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I can’t believe this guy is paying $440/month for cable


Warning – this is a rant post. Usually I don’t rant much because I don’t like to dwell on the negative, but this guy is a serious jackass and I just have to vent. Last week, Jenny, one of our readers, forwarded me an article from Yahoo! Voices  – Why I happily spend $440 a month on my cable package.

Wow! That’s a lot of money to spend on cable every month. Just to put it in perspective, if he invest $440/month and has a 6% ROI instead, he would have $171,287 to put toward his kids’ college education in 18 years. He’d better have some great reasons why he’s spending so much on cable. We pay Comcast $40 every month just for the internet access and I think that’s already too much. BTW, I mainly use it for blogging so I can write the bill off as business expense.

Here is Ben’s opening:

Welcome to my home: Pandora radio is echoing classic jazz music off the walls. My son, 2 1/2 years old, is watching “The Jungle Book” on the big screen in the living room while my daughter, 1 1/2, enjoys “Barbie in the Nutcracker” on the family room’s television. In the nursery my youngest daughter — she’s an infant — has finally fallen asleep to the soothing sounds of Pandora. Where am I?

This doesn’t bode well for his kids. He’s using multiple TVs to babysit his kids and it will have long term repercussions. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under 2 should avoid television completely and older kids limit screen time to one or two hours per day. Studies have shown that excessive screen time can lead to attention problems later on.

Speaking from experience, Baby RB40 is already ignoring 99% of what I say and he doesn’t even have a $440 cable package. He only watches snippets of news, Jeopardy, and some PBS cartoons. He is too energetic so he really can’t sit and watch TV for long. He can stay put for about 15 minutes when Wild Kratts comes on and that’s about it. After that, he’ll be running around or crashing his cars & trains. That’s one reason why I’m not getting an iPad for our kid.

Too much TV is not good

Ben didn’t tell us exactly how much TVs his kids watch each day, but it sounds like a lot. It’s a bad idea to park your young children in front of the TV for an extended period of time, but maybe he doesn’t have any other choices. He mentioned that he is recently separated from his wife and it has to be extremely difficult to deal with 3 kids. I guess you have to do what you have to do, but he should at least have the decency to feel guilty about it like the rest of us. Here are just some problems that can develop from watching too much TV as a kid.

  • Attention problems – The aforementioned attention problems include short attention span, poor concentration, and being easily distracted. The kids might be easier to handle now, but there will be a lot of problems when they start school.
  • Obesity – He is training his kids to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting in front of the TV is a fast track to obesity. Studies have shown that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to gain excess weight. That’s not surprising, is it? Especially with the junk food we consume while watching the tube.
  • Violence– Kids who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior. OK, I’m guilty of this one. We have been watching quite a few Kung Fu movies lately. I’d better cut back a bit. Last week, one guy got killed by an explosion in a movie and Baby RB40 promptly announced – “dead.”
  • Commercials – Companies know how to market to kids. The more your kids watch TV, the more products you’ll be asked to buy. Luckily, we only watch cartoons on PBS so Baby RB40 isn’t exposed to a lot of commercials right now.

OK, I’m not saying we should cut TV off completely, but you can’t just park your kids in front of the TV and be proud of it. Ben’s article sounds like it’s bought to you buy Comcast and he should mention that if it’s the case.

turn off the TV and go outside

Enjoy Summer while you can

The summer is here and it’s frigging beautiful right now. Why the heck would you want to be cooped up inside? Just these last few days, we were all over the great outdoors:

  • -$6 Visited the Grotto – “ beautiful 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden in Portland, OR.”
  • $0 Smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden. The roses are blooming and it’s just beautiful up there.
  • $0 Ran around various playgrounds and had a great time.
  • $0 Listen to free live music at Pioneer Square – Tyler Stenson was pretty darn good. You can get 3 free songs from his site right now!
  • $0 Got a free tattoo (temporary) at the Festival of Flower.
  • -$4.50 Ate a pound of fresh cherries from the farmer market.
  • $0 Splashed at the Teachers Fountain while watching Nia dance. Hey, we’re paying $475,000/year to run this park so we might as well enjoy it.
  • +$10 Made 10 bucks for test driving the Ford electric vehicle near PSU. Score!

