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Prices are a’rising

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This is nothing new. Happens every year, am I right? You get the letter from (insert name here) and you discover that the prices are rising.

I just got this letter from 2 different companies.

The first is my water company. They instituted a price-increase that was effective July 1st (thanks for letting me know after-the-fact). Since this is a basic utility and we only have one service provider to choose from, there’s nothing I can do about the price aside from simply trying to conserve (which is difficult in summer since it seems like grass and plants need extra water in order to survive the terrible death-heat in Tucson).

The second letter was from our cable company. All of the rates are being raised across the board. When I first started blogging this was one area that everyone said we should cut entirely but I stood my ground that we were going to hang onto our cable. This is mostly for my husband’s sake (he’s the real cable-watcher in the family), but I also mentioned that the price wasn’t too bad when you consider that internet, alone, was costing us $55/month and our combined package (cable & internet) cost $85/month, so it was really only an extra $30/month. Not a big price to pay for the marital happiness. But now we’re looking at closer to $95/month. And, on principle, the price-hike makes me angry.

I called the company, 100% certain that if I called and complained they’d surely lower my rate. This is standard practice, right?

Apparently I was WRONG.

Not only will they absolutely not touch my price, but I was also informed that my personal price is about to get a huge hike because we were locked into some 1-year promotional package that expires the end of this month. Come August, we’ll actually be looking at a price of $115 (not $95. If this is confusing – as it was for me – the “promo” price was being raised to $95, but my promo was set to expire so I’d be getting the “normal” price of $115).

Shut the front door.

So suddenly the $85 that I was barely okay with paying is about to morph into $115. I just can’t swallow that type of bill.

I talked to my husband about it and – sigh – the man really, really, really wants to keep his cable.

So what should I do? Here are what I feel my options are:

  1. Say “too bad” to the hubs, cancel our cable, and go to war with each other over the issue.
  2. Cancel with our current provider and try to find a new provider (although, the only other service provider in our area requires an initiation fee, a 2-year contract and only does TV so I’ll have to pay through a separate company for internet, eliminating any “bundle” savings)
  3. Try to go into the cable office to talk to someone face-to-face and see if that will make a difference in trying to get a reduced bill.

For obvious reasons related to marital happiness, I would like to avoid option #1. My preference would be to stay with our current provider simply because it would be the easiest option of all. But I also can’t stomach paying $115/month, so I could only do it if I somehow talk them into giving me a price-break (which, the customer service rep on the phone made seem like would NOT be happening. Period.) We’re also renters and currently have cable (Comcast/Xfinity), so if we have to switch to a dish provider, I’d have to talk to our landlord regarding whether we could even mount a dish somewhere.

I know the popular option is going to be canceling our cable all together. I totally agree that this is the most cost-effective and obvious choice for a couple trying to get rid of their debt. But let’s also take the marital relationship into consideration.

Update: I wrote this on Sunday and today I called (again) to try to get my bill lowered. Lo and behold, apparently it all depends who you speak to because last time the woman swore up and down there was nothing she could do. This time the guy knocked a flat $5 off my bill (from the monthly cable box fee) and said he would lock in a rate (no contract required) for $89 after our current promotional rate ends (side note: apparently our promo rate is actually $79, but with taxes and such it amounts to about $85….so I’m assuming the $89 rate will come out to closer to $95ish). It’s still more than I want to pay, but much better than the $115 (before taxes & fees) we were looking at. So I guess I’m happy with the situation and it looks like I won’t have to be switching cable providers.

What do you do if you and your spouse/partner disagree about finances? How do you settle things?

This is an area I would tend to “pick my battles” and let my husband win simply because it clearly means a lot to him. Also, we rarely (if ever) go out – can’t remember our last date, trip to a movie, etc. So this is one of our only paid forms of entertainment (we also get a Redbox probably once or twice a month). Still…..I know its not a popular idea to keep cable when you’re trying to cut expenses and pay down debt. What are your experiences with balancing cutting expenses and keeping a partner happy???

