How I Save More Than Just Money By Cutting the Cable

I was one of those kids that watched just about every show on television and could only fall asleep if the TV that was in my room was on. When I discovered one of my friends did not have cable, I couldn’t help think how abnormal it was. Now fast-forward to today’s time, and I am the abnormal one.  While streaming shows is becoming much more accepted and popular, my husband and I still get a lot of weird looks when we say we don’t have cable. However, by streaming our favorite shows through Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, we have saved three things.

First, we have saved over $1000 a year by cutting the cable. The number seems a little too large to be true, right? Well, it isn’t. Cable would cost us an extra $100 a month. Sure, there are tons of deals and bundles right now, but usually you only get a specialized rate for a year. So even with the special rate, we would be spending an extra $600 a year.

Secondly, we save a lot of time. We are the type of people that would watch television just to watch it, which can be a bad thing. Why waste your time to watch shows like Hoarders or Tanked just because it is the only thing on at that moment? With Netflix and Hulu, we know which shows we want to watch and don’t watch much else.

Cutting the CableFinally, it saves a lot of stress. Okay, maybe not a lot of stress, but definitely some degree. We babysat my sister-in-law’s kids one weekend and thought we would enjoy their ginormous television package with over 900 channels. It was Friday night, so it would seem pretty easy to find several good shows or movies to watch, right? Wrong. It was a little stressful scrolling through hundreds of stupid channels (infomercials and such) and trying to find something we both could agree on. I think we wasted an hour just trying to find something on. I am sure once you get use to your channels it is easier to find something, but I do still think it is ridiculous to have so many channels, yet still so very few selections in good things to watch.

With Netflix and Amazon, it is also nice to know that my children will be able to watch their favorite shows without ever seeing a commercial. This means I will not have to get dozen of requests for a Barbie with blue hair that turns into a dolphin underwater or for those special chicken nuggets with green goo in them (these two products are totally made up now, but don’t be surprised if they become a real thing).

So now you know. My decision to stay cable free is much more than just saving money. It is nice to save a huge chunk of money, but it is also nice to know that something does not control my time, my stress, and my finances.

What would you save if you went cable free?

original img credit:Alyssa & Colin, on Flickr

We’re All Financial Optimists, and It’s Hurting Our Bottom Line

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Do you see the glass half full or half empty?

No matter your answer, I have a secret for you.  We’re all financial optimists, and it’s hurting our bottom line.

Don’t believe me?

I didn’t expect you to.

You might say, my finances are a mess.  I have debt; I’ve pulled money out of my 401(k).  I’m definitely not a financial optimist.

But, I’d argue that you are.  When you look into the future, you don’t see bankruptcy and years of the same financial mess.  You likely think that eventually things will get better, and you make decisions based on that.

If your financial situation isn’t that bad, you’re probably even more of a financial optimist.  Say you’re getting ready to buy a house, and you know that your limit is a house that costs $250,000.

You find the perfect house.  The problem?  It costs $270,000.  Still, you decide to buy it, even though you know you can’t afford it.

What do you tell yourself?

  • It’s in a good neighborhood, and the house will appreciate.
  • In just a few years, inflation will make your now nearly unmanageable payment much smaller, and paying it won’t be such a hardship.
  • You’re just starting your career, and in a few years you’ll be making a lot more money, so the house payment will be easier to afford.

Sound familiar?

Just a few years ago, millions of people thought their houses would appreciate, and then they were caught up in the housing crisis.

Houses don’t always appreciate, but we optimistically think ours will.

Sure inflation will make your house payment more manageable, but you’ll have other expenses in a few years that you’re not thinking of because you’re thinking optimistically.  In a few years, maybe you’ll have a few kids to fill that house, and they’ll cost a lot of money.  You’ll be spending more on food, health care, transportation and day care, just to name a few things.  Suddenly, having a manageable house payment doesn’t really make a financial difference because you’ll have so many other expenses competing for your money.