Anyway, the guy should get out more with his kids. Baby RB40 is happiest when he is outdoors and I’m sure he would spend all day outside if he could. TV makes a bad babysitter and you shouldn’t rely on it unless you have no other choice.

Sorry for ranting, but I can’t imagine wasting money like that…. Have a great weekend and please don’t spend it cooped up inside!

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 52 comments… add one }
  • simple living June 7, 2013, 2:53 am

    $440 a month! Are you serious? I though that was a typo when I saw it in the title.

    That’s ridiculous, but if that person feels there is value in what they are paying for, more power to them. Free-to-air and streaming works fine for me – total cost: nada, work covers my broadband 🙂

  • [email protected] June 7, 2013, 4:37 am

    You should rant more often. Definitely fun to read.

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t have kids yet, but I plan to very active with my kids and I can’t be active with them if they are staring at the tv.

    And what kind of package is he getting for $440 anyway?

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:10 am

      Heh heh, thanks. I think he’s getting the best of everything + a bunch of on demand viewing.

  • Alexa @ travelmiamor June 7, 2013, 5:28 am

    WOW! That is ridiculous! We also only pay about $40 for internet, but we get cable for $1 because they didn’t want to lose us as a customer. We couldn’t turn it down for a $1! My husband has mad negotiating skills!

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:11 am

      Nice job!

  • My Financial Independence Journey June 7, 2013, 6:32 am

    I’d have to quit my job and do nothing other than watch TV to make $440 a month a reasonable expense.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:11 am

      Hahaha, yeah. If you’re using it all day, it might be worth it.

  • Savvy Financial Latina June 7, 2013, 7:38 am

    Rants are fun! Especially personal finance rants!
    We don’t have cable. I’m so glad. We get all our shows off hulu and netflix, and I share those services with my family.
    I think kids should be outdoors. TV slows them down, and limits their imagination. While it’s a good babysitter, if you are not prepared to be a parent and give them time, then it’s simple, use birth control and don’t have kids.
    For example, I know at this moment in my life I have no desire to take care of kids, financially or emotionally. I don’t have time.. I still feel like a kid, myself. Am I running around having kids? No, I’m not prepared.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:12 am

      It’s good that you’re putting it off. We had a ton of fun when we were young and a kid would have slowed us way down. Having a kid in our mid/late 30s was a great decision for us.

  • Darlene with BlogBoldly June 7, 2013, 7:38 am

    I can honestly say I’ve probably watched TV five times since the election.

    Now what I do like to do (and it’s totally free) is watch my favorite shows on my computer. I can sit in a comfy chair and watch with “limited commercial interruptions.”

    Plus I can save them up for 2-3 episodes and then when there’s a cliffhanger, I just go right into the next episode!

    ~ darlene 🙂

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:13 am

      I hate waiting for the next episode too. That’s why I just get the DVD and don’t have to wait a whole week. 5 times is pretty awesome. 🙂

  • Pretired Nick June 7, 2013, 7:45 am

    Your rants are a lot nicer than other people’s rants. I can say from personal experience that Baby RB40 does have a ton of energy! That’s a sign of a healthy, happy kid! I’m still processing how it’s possible to spend $440 on cable. Do four people in the house each have their own contract or something?

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 9:14 am

      Mrs. RB40 beats the swearing out of me in our 20s. 🙂
      I think he got the most expensive package and also spend a lot with on demand. It’s pretty crazy.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor June 7, 2013, 7:53 am

    Awesome rant Joe, thanks. $440 would go a long way toward hiring a teenager to actually interact with the kids!

  • Michelle June 7, 2013, 8:36 am

    Great post! I don’t understand how $440 is possible? Is he getting like 1 million TV channels? LOL I am confused! This person is nuts.