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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63 Comments

  • Reply Mary from SC |

    We kicked the cable habit in January after bowl games. We purchased Chromecast and have been pleased. We also researched Roku and actually have heard from my brother he is so pleased with this set up that he just may cancel his cable. I personally have not missed cable at all. We did keep internet. Hubby may have had a few times he missed it, but truthfully, it has made us more active and less likely to mindlessly flip channels. It’s hard to pull the plug.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yeah, now I feel like I should’ve given more details. We actually had no cable for 4 years and were totally fine. Didn’t miss it. But when we moved to our current house (last August), it’s just far enough outside the city that we don’t pick up any local stations at all. We even went and bought the strongest antenna/receiver that Walmart sold and still got nothing. So if we cut cable, we have no TV at all (no local stations, nothing).

  • Reply Theresa |

    Oddly enough I am the saver but I had to be convinced to drop DirectTV. It was something about it being the last luxury. Now there is nothing left to cut. I also used the we never go ANYWHERE justification. Once I acknowledged that we have basically 1 hour a day to watch TV it seemed silly to pay through the roof for it. Directv was over $115 a month. We dropped it and got antennas for local tv and use Netflix and Amazon Prime which we get thru the Playstation. We don’t miss it at all.

    BUT we still have to pay $50+ for internet cable. We need it to use the Netflix, Amazon Prime and like you my husband NEEDS fast and reliable internet for work. So before you drop tv cable price out what the internet alone would be.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I know! Why does internet have to cost so much! When you don’t do the bundle, the cost of internet, alone, was $55. It’s craziness!

  • Reply first step |

    We got rid of all but basic cable (about $12/mo) about 8 years ago when we were saving for a Disney vacation. At the time, that saved us about $52/mo and by the time we went on vacation, paid for about half of the cost of our tickets for the week. We never turned it back on and haven’t really missed it. Occasionally we’ll go to sports bars to see college football, and it helped that our school joined the local conference a few years ago. It’s definitely easier now to get the games on our local network channels.
    We just canceled basic cable at the beginning of the month. Because of how our house is wired, we are able to connect an HDTV antenna in an upstairs room and get all of the local HD channels via our coax connectors. Now my husband regrets that he didn’t hook it up sooner. Over the past 8 years, basic cable gradually increased to $19/month. So now we’ll pay over $200/year to our mortgage instead of the cable company.
    Maybe he’ll agree to cancelling for a couple of months to try it out. You can always reconnect. There’s no right or wrong answer–that’s why it’s called PERSONAL finance. Good luck with your decision!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, that’s fantastic that your savings from cable paid for half the cost of your tickets for a trip to Disney (as an ex-Florida resident, I know how $$$ those tickets are!)

  • Reply Jocelyn |

    I’m glad that the second person you talked to was able to stop your rate from being hiked up so much! If you hadn’t talked to that guy, I would have said try #3, but if that doesn’t work go for #2. In general, I’m all about slashing expenses, but when it comes to marriage I’m more for keeping marital peace than saving a few extra dollars.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’ve been reading the blog for awhile, and I just can’t get Claire’s story out of my mind in regard to these types of things. I know she only shared a part of the story with us so surely there was a lot going on behind closed doors, but it can’t be denied that money-related fights are the #1 cause of divorce in the US and we saw it play out right before our eyes as they slashed every expense known to man (I specifically recall when she made her own laundry detergent and found that her then-husband had sneakily bought his own to use). It’s hard to share these stories because I would hate for my husband to be misconstrued as not on-board with debt-repayment (because he is definitely committed), but we all have our “thing” we don’t want to cut, right?

  • Reply Financial Fan |

    We haven’t had cable for 13 years and don’t miss it. We do have a great DVD movie collection (Mostly cheapos from garage sales) and a few boxed sets of old TV shows. This keeps us happy! We watch our favorite movies every year, so we never get tired of them. We pay about $35/month for high speed internet, and that is our only expense.

    • Reply Financial Fan |

      PS I also find good stuff free online like an English antique home renovation show on You Tube or Masterpiece Theater reruns (PBS), which I love. Also lots of history stuff. There really doesn’t seem to be a need for cable IMHO!

    • Reply Ashley |

      What?! $35 a month is a steal! Ours (before we got cable) was $55/month for internet, alone! Also – that’s a great point about free shows online!

      • Reply hannah |

        $35 IS a steal. Ours is $56/month, and that is only because I called to complain after they tried to up it $7 over last year. Last year they upped it $7 over the previous year. Just ridiculous!!!