If you’re lucky, your career will soar, and you’ll make more money, but that doesn’t always happen.  You might get laid off and have to find a job that pays less.  You or your spouse may decide to quit so one person can stay home with the kids.  Or, maybe you do get raises, but at the same time your health care premiums go up every year so your pay essentially stays stagnant.

Of course, thinking optimistically is beneficial to our mental health, but for our financial health, recognize that thinking optimistically hurts your bottom line.  When you get ready to make a large purchase like a house or a car, don’t forecast into the future.  Determine if you can afford the item now, in your current situation.  If you can, you’ll tie up less of your future money and benefit from this.  If you can’t, it’s best to pass it up.

Think You Can’t Afford the Paleo Diet? Ways to Make It More Affordable

The Paleo diet is gaining popularity, and it can be a good choice for people who have to avoid gluten whether because of a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.

Sure, if you’re gluten free there are many great options available like gluten free pasta and breads, but those can be very pricy.  Sometimes it’s cheaper to just avoid those kinds of substitutes.

Long Term Savings from Following the Paleo Diet

If you’d like to follow a Paleo diet but think you can’t afford it, keep in mind a few things:

1.  A Paleo diet can lead to weight loss.

The savings here won’t be immediate, but over your lifetime, the savings is significant.  I began following a Paleo diet last September, and in the 9 months since, I’ve lost 75 pounds.  All of my numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar count have improved.  I know I’ve saved myself on medical expenses in upcoming years than if I hadn’t taken the weight off.

As another point, I don’t know how many hundreds of dollars I spent on Weight Watchers over my lifetime.  With a Paleo diet, I eat until I’m full, and I don’t get hungry again for several more hours.  There’s no struggle, so weight loss is easy, and I don’t have to count calories or points or pay for the latest weight loss fad.

Making the Paleo Diet more affordable2. You’ll save hundreds by not eating out.

Of course, you can eat out on the Paleo diet, but we just don’t eat out as much.  We’re easily saving at least $200 a month on meals out.  Now we go out to eat only when we’re traveling or for birthdays.

3. You won’t spend money on processed foods.

You might think chips and candy and other processed foods are cheap, but when you buy them in quantities that most Americans do, they add up quickly.

So, keep in mind these initial savings once you switch over to a Paleo diet.

How to Save Money When Buying Paleo Groceries

If you do decide to follow a Paleo diet, here are some ways you can cut costs on groceries:

1.  Buy your meat directly from the farmer.

Ideally, you’ll want to buy grass fed and pastured meat.  We buy 1/2 side of grass fed beef from my cousin’s husband.  We get ground beef, steaks, roasts, etc.  The meat averages about $5 a pound.  There are also several grass fed and pastured suppliers near us, and we stock up whenever they have meat on sale.  We have a deep freezer to keep all the meat.

2.  Subscribe to a CSA.

A CSA (community supported agriculture) allows you to buy organic produce straight from the farmer.  This year, for $850 we subscribed to one that gives us 1 and 1/9 bushel of vegetables a week for 19 weeks.  There are enough vegetables each week to feed our family of 5 copious amounts of vegetables and some extra for us to freeze and use in the winter.

3.  Grow a garden.

I like to grow things that are expensive to buy in the winter like collard greens and kale.  We blanch them and freeze them to add to soups in the winter for an extra nutritional punch.  However, grow anything you like to eat that grows well in your area.

4.  Buy produce on sale and stock up.

If you live near a farm, consider going to the farm and picking the produce yourself.  Last year we bought 50 pounds of organic blueberries.  We froze 30 pounds and made jam and jelly with the other 20 pounds.  It only cost us $130.  However, within 8 months we ran out, so this year we plan to buy about 80 pounds to last us through the year.

Likewise, Whole Foods recently had organic grapes on sale for .99 a pound.  I bought 25 pounds and froze them so we’ll have grapes and grape smoothies in the winter.

Initially, buying Paleo food can seem more expensive.  However, there are many future costs you are eliminating by eating a healthier diet.  In addition, there are ways to save, especially if you’re willing to buy in bulk and preserve your food.

If you’re following a Paleo diet, how do you save money on groceries?