It seems these days more and more people are cancelling the internet or “cutting the cord” and after some conversation, Mr. Sweetspot and I have decided to join their ranks. We had a few varied reasons.
Mine were purely financial. After discovering the magic calculator (aka compound-interest calculator) over the years by investing given amounts rather than spending them. As it was, our frugalism wave hit us at a time when we’re already doing decently with our finances- we don’t purchase a daily coffee ($5 latte, 5 days a week, 50 weeks out of the year [cuz vacation!]= $18,479 over 10 years), we don’t have cable television, we reduced our three online subscription service (Google Play, Hulu, and Netflix) to just one (Netflix *keep reading to find out why) and we average just $15 a month on our cell phone plan by using MVNO’s. (click below)
But we had one stupid bill courtesy of the monopoly small town provider Schm-ime Schm-arner Cable (I know, I rival the CIA with my code names). When we first started our “service” a little over three years ago, our internet cost $35 a month. With no improvement (unless you count “surprise-outages-for-days-at-a-time-with-no-discount-or-explanation-after-hours-on-the-phone-each-time”, as improvement) our bill steadily rose to $60. That’s a 14% annual year over year increase- which is insane.
The internet is free! As in, almost everywhere you go, you can get free internet. I have internet at work, so I can call my mom, download blogs and check out facebook while I’m here (my job consists of none of those things, so obviously I’d do my job first). Nearly every business in our town has Wi-Fi, as does Walmart, Price Chopper, TJ Max, every Dunkin Doughnuts, McDonalds, Starbucks and every other tea or coffee shop in town. Even Mr. S’s Barbershop, a place that only accepts cash, has free Wi-Fi. Oh yeah, the library and the city buses have it too. Our town, like so many others these days, is even taking steps to provide free municipal Wi-Fi to the public at every third light post. Keep in mind, we’re in a small town with a population of around 38,000. Imagine what this set up is like in a metropolis: from our recent trips to New York City Wi-Fi appears even more plentiful and easily accessible. So why pay for it?
Mr. S outlines a secondary set of gains as well: the lack of internet makes us harder to reach (AKA selectively available), and not having internet at home encourages us to plan more. We are currently seeking a way to convert Facebook Messenger to text and are not quite sure of the solution. FM is our social circles preferred mode of communication, but I’m confident we’ll find something that can work. We currently also don’t have data on our phones. Mr. S has about 200 mins. and 100 texts some minutes on his, mine’s entirely internet based i.e. no service plan. We are getting a “house phone”, which will be a cheap “burner” cell phone with minutes for emergencies. For entertainment, we are keeping our Netflix subscription because Netflix allows you to download videos FOR OFFLINE USE. Which is perfect for us. We used to stream from our phones to our TV using google chromecast, which will no longer work. It turns out, Mr. S’s old phone (our new “entertainment center”) accepts a micro HDMI cable, which we purchased on Ebay for less than $6 (sadly, Ms. S’s phone isn’t compatible). We also got some music and playlists, and discovered an app that lets you… listen to FM radio on your phone (a feature 90% of phones have apparently). Obviously we are partying like it’s 1999 in here!
The third advantage actually sounds like a disadvantage at first. I have nicknamed it “delaying the marshmallow”. It’s based on the Stanford “Marshmallow Test”, in which children were presented with a marshmallow and given two options. They could eat the marshmallow right away or wait and receive a second marshmallow when the researcher returned to the room. The study found that the children who were able to delay gratification did much better in life than their marshmallow inhaling counterparts.
Since the key to success is discipline, I find “delaying the marshmallow” to be a very healthy exercise, especially when you have a strong reason. Like doubling your marshmallows. Or saving $10,644 over 10 years, accounting for investment with a 7% return rate… but the actual savings might be closer to $23,760 since, as I’ve outlined in the first paragraph, our internet cost has been growing at about 14% annually.
“How long have these poor schmucks been without the internet?”-you ask. It’s day 3- we are extremely new to this and figuring things out as we go. So far it’s been fine and we’ve battled a few minor obstacles already. The first one, which caught us both by surprise, THE WITHDRAWAL. We were junkies! When the company finally actually cut the internet (something that took over 24 hours for them to do), we both observed a scary feeling sinking in… panic. We don’t have internet! What will we do?! We calmed ourselves fairly quickly, by first acknowledging the anxiety, and concluding that it’s 11pm, we are surrounded by entertainment options (downloaded movies and shows and plentiful library books) so we might just be ok. Spoiler alert- we went to bed and everything was just fine. No one died, the internet was still waiting for us the next day.
Yesterday, we hosted a dinner party. My husband is a great cook, and knowing he’d need to prepare he downloaded a bunch of recipes to his phone to have them available later. This was a “new” used phone, purchased on ebay in preparation for cutting the cord (you can’t get the right provider for this area with his other phone) and it stopped working. We’re returning it, so financially it doesn’t matter, but he didn’t have recipes. And he couldn’t look them up! So he winged it, trusting his fabulous taste buds and the results were wonderful and we all had a great time eating home-made Indian food with freshly baked naan.
We are about to embark on our first cord free weekend and frankly, I’m excited for it. This is a new experience, and like most of our adventures, it’s a non-conformist stance in today’s society. We might end up loving it, we might end up hating it. Mr. S thinks in time our productivity will go way up along with our satisfaction at home. Home will become an oasis, away from constant FB updates, notifications, emails from work and phantom cell phone vibrations “Was that me! Nope.”. But, it won’t happen without a bit of adjustment. The nice thing is, home internet is not dog heaven- you can always go back, and maybe get a “new user promotional rate!”… for as long as that lasts. Have you thought about or experienced “cutting the cord”? Let us know below!