        • Reply Financial Fan |

          We live in a Twin Cities suburb. If we were living in the actual city of Minneapolis, we would be paying $15/month as my daughter does! The city made a low-cost option available to everyone so that everyone at all income levels would have an opportunity to have high-speed internet. Pretty cool, huh? Our suburb city council voted against it. My guess is that a cable lobbyist got to them.

  • Reply Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore |

    I haven’t given up TV either, I’m locked into a contract and I shudder to think what it might cost me to get out of it. But, I should try calling and getting a reduced rate, but I don’t really have anything major to complain about…

    • Reply Ashley |

      I think they’re definitely less willing to negotiate when they know you have a contract. But you could do a break-even analysis. Basically you do the math to see, “I spend X amount per month and it would cost Y to cancel….how many Xmonths would it take to add up to Y?” So Divide Y by X and see how many months it would take for it to be worthwhile. As an example. Say cancellation is $500, but you are paying $100/month for service and you have 6 months left in your contract. Then technically you would be saving $100 to cancel and pay the cancellation fee (because it would only take 5 months to break-even). Not saying this is the way for you to go, just explaining the math behind it (excuse me, I’m a teacher by nature)…

  • Reply Susan |

    This is a big expense for us, too. It costs us $120 with DirecTV. My husband is absolutely addicted to TV in the evenings (and in the early morning) and this is one area that I cannot omit. I *think* there are cheaper options, but it is all so complicated with all the new things available that I will admit I have not tried to find anything else.

    We pay $45 per month on our phone bill (AT&T) for our internet, and we are reimbursed for that entire amount by my husband’s company since he works from home 95% of the time.

    Lately we have been inundated with calls and personal visits to switch to AT&T UVerse and the claim is we will have landline telephone, internet and television for “one low price”. Has anyone made that switch? We are luckily not on a contract for anything — not for internet, landline or DirecTV.

    Susan

    • Reply Ashley |

      I can’t speak to UVerse directly, but in general I certainly know that you save money if you bundle your services. I agree it is very challenging to compare different rates and it is NOT apples to apples because Company A offers these 85 channels, Company B offers these 100 channels, etc. Plus the internet speeds offered in the package deals vary and sometimes they won’t even list prices online (instead forcing you to call and speak to an agent). You also have to take into consideration installation costs and whether they force you to sign a contract (and, if so, how much early termination would cost you). I hate how sneaky and competitive the TV/internet/phone industry has become. Just lay it all out there and let me make a decision!

  • Reply Susan |

    Oops, I meant to state that our $120 with DirecTV just gets us the expanded basic package. No HBO, Cinemax, Extra Sports channels.

  • Reply scarr |

    Like others, I have been cable-free for over 12 years (when I moved out of my parent’s home for school). My husband doesn’t watch TV and is not a sports fan so I never had to defend my position that paying for sports packages is lame. We have Netflix & Amazon Prime to keep us entertained.

    As far as disagreements between partners, compromise is a cliche that works. What if you dropped the cable package for a few months just to see how it goes? After adjusting to not having cable, your husband may rethink his “need” for that outlet. And with an extra $35 a month, you two could have a monthly (frugal) date or save up for a fancy one! If it really is something he misses or wants, you could discuss options that aren’t so full of hoops and jumps and confusing pricing (although it sounds like you already are under a whole new contract and won’t be able to try cutting cable for a test-run).

    • Reply Ashley |

      No, one of the benefits of our current company is that they don’t require a contract. I used the terminology “locked in” because they guarantee the rate for up to a year, but I’m not obligated to keep it for that full time (though the special price would also not be guaranteed if we leave and try to come back). However, I really like your point about using that money for a date night here and there. I LOVED Adam’s comment above (“maybe if you cancel cable he’ll take you on a date!”) – made me laugh out loud. I definitely miss date nights!!! One of the many, many things that has fallen to the wayside after having children since the cost of childcare is so outrageous. On a semi-related aside, I tried to convince my friend to swap babysitting for date nights and she seemed “meh” about it. I was bummed, thinking she would jump at the chance. But, unfortunately, not-so-much.

