I Tried to Cut the Cord. I Really Did.

A number of my new online friends have asked whether I’ll be heading to Fincón in a few days. Heck, yeah… I was really excited when I heard about it. Right by the ocean, great surfing, abundant opportunities to practice my Español (dos mas cervezas, por favor). I booked my tickets right away. Rincón here we come!


a porter named porterican in puerto rico.


Rincon Beer Company


What’s that? Come again? Fin with an F? Not Rincón?

I’ve made a huge mistake.


No, I won’t be attending FinCon, the Financial Blogger’s Conference this year, but I will put it on the calendar as soon as its announced for 2017. You see, I don’t know if I’d be welcome at this year’s conference anyway. I can almost feel the cold glares from across the expo hall. The shame for doing the unforgivable. The contempt.

Contempt for the disgraceful man who couldn’t cut the cord.


my hand. no stock photos here.


We’re not talking umbilical cords (I’ve cut a couple of those), and the act of cutting the cord actually doesn’t involve bisecting a coaxial cable with a sharp blade like so many stock photos will have you believe. We’re talking about canceling paid television services, like cable, dish, or fiber.


Lots of you have cut the cord and lived to tell the tale.
Set For Life


Ditching the ever-increasing cost of television programming is one of the first tenets of frugality. Not to mention that a reduction in mindless television watching should lead to a healthier lifestyle in general.

It’s also quite possible to cut the cord and still have plenty of screen time. The alternatives to the $100 a month cable bill include dozens of services that provide some programming at a fraction of the cost. A list and comparison is beyond the scope of this blog, but the links above can get you started. I do use Amazon Prime, which gives me access to thousands of shows, movies, and more music than you could hear in a lifetime.

I’ve Cut Cords Before


Some seven years ago, we ditched the typical landline phone line. Cut that cord right in two. Being a physician on call about 10 to 12 nights a month, I didn’t want to be without a backup to the cell phone, and we don’t love giving out our cell phone numbers for everything, so we kept our home number. We picked up an Ooma box, ported the number, and have kept that number to this day, despite moving to a new state twice in the interim.

Cutting that first cord has saved us $30 a month for about 84 months now. Plugging in the 11% annualized that the S&P 500 has gained in that timeframe into my handy, dandy Compound Interest Calculator tells me that I should have an extra $3800 in my pocket now from that move alone.

I’ve even cut the television cord. About three years ago, we decided to live sans paid television. It actually went alright. We didn’t miss it much. It wasn’t football season. But, in order to make our one-time dream home amenable to rental guests, we had to provide premium television. Once again, we were beholden to the dreaded two-year Dish contract.

In a move that I’m fairly certain violated their rules (I live dangerously), we used the service at the rental in the summer, and in our home the rest of the year. Now that we have sold the home, the need for the Dish has vanished. This August, our contract was up. I was ready to cut the cord once and for all. Here’s what our bill looked like, without any premium channels.




But. But. But football.


To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t 100% committed to cutting ties completely when I dialed those digits. I don’t live in an area with decent over the air reception for the networks, which makes fall weekend football viewing more challenging without paid television. I thought I might try a free month of Sling TV. At least you can get ESPN channels on that, and at least a dozen other decent channels.


Minnesota Colorado State


Most of my friends have $100+ per month TV packages. So do my parents, who live about a half an hour away. If I don’t have TV, maybe the ball games will be more of a social event with friends and family.

Who wouldn’t want me on their sofa, eating Cheetos and pizza and spilling beer, trying and failing to control my temper as I try with all my might to restrain myself from throwing the remote through their television and into the drywall behind it?

I wasn’t sure what the best solution might be, but I grew tired of paying $100 a month for something I use a couple times a week a few months of the year. So I made the call.


The Phone Call


“I’m calling to cancel the Dish.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask why?”

“I rarely use it.”

“Would you be interested in…”

“No, thank you.”

“What if I…”

“Not interested.”

