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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…

Wanna Laugh? Latest Foster Dog Antics…

The video sort of covers it all…

Missy, the younger of the two, totally has Riley’s number. Riley’s a 9 year old Yorkshire Terrier that is definitely Missy’s beyatch. Although he seems to think he definitely has dominance over MY fleece throw.

When I first saw this, I couldn’t stop laughing. Then it went on and on for nearly an hour. They go to bed happy at least…

“Fun Stuff” on a Tight Budget – Cheap Fun Things to Do

I’m really looking forward to Friday.  Why?  Because I’m hanging out with one of my best friends, Dee.

Our Cheap Fun

Yep, we’re grabbing lunch with my hubby’s grandpa and then just chatting all afternoon.  She’ll also get to show off her trailer now that she is close to moving into it for the next year.  We may then grab dinner at a cheap fried seafood place that is delicious too.  The whole day will cost me less than $20 in gas and food.

See, she’s pet sitting at her mom’s house outside of town about an hour.  It’s BORING.  I pet sat for her mom twice now and can 100% agree that there isn’t anything to do close to that house, but the area is pretty and peaceful.  I figured that having some company would make it way more fun since good company makes everything more fun.  ;-)

Other Ideas for Cheap Fun Things to Do

Since you may not have a friend to rescue from boredom, here are some other ideas for cheap fun:

  1. Board gaming with friends
  2. Have some alone time with your significant other.
  3. Online games with others – like the free card games or Ticket to Ride
  4. Picnics – I love them!
  5. Local parks
  6. Feed the ducks
  7. Discount movie theaters
  8. Used book stores
  9. Under-valued kids’ games like Hide and Seek, Freeze Tag, and Shadow Tag.  How long since you embraced your inner child?
  10. Potlucks
  11. In-Home movie nights
  12. Pajama parties and sleepovers – not just for kids!  The adult version can include rated R movies and booze.  :-)
  13. City museums, zoos, and theaters usually have discounted times.
  14. Read a book or two or three…
  15. Libraries kick butt.
  16. Play with your pets!
  17. Call friends or family that you haven’t talked to in a while.
  18. Write actual letters to those you love that would get a kick out of finding something in their mailbox other than junk mail.
  19. Turn a hobby into money.  Sell a craft, babysit, pet sit, write a post for a blogger, brew a beer, etc.
  20. Cook something new.

What comes to mind for you?

 

I Do Gamble

I’ve always been money conscious, but I do realize that I don’t always treat my money the same. When Mr. BFS and I make just “enough” to pay our bills and save a little for our future, I seem to be able to cut out nearly all extra spending without it hurting much. But when we had barely anything or even when we had more than we needed, I was more of a risk taker and spender.

Gamble

Online Poker

In college, my husband-to-be started playing poker online pretty regularly to make extra money. Then I started. Places like 888poker.com had specials like giving you $88 with no deposit needed, so we signed up with accounts at multiple places and played no limits nickel poker. After a few months, I had made about $100 and my future husband had actually lost money.

Casinos

We live in Texas, but when we want to gamble in an actual casino, we are only 3-4 hours away from Louisiana casinos. We tend to prefer Coushatta, one on an Indian reservation. We also never take much to lose. So we end up playing penny slots and quarter video poker for 5-6 hours, grabbing a yummy sandwich out of their café, and then heading back home. Sometimes we even take a group bus to save on gas too. The most we have ever lost in a single trip is $150.

Lotto Tickets

I do occasionally spend some fun money on lotto tickets. Depending on how crappy I feel about life determines whether I buy 1 ticket or 5 tickets. The most I’ve spent in a year is about $60 and the most I’ve probably ever won is $4. It definitely is a game for people bad at math who just want to spend $1-$2 on a ticket that leads them to daydream until the draw. It is not the way to get rich.

Overall, I apparently only tend to allow myself to gamble when I feel like I have nothing to lose or more than enough to lose. When I am just making our money stretch, I don’t even have the drive. Weird, right?

How about you, do you gamble at all?