  • Reply Kay |

    Make sure you got some kind of email confirmation. Comcast phone support is notorious for saying they will do something and then when you call back they can’t find anything in their system. Happened to me twice (spent 2 plus hours on the phone with them) until I finally gave up comcast cable and switched.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh man, that’s awful! I’ve heard lots of horror stories about Comcast lately (did you hear about that customer call that went viral – someone trying to disconnect services and couldn’t get them to do it?) I did not ask for an email confirmation so I’ll have to call back and cross my fingers the deal still stands. : /

  • Reply Walnut |

    You recently picked up gym memberships, so could you justify dropping the cable and watching any must-see TV at the gym? Have you asked the cable company about a local channels only package? These are rarely listed anywhere, so you have to ask a representative.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Unfortunately, most of the “must-see” TV stuff is in the evenings (Primetime), when our gym doesn’t offer childcare (their hours end at 6pm), plus its during baby dinner/bath/etc. BUT, you make a good point about the local channel packages. Part of me would feel angry paying for something that I feel like should be free, but it’s not a bad idea given that we don’t get any channels at our house otherwise.

    • Reply adam |

      now this is a hoot! going to the gym to watch tv! i get what you’re saying, but without the context, the basic idea sounds ludicrous! hahaha

  • Reply Louise |

    My challenge to my husband would be: what are you going to give up in order to keep cable? Let’s say $85 is in our budget and it’s going to actually cost $115. Where is the $30 a month going to come from – are you going to work more? Are you going to do all the minor services on the car instead of taking it to a mechanic? Are you going to stop buying iced coffee every day? There should be a sharing of the burden – at the moment he gets what he wants and you shoulder the entire burden of being responsible for paying for it.

    • Reply Louise |

      Whoops I meant to say you shoulder the entire emotional burden of paying for it. (since his income is also contributing to the budget but you are the one worrying about and working hard at the budget)

      • Reply Alexandria |

        Good point. That’s the other thing. Besides my “all or nothing” comment, there should also be prioritzing. Certainly you don’t want to cut to the point that there is no enjoyment. Nothing wrong with a splurge, but what can be given up to pay for the splurge? There is probably something less important that can be cut or reduced, in exchange.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    The thing about getting out of debt or a debt-free lifestyle is looking for the middle ground. Everything doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”

    My spouse is a videophile who LOVES his TV and movies and so on. BUT, we don’t have cable. Anything we could possibly want is free or on netflix or hulu. You can buy a roku and stream shows to your TV. There is certainly no “giving up TV” in our household. But hulu plus and netflix runs us about $20/month. We get lots of other free content. We sometimes buy a few random shows on Amazon that we can’t get anywhere else. Is still infinitely cheaper than cable.

  • Reply hannah |

    Ugh I hate the price increase thing. Utility company sends me a bill that says something like ” Dear Important Customer, to keep your service working great and to pay for our fancy schmancy new thingy we want, and since OH NO stuff costs more – we’re going to pass all those costs on to YOU! Because YOU have NO choice. Hahaha”

    Makes my blood boil. Gas company actually is trying to increase the base monthly fee from $16.70 to $22. So in the summer when we only use gas for the water heater, our bill right now is $5 water heating and $16.70 base fee that we can’t get around. And they have the nerve to want to raise that base fee to $22!!!
    Unbelievable.

    • Reply Angie |

      Gas companies need more money due to the ever increasing federal regulations. Without increases pipelines would be increasingly unsafe and could lead to even more disasters. I would trust your utility company is doing the right thing and your $5 is going to increase public safety.

  • Reply Jackie |

    I use clear TV. We paid $55 for the antennae and now have free tv. If you live in the city you get more channels. We live in the sticks but we have a few channels. We love it!

  • Reply Mary |

    I think you need to step back and re-assess…to recap, daycare prices have increased, water and cable prices are increasing, you’ve been over budget on groceries and eating out, unsure of how to handle hair color, joined a gym, need dental work and a new vehicle. Line items in each category are increasing not decreasing. Instead of making line item decisions, step back and look at your main goal…what is it you want more than anything? If it’s to get out of debt, all line items can’t increase. Instead, make your choices together. In terms of marital happiness, I’d opt for each one having one item that is non-negotiable.

