In 2008, Ish Parken bought a new home. There was just one problem -- cable wasn't installed, and it would be an extra $200 fee just to get it put in. After spending a big chunk of change on the house, 'I didn't feel like paying,' he told AOL.com. Fortunately, Hulu and Netflix had just debuted, so he figured he'd give that a try and see how long he could last.
Five years later, he calls it one of the best decisions he's ever made. And it's not just about the money.
'No cable was a big deal at first'
One of the big reasons people are afraid to cancel cable is live sports, so Ish was initially a bit hesitant. 'But with an antennae, most of our problems were solved,' he says in his helpful Reddit guide. For anything that's not on the broadcast networks, he hits up a friend's house or a bar. 'Cutting the cord has actually increased my love of certain sports due to certain friends getting together for it.'
The same goes for other must-watch shows. ''Walking Dead' is about the only thing me and my wife have to see when it premiers on TV, so we go to a friend's house (beer and wine with us) to watch there,' he said. 'There are friends we would probably never see if we had TV and just watched it by ourselves. I guess what I'm getting at here is that cutting the cord forces you to be more social sometimes.'
That's far from the only unexpected benefit he found after canceling. 'Since there is effort to get something up on the screen, you might even go do other things.' Ish is a car enthusiast, and his visits to the garage have increased dramatically since he made the decision. 'With cable I would just end up flipping it on, then sitting there till I went to bed. Now I actually try to go and do things,' he said.
'Your life is going to change for the better'
Eventually, Ish convinced his parents to jump on the bandwagon too. He noticed a very distinct effect that change had on them:
'Not to get too political here, but my parents were obsessed with Fox News, which made them extremely paranoid and angry like 24/7. I'm not here to bash Fox News or anything, but that network was driving my parents insane even if they didn't know it ... Over time their views changed drastically and they became much more sound and stable people ... It's weird to say but cutting cable for them was like a new lease on life.'
His girlfriend changed too, and so did their relationship. Instead of sitting in the other room while she watched reality shows, TV time has turned into quality time for them. And the best part is, she can still catch up. 'If she ever needs some drama in her life (she's very drama free), she'll go to MTV.com and watch Road Rules,' he said.
The strangest thing about living in a cable-free world? 'Commercials kinda blow your mind now,' he said in his Reddit post. 'You get to the point where you can't believe that people pay to watch them.' He has a point. 'Just think about all of the commercials you have watched over your life. That's about six months worth of time you paid to lose, so other people can convince you to buy stuff you probably don't need. When you sit back and think about it, it's insane.'
What you'd need to do it
When asked what the most important non-cable service is, Ish doesn't hesitate. 'Netflix 100%. At $9 a month it's a steal ... They know what the people want. They're providing a fast and easy way for people to [legally] watch what they want,' he told AOL.com.
Of course, Netflix doesn't have it all. Ish uses Hulu and Xbox Live as well. But the cost for all of his services combined is still refreshingly low at just $73, about half of what many folks pay for cable. And since $50 Internet would be included in his cable package anyway, the true savings number is more like $23 instead of $100 -- a cool 77 percent savings based on what he'd normally be paying.
Cord cutting isn't for everyone. Cable offers a tremendous amount of options you still can't legally get anywhere else. It's all about what's important to you. But if Ish is an example, you may not even realize what's really important to you until you give something new a try.