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One Week Cable Free

It’s been a solid week since we cut cable for the first time ever.  You can check out my not-so-enthusiastic post about it from last week.  I’ll admit that I’m still not a die hard cable-must-die person yet.  But we have nearly figured out a system that can work for us…

So Much TV

HD Antenna

First and foremost, we installed the HD antenna that my parents gifted us at Christmas.  Yep, they have been hoping that we’d cut cable for a while.  Hahaha.  We ended up with 49 digital channels, but we are missing ABC totally and the Houston CBS (we have the College Station one instead, which we hope will have the Texans games).

Rabbit Ears

These look just like our RCA HD antenna.

We’re ordering a longer-range antenna and seeing if that solves the problem since we apparently should be getting both of those stations according to http://www.antennaweb.org/.  We’ll know for sure sometime next week most likely.

Anyway, we aren’t really watching the shows that are on since we have gotten used to skipping that many commercials.  But if we can get the local stations to work for us, then Mr. BFS will have a way to watch some football live once in a while.  For full games on demand, there is NFL Rewind, which I’ll explain more about below.

Netflix

We’ve had Netflix streaming for a while now.  It has great original series like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards”.  It also has tons of movies, past seasons of a bunch of shows, and is pretty simple to use.  Right now, we’re using it to watch “The Walking Dead” and I am enjoying “Lost Girl”.  Overall, we do think it is worth its $8 a month.  We sometimes even splurge the extra $18 a month to get the actual DVD’s so we can watch new releases and series like “Downton Abbey”.  Generally though, Red Box has us covered for the recent new releases…

Hulu Plus

Netflix doesn’t have current shows and we were in the middle of ones we really enjoy.  We are now paying $8 a month for Hulu Plus too.  Right now, it’s mainly so we can watch the end of “Masterchef”, “Rookie Blue”, and a couple of others.  We also found several shows that they had that we haven’t heard of before.  “Enlisted” is a pretty funny 30-minute comedy series.  “Endgame” is like “Monk” but with a Russian Grandmaster of Chess that solves crimes from a posh hotel room that he is too anxious to leave.

NFL Rewind

When the main season starts up again, we will probably splurge on an NFL Rewind.  Super short summary, NF: Rewind has on demand football games that are available to watch a few hours after they are completed.  They are blacked out while games are still on, but the Sunday afternoon games will apparently be available around midnight.  The evening games are live by noon the next day.  I found a really awesome review at http://www.sportsgeekery.com/28724/review-nfl-game-rewind-2012-on-demand-nfl-games-streaming-online/.

Right now, that’s our general plan of attack.  If Netflix and Hulu Plus become our norm, we’ll need another device for downstairs to get us access.  We still like the Samsung Wi-Fi Blu-Ray Player we bought refurbished for $60, so we might get another one.  :-)

Total Costs

Cable was running us about $120-$140 per month.  Now we are paying $55 for high speed internet, $8 for Netflix like usual, and $8 for Hulu Plus.  That is $71 total.  We may also end up paying a one-time NFL Rewind subscription fee for $70 for the next year and another $60 Blu-Ray player.  But, even with all of that, we will be saving $470 in the first 12 months.  Then we’ll be saving $600 a year minimum after that.  This little cost breakdown is what kept us for just getting cable back over the last week.  :-D

Whoo!  And that’s my one week cable free update!  How are all of you doing in your entertainment arenas?

 

Not All Fun Activities End Up Being Fun…

It was a PACKED weekend.  Tons of pet sitting, some quality time with friends, a little catching up with Lost Girl on Netflix for a couple of hours Sunday, and we even fit in a 5k Foam Run Saturday night (http://www.foamglow.com/).  Overall, everything was a happy success…except that Foam Glow Run…

The Foam Glow Run Idea

The general idea of this foam run was to run, jog, or walk a 5k course at night with black lights while being sprayed with colored foam that shows up under the special lights.  Sounds messy overall but cleaner than the color run of last year (colored corn starch is just a hot mess, LOL).  It also sounded like a fun way to exercise a little with a small group of our friends.  I just didn’t pay attention to important differences between the super fun color run and the info on this foam run.

