Today’s post is courtesy of Mrs. Picky Pincher! Mrs. Picky Pincher is the blogger and money-saving maven at www.PickyPinchers.com. She writes about living the good life while paying off $225,000 of debt.
What It’s Like To Cut ALL Cords
You can’t read a personal finance blog these days without stumbling on advice about cutting cords. Most people recommend ditching cable packages altogether. There are so many more affordable options, like SlingTV, Hulu, or Netflix, that there’s no need to fork out $300 to a cable company every month.
As for me, I pay a whopping $10 a month for my entertainment with Netflix, which saves Mr. Picky Pincher and I about $290 a month.
As I scoured our budget to cut more costs, I had a funny idea. What would it be like to cut ALL cords? What does a completely cord-free life look like? How would going completely cordless affect my finances? I was up for the challenge!
The Definition of ‘Cords’
I’ve gotten so used to the cords in my life that I barely notice them. For the purposes of this exercise, here’s what I define as a cuttable cord:
- Video games
I did consider including appliances and electricity on this list, but I think that would be too extreme for me. I don’t want to sit in the dark eating unrefrigerated food! Instead I opted to include non-essential cords.
What To Cut?
While staring at my budget, I was surprised how many non-essential cords I had in my house. I had numerous cell phones, two computers, internet, a closet of video games (no, seriously, a whole closet), and a few TVs. I knew these weren’t essentials, but I kept the cords around for the sake of entertainment.
In the interest of science, I calculated how much money I’d save without these devices cluttering my house and budget:
- Cell phones: Our monthly cell bill with Google Fi is about $50. Annually that adds up to $600.
- Computers: Our computers are paid off, but it costs electricity to run them. I’d say this is an estimated $5 a month. Annually that’s $60.
- Internet: Internet runs $80 a month for us with an annual cost of $960.
- Video games: I buy maybe one video game a year for $40. Aside from that, video games just cost electricity. I’ll estimate another $5 per month for this as well. That’s an annual cost of $100.
- TVs: Our TVs are paid off, so the costs for these comes from electricity. I’ll estimate another $5 a month for this as well, with an annual cost of $60.
Total annual costs: $1,780
Aghhhh. That’s a good chunk of money, y’all! Especially considering the fact that Mr. Picky Pincher and I are trying to get out of debt. If I were to cut these extraneous cords, we’d have $1,780 in our pockets. That’s an emergency fund or an extra payment on our student loans right there.
But wait, there’s more!
Aside from money, it was important for me to factor how much time I lose with these cords. I think time is infinitely more precious than money. It’s the one thing you can’t create more of. With this in mind, I calculated how much time I lost each day playing with my various devices.
- Computers: Outside of work, I spend at least 1 hour a day on my computer (usually it’s more). Ahh, the costs of running a blog. I’ll put this as 1 hour a day on average, with 365 hours spent per year.
- Video games: I spend on average 2 hours a day playing video games. I game during my one-hour lunch each day as well as on the weekends. That totals 730 hours a year.
- Cell phones: Oh lawd, I don’t even want to guess how much time I spend on my phone each day. I would say close to five hours. That’s a whopping 1,825 hours a year.
- TVs: Thankfully I don’t watch five hours of TV each day, but I do probably watch 2 hours a day on average. That’s 730 hours a year.
Total time spent: 3,350 hours, or 140 days.
This means I spend about a third of my year plugged in. Ouchhh.
What It Means
The amount of time I spent on my electronic devices really shocked me. The cost wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was harrowing to see how much of my precious life and time I spend watching cat videos.
What’s crazy is that I’m not willing to cut these cords entirely out of my life. Although I’ve proven they’re time-suckers and budget drains, I’m still keeping my phone and Nintendo 3DS.
The reality is that most people aren’t willing to cut all cords. In this day and age it’s seen as extremely unusual to live without a TV, cell phone, or computer. In fact, I would probably get fired if I didn’t have a cell phone—that’s how dependent our personal and professional lives are on this technology.
The completely cordless lifestyle is viewed as deprived and unusual. But it does work for some people! Just not for me—I need to get my Food Network fix since I’m a weak little cord-lover.
It’s all about what you’re willing to sacrifice your money and your time for. If watching Chopped over and over again is worth sacrificing an earlier retirement date, it’s worth it to me.
I’m always down for questioning expenses, but there are a few costs that make life more bearable. I now understand that extra cords means less time and money on my hands—whether that means spending more money on cable or spending more time watching SNL skits on my phone.
The Bottom Line
Technology is everywhere. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I do think we need to control the amount of influence tech has over our money and our time. While cutting all cords is an extreme option, it frees up extra funds and time. I’m trying to find a balance between my tech-happy escapism and living in the real world.
We want to know: What cords have you been able to cut?