“Can you let me fini”


“If it were $39 a month?”

“What about all those fees, you know the addons for HD, DVR, extra box?”


“What’s the total bill?”

“After tax, $40-something something. Can I sign you up, no contract”

“No. Not unless you can get the total bill under $40.”

“Are you willing to hold for a couple minutes?”


[a couple minutes pass]

“I was able to get that approved for the next ten months. Can I help you with anything else?”

“No. But thank you.”


Here’s my latest bill.




I can live with that.


So football season is here, and I’ll have a way to watch the games while paying a much more reasonable rate. I lost the B1G Ten network, but I go to a number of those games in person, and I can watch some others with friends or family with my Cheeto-powdered hands, spilled beer and all.

I hope you’ll forgive me, or at least not ostracize me. Ultimately, my cord cutting attempt, much like any attempt I’ve made to withhold my rage at the interim head coach for terrible clock management, or the defense’s unfathomable inability to recover a forced fumble, has failed. But I did cut the Dish bill by over 60%, which will save me over $600 in the next ten months. It’s not a $1,000 savings, but it’s a start.

I realize that saving $600 or $1,200 a year isn’t going to make our break our budget. I’ve been paying these bills all along and managed to become financially independent in spite of them. But if I were to take that approach with every money leak around the house, the slow leaks could build up to a steady stream. And this is a time where we’re doing our best to nail down what our annual spending is and will be going forward.

Have you cut the cord? If so, have you written about it? Link in the comments and I’ll add you to the bulleted list above. For those who have their cable / dish / fiber and love it, how much are you paying? Who’s paying the most?



  • With my cell phone bill near $40 a month, and landline+internet bill of $25 a month, and pay-as-you-go Dish TV plan of $20 a month, all heavily used, I haven’t cut any ‘cords’ and don’t intend to. I also hope to attend FinCon only next year after my website reaches certain milestones. As a ‘multimillionaire’ (by your definition 😊) and 1%er, do you really feel the need to cut these low value cords?

    • Well, I hope to see you there, TFR!

      Tell me more about your $20 Dish plan. That’s half mine! I don’t feel I need to cut these cords, but as a frugal physician, it bothered me to spend $100 a month on something that sits idle for weeks at a time throughout the spring and summer.

      -PoFfrugal physician

  • We cut the cord a few years back but I haven’t written about it yet. A year or so after we did that, we bought a vacation condo that includes cable as part of the association fees. We were then able to have online access to our account so we can watch it when we are not at the condo! We don’t use it that often, but we certainly have more channels than we could ever need now. We also have a roof antenna and pick up all the local network stations in HD without any trouble.

  • I have no idea if they’d run you out of FinCon, but 60% savings isn’t bad.

    We all have our vices — For some people, it’s football on TV. Others it’s beer. For me, it’s making snarky comments on personal finance blogs 😉

    Whatever the vice, as long as it isn’t significantly impacting your financial goals, it shouldn’t matter. Just don’t have too many vices all at once!

    In your case PoF, I think you can afford $38/month without any trouble. What’s that…like 5 minutes of work per month?

  • The Green Swan

    What!!! You haven’t cut the cord! Ha j/k…Pretty solid savings though, hard not to accept that deal. The new thing out there now is PlayStation Vue, I think it’s $35 or $40 per month depending on the package, but the middle package has all the ESPN channels and …. The Big Ten Network! You can stream it over a Roku if you have one. Something you may want to look into.

    • Good to know about the PS Vue, Green Swan. I’ve seen a couple commercials and tuned them out completely. I assumed they required a PlayStation and we’re not gamers here.

      I’m going to keep what I’ve got until after our Super Bowl party (we had 30 to 40 people over last year). I’ll probably cancel for the spring and summer and evaluate our options in August next year. I wonder if Vue gives you local channels. I’ll worry about that next year.