Foam Glow Couldn’t Have Been Organized Much Worse

I knew that this event was being held at the huge stadium downtown (now NRG Stadium), but I didn’t realize that meant that there would be more than 40,000 attendees.  I also thought that they were selling the tickets for $20-$30 each so that they could afford to really do it right.  But the end result did not live up to any of our expectations.  There wasn’t enough room for 40,000 people.  There weren’t enough authority figures to guide 40,000 people.  There definitely wasn’t enough morally guided people to deal with all of the cheaters, cutters, and complete douche bags.

Oh, and once we had waited more than an hour smushed together like cattle, guarding the baby stroller near us from being trampled (really?!  baby strollers?!), they finally released our “wave” to the walk.  It was freaking stupid.  It literally walked around the stadium’s outside JUST LIKE WE HAD TO WALK AFTER WE PARKED.  They had foam guns every 10-15 minutes, which was definitely less than expected.

We found out about 45 minutes after getting into line that we weren’t moving because people were cutting into the line towards the front.  Not just a dozen people.  About 5000+ people.  We didn’t move for nearly an hour.  It was HOT and awful.

In the end, Mr. BFS and I decided to stop about 3/4 of the way through since the path literally went by our parking lot.  That’s just sad.  Altogether, it felt like a 3 hour waste.  It was nice to see friends, but we would have all enjoyed ourselves more in a place with a/c and food.  Or even a hot 5k that was well managed.  I don’t think we were expecting miracles, but this was just awful.  They sold more than $800,000 in tickets, so I was expecting more.

This post was mainly to make sure there was documentation of this cruddy event in case anybody searches for Foam Glow and wants to find a review.  I wouldn’t support this company again.

Anybody else want to vent about an event that should have been fun but turned out differently?  Have at it!

 

Money Lessons from “The Walking Dead”

Okay, so we started watching The Walking Dead on Netflix this week.  Yeah, yeah, I know a bunch of you suggested it a while ago.  But now we have time.  Did I mention that we finally cut cable?

The Walking Dead

Lessons Learned

So far, here are the money lessons that I’ve learned from “The Walking Dead”:

  • Being rich won’t keep you from getting eaten, but it may have given you the opportunity to stock up on weapons before the apocalypse.
  • Buy an awesome ax and baseball bat if you are dealing with zombies.
  • A traveling home is a great commodity after any huge threat to the human race.
  • Survival gear can be worth way more than money in most catastrophes.
  • It pays to get easily washable clothing.
  • It’s worth the bullet to kill the ones that freak out regularly or are just douches.
  • I could make a killing with a zombie-scented perfume if I was still alive in the show.
  • Friends are priceless.
  • Being a woman doesn’t pay if the world is ending – we seem to be laundromats and baby makers.
  • Carry a big gun, barter for even bigger.

I also don’t think that I would last very long, but hey, maybe I’m actually an amazing survivor!

Have you seen The Walking Dead?  Any money lessons that I missed?

We Cut Cable…Now What?

We finally pulled the plug on cable and our DVR’s. I don’t think we are experiencing the euphoria that everyone else seems to have when they do this…

We Cut Cable

Why We Cut Cable

There are 4 of us adults living here, so having cable with DVR’s was nice. We could all watch what we wanted in 3 different rooms. But we were with AT&T U-verse and they kept raising our rates. I would call and get the rates lowered, then they would sneak back up a few months later. The most we ever paid was $145 in one month (it would have been $175 but I called and asked for an instant credit since the discounts expired before I could catch it). The least we paid was $95.

U-verse was raising our rate to $150-$180 per month depending on the plan. I explained that we would need the rate to be $100 or less to keep it. They got down to $120 but I would need to agree to a 1 year term. So we cut out cable and are just keeping their high speed internet. We’re saving at least $60 a month ($100 depending how you look at it). That’s $720 a year. But it’s been 2 days and we are not super happy with the cut cord experience yet.

We Miss Our DVR’s

First and foremost, we miss our recorded shows. That was a go to for lunch and those times our brains just needed a break. Now we have to plan out what we want to watch and pull it up on Netflix or my laptop. We only have the setup for Netflix and a laptop HDMI plugin in the media room, so now we are eating upstairs for lunch. I’m looking into options like Hulu Plus and Tivo to help us out a bit.

He Will Miss Football

Secondly, my husband enjoys watching Texans football…well, all football really. Our HD antenna is picking up 49 digital channels, but the local CBS station isn’t one of them. :-( Even if it was, he isn’t always available to watch the games as they are being played, so I still need to find a way for him to record them.