    When I look at this situation, my thought process would be as follows: hair color by a professional is a necessity. You are looking for a professional job and you can’t have bad hair. If anything, that would be my number one priority. What if you were called for an interview and they ruined your hair? I had a friend who went to a new hairdresser and they made a mistake on her hair and it turned gray! As in witch gray! Not kidding! And she had to interview for jobs! So she had to buy a wig until this mess grew out. She ended up filing a lawsuit and won however she felt really weird wearing a wig to these job interviews. If you want to be hired for a professional position and be paid an appropriate salary, you have to look/dress like a professional. Bad hair won’t cut it (pun intended:)

    If I were looking at the budget further, I’d look at what items are needed to make money-I’d pay for daycare if you can’t do your job with the kids at home but I’d cut out any daycare for leisure reasons. It’s not about what I’d do or not do, but you have to sit down as a couple and think about what you want to do and how far you are willing to cut expenses. Otherwise, it’s going to take a while. You’ve made some nice progress so far and it’s certainly helped that your income has increased but now you have to decide what to do next. Good luck. It’s not easy!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I totally agree. And it is certainly not lost on me that it seems like every line item has been increasing. I was actually just reading a personal finance book (author’s name escaping me right now!) who said something along the lines of, “when you make $30,000/year you do without, then when you make $60,000 new things become urgent, and when you make $100,000 new things become essential.” < this is a loose paraphrase, but its certainly something I've been thinking a lot about. How much of what we have is ACTUALLY a necessity versus just FEELS like a necessity.

      • Reply Ashley |

        Book was by Jane Bryant Quinn, “Making the Most of Your Money Now.” Exact quote is: “Need rises with income. What was out of the question when you made $30,000 becomes urgent at $60,000 and indispensable at $100,000.”

        Sounds very much like what I stated in one of my previous posts, “Expenses rise to meet income” (something one of my advisors had said to me upon receiving tenure).

        I’m trying to break this cycle!!!

        • Reply Mary |

          I know it’s not easy! Everything is going up….just helps to take a step back that’s all. Hang in there:)

        • Reply debtor |

          I think i like someone further up’s idea that you and your husband have one non negotiable each. But you can’t let everything creep up. I think it’s bc you guys are relatively high income it’s easier to let these little increases slide because the total impact might not be worth the stress of what you are giving up.
          However, i think you should focus on the fact that it’s not the dollars but the mindset you are changing. Salary wise, you can “afford” these things. Big picture wise, you can’t.

          I think it was in the book the next door millionaire that talked about the millionaire mindset and how some people were income statement rich but balance sheet poor (para phrasing)… if your income dried up for some reason next month how long could you guys survive? With the kids and all the other expenses that you can not put off.

          I think that’s the mindset you should operate from. So as someone said, everything can not increase. For me the first thing i’d cut at this point is probably the gym. You can find other ways to work out. You will be able to afford the gym later on in life. Or you can keep the gym and just deal with one color hair which honestly seems like the easiest way to sort out the hair dilema to me but i know i’m not as fussed about looks so mileage will vary.

          as they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it. and also, remember that sacrifice means giving up something you want not something you wouldn’t mind.

          I’m saying all this to say good job but just don’t go down the slippery slope of cosumerism. it all adds up.

        • Reply scarr |

          When my husband and I moved for new jobs we literally make over twice as much as we were making. We have only increased our spending on things that we had no control over like utilities or rent. We have put all of the excess into student loan repayment and upped our savings a bit. We are really happy with our larger income and we work hard not to take the lifestyle increase too extreme. We have tried not to find things to add to our necessities budget. So much of our cash outflow is automated and that keeps us from thinking we have all this extra money to spend on frivolous things.

      • Reply Juhli |

        You seem to be focused on income and expenses (your budget) more than on your hugely negative net worth. The bottom line is the negative net worth not your budget line items. If you are going to get out of debt and start having a positive net worth for your future selves then that need to be the focus IMO.