  • We haven’t cut our cord yet, I called and got a similar response from Direct TV. Since we still had a year on our contract they weren’t as amenable until I told them to charge me the cancellation fee, because it would pay out in 3 months, saving me 9 months of not paying anything. Then they dropped it down to $75/mo. I’ll cancel after the contract is up and see how it goes.

    I can definitely tell that this football season is different than years past (my biggest concern) and maybe it’s just the oversaturation with games on Thursday night every week now. I remember feeling a bit burnt out by the end of last year, and it doesn’t seem to have gone away yet. Plus, the kids are so active I don’t have the free time that I used to so Sunday football is slowly disappearing.

    • I hear you, coffee sipper. I had no leverage when I tried to negotiate mid-contract.

      My interest in the NFL has slowly waned over the years, but that just means I’m less fanatical. I still Hate to miss seeing my team play, and rarely do, thanks to the DVR. Any less interest in NFL has shifted to increased interest in NCAA Football.

      Just wait until we go to New Zealand or Australia for a year. Hopefully the internet will offer up some options to continue to see the games. Or maybe my obsession will soften when nobody else around me knows or cares about any of it.


      • Yeah, I just realized this MNF is Saints and Falcons, and being a Saints fan, I’ll “have” to try and make it out to at least see the first half of that one. CU Buffaloes are about as close as I could get to having a “big NCAA team” to root for in football. Although, WKU has gotten some tv time recently albeit only to get walloped, but I did give them a fair amount of money before transferring to CO. And Mines – well they’re great at engineering but Division II doesn’t get much air play, lol.

  • Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    $40 is a pretty solid deal for a full cable package. I kept calling and threatening to cancel and they would give me a great deal. Until one time they didn’t and I had to go through with canceling.

    Sports really are the biggest downside to cutting the cable. I pay for MLB.TV for my Red Sox games and will go to a bar or a friend’s place for the NFL. Considering the NFL season is only 16 games, this has worked out pretty well.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks

    We cut the cord 7 years ago, but we did get some OTA channels to take the place. These days I don’t even have time to bother with those.
    My filosophy is about getting the most happiness per dollar. If your gonna use it and got a great deal then go for it.
    Beers in Rincon sounds better than a conference. The first time I surfed was down there 🙂

  • After being frustrated with Verizon FIOS and trying to find a decent contract that suited our needs, we eventually just cut loose completely. We also cut phone service at the same time. Overall we are saving about $100 per month.

    With an antenna (get football games on NBC, ABC) and Sling TV (ESPN) and Thursday night football on Twitter app and the plethora of local hostelries (ahem, will Mr. PIE bust the budget on beer alone….?), I am covered nicely for Patriots games. Although getting a tad thin on QB choices for the next two games. I do miss not being able to see RedSox games on NESN however.

    For my other football passion, we use Tunnel Bear to access British TV, specifically to get a secure VPN and I can watch highlights of British / European games til my heart’s content. And of course a ton of other great stuff that British TV offers in terms of drama, comedy shows and news coverage.

    The sooner we can get to a much more open market where we can cherry pick (and of course pay reasonable $$’s) for our chosen TV packages, the better.

    • You’ve got it figured out. I wanted to move towards a similar setup, but OTA is worthless where I live. Cool that you can still watch your “football” games from back home, too.

      A la carte packages would be great, but the big boys don’t want to offer it. We’re slowly trending in that direction, though.


      p.s. Bummer about your quarterback(s). Brady will be back in a couple weeks, and Garoppolo looks like he’ll be a quality replacement when his time comes.

  • Neither of us have ever watched sports, so that make it easier. I didn’t have cable growing up. The first year or two we were married, we would get the 3 month trials. We haven’t had it at all for the last 12 years. Beings we never had it for more than a few months, I can’t really say I miss it. Our company keeps calling us because it would only be $10 a month more to add channels. But there is no way I would want to fight that battle with my kids. After our 6 week trip (with no netflix), I have managed to keep screen time for the oldest two under 25 minutes a day. And my youngest have forgotten about it all together! At this point, I don’t know if they could pay me to get channels.

