It’s been eight months since I cut the proverbial cable cord. That’s right, no more Fox News, no TNT, History channel or HBO. Actually, it was DirecTV, so I guess you could say I cut the satellite signal to eliminate premium TV services. (Cutting cable, cutting DirecTV to save money – same difference right?) Initially, my goal was to simply suspend service for a few months over the summer. However, my experience over the last eight months without DirecTV has led me to disconnect the service for good.
What I have learned from the whole experience is that even though my intention was to save money, the actual act of eliminating my DirecTV service – that is, call DirecTV and say “disconnect my service”, was actually an exercise in adapting to change. It was all about getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
If you’re struggling to reach your financial goals because the lifestyle changes you need to make feel a bit uneasy, here’s a lesson in creating positive change, by getting uncomfortable.
Expensive Background Noise
It all started last spring when I was doing some work on the computer. As I often do I had the TV on in the background. Somewhere between the movie Armageddon, and a re-run episode of Blue Bloods it dawned on me that the only reason I had the TV on was for the background noise. In fact, I often have the TV on when I am doing other things in the house. Re-runs like Armageddon and Blue Bloods make great background noise because I can pick up the storyline at any time.
As I thought about it I started thinking of the upcoming summer months and the fact that I would be spending a lot more time outside. The more I thought about the whole situation, the more I realized that I was paying for some really expensive background noise. $90 a month.
A quick call into DirecTV and I discovered that DirecTV allows you to suspend your service two times a year for up to three months. Suspending my service for the summer would save me about $540. My perspective was that if I was able to do without premium TV services for the summer, I would eventually disconnect the service for good. All I needed to do was purchase an external antenna (this is what I purchased) to receive free local channels and I was on my way to cutting cable.
Easy decision, right? Wrong!
Two Weeks Later
Two weeks after making my decision to suspend service for the summer I still had DirecTV. After getting my external antenna and determining that I could only receive 14 channels (I live in the bottom of a valley), my brain went into overdrive mode because of the change I was about to make. Which resulted in me thinking:
- What do I do when the football season starts in the Fall – I am a huge Wisconsin Badger and Packer fan. What if I can’t watch all the games?
- I enjoy watching the local news. What if I can’t pick up the local news channels on a regular basis?
- I won’t be able to watch my favorite movie re-runs of Armageddon, The Shawshank Redemption, or the Avengers.
- How do I get weather forecasts? No more Weather Channel.
- What do I do at night when I don’t have the mind-numbing comfort of 150 channels to flip through?
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and after two weeks I finally called DirecTV and suspended the service. But the reason I did it had nothing to do with my initial motivations about saving money. Or the fact that over the summer I wouldn’t be getting any real value from the service because I was spending so much time outdoors.
The reason I finally called DirecTV was that as my brain ran through all the different scenarios of why I couldn’t or shouldn’t cut the cord, it literally drove me crazy. It bothered me that I was unable to make a simple change. A change that was clearly to my benefit.
For me, cutting cable was an exercise in being ok with feeling a bit uncomfortable with my decision. To overcome the fear that I was giving something up – even though I wasn’t really giving anything up. It was my ability to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”
Accepting Change – Doubts, Fears and Indecisiveness
Change can be hard. Trying to make lifestyle changes can cause our brains to start to over-play, re-play all of the reasons we shouldn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t do something. In a moment of change, it conjures up doubts and fears about the decision we are about to make. It triggers worries which lead to anxiety and negative feelings. Inevitably all this thinking leads to a feeling of being uncomfortable and indecisiveness about the change we are about to make.
We have all been in this situation before. You know those decision points in life where the benefits of the right decision clearly out way the less popular decision. That point in time where we know what’s best, but still decide to take the easy more comfortable route.
Once I decided that being a little bit uncomfortable was ok, I was easily able to make the cable cutting decision. Quite simply, I put my over-thinking brain aside and decided to accept the change.
Reaching Our Financial Goals by Getting Comfortable with Feeling Uncomfortable
My exercise in cutting cable regardless of how monumental it felt at the time was by no means a major life event. It’s not like I was sacrificing a limb or risked poking an eye out. But it does bring to attention just how comfortable we can get with something over time. And how our brain can overthink the very things we desire or need to change even when we know it’s the right thing to do.
Making changes to our finances to reach our goals can be very similar. Over time we can develop patterns, beliefs, and fears that are hard to change. If the patterns are good we find ourselves achieving the very goals we set. If they are bad, or simply need to change, they become roadblocks or restrictions to reaching our financial goals.
When I look back at my own financial successes and failures. One thing that stands out is that the positive changes I made – the ones that initially made me feel uncomfortable, actually resulted in small steps that allowed me to reach my financial goals.
How to Get Comfortable with Feeling Uncomfortable
If you’re struggling with your finances or looking for ways to improve your financial situation. Consider these uncomfortable things to do to help you improve your finances and reach your goals.
Automate Your Finances
A lot of individuals still like to deposit their payroll check at the bank by themselves. It provides a feeling of control and allows them to determine what they are going to do with the money before they make the deposit.
Consider automating your finances by direct depositing your check into your checking account and/or allocating some monies to a savings account. Automation will help you simplify your money management processes and create an environment where you have more flexibility and options to save or invest your money automatically.
Read more about simplifying your finances through automation by reading my post…How to Simplify Your Personal Finance Processes for Success.
Reduce the Number of Credit Cards You Have to Just One
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, consider eliminating all your credit cards except one. Get comfortable with the fact that you don’t really need multiple credit cards as a resource to improve your financial position.
A single credit card will allow you to better manage your credit balance and reduce the number of payments you need to make. Use a credit card payoff strategy like the snowball method to reduce and eliminate any credit card debt you may have.
- How Many Credit Cards Should You Have? My Credit Score with One Credit Card.
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Using the Snowball Method. (video)
Budget Your Money
Yep, budgeting your money really sucks. But did you know that most people who are struggling with debt don’t know where their money is actually going?
Rather than downloading some fancy budgeting app, try getting uncomfortable by tracking what you spend in a month. You will be surprised at what you learn about your spending habits. From there you can start getting comfortable with eliminating the expenses you really don’t need.
Download Filling The Pig personal finance worksheets here.
Learn Something about Investing
Investing can be a hard topic to tackle due to all of the different investment options, jargon, and recommendations. In the world of personal finance, it can definitely be one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss.
However, if one of your financial goals is having a retirement plan, then get uncomfortable, and learn something about investing. Start by learning about a specific stock, mutual fund or maybe what an IRA or 401(k) is. Small uncomfortable steps will lead you to creating your own retirement plan.
- 3 Reasons You Should Contribute to Your Employer’s 401(k) Plan so You Can Retire Early
- Lower Your Taxes by Investing in a Traditional IRA.
Be sure to check out my ebook, Simple Investing for beginners.
The perspective that you need to get comfortable about feeling uncomfortable with your finances is not about having to give something up – although it may feel that way at first. Getting uncomfortable is about creating positive change. Change that will improve your chances of reaching your financial goals.
As for my experience with cutting cable, I have found that there is actually some pretty good content on the local channels. I have been able to watch CBS, FOX, and ABC to keep up to date on the local news, and there are actually some great new series to watch weekly. Stations like METV, LAFF and GRIT TV have added to the selection. It’s been a long time since I have watched WKRP in Cincinnati, Hogans Hero’s, and Tool Time. In addition, I now supplement free TV by streaming VUDU, Netflix and Amazon Prime. At the end of the day, getting uncomfortable with my cable cutting decision has been well worth it.
Have you cut the cable cord? Comment below.