        • Reply TPol |

          I agree with Juhll 100% and the other commenters who say that there are too many things getting expensive at the same time. It looks like once you justified the gym, it became easy to start justifying other things. (Hope this does not sound harsh because, that is not my intention). While you have this good income level, I think you should be more focused on eliminating debt. The daycare situation may be a “MUST” in your life but until that gets less expensive, you guys may figure out giving up things for at least a temporary time frame. I would love to see you debt free and happy, that is why I am putting my two cents in. So, please take my words as an offer of advice rather than a criticism. Wish you well…

          • Ashley |

            Definitely not harsh at all! I appreciate and welcome constructive criticism, and I fully agree that all these expenses have been adding up. I feel like every post I’ve written this entire month has been about how we have X new bill and Y new bill and Z bill is increasing, etc etc etc. This month has also been weird because on the 15th of the month (half way through!) we still hadn’t received a single paycheck!!! But I finally got my big check (I get paid once/month) and husband was able to deposit some money (above the car expense), and I’m still hoping we’ll be able to make a big dent in debt this month. But yes – all these rising bills is not a good thing. It’s so hard sometimes, but changes need to be made.

    • Reply adam |

      Mary’s message is spot on. I think one of the things that make people able to save money over the long run is that they have an inner contentment with a simple lifestyle. That means that you don’t view cutting cable or the gym or the expensive haircare, or name brand clothes, etc., as a huge sacrifice because they feel like luxuries in the first place, and the heart desires not to indulge too many luxuries.

      I can see that you are 100% committed to eliminating your debt, but are you also becoming more consumeristic as your income rises? I’m glad you are focused on breaking the “need rises with income” cycle but are you being successful?

      People are way nicer to you about your cable and gym memberships than they were to me 🙂

      • Reply Ashley |

        I know, people have been very kind lately! Not sure if they’re afraid to be in the less-vocal opposing group or just don’t care to comment but I was expecting much more backlash (particularly for the gym, as that’s the “new” thing that was just recently added). To be honest, I don’t know that I’m succeeding in breaking the cycle. When I wrote the long post about joining the gym it was basically a full tirade about rising income/rising expenses (though, at that time, other expenses hadn’t started to rise yet). This is certainly a challenge I’m struggling with. I agree with Mary about taking a step back and trying to re-assess a bit. This month has been very overwhelming with expenses. That’s not an excuse for how everything has started creeping up, but I feel like a new, fresh month will help me be able to assess our budget with fresh eyes (and still hoping that we’ll have enough money leftover from this month to “live on last month’s income”, which will also forcibly adjust spending).

  • Reply Mandi |

    My idea would be to have your husband make a list of “must see” tv shows he can’t live without. Then research how you can get those shows without cable. Are they offered on Hulu or on the stations live stream (often a week behind though)? We did that and were surprised that most of the shows we watch can be seen for free a week or two after the new episode aired, or the next day on Hulu (which is still an expense at $8/month). I think there were a few shows that we couldn’t easily get through those means and then we asked ourselves if those particular television shows were worth the extra $40 a month to watch. Obviously, they were not and we have been living in the AppleTv, Chromecast world ever since.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Is there any way you can start switching the plants in your yard to low water using plants? I forgot the term for that type of landscaping, but it might be worth looking into to save on water.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Xeriscaping!

      That said, I’m amazed that you guys have grass in your yard. It seems that in most southwestern cities I’ve visited, there’s either no lawn or a really tiny bit. If there’s lots of lawn, it’s because it’s a status symbol.

      • Reply Ashley |

        Yeah, actually most of Tucson is xeriscaped (as opposed to the Phoenix area, which I joke likes to pretend that we’re not in the middle of a desert). We have no grass in the front and just a small strip in the back, but we do have several trees/bushes and plants. I’ve never mentioned it here…..we actually had drip irrigation set up (a huge savings), but about a month after moving in (a full year ago at this point), our dog messed up the irrigation system and we’ve never fixed it, instead watering with a hose/by hand. I have a friend familiar with drip irrigation who told me how I could fix it myself, but I’m afraid I’d spend the time and money and then my dog would mess it up again (basically, he rips the hoses out of the line). : (

  • Reply adam |

    Jen brings up good ideas. There are lots of ways to reduce water usage at home – are you trying any of them? I won’t rehash a list here – you can find lots of tips online. My favorite little water usage tip is to put a brick or a weighted 2-liter bottle in the back of your commode to reduce the amount of water it takes to fill the toilet.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I do try to conserve water when I can (I save the baby’s bath water to water our plants, and I try to be mindful to keep the water on a very low stream when I’m washing hands/dishes/etc.) I’m sure there’s still more I could do though. I hadn’t heard of the brick trick – I’ll have to google some other tips and see what else I’m missing!

