Paying for Cable

Early Retirement Sin Confession: Forgive me Mustache, for I have sinned (and continue to sin).

I’m one of the seemingly few youngish people who pays for cable TV. What’s worse — I pay for extra services, including an upgraded channel lineup, cloud DVR, HD service, and two additional TV’s. This monthly black hole exists on top of Amazon Prime (which includes some  streaming options) and an on-again, off-again relationship with Netflix. For a prospective early retiree, this expenditure is absurd. The cable portion of my monthly bill represents nearly $33,000 that I need in the portfolio to support this expense post-retirement. Whaaaaat?!

How I Justify the Cable Expense to Myself

  1. Hours of entertainment. Between football, basketball, MMA, and a few select shows, I watch approximately 300 hours cable of TV per year. That comes out to about $4 / hour. If I was simply watching TV on my own, I’d consider this to be a high price to pay, but that brings me to point #2.
  2. Time with friends. Of my local cohort, I’m in the best position to be hosting game nights. Parts of my house are designed around having anywhere from just one friend to 20-30 people gathered around for good times and hopefully good games.
  3. Time with family. A few years ago, my wife capitulated on sports: if you can’t beat them, join them. She’s now a huge fan of basketball and will occasionally scout out other sports. Some of our best recent memories are centered around the mutual enjoyment of rooting for our favorite athletes.
  4. Alternative costs. If I didn’t have access to sports at home, I’d certainly spend a decent chunk of money catching big events at a bar. Paying for cable at home is an alternative to spending upwards of 3 hours gorging on expensive appetizers and drinks.

I’m going to continue to pay for TV service; why not get the best price?

My last bill went up by $20 on the cable side alone. I called up my provider and asked for a better deal, and the customer service rep said there was nothing she could do. I told her that I’d be leaving for another provider if there was no alternative plan available. And truthfully, I mean it. I have no problem switching around service companies in order to leverage competition and save a few bucks.

Eventually I spoke to a retention team member, and that rep was able to shave $15/mo off my bill for a year. A 20 minute phone call saved me $180 over the next 12 months, meaning I made $540 per hour for a brief 20 minute window. Not too bad.

Can I still write FI/RE articles?

By paying for premium cable services, I might be a counterculture iconoclast among the FI cohort. Feel free to use the comments to roast me, just don’t forward this to Mr. Money Mustache please. I don’t want no face punches!