Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

Welcome to Frugal Friday! This is our fourth installment in conjunction with Money Saving Mom and Simply Rebekah where we talk about ways we save money in our households. Last week, Maddie shared her recipe for baked pumpkin doughnuts. Read all the other posts in our Frugal Friday series here.This week, we’re talking about television and entertainment.

Cutting Our Satellite Television

Our first baby was 3 or 4 months old when my husband and I decided to cut our satellite television service. I was a new stay-at-home mom and we were treading water financially. We had enough to pay for our needs, but we were not able to consistently add to our savings. We might add a small amount to savings one month, but we’d have to dip into those funds the following month.

We  scrimped in the usual ways. We didn’t eat out. I didn’t buy new clothes for myself unless they were absolutely necessary, and I bought all of our daughter’s clothes secondhand. We held off on replacing our older sedans. Yet, we were hoping to find something that would really make a difference in our finances, something that would save hundreds of dollars.

My husband, Josh, and I clearly remember the day we decided to cut our satellite television service. It was a mild spring afternoon, and we were enjoying a walk around the neighborhood with our infant daughter strapped in the stroller. Our walks have always been nice couple time, and we like to talk about all sorts of things.

The conversation came around to television. We realized how little we really watched. I liked the home and garden channel. It had gotten me through the early weeks and months of motherhood, when I sat exhausted in the recliner with a hungry baby latched to my body. Josh liked to watch the occasional football or baseball game. But was it worth $50 a month for what we watched? The next day, Josh called and cancelled our satellite service. Our decision saved us $600 a year. Many families pay much more than that, so the potential savings is high.

Soon after cancelling satellite, I spotted an antenna still in its box for $5 at a garage sale and pointed it out to Josh. He’d researched antennas and returned several to the store because they didn’t work well for us. He said my garage sale find was well reviewed online. He also mentioned it retailed for $70. He plucked it up.

It’s a funny-looking antenna. Some people remark that it looks like a sideways Christmas tree. Other visitors think it’s a piece of modern art. It works well. It helps that we live in a metropolitan area where we are close to a number of stations. We get good reception and have a decent array of channels, and it’s all broadcast in high-definition, so it looks good. We get ABC, NBC, and CBS. We get local and national news, many popular prime time shows, and some sports coverage. We also get some classic channels that air reruns like I Love Lucy, MASH, and Gilligan’s Island. PBS gets the most air time in our house, with two channels dedicated to children’s programming like Sesame Street, Curious George, and Cat in the Hat. No sassy-mouthed Disney channel characters in our house. PBS also has two other channels that air a steady stream of cooking, gardening, and travel shows that sort of make up for losing HGTV.

We’ve considered subscribing to Netflix or Hulu to expand our television choices. We would still pay less than we would for cable or satellite. We tried a free month-long Netflix trial this past summer, but we rarely used it. We occasionally use Redbox, and we check out a lot of movies from the library. Another advantage to our metropolitan area is a large library with almost any movie we want available through an online request system. It sometimes takes a little planning to get the movies we want from the library, but Josh and I are patient people. The biggest challenge for many families considering giving up cable is live sports. We can watch most football games and many baseball games via our antenna. There are other options like mlb.com, but cable and satellite providers really do have a corner on the market.

It’s been more than five years since we cancelled our satellite service. While we are plugged in to technology in other ways – mainly through our laptops – I do like that television is one less distraction in our house. It’s rarely left on to create the “background noise” that some people enjoy. With the tv off, we can pursue other worthwhile past times like reading, writing, playing with our children, and spending time with family. You can’t put a price on those things.

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Category: Family Finances

Tags: cable