Freedom…From The Cable Bill

By Eric Eggercord-cutting

One of my first adventures in “libertarian parenting” has been to evaluate the household budget and look for savings that could be used to pay for child care expenses. As a universal truth about babies: they ain’t cheap.

From diapers to car carriers to day care, the expenses pile up. As I looked over my monthly budget, one item has stuck out for some time now as not adding much value for the price paid.

It’s the cable bill.

The cable provider collects nearly $110 per month for content, equipment, and of course, taxes. And what do I get in return? I can watch a show from hundreds of programming choices – and record up to 4 others to watch later.

Sport events? I don’t really care – yet fees for channels like the battery of ESPNs has historically accounted for nearly 20 percent of cable bills. Meaning I’m paying the bill for others to get their fill of live event coverage and in-depth talking heads offering their opinions about why Player X is having, about to have, or had, a good, bad, or mediocre game/day/week/season/whatever.

I noticed my leisure time, spent with my wife and newborn, consist of watching movies or shows on Netflix. Despite all the programming content that the cable provider offers, I sadly live an analog reality of only being able to upload one show at a time into my visual cortex.

I also noticed cable usually provides a backdrop of familiar – and admittedly at times comforting – noise while other things are going on. We dutifully watched evening news programs while surfing the ‘Net or cleared out the DVR storage from time to time by watching current and past re-runs of Big Bang Theory, Pawn Stars, and Hell’s Kitchen.

But is that worth $1,320 per year? The answer for me was a decided, and firm, “No!”

So I joined the ranks of an elite and shadowy syndicate known as “The Cord Cutters.” (Not to be confused with The Stone Cutters.)

A Cord Cutter is someone who is comfortable with using the Internet as the primary, and sole, means of providing media entertainment. They—not quite literally—“cut” the cable cord to their home. The actual “cutting” going on refers more to the cable service (and monthly bill) rather than taking an actual pair of scissors or wire cutters (not recommended) to your home’s wiring diagrams.

The Mechanics…

All you need is a broadband Internet connection. Likely, you’ve already got one of those.

Next, you’ll need some content providers. I was already paying for two before I joined the Cord Cutters “guild.” So in reality, my starting point was my monthly cable bill, plus my existing content providers. At the moment, I’m using two: Netflix and Amazon Prime. But there are plenty of others. I might consider adding Hulu if I start missing my broadcast shows enough. And HBO Now gives me my Game of Thrones fix.

We’ll pretend that we didn’t have Netflix or Amazon though, since it’s easy to finance your new content acquisition from the cable bill savings.

Here is the fiscal tally:

Monthly Expenses:

Cable Cancellation (-$110/month)
Netflix ($7.99/month for the Basic plan)
Amazon Prime ($99/year; $8.25/month)

Cable Savings = $110.00/month

Expenses = $16.24/month

Let’s go as far as to add Hulu and HBO Now: $7.99/month, 14.99/month)

Monthly Expenses = $39.22

Monthly Net Savings = $70.78

Next, unless you want to attach a laptop to each of your TV screens, it’d be helpful to obtain some hardware. I went with Amazon FireTV. The voice enabled remote edition is $50. This is a one-time cost for each TV you want to include. No monthly equipment fees or taxes.

So if the average home has 3 TVs, budget $150 in equipment costs. This is a one-time, non-recurring expense, as long as the Amazon hardware doesn’t break.

One-time equipment costs: $150.00

By your third month you’ll be generating positive cash flow to your cord cutting project. ($150.00/$70.78)

And I’ll be saving about $850 per year that I can use to pay for day care and buy the odd season DVDs or movie that I might not be able to get from my cord cutting strategy.

Breaking the Shackles…of the Mind

Within a few days of cutting the cord, I noticed something that may be even more remarkable than booking the monthly savings from cancelling an un-necessary bill. My TV watching habits became deliberate choices instead of sharing similarity with a Pavlovian-trained hamster, racing away in my little wheel.

I wanted to watch House of Cards or Breaking Bad. So I watched an episode or two and then moved on to the next task on my daily agenda. I didn’t simply turn on the TV and “vege” out to the soothing background din of a couple hundred channels of content that I still can only watch one at a time. I actively chose how to fill my time.

Not only did cutting the cord free my wallet from the cable overlords, but it also freed my mind from feeling the need to mind meld with my TV on a daily basis. And what price can you put on that kind of freedom?

About the Author:

ERIC EGGER is an editor and founder of Freedom Forge Press.

PHOTO CREDIT:

Cord-cutting is reshaping the cable industry” by openmedia.org. Used with Creative Commons License

Writing Wednesday: Celebrating Writing

Power of WordsBy Val Muller

I was having a discussion with several soon-to-be-graduating high school seniors the other day. They were talking about how parents today are allowing the next generation to ruin themselves via technology. As an example, they cited a family who was eating at a very “happening” restaurant. Upon sitting at the table, the mother reached into her pocketbook and retrieved two tablets, which she promptly handed to each of her two children. The kids then automatically turned on a movie and a game and turned off their attention to their parents. What shocked my students about this display was that the parents didn’t even try to engage their children: technology was the preferred “babysitter.”

My students’ distress at this behavior gave me hope, and I was reminded again of eras in history in which sharing ideas allowed humanity to blossom and grow. As a writer and editor, I hope that the sharing of ideas never fades or pales to paltry video games or movies. I hope we always have the poets, the artists, the entrepreneurs who insist on creating something from nothing, who want to better humanity and leave their mark on the world.

As part of its mission, Freedom Forge Press is dedicated to preserving the written word as a medium for sharing ideas. We are currently open to submissions for novels.

At FFP, we hope to publish the best freedom-loving literature we can find. But we also like encouraging the written word as it applies to any theme. So we’d like to share some other writing opportunities we’ve compiled from around the web:

http://www.futurescapescontest.com/. Can you imagine the city of the future? Check out the website for this year’s contest. July 15 deadline.

http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics Chicken Soup for the Soul has built quite the franchise. The editors are frequently on the lookout for new essays, and deadlines vary.

http://www.writersofthefuture.com/enter-writer-contest/ The Writers of the Future contest got me writing when I was in high school. It’s an ongoing opportunity to compete with the best amateur writers of speculative fiction. Quarterly deadlines and prizes.

http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/young-authors-guide and http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2015/03/26/publication-opportunities-for-young-writers/. These blog posts offer a collection of international writing opportunities for young writers. As always, be sure to read the details of each one before you consider whether to submit.

http://fundsforwriters.com/ This site often appears in the top 100 websites for writers. There are several newsletter options, including a free one, for writers to receive updates on markets and agents looking for talent.

In the past, we at FFP have called for a renewed Age of Enlightenment, a renewed Age of Reason in which we demand the most of our minds to make the world a better place. With everyone surrounded by technology, it’s easy to be distracted and pacified by minutiae. It seems a constant battle to fight against the pull of the screen’s warm glow. But let’s “not go silent into that good night.” Let’s write and read and discuss and think.

The world will be better for it.

About the Author:

VAL MULLER is an FFP editor, fiction writer and teacher living in Virginia.  You can keep track of her at www.valmuller.com.