Quitting Netflix, aka Reassessing "Wants" vs. "Needs"
Recently we quit Netflix. It was $12.99 a month and was something we viewed for years as a necessity. We used it a lot and it obviously wasn't a true Budget Buster. Despite using it, we also talked about canceling our subscription a lot. We already have Amazon Video through our Prime subscription and having both was feeling redundant. When I finally clicked to cancel, it was more of a figurative statement of intention rather than a life-changing money saver.
A big family goal is flexibility. Creating a life full of options, for ourselves and our children, is super important to us. We never want to feel trapped in a situation which is no longer working for us or is creating unsustainable stress. Obviously, this comes from a place of privilege to even discuss this. We recognize so many people don't have the opportunity to even consider increasing flexibility and choice in their lives. And stress, difficulty, and occasionally trudging through life is unavoidable to a degree. However, we are working to foster opportunities which create flexibility when possible.
A big part of this is becoming more committed to budgeting and saving. I am trying to ask myself if certain regular purchases are actually necessary. If yes, can we change the cost or frequency? If no, is it something we would consider giving up? I thought it may be interesting to list a few regular expenses that we have given up or considered giving up and briefly explain our thought processes and decisions.
- Cable Subscription: This was our first big change and probably the easiest to make. We gave up cable about 5 years ago and have never looked back! I miss cable approximately four times a year during the Major tennis championships but I am often able to find alternative ways of viewing some matches. Other than that, we never talk about bringing back cable. Overall savings: approximately $700/year accounting for the cost of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- Fourth Bedroom : In Wisconsin, we had four bedrooms and rarely used two of them. Since moving to South Carolina, we have added a family member but subtracted a bedroom. Wile house hunting, J. and I went back and forth on how many bedrooms we wanted. I was leaning toward four and he was adamant on three. Finally, I decided I would rather have a "bonus room" (aka playroom) than a fourth bedroom. While I occasionally miss the designated Guest Room (it's now a nursery/Guest Room), so far it has worked out. We can easily move our son into our room for guests. I am hoping we can continue to do this for at least a couple more years. I am curious to see whether as our children age we feel the pull toward four bedrooms. This would allow all three kids their own space as they age. Currently, I'm leaning toward continuing with our three bedrooms but I honestly don't know what will happen as they age.
- Netflix: As mentioned above, we just very recently quit Netflix so the outcome is TBD. I am hoping we don't miss it and find it encourages us to use less screen time overall. However, I would be open to joining for a month here or there to watch certain shows such as "Stranger Things." Savings: $12.99/month.
- Babysitting Costs: We spend probably $150-200/month on babysitters. Whenever we discuss our budget this expense is always on my mind. However, whenever I consider actually eliminating or decreasing it, I decide not to. Why? I truly believe that the benefit to our marriage outweighs the cost. Decision: Keep cost.
- Kindle Books: I love my Kindle for the same reasons everyone does: it's small, portable, and awesome for trips. What I don't love is how easy it is to purchase books on it. I used to purchase probably 2-4 books a month on my Kindle. The last few years I have been much more committed to using the library for books. It's not only cheaper but it's a great activity for me and the kids. I have also read that kids benefit from seeing parents reading actual books. I would say 85% of the books I read are from the library or previously purchased Kindle books. I did purchase three books after having my son since it was easier to use my Kindle while pumping/feeding. Savings: Approximately $25-50/month.
- Coffee: We spend about $100 on coffee per month. We have a Nespresso machine which we use daily (approximately two pods per day) and we visit Starbucks as a family once per week. I also visit Starbucks about once per week to do work. When I consider that we spend about $1200/year on coffee...well, it's slightly embarrassing. Before our Nespresso we spent more, about $3-5/day. Since moving to primarily using our Nespresso I am mostly comfortable with our cost (note: if you're deciding between a Nespresso or Keurig, you can recycle the Nespresso pods for free through their company). It is something J. and I truly enjoy together. He often misses dinner due to work so breakfast/coffee is often our "family meal." On the weekends we have found Starbucks to be the place to go where both kids and parents feel slightly pampered. I could see decreasing our coffee consumption overall in the future for health reasons. Decision: Keep cost.
- Entertainment Weekly Subscription and Haircuts: Upon first glance, this is an odd pairing. I put them together because these are what I would call my "useless but fun extravagancies." Other than exercise and reading, I don't really have hobbies. But I DO love to learn about entertainment and get my haircut. I love nothing more than to read the slightly sarcastic EW articles while getting my hair freshly cut and dyed. I also think having a nice haircut contributes to my self-esteem, as lame as that sounds. Overall I spend about $62/year on EW and probably on average $70/month overall on my hair. I probably will cancel my EW subscription after this year. I can get a lot of articles online and it's feeling more and more monetarily and environmentally wasteful. I also find it frustrating how many "Double Issues" (aka two-week issues) the "weekly" magazine issues. I don't anticipate any changes in my haircuts cuts...even though I probably should! Decision: Keep for now.
Also being considered: iPhone, second car, Amazon Prime, Television