Don’t be a cable chump
I admit it. Even though I knew better, I was a cable chump for far too long. I paid the cable company too much every month for services I didn’t need or want or could get better or cheaper elsewhere.
Economic payback: 2 months
For television, we subscribed to a “broadcast only” plan. Except for doubling the price over 5 years, this solved the problem when all the broadcasters went digital. Then they announced that everyone would need an adapter to receive anything. But that’s alright, subscribers who requested one or two before a certain date would get it without any surcharge – for a year. When I went in to get my free adapter the nice counterman said “you don’t need it with your plan.” OK; the cutoff date came and went and nothing changed with our reception except that quality deteriorated some and some extra channels disappeared.
After another few months I finally consummated my plans of 5 years ago and bought an antenna for about $35. After getting it assembled, I stuck it on a short piece of PVC, leaned it in a corner of the den and tuned in about 2/3 of the local stations. After another month, I finally mounted it outside and now have about 36 channels from 13 stations for free at the click of a remote.
Economic payback: 10 months
Several years ago the cable company started charging for the POS internet modem they provide. Subliminally I knew they allowed me to buy my own modem but never got around to it. The attitude of “if anything goes wrong, they’re responsible …” etc. Finally last fall I researched the technology and bought a highly rated DOCSIS 3.1 modem. After another month I took the plunge and unplugged the old modem and plugged mine in. Although I called in to have them activate my modem, I think the auto-activation actually went through and I just wasn’t patient enough. The most difficult part of the upgrade was the hour wait in line to turn in my old modem.
In a year I hope to completely kiss cable goodbye and move over to Google Fiber for my internet service. I will seriously consider their free-for-life 5 Mbps connection for a one-time fee of $300.
Economic payback: 3 months
The daily newspaper has been getting thinner over the years while their annual subscription has been getting heftier. We finally cancelled our ink-on-pulp subscription and kept the electronic version. They have an excellent facsimile e-edition that reads fine on a $50 tablet.
Bill Barnes, PCCC
Tip of the month
File sync-to-the-cloud systems like Dropbox or OneDrive are not a valid permanent archive. If you delete or modify a file on your local computer, it’s also changed from the cloud. You should also use a true, automatic, online backup service unless you are faithful to your local (and duplicate offsite) backups.