What I’ve Learned By Canceling Netflix
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We canceled Netflix back in October, and in addition saving $32, I’ve also saved lots of time and learned a few more things about myself. After having Netflix constantly since 2010, we took a break.
The break wasn’t meant to be a TV watching ban or with any specific goals in mind. Mostly, I was working to challenge more of my spending, and the big expenses were already tackled. But I did want to become a more intentional consumer of TV.
And as much as the fictional “best” version of myself doesn’t consume very much TV content, we still found plenty of time to watch TV. Later in the article, I get into how we watch TV now that we can’t just turn on Netflix.
Why We Cancelled Netflix
Netflix Costs Money
We’ve built a life that doesn’t require a lot of money to thrive. So, after chopping our grocery bill, driving less, and giving up impulse shopping I was pretty happy with where our spending landed every month. We’ve been tracking our spending for years, and I had lumped Netflix in with Internet as a reasonably priced item.
It is so convenient to turn on the TV after a long day of work, or on the weekend. And while we cut the cable cord years ago (sorta), Netflix was always proposed as the compromise option. No cable = subscribe to Netflix. I should have questioned this years ago.
Finally, after finishing the newest Bojack Horseman season, Mr. Kiwi and I were clicking through Netflix looking for the next show to binge. We couldn’t settle on anything and tried the first episode of a couple of different shows. We realized we were spending so much time looking for a way to zone out. TV isn’t particularly recharging or refreshing, but is a lot easier than opening a new book. We were bickering over shows, and pointing out the flaws in what our partner suggested trying. Then, we considered just cancelling Netflix.
It’s such an easy idea, that we hadn’t entertained before, since Netflix was the main source of entertainment we jointly consumed. Watching an episode or two most evenings seemed like a harmless frugal “date.”
And once the idea was suggested, the other frugal partner latched on and said, yeah, let’s cancel it! So, I logged into my account, turned off the auto-renew, and then we had ten more days of Netflix.
I thought we would spend those ten days glued to shows, getting our last binge watching in, but at that point we were ready to find other ways to spend our evenings. And ten days later Netflix wasn’t an option.
How Much are we Saving?
We were on the cheap US Netflix plan: $7.99/month.
$7.99/month = $95.88/year
This means we need $2,297 less to reach our early retirement number. Which, by itself, is nothing earth shattering. But, we’ve reduced our spending by $15,000 each year. We know that $15,000 is just a series of $100 decisions.
Netflix Enables Our Binge Consuming
I recently finished reading Cait Flanders’ book The Year of Less, and really enjoyed it. In fact it’s what sparked me to reflect and think on what a few months sans Netflix has really done for me.
Like Cait, I would say that I’ve always been a binge consumer, but not in all the same ways. My two biggest binge vices are food and TV. I’ve been working to manage both of them for years. I know that watching hours of TV or eating way too many calories (even if they are from “healthy” foods) isn’t a healthy decision.
The other thing Cait pointed out in her great book, was that she owned a lot of stuff that she didn’t use, but thought she should use. I definitely have a dream version of me, that I just don’t quite live up to…yet. Some of those dreams will become a reality in the future, but others will never be lived out IRL. And that’s okay.
Cutting out the Netflix and making binging media, has made me more self-aware of those discrepancies. It’s pretty easy to ignore difficult things, when I can just turn on the TV and let my mind drift.
And while I dream of a day when I have more control over my 8-5, I sure spent a lot of time zoning out. I used to do a lot of binge watching, while also reading email and social media. I’m still figuring out what my comfortable balance is, but I’ve been spending a lot more time creating, crafting, reading, and thinking now that Netflix isn’t there to distract me.
What Cancelling Netflix Meant for Me
Well, I’ve always been a list maker, and during the day at work I’ll regularly jot things down that I’d like to get accomplished in the evening. Rarely, did I ever get those activities done.
Now, that I’m not spending much time watching Netflix in the evening I can happily report more of those fun tasks are getting done! But I’m still pretty darn good at procrastinating the less enjoyable or more daunting ones.
My evenings are spent:
- Updating our bathroom vanity (along with other small household projects)
- Exercising (February plank challenge anyone?)
- Writing and working on the blog
- Cooking new recipes
- Reading, in fact I’ve read four books* already this year 🙂
- Making gifts for the upcoming baby and wedding showers this year
I’m still finding my balance and how to set reasonable goals. But my weekends feel much longer since I’ve gotten more accomplished during the week.
How We Still Watch Plenty of TV
Oh, and don’t let canceling Netflix imply that we are no longer watching TV. In all honesty, watching TV isn’t really much more difficult now than it was before.
- We get basic channels with our internet package (all the antenna options). Turn on our TV, turn on the cable box: bam TV
- Our internet package also comes with HBO for free
- Our PS3 is connected to Amazon Prime, so we can watch their selection
- YouTube is also connected to our PS3
There are plenty of hours of TV and movies to consume with these four options, but at least for us, they feel slightly more inconvenient. The commercials on YouTube and basic channels are super off-putting. Amazon Prime is loaded with content that isn’t included for free (we aren’t falling for that). And, we have a couple of HBO shows we watch, but they’re currently on hiatus.
The slight extra step to consume TV was a good choice for our happiness. Now, when we sit down to watch TV we are a little more intentional about it.
Oh, but we did find reruns of Supermarket Sweep on Amazon Prime. I remember watching that awesome 90s game show after school growing up. I guess I always loved grocery shopping. And I’ll totally excuse you if you stop reading here to go watch an episode or two. Don’t worry the show is as ridiculous as you’d expect.
Looking Ahead…Will we Subscribe Again?
In 2018 we are committing to testing out one new** hobby each month. Mr. Kiwi picks one for himself and we take one on as a couple. I have also taken on one big goal for 2018, so that’s my individual focus. Having the free time in the evenings or on weekends has helped us focus on those goals.
Our plan is to subscribe again for Netflix one or two months a year. We have no hard rules or ban, and figure once we start craving it again we’ll sign up. My guess is when a new season of a favorite show is released we’ll sign up that month. As of now, we feel no urge to add that monthly bill to our lives.
Canceling Netflix hasn’t lead to any groundbreaking discoveries. But it has slowly shifted how we spend our evenings. And, while Mr. Kiwi and I maybe spend less time sitting near each other in the same room, those Netflix dates weren’t adding much to the relationship (shocking, I know).
This has me considering what other things I’m currently paying for that I thought were inexpensive enough to not question. Time to dig into that spreadsheet a bit deeper.
Have you made any changes to your routines this past year? Do you still have cable or Netflix?
*Those books include: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Gailbraith (AKA JK Rowling), and You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
**I’m counting expanding the garden in April as a new hobby. Yes, we’ve gardened in the past, but adding a 20’x40′ plot, 3’x60′ row, and preparing our current 25’x60′ garden will be quite a lot of work.