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Cord-cutting will save you money but for many people, thatâs only part of the equation. Yes, you want to spend less on cable, but you want to do that without sacrificing too many shows you enjoy watching. So, before you rip the Band-Aid off, look at the facts, and find out exactly what cord-cutting would look like for you.
The cord-cutting decision is a big one. You need to weigh how much youâll save vs. how much youâll miss out on. What price do you put on being excluded from conversations about the latest shows and sports on cable? Are we talking about significant savings or significant pain here?
To start, letâs take a look at the numbers to figure out what youâre really paying per month for movies and TV shows.
What are you really paying for your viewing pleasure?
If your family is likeÂ 78% of U.S. households, you are spending an average monthly payment of $107 to subscribe to a pay-TV service (either traditional cable television, a satellite service, or a streaming option. Thatâs a number which has steadily inched up year after year.
When you have a family like mine, you may have also committed to several online streaming services. Itâs hard to say no when friends on social media gush about must-see programs likeÂ The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselÂ on Amazon Prime,Â The Great British Baking ShowÂ on Netflix, andÂ The Mandalorianâs baby Yoda on Disney+.
Together an average family entertainment package — cable plus streaming services — can add up to over $140 per month, and that doesnât include games.
How much are you spending?
And with so many cable options and a new âmust-haveâ streaming service popping up seemingly every day, itâs easy to zoom past the average, if youâre not paying attention. Even if you stick to âthe basics,â the amount you can spend can pile up fast.
Entertainment payments per month:
- Cable bill: $107. U.S. average (according to a 2018 study by Leichtman Research Group)
- Netflix for two H.D. streams: $12.99 (assuming youâre not borrowing a friendâs password!)
- Amazon Prime: $12.99 (or a bulk bargain at $119 per year)
- Hulu: $11.99
Pro tip: You can cut and paste this information into a spreadsheet to start your family budgetÂ for the new year.
Why not call and cancel cable right now?
Heck, you could save yourself $100 if you just cut the cord right now. But before you spend that money on last-minute holiday gifts, you should find out how much more your cable provider (which is generally also your internet provider) will charge you for broadband once you drop cable. Â Itâs generally at least $10 more a month without a bundle discount but, in some cases, the cost increase to get internet alone can be much higher, so, you have to weigh your actual savings.
Those fancy streaming subscriptions need a high-speed internet connection. Your cable/internet provider knows that and intends to make as much money off you as possible even if you cut the cord — this is especially true if you live in a market with only one provider (that also happens to be the cable company you just jilted).
I live in a rural area with broadband available only via Comcast. So, for us, itâs pay up or get ready to listen to the cows and the crickets. Our introductory rate was about $50 per month, not including setup and fees. Find out if you have a choice. Search for broadband and DSL providers in your zip code. The vast majority will offer service thatâs fast enough to stream on multiple devices but be careful to read the fine print as what speeds the company promises to deliver. You will need service thatâs 25 to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to stream video well.
Before you cut the cord, do your research! If thereâs competition in your area for internet service, try to negotiate a discount. It costs nothing to try, and you could save real money.
Pro tip: Some cable companies will offer you a âskinnyâ bundle with the major broadcast networks for just a few dollars more than getting internet alone. Ask before you fully cut the cord.
Prioritize your happiness
Cutting the cord almost certainly means losing access to some programming. That makes it a hard decision even when the savings will be significant. Itâs important to look at your personal and family viewing habits before you make any decisions.
If you watch a lot of network television and live sports, then keeping cable might make sense for you. Or, if you prefer the content on streaming services, then go in that direction.
Consumers have more choices when it comes to television than ever before. That can be daunting â itâs easy to buy more than you can consume.
The good news is that most streaming services donât penalize you for joining, watching what you want, and then leaving.Â Mix and match in order to find the right blend for you. That may mean leaving cable or opting for a smaller package.
Your options are plentiful and the choice is in your handsâ¦though youâll probably want to talk it through with all the other TV viewers in your home so you donât accidentally inflict significant pain for relatively insignificant savings.
–By Nic DeSmet
The post How Much Will Cutting the Cord Save You? appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Between the ages of 7 and 21, I visited the happiest places on Earth â Disneyland and Disney World â a total of five times. My first four times, my mom paid for my trips/tickets. For my fifth visit, I was actually paid (in per diem) to go to Disneyworld by my college to compete in a national choir championship. Yes, I know, thatâs what they call a #Humblebrag, but also, we won (unlike our football team). But enough about my short-lived, semi-pro singing career…
It wasnât until summer 2019 when my husband and I decided to incorporate Disneyland into our post-nuptial plans, that I actually paid my own way and realized the true price tag of experiencing Disney magic. While, in retrospect, we definitely overpaid, I obviously wouldnât trade the experience of getting to the parks before opening and leaving just before closing (a total of 14 hours) for anything. After really looking at the numbers, I realized we couldâve probably traveled to an all-inclusive tropical resort and spent the same amount â you live and you learn right?