I’m looking into options and saw a bunch of mentions for the Xbox 360 for sports.  But I don’t understand how that works.  They just advertise that they have a way to watch all of the big games whenever you want.

Anybody reading that has an Xbox 360 that can explain how it becomes a sports hub?  Anybody super happy with their cable alternatives?  I know this post is about silly first-world entertainment problems, but that’s where we are…

August 2014 Cruise Cost Breakdown

I never turned on my phone last week on the cruise, so I don’t have any pictures for you yet.  Oops.  I’ll ask our friends to forward me the ones that they were able to take of all of us.  Here’s my favorite cruise comic again though.  ;-)

Cruise Joke

Our Cruise

Overall, it was another relaxing 7 day cruise to paradise.  We sailed out of Galveston and hit Cozumel, Belize, and Isla Roatan.  We ate like we’d never see food again, played games with our friends, slept in an interior room with a bunk bed and no natural light (our favorite way to see the sun is by choice), and laughed our butts off during the onboard comedy shows.  Jaime Lissow and Cowboy Bill Martin were freaking HILARIOUS.  Kudos to you two for being some amazing comics!!!

The Cost

This was our most expensive cruise of the last 12 months (there have been three total since last August).  Here was our cost breakdown for Mr. BFS and myself:

  • Tickets – $1450
  • Travel Insurance – $90
  • Parking (our half) – $25
  • Snorkel Excursion in Cozumel – $80
  • Gambling – $140
  • Automatic Gratuities – $160
  • Extra Tips – $60
  • Internet Access for Work Email – $10
  • Overpriced Ibuprofen – $10
  • Professional Photo – $20
  • Little Souvenirs – $35
  • TOTAL = $2080

WORTH IT!!!  So much fun!!!

Did you take any vacations or staycations lately?  How did they go? 

No Amazing Deals Lately in Cruise Ports

Thanks to amazing timing, a now empty vacation account, and friends and family who were available to journey along side us, Mr. BFS and I have been on 3 cruises in the last 12 months.  This will probably never happen again, but we just found great deals late last August, this past January, and again last week.  Altogether we spent about $4600 total for the both of us and have had 3 fantastic vacations.  I’ll never regret the expense, which is a blessing for any of you who know how I am, LOL.

Deals No More

All of that said, what has happened to the haggling overseas?  When we cruised a few years ago, I was able to haggle out lovely deals for souvenirs and art when we were in the ports.  But these past cruises have all taken us to the same places, but haggling has died.  The shop keepers won’t even consider it.  I sort of expected it in Grand Cayman, Belize, and Roatan, but it’s happening more often in Cozumel and Jamaica too.  :-(

It’s not about an international money transfer or currency issues.  They all accept American cash very easily and we always make sure to bring at least a couple of hundred just in case.  But they hold strong on their prices now about 99% of the time.

On this past cruise, I tried talking down the price of a $5 teak shot glass to $4 – hit a proverbial wall.  On the cruise in 2013, I tried working out a bulk deal for $13 of small figurines for $10 instead – shot down cold.  And that happened at the same place that I talked down a chess board from $75 to $45 just 2-3 years ago.

And the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has also started collecting taxes for all alcohol brought back.  Not even 1 free bottle per person anymore.  Oh, and that’s not just for Texas residents now – they have decided that anybody disembarking in Galveston has to pay the same duties too.  They ruined duty-free shopping for fun drinks…

No Alcohol

Okay, Maybe Some Deals

Don’t get me wrong, my favorite liqueur (Amarulla) is still $4 cheaper on cruises than at home, even with the tax.  The tax just pushes me to finish the bottle the night before disembarking.  ;-)  You can also find Tanzanite for about half of what it costs here.  Apparently, the fine watches are way cheaper out at sea too.  But I’m all about little knick knacks and whatnots, and none of that seems to be on perma-sale anymore.

Have you noticed less haggling happening on things like cruises?  How about around your city?

 

I Missed You!

I’m back from another awesome cruise!!!  We’re about $2000 poorer overall for it, but it was a great 7 days.  AND I MISSED YOU!  I haven’t felt extremely connected to my online world lately, but I really hope we can fix that, lol.  I’ll be doing my best on this end.  In the meantime, here’s a little chuckle:

Dogs Vs Cats

I’m more of a dog personality type…