  • anon e. mouse June 7, 2013, 8:50 am

    His cable package apparently includes his home phone and internet access. Without knowing more about him, how can one know if it’s a reasonable expenditure or not? Clearly for many people it’s not affordable or requires undesirable tradeoffs. But if he makes a healthy income, $440/month may be in the noise.

    I see no reason to judge. But perhaps that’s because we spend $300/month for slow, data-capped internet access.

  • Kris June 7, 2013, 9:22 am

    I’m thinking that in our area, super high speed internet can cost about $150-200 (really, really, really high speed). Cable packages with all channels and on-demand usually cost $200. When I break it down, I can totally see how he spends that much money.

    That being said. That’s a stupid amount of money. His electricity bill is probably off the charts.

  • krantcents June 7, 2013, 10:41 am

    Hard to believe you can spend that much for TV! Your rant is justified. I do not care how much he may make, that is a giant waste of money.

  • jim June 7, 2013, 10:51 am

    I see the article here :

    They may have moved the URL or temporarily changed it.

    I was puzzled how he could spend so much. I added up the most expensive bundle and all the movie channels on Comcast and it seems around $300. But he did also pay $75 for ‘on demand’ purchases. I guess if he had a couple extra things it could hit $440 level as prices vary from market to market.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 2:52 pm

      Thanks for finding the link! I updated the post with the link.
      Yeah, he spends a lot for on demand. Why not just get Netflix? Seems silly to me.

      • jim June 10, 2013, 11:56 am

        He could probably save an easy $50-100 by just using Netflix instead of the on demand movies and movie channels.

    • Steve June 9, 2013, 9:04 am

      Also taxes and fees.

  • T3 June 7, 2013, 11:53 am

    The only thing that is missing here is how much $440 a month would turn into in 18 years when the kids are in college. Most of these things, or at least good alternatives, can be done with internet access and free streaming.
    I spend money on stupid things and make horrible parenting decisions at times (nobody’s perfect) , but at least I don’t advertise it to the world.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Doh! Thanks for the feedback. I updated the article with the info.
      Yeah, we all make dumb decisions, but we don’t brag about them. 🙂

  • So sad for the children to in separate rooms and not together as a family. My sons and I shared 1 tv with an antenna and it was a time for all sitting together on the big couch to talk while we watched. We didn’t get a second tv until they were teenagers and I they needed space with their friends.

    I will be inside this weekend in my part of Ontario because it is cold and miserable and for the first time ever I turned my furnace on in June.

  • Gen Y Finance Journey June 7, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Just read the article. The funny thing is, the part that flabbergasted me even more than the amount of TV is the fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to look up what a marsupial is so he could answer his son’s question. Instead, he made up an incorrect answer. And then laughed about it later when his son repeated the incorrect information. Great parenting.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 2:55 pm

      I think guys tend to do resort to making up stuff first. 🙂 I’ll be sure to check wiki when my son ask me something.

  • nicoleandmaggie June 7, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I’m feeling a bit cranky because it’s insanely hot outside and will be for the next 3 months. Also I have both a cold (on the mend) and allergies (just started). I plan to spend the weekend in bed.

    • retirebyforty June 7, 2013, 2:56 pm

      Hope you feel better soon! It’s finally nice here in the Pacific NW. It’s been a long winter for us and everyone is dragging themselves outside no matter what condition they’re in.

  • Your Daily Finance June 7, 2013, 5:42 pm

    This person is on something…must be sniffing cherries instead of eating them. $440 on cable and probably no savings or 401k. People are really just stupid. i was hoping it was 440 for the year but geez.

  • My Multiple Incomes June 7, 2013, 9:36 pm

    Ranting is fun especially if the topic is something that a lot of people can relate to! TV is a necessary evil in these days, not because we lack things to do, but mainly because it becomes part of our lives from the time we were young. It’s good to cut down the TV viewing time and give more time to more outdoorsy or physical activities for our youngsters.

