How I Survived Canceling Cable (With Roku’s Help)

A couple weeks back, Wifey decided to admit that she was allowing herself to be distracted by watching too much television. The culprit, she stated, was that with the cable service we had subscribed to, it was nearly impossible to turn the TV off.

She has been a TV-holic since I’ve known her, though it was never something she would readily admit – not that I blame her, no one likes to admit they are obsessed or addicted to anything (at least not when it is being discussed in a negative light).

When she decided to try not turning the TV on for a full week, I was excited, though not convinced, that this would be a life-changing event, for all of us. The first few days were an obvious challenge, and not just for Wifey; Caden was struggling a bit with the transition, too. Of course, his struggle might have had something to do with the fact that he was also grounded from his new Xbox 360 on the same week.

Benefits of Not Watching TV

As we quickly learned, not constantly turning the TV on has many side effects (most of them positive).

As we didn’t have the TV on to distract us, the time we normally spent watching meaningless shows was reallocated to reading books. As Wifey just recently enrolled with Integrative Nutrition, this focus shift to reading and studying will make the transition to an education environment that much easier to manage.

I’ve also noticed a significant shift in Wifey’s mindset and attitude as well. She doesn’t seem to be nearly as irritable as she used to be after a day with the TV on constantly. It probably has to do with the fact that she has noticed a difference in her sleeping ability as well. She used to not feel well-rested when she woke up in the mornings, even if she slept for 9 or more hours. Now, even with 8 or fewer hours of sleep, she feels well-rested; she has concluded that this is because she no longer has the TV on when she is falling asleep or while she is sleeping.

Caden reads more, and was more motivated to start and establish his new blog, something he started talking about loosely months ago. Now he is excited to begin writing about the sports world. We are also encouraging him to write about his actions that he takes to move closer to his dream of becoming a professional football player. Since he is only 10, the stories that he shares by the time he achieves his dream will be many.

I have been less distracted with the TV off as well. Though I seldom intentionally turned the TV on to watch something, I found that it was very easy to be distracted by the shows that Wifey or the kiddos would be watching. I don’t like The Real Housewives, but for some reason, when it was on, I couldn’t help but stop and watch it for 15-20 minutes when I took a break from writing or working to get a drink (I have to pass through the living room on my way to the kitchen from my office and vice versa).

We all seem to be more focused, have better attitudes, and are in general better off than we seemed to be before we stopped watching TV. It was this realization that lead us to the discussion about whether or not we should even have cable at all.

Canceling Cable

When we were able to survive a week without the TV being on, we began to wonder whether we should even have cable. We knew we were happier, more positive, more productive, and more focused without the TV on. So it made logical sense to us that if we simply cancelled cable, the temptation would be gone altogether.

We pay for high-speed Internet services that make watching Netflix movies, Hulu TV (aff link) shows, and listening to Pandora Radio an enjoyable experience. With these as a way to watch things on an as-needed basis, we came to the conclusion that paying for cable TV services simply didn’t make sense.

It was quite liberating to call the cable company and determine that we would be cutting our bill in half by canceling the television services. Afterwards, Wifey and I began to discuss how we would watch the few shows that we wanted to keep up with. Initially, as I had done this previously, we discussed setting up a computer in the living room and using a wireless keyboard. After determining that a computer sitting on top of our new modern entertainment shelf (it’s a floating shelf that I built) would ruin the look we were going for with the new shelf, we opted to do some quick research for a device that would be a better solution. After remembering a friend’s experience with Roku, we decided to look at the device a bit.

Buying the Roku

After figuring out that we could get a Roku (aff link) for much less than I remember it costing in the past (I think I was just remembering wrong) we made a fairly quick decision to go ahead and get one. Since we are saving $60 per month on cable services, the cost of a Roku at $80 (we got the XD) is more than paid for after 2 months. We already pay for Netflix ($8/month) and Pandora ($36/year). We hadn’t splurged on Hulu Plus ($8/month) just yet, but we will be now. So the total cost of premium services, at this point will be $19/month, still saving us $41/month or $492/year.

We’ll get the Roku in a few days, but I’m certain we’ll enjoy the experience of owning one. With the Roku, we’ll be able to watch the shows we like to watch without having to remember to record them. The few negative reviews I’ve found seemed to be user-driven issues, or just bad luck. No product can be perfect, so for something to have so many positive reviews, and only a few negative ones, the odds are in our favor. I’ll report back after using it for a few months.