    • You’re winning, Ms. Montana!

      I kinda wish I didn’t care that much, but spectator sports have been a part of my life from birth. I’m the third generation to graduate from the same B1G Ten school, and as far as being NFL fans, my Grandfather died suddenly in his recliner during a particularly stressful beatdown of the home team by Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf. We take this stuff that seriously!


  • I haven’t cut the cable yet but we’re thinking about it. I need to do some more research on an over the air antenna, and then maybe we’ll make our move.

  • Wow, well done! $38.66 a month for cable probably isn’t MMM-approved frugality, but totally consistent with a “frugal-plus” lifestyle that comes with a 7-figure portfolio. Being a sucker for the different sports events myself, I never intend to cut the cord either. But rattling the cage and threatening to leave every once in a while is something I definitely have to try myself. Thanks for the reminder!

  • We have not cut the cord and don’t expect we will. That is despite our bill be a LOT higher than $40/month. Everyone has their vices – mine is video. That’s why the call it ‘personal’ finance, I guess!

  • I loved your intro! This is a good reminder that I need to get back on the “cut the cord” band wagon. With my wife and two high-schoolers at home, no one likes change and no one wants to lose any functionality or channels. I feel like I’m trying to get a bill passed through Congress sometimes to get anything changed at home!

    I had previously tried an OTA antenna but the reception was poor. We still have a landline for the home phone, cable TV, and we have Verizon Wireless for our mobile phones. What the heck is wrong with me…mortifying!!

    It’s on the to do list, trust me!

    • The bad news is you’re paying a lot for all of that. The good news is, family willing, there is a whole lot of room for improvement! Add up the bills and you should be able to garner some support for some incremental change.

      Good luck, Jon!

  • I have been thinking and talking about getting rid of cable for years. Initially the motivation was to have more time, but when I started watching my expenses and saving for retirement, the $50/month bill started to bug me. Every time I try to do it, however, a show that I like to watch starts a new season – Master Chef, Top Chef, Survivor. (Clearly I’m a reality tv fan.) I think I might have finally accepted that I’m just always going to have tv, and that is okay.

  • I think you get an A for effort, plus the total price you’re paying is darn reasonable. I looked into the Sunday Ticket Online package through Direct TV that we could get without cable or dish, but it wasn’t available at our address. Wop wop. So we’re stuck with mooching games off of friends and occasionally dealing with a sports bar.

  • Everyone has there vices. When we want to watch a game we usually invite a friend over that still has cable. Many of the apps like espn3 and NBC will stream the game if you have a subscription somewhere. I actually used it one year to watch a college football game from the UK over a work VPN while on business. That being said I find we watch a lot less now that we have kids.

    • True story, FTF. Streaming has come a long ways. I bought a Chromecast dealio and have used it exactly once. To stream the Super Bowl to a TV that wasn’t hooked up to the Dish. That opened my eyes to more possibilities, though.


  • ChooseBetterLife

    Sounds like a win-win for now. I don’t watch much TV, but like you said, other electronic devices can still suck up time. Have you ever found the bottom of the internet?
    Enjoy your football, and if you try again, it probably shouldn’t be in the fall 🙂

  • Dr. FISRE

    Rincon is awesome! It is one of my favorite parts of PR. I am native PRican currently in the states just starting my practice and planning my move back to PR soon.
    I don’t know if you are aware of the law 22 which they enacted in which “high net worth” people who relocate there pay a whooping 0% of taxes on capital gains while paying no federal taxes!!! All you have to do is live there for half the year and become a resident there.
    If you can somehow export you anesthesiology services from PR to the states you could pay 4% tax on those services(law 20).

    It is a little complicated but Something worth checking into.
    google law 20, 22 puerto rico and you’ll get more info.

