Cut the Cord on Cable and Streaming Services
In the fast-paced world of entertainment, where streaming services have become the norm, the decision to cut the cord and bid farewell to traditional cable TV has become a common topic of discussion. But what about all those streaming services? The three-month free trial ends and suddenly you are paying $70/month to watch curling matches in some obscure Canadian village. You have a service for watching Marvel movies, one for sports, another for Ted Lasso…before you know it you are spending $3,600 a year on television!
The escalating costs of streaming services has happened with inattentional blindness. With popular platforms like Disney+, Netflix, HBO, and Prime Video continuously raising their subscription fees, you may find yourself questioning the value of your entertainment expenses (or what those expenses amount to over the course of a month or a year).
Subscription Streaming Services Overload
Let’s start with a simple question: How many services do you subscribe to? Not sure? You’re not alone! Many people experience difficulty keeping track of multiple subscriptions. As the number of available services grows, managing various accounts and remembering which shows or channels each one offers becomes increasingly overwhelming.
To begin, go through your monthly account statements (credit cards, debit, etc.) and get a running list of all services you subscribe to and the cost of these services. If you use a budgeting platform such as Mint, check your “Entertainment” budget to see a list of your subscriptions.
Once you have a handle on all your subscriptions, cancel them. You read that correctly. Go on a digital detox, live without streaming services for a while…a few days, a week, a month. Gradually reintroduce only the essential ones back into your life. There is no time like the present to reassess your entertainment needs and prioritize quality content over quantity.
If cutting the cord completely is anxiety producing, use the following tips to pare down your subscription expenses:
- Evaluate your viewing habits: Identify the top shows or channels you regularly watch and find cost-effective ways to access them.
- Leverage family and friends: Explore sharing subscriptions with family and friends to optimize costs without compromising access to desired content.
- Stay vigilant with promotions: Be cautious about promotional deals and set reminders to cancel or renegotiate subscriptions before prices increase.
- Consider streaming platforms with bundled services: Explore platforms like YouTube TV, which offer bundled services, providing access to various channels at a more affordable rate.
In the ever-expanding universe of streaming services, the decision to cut the cord is a personal one, dependent on individual viewing habits, budget constraints, and preferences. Be mindful of subscription costs, staying vigilant with expenses, and explore creative solutions to strike a balance between entertainment indulgence and financial prudence.
I shouldn't be cutting the cord is what you're telling me?Mike:
Well, are you in the hospital or at home? Which cord are we talking about?Matt:
Hey, it's financial life planning with Mike Morton and Matt Robison. We're available wherever you get your podcasts, especially in the financial life planning podcast feed. And also with the beyond politics podcast feed. We throw those over there because some of the biggest corporations in America has sponsored that podcast and that’s pretty awesome. No, I it's I love oh, my gosh, no, I have I have the National Geographic magazine I have it on my bookshelf I'm pointing in its general direction right now for video viewers. And I have the one from 1969, July 1969 right after we landed on the moon, and the pictures of the moon landing and the reporting the stories are amazing. It's incredible. But that's not what I enjoy most. I love looking at the ads. I love looking at like Panasonic and it's very old fashioned record player. And then the tagline, just slightly ahead of its time. I love the ads it’s the same thing on my podcast. I just I really enjoy listening to ads now. We're off topic. Hey, speaking of Well, wait,Mike:
Hold on. I did want to point out you said we have video. We're in video and yeah, you can find us on like YouTube and stuff. It's awesome. So check out videos. You can see what we look like and where we’re pointing.Matt:
Right? Like I hear that videos are like the next big thing in consumer and retail entertainment.Mike:
They might be.Matt:
Oh my god my dad was such a fan of the Lone Ranger radio show and he really his whole life he swore it's you know what TV doesn't even come close. That's why we're so great in podcasts, right? Because you can paint such a rich visual image, speaking of visual images and getting into video. Apparently I'm paying way too much for all of the visual images that I waste my desk looking at. Let's do it. Let's do it man. You're going to tackle the big question. Everyone else in the world seems to have already decided to cut the cord. Should I cut the cord?Mike:
Yes, in fact, Matt this is going to be the quickest episode ever. Matt just get rid of all your subscriptions and we'll record a podcast episode next month.Matt:
No, that will not happen we will not record a podcast episode next month because the very first thing that will happen is that my children will be like it'll be anarchy what was the scene at the end of animal house it's like Kevin Bacon all is well, imagine be getting run over by a truck piloted by my kids because they're like, where's my Netflix.Mike:
It can be like Lord of the Flies just like careening around the house throwing conches at you.Matt:
That would be the best version of what they could be throwing at me. So tell me seriously. I mean, do you have a lot of people, we just finished recording an episode about your budget and one sneaky place where people just bleed. What's that Natalie merchant song? Like pennies dollars the hole in my pocket keeps getting larger. It's like just just flowing right out.Mike:
Yeah, so this game of mount. So Matt, you brought it up a few episodes ago, which I love. So I thought we'd really talk about it and dig into your great life over there with the kids watching all their subscriptions. But also this is in a Wall Street Journal article. So we'll get to the article and I really liked what they had to say. But it really brought it to my attention again, which we all know, that these costs are going up. I've had you've had this you had this.Matt:
Are you gaslighting me? You’re providing the link to the Wall Street Journal which requires a subscription, another subscription that I don't want to afford.Mike:
Hold on a second it should be I think I got like a free permalink thingy try it again. Anyway, we'll try to link to it often it is behind paywalls but don't use gaslighting with me, my kids use gaslight all the time and 98% of the time I have to say you are not using that correctly. Stop using that word you are not using it.
I might have actually seen the original 1930s movie gaslight from which the term is derived. I might have been able to see it in the theaters. Okay, so this comes up all the time like this is a stress point?Mike:
You have to go see in the theaters because you've cut the cord and you can’t be streaming at home anymore. So obviously Matt, subscriptions prices have gone up and up. In fact I just got like Disney didn't it just go up three months ago and then I got another notification of it going up again. You know Disney's gone up.Matt:
That Deathstar is not going to build itself.Mike:
Netflix has gone up. Prime Video, you know when you buy prime so you get that two day shipping, right? So I pay, I don't know 140 bucks a year so everything can arrive immediately on my doorstep. Which, by the way, I totally love, don't get me wrong, this is like best 140 bucks I spent.Matt:
When things arrive the same day, same day, I'm really afraid that my house is bugged.Mike:
And it's and I don't even live in like the city. And I was like, they're not bringing that to my little country home. Oh, yeah, same day, baby, let's go. But even there, I just read that they're going to be adding on, you get the prime, but if you want Prime Video with no ads, it's still going to be another like three bucks on top of that three bucks a month. I'm like, man, everything is just going up and up. So I used to, and probably still do, like you Matt, subscribe to 4, 5, 8 different services. But I think that cost is now really going up. I think it's 60-70-80 bucks a month for all these different things. So I'm in the same boat as you that we need to really take a look at the monthly subscriptions and figure out what to do about it.Matt:
So when you say cut the cord, you're going more extreme than that you're seeing cut everything.Mike:
So there's a couple of different ways to go about this. So how do you do it? So you know, cause they're getting out of hand. Alright, so what are we gonna do about it? You can take different approaches, right? One approach, I love this idea, just cut everything. Just cut everything, all the services, I mean, maybe keep your internet so you can get email and stuff, but cut all the streaming services, and then live with that for a week. And then add back in the things that you were really missing. How would that work for you and your family over there Matt?Matt:
You know, what's really horrifying. And I'm ashamed to admit this. But I find solace in imagining that many of our listeners and viewers are going to resonate with this. I'm not sure I know all the subscriptions that I have. And I think in order to really just get them all out what I've got to do is I've got to cancel my credit card.Mike:
I mean, take it a step further. There you go!Matt:
I might need to go into the witness protection program because I think that this is true of a lot of people, please let this be true of a lot of people. I know the major things that we're subscribed to like on the video side, I know that we're subscribed to Netflix, I know that we've got Apple plus. And I know we've got prime and I know we've got Disney. So I know about those four, I just added Paramount plus I went the wrong direction. That's because I got to… this is how they get you. There's a deal, I got it for 30 bucks, I got a year and I watch a lot of soccer. And now I can watch my favorite American players who are all playing in Serie A in Italy, which is now on Paramount plus, okay, I've got that now. But the problem is that in a year, there's no way I'm going to remember to cancel it.Mike:
Yeah, here's a tip I will give you and I've done this too, everybody's done this, please like you get the thing in your inbox, Hey only five bucks a month for the first you know, three months, and then it goes to $300 a month, put a reminder, so you sign up for that thing, I immediately put a reminder in my calendar for when that price is going up. So as soon as you click OK, I'm going to sign up for the service, this promo deal that's going to last a month or three months or a year, whatever it is, I immediately put a reminder in my calendar for right before that thing is going to take… and I just did this, I had a subscription I think it's very year, I just thought, oh, I signed up for Consumer Reports because I mentioned before I'm in the car buying business, I'm going to need a new car. So I got a consumer reports it was 40 bucks, 40 bucks, it's good deal to find the right car and all the research and stuff like that, but it’s for one year, so I immediately went on my calendar and a year from now, put in a little reminder, ‘cancel Consumer Reports’. Are you ready to create your ideal lifestyle? Let's discover what's most important to you and design a plan to have more of that in your life. Go to meet Mike morton.com. All one word, meet Mike morton.com.Matt:
I did that exact thing, once upon a time, I just don't stick to the best practice of putting in those reminders and am not consistent about it. And there are also ones where I sign up and I have every intention of not canceling, and then things change. And then there's things that I use for business purposes. When I make videos on YouTube, not as part of this channel. Sometimes I like to include music for which I have bought the royalties, and so I signed up for a service that's 15 bucks a month, I signed up for an E-commerce or as these are business expenses. And then there are things that you know, I just it's like very Donald Rumsfeld. It's like unknown unknowns. And to really do an audit of this and this is on my to do list. The question I'm trying to determine and I think what I was sort of teasing at the top was the big question for most people, is do you cancel your cable TV. That's usually the cord cutting people want to accomplish most. And the big question there is okay, what is it that… what are the use cases? What am I getting out of still having this? And can I replace those functions with streaming services or other services? And what's the differential cost? And in order to figure that out, what I literally have to do, and I have not come up with the time to do this is I got to go into my bills, I got to make sure that I know absolutely, for sure everything that I've got. And then I've got to make sure that I can compare it to what I'm getting from cable.Mike:
You're taking the wrong approach. Alright, first of all, I have another quick tip, because you've mentioned around the business expenses, like some things that you enjoy. So for business owners, but even in your personal, once a year it's a good idea to just look at those recurring costs. So especially from a business like a lot of businesses, myself included as a small business, I subscribe to a lot of technology, right? Something new comes along, I want to try it out, I want to incorporate it. So once a year, just review again, subscriptions in your business. Hey, are you still using that thing you signed up for and to scrub out the bottom 20% or whatever that you're no longer using. So there's another one like, especially for small business owners, look at your technology that you're no longer using as part of your workflows and stuff like that. Alright, so let's talk about the cord cutting. Here we go. Name the top three things that you use your TV subscription for that you watch on TV, three things you watch on TV.Matt:
The number one thing is the Boston CelticsMike:
Alright, Celtics. So okay.Matt:
I watch Survivor with my daughter, although I can now replace that with Paramount plus. So.Mike:
So it’s the Celtics that’s it? Go ahead, give me number three.Matt:
Well, am I including just me? Or is my wife in this because she watches…Mike:
Well obviously the more important member needs to be a part of this Matt.Matt:
Well, I would say by volume of viewing, it's watching Boston Red Sox games. And I mean, there's literally somehow I don't understand the physics of this. But the length of an individual baseball game is actually longer than the number of hours in a day.Mike:
How does that work? I know, it's bizarre. I don't know how they do that.Matt:
I think all baseball games are going on all at once, all at the same time. It's like a multiverse thing. And they're all boring.Mike:
Yeah, that's right. So you can watch all of them in three minutes. So look, Matt, this is really easy, then cancel, here's what you gotta do. Cancel your TV subscription. Let me tell you, I got a story on this one. My parents, parent generation, they watch more TV, lots of sports, actually. Tons of sports now it's they never watched when I was growing up. But now that they're like retired, they have more time they just record and watch sports all the time so they watch lots of sports. They're watching a lot of TV and they just they have internet and cable TV from the local cable company. And it started, you know how it starts? Oh, it's yeah, your internet and cable TV for 80 bucks a month, right? Oh, yeah, for the first year. And then it's $95. Then it's $110. Recently, it was like over $150. And I think the cable TV itself was over $120 or something. I was like 120 bucks a month just for like TV. Get rid of this thing. So your first choice, we get rid of the we got rid of the TV. And we subscribe to YouTube TV. That was our choice where you get most everything on YouTube TV, you get your DVR included, blah, blah, blah. So you can get all the regular stuff that they were watching. And it's like half the price. So there's option number one, look at your cable bill and if it's like over $100 a month, just for cable TV a streaming TV replacement is going to be way less. So that's step one. Step two for your case, Matt, is if there are just certain things that you really enjoy watching. Find other ways that they're on there, and it's going to be even less, you could subscribe to that, see, if you love baseball, you could subscribe to the baseball, if you love basketball, you can subscribe to just basketball. If you love New England sports, you can subscribe just to those channels. So I recommend first of all cutting the whole thing because not only are you going to save money, but you're going to save so much time you're going to turn out like I guess I'm not going to sit down and watch that thing because I can't really watch it. What am I gonna do instead? You could hang out, play a game, you could stream something else.Matt:
I might have to like entertain my children.Mike:
There’s these little people running around, who are these people?Matt:
Yes, yeah. How else done my children into silence without the streaming service Okay, that's a great idea. No, I do think that's a good tip about YouTube. I keep seeing ads for YouTube TV disclaimer, we're not sponsored by YouTube TV, although I would invite them. So you're saying that actually works. I mean, that's…Mike:
YouTube TV is really good. Yeah, I really like it. I know there's other replacements out there too. But that one has been good for us.Matt:
I know that that's a great tip. And I actually I believe it or not, I'm wide open to where we started this idea of just try going cold turkey on everything and then re-add. The only thing that's an issue and this goes back to something we were saying in our last episode is that everything is a pain in the ass. By design. It's like the old Seinfeld routine about how hard they make it to quit the gym. They try to psychologically make it as painful and degrading as possible. It's like you're gonna quit the gym and it's are you sure fat ass and you're like I’m pretty sure.Mike:
They parade you around like this guy's quitting on himself.Matt:
We just need a quick selfie from you and put on our wall of fat shame.Mike:
It reminds me back. This is, for anyone under the age of 30 this is going to be like a blast from a world that they'd never knew. There used to be this thing called video stores. Okay, and you would actually have to go like a cave man in your car, or walking through your neighborhood to go to a video store. And when I was in grad school, I live for a summer house full of poor students. And we went to rent a movie together. And there was a late fee on the last movie we had rented and the intrepid clerk behind the counter in the loudest voice imaginable announces. You've got a $3 Late Fee for Bring It On. That's the cheerleading movie. All my friends had the sense to duck down real low but I'm standing there looking like a pervy, twerp. Like, yeah, I rented Bring It On by myself. I'm a 23 year old man, this makes sense. Anyway…Mike:
That could have been a lot worse Matt.Matt:
Honestly, with my like, sad viewing habits not really. We're asking what I watch like I literally watch nature documentaries, like it’s sad stuff. I'm pretty sure PBS as a free app for that.Mike:
I'm pretty sure they do.Matt:
What about what about these ad supported things? Are they like, even more of a pain in the ass? Or is that a switch, Disney’s doing that?Mike:
I'm just gonna say that doesn't appeal to me personally whatsoever. Like, the whole reason that I love streaming services is there's no ads. That's what I love about it. I would rather have half the streaming services because like you mentioned, we have Netflix, Disney. I think we have HBO, we've got Prime Video, probably have a couple more in there. I'd rather have half of them but no ads. I'm not like ad supported what's the point of this. And I'll also say it is funny the like getting rid of stuff. This cracks me up in the Wall Street Journal article. They even had to put in how to cancel or pause each of the services. So for like Disney, Netflix, HBO, what the menus were so that you could cancel your subscription because it's not just on your account page, hit the cancel button. It’s buried four menus deep and five minutes later.Matt:
Alright, listen, here's what you got to do. Because no, this is not in fact available as a link, get email me the PDF of that article.Mike:
I can only take your advice if I can actually read the article.Mike:
Alright. Couple other things. Just look at the numbers so now we're back to the streaming services. And you know, I tried this cutting stuff out, and then my kids immediately, five minutes later, knock on my door, hey, I can’t watch this thing, literally like just in the middle of. So be careful what you cancel. But if you're we all know this multiple streaming services, you're kind of watching one at a time like you get hooked on a show. So sign up, it is easy, and it is annoying we said to cancel or pause. But it's also a few clicks you don't have to like, Matt, stay on the line for an hour and a half on hold. It's a couple of clicks to pause or cancel for a month or to wait for your favorite show to come out. We did that with like HBO Game of Thrones. I was like oh, wait for the next season to come out and then re-subscribe and watch all of it. So you could do that kind of thing. And then look out for bundling opportunities. Of course you can try to bundle stuff and save that way. But those are all little tweaks to me, the big thing is really get back some of your time. Cancel some of this stuff, live without it for a little while tell the kids to buck up and get outside.Matt:
My absolute favorite Saturday Night Live skit of all time is Kenan Thompson's impersonation of Big Papi. And his big thing is he has a new dating website. It's called go outside. And he says if you want to meet some people, go outside. There's a lot of people. Another fun trick that this isn't a trick like everyone knows about this, but I just implemented it is I told you I signed up for Paramount plus, and I Oh, wait, no, I should have friends of mine, because I still want paramount to go ahead and sponsor, a friend of mine signed up for Paramount plus. And then this friend, let's call him Rat Mobizon contacted his nephew and said, I've got a sign in credential for this service, you've got to sign in credential for this other service that I really like, let's swap and I know a lot of these streaming platforms are cracking down on password sharing. But for the time being, since they're allowing a limited amount of it. They're allowing it I don't see a problem with it. And I think that it's like pods during the pandemic except less depressing.Mike:
In fact, that's one of the reasons I like YouTube TV, Matt, I told you the story of my parents canceling their cable TV membership and getting YouTube TV, YouTube TV supports, I think five family members sharing one subscription. So now I have I didn't have cable TV before. But now I have YouTube TV along with my parents and up to five family members.Matt:
If you haven't filled all your slots…Mike:
I’m not sure you’re a part of my family.Matt:
Let's talk maybe we could swap. Can I interest you in my friend Rat’s Paramount plus subscription. Alright.Mike:
You know there's just too much, you know the problem. There's too much stuff on TV, all these services. There's like so much content man.Matt:
Did you know that last year there were 600 scripted shows available in the US. 600 scripted shows.Mike:
I don't think I've watched very many maybe watched 1% of them.Matt:
I'd say that we're in about the same boat. I've got a plug for a show for people who want to sign up for Apple TV for all mankind, reimagines the last 50 some odd years of history. If the Russians had beaten us to the first moon landing.Mike:
It’s good? I keep I keep seeing it.Matt:
It's great, they're so subtle, and deft about the small changes. It's a very logical progression that they lay out of how things might have gone. And some things are very much the same and some things begin to kind of, there's a waterfall effect, and they begin to become very, very different. And it's really compelling. It's really interesting stuff. Good stuff. Also a lot of real history in there for history and space buffs, things I didn't know like, did you know that John Glenn was actually responsible for eliminating female astronauts from the Mercury program? We were like this close to having, you know, female astronauts.Mike:
And did they have ads for record players in?Matt:
They were, in fact, just slightly. Well, that's one of the amazing things you start to see like how technology moves much faster, because everything that we put into other endeavors we put into the space race, and it's, it's just it's good stuff, really. Alright. Well, we are as always, just slightly ahead of our time here on this show. I will try to take your take your advice here. And of course, I don't want any of our listeners contacting Mike for that YouTube TV slot I wanted first. Alright, for Mike. I'm Matt. See you next time.Mike:
Thanks, Matt. Thanks for joining us on financial planning for entrepreneurs. If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to and rate the podcast on Apple, iTunes, Google Play Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can connect with me at LinkedIn for Morton financial advice.com. I'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or question, please email me at financial planning . Until next time, thanks for tuning in. This recording is for informational purposes only and should not be considered for investment advice or opinions expressed as our of the date of recording. Such opinions are subject to change. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the data presented here.