Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Cable Worth the Cost?

This is a question we've been pondering since we started working hard to save money.  I called about 6 months ago and got our cable bill lowered by about $25 (by cutting off the premium channels we were paying a discounted rate of $5/month for, and by getting their current deal which cut our internet bill in half).  The promo that cut our internet bill in half was only for 6 months, so that is about to come to an end.  I need to call and see if there are any new promos available (really, I should have already called a couple of times).

However, for the last few months I've been really wondering if it's even worth it to have cable.  We currently use Netflix on one of their lowest plans.  We pay about $10 a month and get 1 DVD out at a time and unlimited streaming movies.  We use the streaming a lot more than we watch the DVDs, it's just easier.  Lately, I've been looking at a similar option for watching current television seasons that is also available on our bedroom DVD player - Hulu Plus.  Not every show we would want to watch is available there, but most of them are.  The biggest thing I noticed that was missing was an HBO show that we don't get to see anymore since we gave up premium channels (it was the only reason we got the premium channels in the first place).

Hulu Plus has a free One Week Trial, and I haven't tried it yet simply because it is only available on our bedroom TV.  The Tivo in our living room doesn't get Hulu (but it does get Netflix).  Hulu Plus does have commercials, so it's not like it's a huge improvement over regular television, actually that would be a downgrade, since we currently are able to fast-forward through commercials with Tivo.  However, it's only $8/month as opposed to what we currently pay for cable (around $50/month).  Of course, we'd have to spend some money to get something in our living room that would access it.  I'm currently looking at the Roku system. which would give us access to not just Hulu but also Netflix and Amazon VOD (all except the Hulu is available on our current Tivo).  I just counted up my Amazon gift cards (that I've earned through Swagbucks) and found that I have just enough to buy the lowest end model ($70!) if I chose to do so.

So, what are your thoughts? Is cable worth the cost?

How Much Are You REALLY Saving?

There was a thread recently on that asked how to determine how much you are really saving.  I thought it was a good subject and wanted to write a little more on the topic.

It's so easy to get hung up on the "I saved 90%" posts and even to get hung up on saving a high % yourself.  I know I have gotten to where it bugs me if I don't have a savings of at least 70% on any given shopping trip.  I've also convinced myself I'm saving more at Publix because my % of savings is higher there than it is at other stores.  However, I have to remind myself (and you) that it's not the percentage you save, but the dollars!

There are really two mistakes that we make that have us thinking we are saving more than we are.

1. Focusing on the Percentage! This is just what I was talking about above.  When you get focused on the %, you aren't really thinking about the dollars.  You can save 90% all day long but if you are spending twice as much as you would have or buying things you wouldn't have to get that 90% then it doesn't really matter.  In order to get a 90% savings you typically have to buy a lot of items that end up being free or giving you overage.  That's great if those items are things that would normally be on your shopping list, but if you are buying them just because of the "savings" then it's not really savings.

2. Buying Things You Wouldn't Normally Buy! just because they are on sale or free.  In most states (mine included) you still pay sales tax on the full amount prior to coupons.  Sometimes that tax can add to more than you might be saving or getting back in overage. If you are buying an item just because it's FREE, it's not really FREE.  If you are buying it because it will give you some sort of overage, you have to do some calculating to determine if the overage is really overage (after you pay tax).  I see this a lot also on items that produce Register Rewards (or similar programs).  If you are buying something for the Register Reward it will produce, you have to remember you are still spending money out of pocket to get that Register Reward.  The only time that I think it's worthwhile to do this is when you already have a Register Reward that's about to expire and you need to roll it (or them).

The best way to make sure you are really saving money is to stick to only buying products you'd normally buy (and will use) and to track your total spending.  I use the Spending Tracker from the Coupon Project to track my total spending and savings.  Remember that the % you save on each trip isn't nearly as important as staying within your budget and spending less overall.

New Coupons on

Here are just a few of the new coupons available on this week. 

$1.00 OFF 1 Weight Watchers Sweet Bakery Items
$1.00 OFF 1 Hidden Valley Salad Kit
$1.00 OFF 1 Power of Fruit Frozen All-Fruit Bars
$1.00 OFF 1 Truvia Sweetener
$1.00 OFF 1 Weight Watchers Frozen Novelty Carton * use at Publix sale this week
$1.00 OFF ONE (1) 3-pack of any TEMPTATIONS by JELL-O
$1.00 OFF 1 Kashi TLC Soft Baked Cereal Bar
$1.00 OFF 1 Kashi Berry Blossoms cereal * use at Publix sale this week
$0.75 OFF 1 Fruit2O 6-pack
$0.75 OFF 1 Roman Meal Bread
$0.50 OFF 1 any flavor/variety Nature Valley Granola Bars
$0.50 OFF 1 package of KRAFT HOMESTYLE Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
$0.50 OFF 2 Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Pastries
$0.50 OFF 2 flavor 4.5 OZ. OR LARGER Chex Mix OR Chex 100 Calorie Snack
$0.50 OFF 1 can of Diamond Crystal Sea Salt
$0.50 OFF 1 package of any Tetley Tea

Publix Coupon Matchups

Check out Passionate Penny Pincher for this week's Publix Coupon Matchups