  • Reply Candice |

    Disclaimer: Single with no partner. I haven’t had cable since I was in high school (my parents had cable). My best friend and I share our Hulu and Netflix accounts so I pay $7.99 for HuluPlus and she pays $7.99 for Netflix streaming.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Just a warning – I just heard that some states are now considering sharing passwords to be illegal. Obviously I don’t know the laws where you live, but it was news here – big companies are going to start pressing charges (its considered “theft” according to the law) and making examples of people, similar to the whole Napster/music-sharing era when people were being charged and forced to pay punitive damages for illegally downloading music. Just an fyi to check out the laws in your area.

      • Reply Candice |

        I have heard of this. However, I don’t think my best friend and I would be in violation of this as we live in the same house (she is one of my housemates) and would therefore qualifiy as a single residence which isn’t a violation of the terms of service for Netflix or HuluPlus.

        But I definitely knew friends in college who were sharing accounts across states so I will make sure to apprise them of this info. Thanks!

        • Reply Candice |

          So I started doing some research. It doesn’t seem as though sharing your password is a violation of your terms of service with Netflix or Hulu. HuluPlus limits each account to one user streaming at a time; Netflix allows up to six users to share one account and doesn’t limit the number of users that can stream at one beyond limiting it to six authorized devices. All of the articles that I read seem to indicate that if one of the six users violates the Netflix terms of service then they could sue the ower of the account for breach of contract BUT that the presence of six users on one account is not a violation in an of itself.

          http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/09/legal-to-share-your-netflix-account.html

          I was wondering where you saw the articles saying that sharing an account password was illegal? I will pass the links on to other friends with accounts if this really is the case.

        • Reply Ashley |

          It depends where you live, as it appears that the law is state-specific.

          • Candice |

            Yea. Really odd. Netflix doesn’t care but the State does? Really odd. Thanks for the link!

  • Reply Carrie |

    We have cable. I would love to get rid of it but others in the household would not be happy (husband and children). I received a letter from cable company stating my rate was going to increase $30 a month. I thought I had just negotiated a lower rate recently. While it had been
    just a year ago. The rep asked what my needs were with cable. I stated that if left to me I would cancel it and not miss it at all. (In fact husband was gone for a week, came home asked if tv was working. I told him I did not know because it was NEVER turned on the entire time he was gone. If something was wrong with it, he would need to figure it out.) Cable rep was able to keep my cable at some rate – go figure . . .

  • Reply Financial Fan |

    Everyone is giving some great advice here! Ashley, I am older than most commenting here, so I feel that I have a great deal of life experience. (And no debt BTW!) One of the things that continually strikes me as I peruse PF blogs, is the difference between needs and wants that exist today compared to my youth. I see people justifying cable, gym memberships, eating out, traveling etc. as if this is a right. And this is in tandem with sky-high debt! I see people drowning in credit card debt and living on a hobby farm with horses because “our kids need to be in the country.” When I was young, it was very, very difficult just to obtain a credit card. People figured life out, lived very frugally and generally made do or saved up for what they needed/wanted. Somehow it all worked out!

    What I am trying to say is that your debt really is an emergency. Frankly, we don’t have that much time in life to get settled before we have to launch our OWN kids in the world, if we have children. People in their 40’s even begin to worry about job stability. I believe that with the kind of debt that you possess, there is really no other way but the “take no prisoners” approach. Think of it as only a season of your life, but if you can aim to reduce half of your total debt (this includes student loans) in five years, you will have some kind of breathing room. You really cannot afford any other approach IMHO. You owe it to your girls!

    • Reply Financial Fan |

      And how can I forget my pet peeve–the $20,000-30,000 wedding in spite of staggering student debt! It just blows my mind, as we used to say!

  • Reply Maureen |

    Despite all the comments I think of my Direct TV at $120/month as my entertainment. I don’t dine out, I don’t go to movies, I don’t have a gym membership, etc. So for me my TV is my entertainment. I admit, I enjoy it, and it would be one of the last things I would cut. You need to do what is best for your family. Although, my spouse’s company pays for his cell phone and internet and my company pays for my cell, so it is really our only expense in this category. Maybe that makes a difference.

So, what do you think ?