  • thepotatohead June 8, 2013, 7:53 am

    $440 a month, holy cow!! I was paying $150 a month for cable and I thought that was outrageous. After months of waffling, I finally called Comcast and told them to shove it. I’ve officially been cable free since March and I can honestly say I don’t miss it one bit.

    • retirebyforty June 9, 2013, 4:07 pm

      Great job! There are so many other things to do.

  • Felix Lee June 8, 2013, 9:18 am

    Spending that much on cable to replace your responsibility as a babysitter to your kids is really ridiculous. This guy must have not known of the bad effects of too much TV exposure. I hope this guy will realize the soonest that his idea of babysitting his kids through this is really a hilarious idea.

  • [email protected] June 8, 2013, 10:55 am

    My parents never allowed us to have TV when we were growing up, and I think it’s an interesting perspective. Especially now, there seems to be little need, with the accessibility of internet.

  • Grayson @ Debt RoundUp June 8, 2013, 7:14 pm

    How in the hell can you even spend that much. I don’t even know how that is possible. Just crazy spending with no justification. I am pissed to pay $45 a month for just internet.

  • Steve June 9, 2013, 9:17 am

    Now that the article is back and/or RB40 found the new link, you can see the breakdown of how he amasses his $440 per month bill. Almost half of it is the $215, 200+ channel, cable TV package with all the premium channels and sports channels.

    What’s amazing to me is that he has 200 channels and yet, at least 10? times a month he can’t find anything worth watching and buys something on-demand.

  • Paul @ The Frugal Toad June 9, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I guess he feels that he is getting value for his monthly investment. Personally I can’t see the logic in a monthly cable bill of $440! I’m upset my cable bill just went up $15 to $112!

  • Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa June 9, 2013, 8:10 pm

    Cable is just a bad idea in general: http://studentloansherpa.com/cut-the-cable/ There is almost no reason to pay for it at all… let alone $440.

  • mrswastenot June 10, 2013, 8:36 am

    I liked the part about how he has 80 tabs open at once so he can work and socialize at the same time. Must be very efficient. I feel bad for that family on so many levels – the divorce, the parenting which seems more like ignoring and the inefficiency.

    • retirebyforty June 10, 2013, 10:12 pm

      80 tabs is nuts. That’s way too much multitasking.

  • Jon June 10, 2013, 12:42 pm

    The shocking thing to me is that there are even cable plans that are as expensive as $440/month out there!

  • Anton Ivanov June 11, 2013, 10:51 am

    Completely agree with you, Joe – this is just ridiculous. I don’t even have cable TV right now (haven’t had it for more than 10 years) and I have absolutely no complaints. Yes, it can be entertaining, but there is so much to do in life besides staring at an LCD screen all day.

  • Captain Dividend June 12, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Wow and I thought my old DSL bill was high (just over $100 ) but $440 is crazy ! I’ve never even heard of anything that high.

  • JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit June 13, 2013, 9:58 am

    When I was old enough to stay at home by myself alone during the summers I watched tv/played video games from about 7-10 am, and it was only that long because I always woke up early and most of my friends didn’t get up until later. After that we were outside pretty much the rest of the day. And that was while being unsupervised and not having a parent forcing us to be outside. I have to agree that children for the most part want to be outside and need to be outside exploring and learning. Until we teach them about being sedentary it’s an unknown concept.

    And how do you spend $440 per month on cable? That’s ridiculous.

  • Walt June 16, 2013, 7:22 am

    I went on Comcast’s web site. With their 12-month “promo” I can get it to $310 if I buy literally everything they offer, including phone and converter boxes for 4 tvs. It goes up some at months (about $25) and then another $20 at 24 months, so long term cost would be $355.

    They must have more TVs than 4 and pay for a lot of on demand.

    My cable bill is $82 a month including internet and I’ll have it down to internet only by this time next month (I bought an antenna but there’s a few hours of work to be done to get switched over.) Still $55 or so but I can’t live without high speed internet, and Comcast is really the only choice at this address if I want essentially unlimited at a decent speed. (We use about 70 GB a month.)

