Spending a Huge Amount on HBO and Cable Every Month Can Actually Save You Money

by Hank Coleman

I cannot even begin to count the number of blog articles and frugality stories than I have read lately that help you save a buck.  Let’s face it…frugality is a hot topic right now.  It is in vogue thanks to the struggling economy.  And, one of the top tips that everyone gives out to help you save a few dollars every month is to cut your cable bill.  It is a popular and easy way to trim your monthly budget anywhere between $30 and $100 depending on how drastic a lifestyle change you want to make.  But, I am here to tell you that dropping HBO and saving $30 a month has cost me hundreds of dollars!

Don't ditch your cable

The Reality Of Canceling Cable

Going with the crowd and canceling my HBO, Show Time, and Cinimax channels last month has cost me a bundle!  That can’t be right your saying to yourself.  I can hear all of you naysayers already.  Everyone recommends this approach.  Well, let me show you the math of this flawed idea.  When I moved into my new house, I signed up with a satellite dish service that gave me the premium movie channels for free for my first three months.  So, my high definition service, DVR, and movie channels cost me about $80 a month for those first three months.  After that, my freebees wore off, and my cable bill shot up to $110 a month.  So, I promptly dropped my extra movie channels to save that precious $30 a month.

Real Cost Of Dropping Cable

But, now that I have no movie channels other costs have skyrocketed in my monthly budget.  With no movies to watch, my wife and I go out to the movie theater at least twice a month.  And, we all know that movies are not cheap nowadays!  So, I spend about $40 a month on tickets for the two of us, $20 to $30 on popcorn and drinks each time we go see a movie, $30 a night in babysitting fees, and the real kicker…dinner or dessert on our way home form the movies for another $40.

So, adding it all up, cutting out the HBO and other movie channels adds about $280 in expenses every month to my budget that was not previously there when I had HBO to watch.  The number would be even worse if I had dropped my entire cable service altogether to save the entire $110.  So, for spending that $30 a month, I got about thirty different movie channels and hundreds of movies and shows a month.  That $30 is a small price to pay for unparallel choice in shows and movies, excitement, lack of boredom, the ability to record the programs, etc.

But that scenario would not happen to you, right?  You have discipline.  I just have weak willpower.  Right!

Other Examples

Conventional ways of saving money and living a frugal life briefs well, but many cost saving ideas do not pan out when human nature is introduced to the experiment.  For example, many people receive a tax refund check every year essentially giving the government an interest free loan.  So, many personal financial experts recommend changing your tax deductions, increasing your take home pay every month but you do not get a refund at the end of the year anymore with this strategy.  Instead, the amount of tax saved every year should then be placed in interest bearing investments.  But, how many of us really go through the hassle of doing that?  How many of us would just spend that extra money in our paychecks every month?  And, then what do we have to show for that effort in February when we should be getting our annual tax refund?  Nothing!

While frugality is a great idea to a certain degree, we must all be cognizant of the potential for other human forces to sabotage our efforts in saving money.

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Alan @ Saving For Serenity April 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

I think all financial advice – especially from us bloggers, has to be taken with a grain of salt. A lot of it is, “this is what works for me” advice, not necessary, “this is what will work for all people”. If you need to spend $30/month to save $280, then obviously that’s the better choice for you. For some people, they can cut out the movies and be content with the TV instead of watch a film on HBO or at the theater.

As for me, my fiancee gets free movies at the theater and we still don’t even go that often.

Ryan @ SpendOnLife April 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I love these kind of counter intuitive ideas. Netflix might be a cheaper option for you to have movies at home but only spend $15 a month or so.

My wife and I also find that certain times of the year we can do without extra movie channels easier than others. During football season we spend more time watching football and less time on movies. Also, in the spring we are less inclined to be inside watching movies and will end up spending more on outdoor activities whether we have premium cable or not. (A side benefit of canceling your channels is that providers often will give you free time when you sign back up.)

MLR April 24, 2009 at 1:24 am

I love seeing alternate financial advice!

Surely I would have never thought of this because I would not find myself at the movie theater. So in a sense I would get blinded by my own behaviors and never think to recommend that people lkeep HBO to save on going to the movies or renting flix.

Good point and further motivation to myself to try and put myself in others shoes more often!


SavingBUCKS April 27, 2009 at 10:51 pm

I cannot believe someone would drop some thing for $30 and be charged so much….as a consequence..have ou tried hulu? You can forget everything all together and watch the shows
cancel cable you will Save a bundle

How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days May 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be coming back to your posts.

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