    I’m talking today to a PR lawyer to see if I can make it work so that I pay only 4% tax on my income which would accelerate my path to early retirement exponentially.



    • Very interesting. When I was there, I did learn about tax breaks that led many, if not most, of the pharmaceutical companies to move their headquarters from mainland U.S. to P.R. I don’t remember the details, but I recall the tax breaks expired, causing hardship on your island.

      I’m not familiar with Law 22, but I’ll be curious to know if it works out for you in the long run. As for me, my days as a real doctor are numbered. A couple-three years here, maybe a year or so in the southern hemisphere, and I’m out.


  • S.G.

    Yup, we have cable for the football. Tried Sling and a roku box and we kept having problems so we went back to cable. We’re also in an antenna dead zone and football access is one of DH’s lines in the sand.

    And we are Verizon. Sprint is the only carrier to my knowledge that will allow discounters to access their networks and our house is in a dead area for them, too. At least we get a bit of a discount through our employer.

    Both are those comforts that set us back but aren’t worth a fight.

    • I’m in a similar boat. OTA gets me nothing.

      Before I switched to Republic Wireless (Sprint based), I was on PagePlus, which used Verizon towers first, I believe. You might want to look into that.

      I checked out the reviews on Sling and there were a number of 1-star reviews. Good concept, poor execution for some, apparently. It’s owned by Dish, by the way. They might want it to stink.


      • S.G.

        Yeah, we had loading problems with Sling and it would often, maybe even a majority of the time, default to low res which was literally painful to watch. My eyes kept straining like it was their fault that everything was blurry. We called Comcast and they gave us a better price so DH and I just met in the middle with cheaper cable. The marginal cost is actually quite low as we bundle with internet. Though I guess they aren’t bundle pricing any more so he and I may need to renegotiate when our price is up.

      • S.G.

        It looks like you are correct that PagePlus is based on Verizon, which is kinda cool. The problem is that as soon as I look at a reasonable number of minutes I may as well stay with my employer sponsored plan. Though I am thinking of calling Verizon because I’ve heard they have unpublished off contract rates if you know how to ask.

  • I would have to also cut my husband’s hand off at the wrist to disengage the remote, just not worth it.

  • We have been TV free, cable free, and Nexflix free for over 5 years. Don’t miss a thing. 🙂

  • I have not had cable for almost 7 years now. I do not even miss it. Television is a good distraction but than there is also YouTube and Netflix. Just sayin. Also, I find that I am a lot more active when I am not constantly wanting to keep up with the next series of shows. If I had cable now, I would probably be following like 6 shows. I don’t have time for that nor do I want to devote any time for that. It is a personal choice I guess. But yah, cut the cord a long time ago.

    • I hear you, Pamela. But how much have you / we just swapped one kind of screen time for another? I peer into this 32″ monitor as much or more than I ever stared at a television from across the room. And it’s only two to three feet away from my eyeballs!

      Just sayin’

  • Brian

    Exactly right PoF – all you have to do is ask. I recently had DirecTV take off $65 a month in large part because I’ve been with them forever was able to use PlayStation Vue as leverage this time. I tested Vue for a month on Roku (hated it) but it certainly helped motivate DTV to narrow the price gap because I can’t go without my maroon/gold and purple/gold tackle football…

    • Leverage is huge in any negotiation. I’m curious to hear what you hated about PS Vue. It was brought up earlier today. I feel like any “alternative” service has a ways to go before it can truly replace the expensive but reliable services that are dominant today.


      • Brian

        It was the reliability, particularly during sporting events that was challenged. Regular shows seemed to be fine. Im sure quality will improve over time to make I more like a Netflix/Prime/Hulu experience.

  • TheRetirementManifesto

    Hey Doc! Thanks for the shoutout on my post (man, I’m CRUSHED that you didn’t take my challenge!!). Your statement….
    “I’ve been paying these bills all along and managed to become financially independent in spite of them.”…. is important. Money is a means to an end. If that end includes watching football, because you ENJOY it, then it’s worth spending $$ on (especially when you crushed it with a 60% reduction in your monthly fee!). Keep the goal in mind. Earn enough money to ENJOY life. Then, enjoy it.