    • Walt June 16, 2013, 7:22 am

      Ugh, meant “…it goes up some at 12 months…”

  • dmm0126 June 18, 2013, 9:32 am

    For TV/Internet entertianment subscriptions we spend $143 a month. This includes: On Demand Subscription Level Cable w/one HD box ($10) and one standard tv box ($2), Internet, rented modem and router, 2 Instant Netflix Accounts, 1 Netflix DVD Account and 1 MLB Network Subscription so my husband who is not living in his home state can watch the Phillies play, in the winter this will change to the Sports Package ($5) and possibly an NHL subscription…”sports anyone?”
    I’m as bad as most at watching the cable shows: couples buying houses, that timed cooking contest, the family whose names all start and end w/K (yes I know dispicable). However, if my husband would agree I’d drop the cable down to the to $7 a month reception sub. in a heartbeat and save us $53 a month (jeez $53 a month so gross). I’m slowly adding my Netflix Instant Que to his so we can get rid of the dual subscriptions (savings of $8 a month)…but I will langish his 5 star rating of movies like Predator vs. Alien and how they will affect what Netflix suggests to me. 🙂 We also have Amazon Prime, but I don’t count that because we use it primarily for the shipping (def. worth the value IMO $80 a year and they let different account holders share it!). I’d love to cut the strings on the Netflix DVD sub. since some months I don’t use it at all, but there’s no streaming subscription or movie rental options that will give me access to as many movies as the Netflix DVD does. I wish Netflix would start an online rental option like Prime Instant or VUDU offer but with more selection.
    As for this guy, maybe no one taught him, or maybe after the split with the wife he feels bad about saying to no his kids requests…but you can give kids crafts and all sorts of creative projects that will entertain them the same way TV does. Take one of the boxes that the TV came in and make a fort, you won’t hear from them for hours!

  • davidmichael July 3, 2013, 9:57 am

    I resigned from my community college (California) teaching position in 1980 after 16 years to start a company. After I sold the company 20 years later, I went back to teaching part-time (chemistry) in our local community college in Oregon. What I noticed immediately in the classroom was the student’s short attention span. Talked with other teachers and they agreed that there has been a major change in attention span over the past 20 years. Why?
    Television. I used to figure 20 minutes before changing topics or jumping around the classroom to keep student’s attention. Now it’s more like ten minutes, and with texting, smart phones, tablets, etc, I suspect it’s more like five minutes. Young people all too often have this “entertain me” mentality or they get bored. Welcome to the Brave New World of technology.

    If I was raising a child today, I would limit TV or Tablet time to 30 minutes a day and provide creative outlets and creative play as their main focus just as we did as kids. One of our kids did this and her daughters are amazing. One has just completed her high school years in a Waldorf Performing Arts school (Boulder, CO) having performed in all kinds of musicals and plays. She’s going to the University of Venice (Italy) to study Mandarin for her undergraduate degree. (Is that out of the box or what?) The other child is ranked the number two climber in the USA for her age group (15) and will compete in the world finals this summer in Victoria, B.C.

    In summary…the worst thing for kids today is TV (IMHO). Place limits on them as they are growing up. You will be ever so thankful when they are teenagers.

    • Walt July 3, 2013, 10:40 am


      I think you’re off by a generation in blaming TV. The kids you were teaching in the late 1970’s grew up with plenty of TV too, just fewer choices. I graduated from high school in 1986. We had 40+ cable channels and the TV was on pretty much constantly.

      Today’s children are growing up with immersive video games (not the Asteroids, Pac Man and Pong of the 80’s,) computers, smart phones, tablets, and constant stimulation and interaction from all directions.

      They may have shorter attention spans.

      It’s likely also that your teaching style may just not be as compelling, interactive and interesting as they get from most other sources.

      These same kids who “can’t focus for more than 5 minutes” can do a sixteen hour marathon playing Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, or doing any number of other things that interest them.

      None of this is new, of course. Today’s kids are always worse than the adults remember having been – all of the way back to the ancient Greeks. Every generation is different in some way that seems worse to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

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