But that doesnât mean I wonât go back to Disneyland or Disney World again. In fact, Iâm in the process of planning another trip. This time, however, Iâm wiser and have done my research and will be taking a more budget-friendly approach revolving around two effective (and fun!) hacks.
Here are two ways I hacked our budget to save on our seventh trip to the happiest place on Earth.
Disney Trip Hack #1: Start a Disney Jar (and set a budget)
Similar in concept to a swear jar but probably much more effective, a Disney jar can be a scary-fast way to save up for a trip no matter how large you want to live it up.
The rules of a Disney jar are simple:
- Anytime you see something Disney-related, you put a set amount of money in a jar or transfer it to a savings account.
- Donât take any money out of said jar or account until youâve hit the goal amount you need to take the Disney adventure of your dreams.
If youâre skeptical, consider how much Disney really has a presence in our day-to-day lives. Aside from their wide net of media brands including anything with the name Disney along with ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Lucas Films, Fox, ABC, you can also take the brand, Apple, for example. Itâs a bit tangled, to say the least, but Apple and Disney are very closely tied through their respective relationships with Pixar. To me, the lines are blurry enough that Iâd say itâs fair to add at least $1 to your Disney fund each day you use your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or other Apple products.
The amount you contribute to the jar depends on your target timeline, plans, and how much youâll need to save. If itâs a passive idea, maybe stick to just a buck, but if you want to be more aggressive, up the ante.
Of course, to do this you need to work backward and plan by looking up prices in advance (something I recommend for taking a trip virtually anywhere). Here are a few things to look up in advance when setting your savings goal:
- Research restaurant menus ahead of time and, as most people will tell you, bring your own snacks. We even brought our own RedBulls on our last visitâgame changer!
- Same goes for merchandise and experiences. You can look up these prices in advance and even order some merchandise beforehand.
- As Disney announced in 2016, their ticket prices fluctuate at each park throughout the year.
From there, set aside an allowance youâll stick to. And if you have kids, give them an allowance too â kids are more impulsive but the last thing you want is a toddler screaming in the middle of Tune Town over a $29 pair of ears you really wish you had known about and bought online weeks ago. This can also be an additional incentive for good behavior and chore completion in the weeks leading up to a trip (that is, if the trip isnât a big surprise).
Disney Trip Hack #2: Think outside the resort
I know Iâm going to catch flack for this but in all honesty, if your idea of visiting Disney absolutely MUST involve staying at one of their resorts, youâre already failing to hack your budget. Many Disney bloggers will preach endlessly about how you can save money on resort packages that include food or other amenities, but at the end of the day, theyâve drank a little too much of the Kool-Aid. It is by far MUCH cheaper to stay in a nearby Airbnb or even another hotel. Yes, this goes for families as well.
Again, if staying at the Disney resort is a non-negotiable item on your list of must-haves, thereâs nothing wrong with that, but Iâll also just say, from my experience staying at a Disney resort, the rooms arenât all that nice as far as hotels go. Iâm no snob when it comes to hotels but given the room rates, youâre paying much more than you need to for a sub-par room. And at the same time, if youâre doing Disney right, you wonât spend much time in your hotel room â even if youâre there on your honeymoon.
But staying somewhere other than a Disney-run property isnât the only or even the best way to save on accommodations. In fact, why pay for a room at all?
To uplevel this strategy, consider house sitting for local residents as a way to either stay near a Disney park for free or, even better, get paid. In some cases, you may even be able to offset some of the costs of your tripâlike your flights or gas getting there depending on where youâre from, or at the very least, the $15 daily cost of Max Passes (a Disneyland/California Adventure-only item) to help you avoid lines.
Along those lines, if you have friends in the areas surrounding the Disney parks you want to visit, stop reading this article and call them. Not only might they have a spare room or couch for you to sleep on â again, all youâll be doing is sleeping in between trips to the park(s) â but, itâs well-known that Southern California and Florida residents get very deep discounts on tickets so maybe theyâll want to come with you and show you around. (They canât, however, typically buy you tickets as most of the deals require you to actually be a resident.)
When it comes to a Disney vacation, the key to having an amazing time without going over your budget is planning ahead. From a Disney jar to staying off-site, youâll be able to have a blast as long as you keep an eye on your bottom line.
More than anything, youâll need to make sure that you donât let that Disney magic carry you away to budget Neverland.
–By Melissa Hollis
The post Taking a Disney Trip? Here Are Two Key Budget Hacks appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
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