    • Anytime, Fritz!

      It’s not that I didn’t take your challenge, it’s just that I didn’t pass.

      And, like you say, that’s OK. I’m still trying to decide if I enjoy watching football. I live it more than I watch it. My emotions rise and fall in stride with those of the head coach. Going to the games is definitely enjoyable. Football keeps my fall and winter weekends interesting, if nothing else!


  • For me it wasn’t about the money, it was about the toxic programing and advertising. That’s the real cost of watching too much television. Funny thing is I don’t miss it, not one bit. Now video games…well at least there are no advertisements 😉

  • We just have Netflix, but “borrow” my in-laws dish password to watch ESPN and Big 10 (shhhh!). And honestly, the reception is crappy. It is free, but when you miss big plays…loud, foul words spill from my husband’s mouth. We’ve also tried Sling, but still have a ton of buffering to deal with. $40 is a great deal!!!

  • fatherhooded

    I find that your post makes sense…considering that most companies like Hulu, Netflix, others are now gaining leverage, these TV providers must provide some darn good pricing to match that! I personally use a high speed only connection, but many times I wish I had more than 20 channels! (Internet comes pre packaged with basic cable stations)

  • Hatton1

    I watch almost no tv. The only thing I really watch is the Fox News Network for breaking news and commentary. I don’t like CNN. I have the skinniest package that includes Fox News from my cable provider. Is anyone aware of Fox News being available on one of these new alternate sources? I know it is not on sling.

  • Ahh, the NFL and college football. I had this problem too. Couldn’t give it up until I figured out how to solve the puzzle. Once I did, I cut the cord.

    My solution is to pay $130 to the NFL and then use a SmartDNS service to route my NFL-only traffic through Europe. This lets me use the NFL app on the Apple TV to watch every game live (Thursday, Sunday and Monday) and doesn’t impact any other aspect of my Internet.

    For college football, everything I want to watch is on ESPN.

    • Glad you found a solution! Routing internet traffic through Europe? Sounds like money laundering, but with 1s and 0s.

      ESPN has a lot of games, and I assume you’re including ABC (in the Disney / ESPN family), but there’s CBS, NBC, B1G Ten, etc… A better solution would be to care less about the games, but I don’t think that’s realistic for me.


      • Not quite, but close. What many people don’t realize is the NFL has a robust streaming service that broadcasts NFL games outside of the US. Anyone that’s lived abroad is familiar with it, but it’s still pretty rare for someone in the US to have heard of it. Since the NFL is selling it directly, they’re more than happy to let you sign up if you’re outside the US (and that’s the trick for you as the consumer to figure out). Is the NFL violating their license agreement with Dish Network who has exclusive rights over the NFL 1s and 0s broadcast in the US? Perhaps. The Supreme Court didn’t buy Aereo’s argument that an individual DVR recording live TV and sending it seconds later to the consumer didn’t violate copyright law. But this is a bit different since you’re paying the NFL directly, so they’re not going to complain about having their copyright violated. Again, it’s only Dish Network that likely feels their license is being violated. When the license expires, it’ll be interesting to see if the NFL thinks they can get more money from a provider like Dish or through selling the service directly themselves.

        On ESPN, I pick up the ABC/CBS/NBC games with an antenna. Are there games on the Big Ten Network that aren’t on ESPN? My team is SEC, so I haven’t encountered that network.

        • Very interesting. That’s good to know. When I’m living overseas, I won’t have to worry about the law. I can just pay the NFL directly.

          Yes, BTN has quite a few games that are exclusive to BTN. Top 10 matchups, like WI vs. MI yesterday end up on a national stage, but some of the others are BTN only. The network is independent, whereas the SEC network is owned by ESPN.


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