To have and to hold at 8:00 PM (7:00 PM central)

One of the warmest memories of my life so far is that of the look on my husband’s face as we said our wedding vows. Since then, I’ve only seen the look on his face three other times: when each of our sons were born…and when I signed us up for Netflix.

One of the warmest memories of my life so far is that of the look on my husband’s face as we said our wedding vows. I cherish that memory more than almost any other. His face was brilliantly joyous and made me feel so loved. I replay it in my head often to ensure that it doesn’t fade with the years.

Why am I bringing this up in a personal finance column? Because I’ve only seen that look on his face three other times: when each of our sons were born…and when I signed us up for Netflix.

I’ve never had cable (except for a brief, wild and crazy few months in college). During my childhood our family lived too far out in the boonies to get cable. We had PBS and the three major networks if we turned the antenna just right. Also, my daddy is super frugal. “Wears his work clothes even though he is retired” frugal. “Thinks he is too poor to buy steak at Walmart even though he isn’t” frugal. “Thinks my mom is a spendthrift because she likes to shop at Goodwill” frugal. It was in this household that I learned at a tender age that paying for TV will ENSURE YOUR FINANCIAL DOWNFALL AND POSSIBLY MAKE THE UNIVERSE HATE YOU. Then I grew up and got married.

My husband, God bless him, loves TV and movies. He watches trailers before shows and movies come out. He reads online buzz about shows he is adding to his carefully curated watch list. And for 10 years of marriage, he survived by watching TV via an enormous antenna on top our house and on the internet.1

I think even my fanboy husband will tell you our life without paying for TV was great. I estimate we saved about $6,000, all told. We also think it made us much more strategic and purposeful about the television shows we did watch, instead of making a habit of just plopping down on the sofa to mindlessly flip channels.

And then a couple of things happened:

  1. We got tired of feeling like bad people for downloading the few shows we couldn’t watch for free.
  2. We had children.
  3. We ramped up our freelance business to become our major source of income.

Friends, it is just wrong to steal TV. You shouldn’t do it. We have enough on our minds (see items two and three above) without having to worry about being criminals and douchebags.

One of the things we didn’t know going into having children and relying on a freelance income is just how run down each of those enterprises makes you feel by the end of the week. When we were footloose and fancy free we could relax and recharge any time we wanted. Want to stay up late and finish this project? Sure! We’ll just go to bed early tomorrow. Need to work really late tonight? No prob! When we do get home we’ll just sit around and relax. With a freelance business and children, you are never really off the clock. When we do get 30 minutes of quiet time, we want to turn off our brains and let TV entertain us.

So for my husband’s 32nd birthday, I signed us up for Netflix.2 He beamed. He gushed. He might have squealed with delight. All I know is he made that wedding vow face, and I felt like the best wife ever.

Financially this is still a win for us. Cable seems to start at about $70 per month, but we are paying about $22 per month (Netfix + Hulu Plus + Apple TV, assuming we use it for two years before replacing it). I can think of savings accounts that would like to see that $264 per year, but my husband and I agree that this is the right thing at this time in our lives.

We watch Cosmos as a family. We can watch This Old House on a TV instead of a little laptop screen. Every once in a while we’ll have a blessed, quiet afternoon because our son is watching Curious George. We’ve actually joined the rest of the world!

— ∮∮∮ —

How about your family? Do you think we are crazy for spending so much on something that rots our brains and turns us into couch potatoes? Does your miserly spouse deprive you of your American right to watch TV? I promise to look at your comments after my show is over.

Photo by: Shardayyy

  1. He has a motorcycle and the latest iPhone, people; he was making do just fine. 
  2. Since then I let him buy a much nicer TV used on Craigslist, signed us up for Hulu Plus, and even jumped on the Apple TV bandwagon 
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Amanda Gibson

Amanda Gibson used to teach folks about money at the Fed. Now she spends her days reading history books, raising kids, and thinking of ways to rule the world.

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