

I try not to look at the TV as a thing that is costing me money. It is the thing that is keeping me from walking around spending money because I have nothing better to do with my time.


The Happy Rock July 17, 2007 at 11:43 pm

@Tim – Thanks for sharing bro. I hope that is the case. Though, one disadvantage you allude to is co-workers spoiling good series before you get to watch them.

@AnEarthling – You do make a point that watching TV could be keeping us from more destructive behavior, though it might be better to solve the destructive behavior and use that energy for positive results.


Double Eagle July 17, 2007 at 11:44 pm

I will say that while TV gives us some pleasure, it doesn’t really add much value to our lives. Sure there are educational programs and the like, but without it, we can probably be spending time *really* expanding our horizons. Want to invent a strawberry harvesting robot? Sitting in front of the tube isn’t getting you any closer.


Engineer July 18, 2007 at 5:31 am

In my case, I’m about 15 miles from most of the transmitting towers. With analog TV, I get ghosts even with an antenna in my attic.

With digital TV, I get a reliable signal from the attic antenna, and the picture is crisp and clear. With rabbit ears, I get drop-outs. YMMV, depending on your distance from the transmitting tower, stuff that’s between you and the tower, and stuff that’s around you generating ghosts.

Beth felt that the anti-spam box was fixed. Seems about the same to me. In Firefox, there’s a pale green background. The other boxes, such as for my name, have a visible gray border. The anti-spam box where I’m to type in the anti-spam word does not have one, rather its background is white, but the contrast between it and the pale green background is low.


tehnyit July 18, 2007 at 10:20 am

I must say that I kicked my tv habit when I met my wife about 7 years ago. Before she came into my life, I was watching about 4-5 hours of tv every day, or it is just switched on and playing in the background. I realised that the TV was like a substitute for having someone else in the house. I was living by myself at the time. Now I would only watch the news, and maybe the odd football game.

This is not the same situation as you are in, but the idea of loading yourself up with tasks that you enjoy doing is usually a good way of getting away from the TV habit. In my situation, I found that spending the time with my family was certainly a much better way of spending my time.

Good luck!


TheHappyRock July 18, 2007 at 11:56 am

@Engineer – I didn’t have the best of luck with an antenna even though I am located only miles from the main broadcasting stations. As for the comment image, I think I did my best to fix it, and I can’t replicate the problem. I will look into changing, as I do a site upgrade soon. Hopefully it isn’t too much of a bother.

@tehnyit – I think loading myself with tasks is what really made me realize I should cancel cable. It has been distracting me and the family from better avenues of fun and productivity.


beth July 18, 2007 at 1:15 pm

@Engineer – what version of firefox are you using? I’m still on and am getting nagged daily to upgrade to the latest. Maybe that’s not such a good idea!


Tom March 19, 2009 at 7:40 am

Happy Rock,

I got a chuckle from reading this article. I have been through this many times.

Here is what I did that was successful (in the shorterm), but it is drastic.

I took the TV out of the main room and put it in the closet. This was a big deal as it is a big TV. My goal was not only to eventually cancel cable but to stop watching TV.

I lasted for 3 weeks and then a big sporting match was coming on that I JUST HAD TO SEE! I hadn’t yet canceled the cable…it was still active.

So, I set it all back up.

My experiment lasted 3 weeks and I realized how much time is available when TV is not.

Now, like you, I’m back to my LOST addiction and many other shows.

But I will do this again in the near future as I really found a different kind of life without TV.


KilltheCableBill June 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I think you are like many. Making the leap is a bit intimidating. But once you do you will never look back. The formula i suggest is: Hulu + Netflix + Video Streamer + Indoor Antenna = Big $avings

To get specifics on exactly what to do check out the post at: http://www.killthecablebill.com/how-to-cancel-cable/


KilltheCableBill June 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

@Double Eagle I think Canceling Cable definitely helps with productivity. Once you lose instant access to hundreds of channels, you find yourself only watching those shows that you really enjoy – via hulu or netflix… For me this has definitely been the case. I canceled cable to save money but quickly found that i was saving time as well.


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