Archive for June, 2012

More Info on Cutting the (Cable) Cord

Over 300 channels on RokuI got a ton of great feedback on my last post regarding my family’s choice to get rid of cable tv.  Some people even said my post pushed them over the edge to finally pull the plug!  However, some others had great follow-up questions that I want to answer here:

What broadband service do you use?  How much is it?  Details!

Time Warner Cable.  We moved to Buffalo last year and got the introductory offer of $38/month for 20 Mbps download / 2 Mbps upload.  This is their Turbo package and is twice as fast as their Standard package.  After that offer expired, the bill jumped up to $54 but I was able to negotiate them down to $45.

What kind of router do you have?

Linksys E3200.  Knowing how much I’d be saving on cable and how much I’d be relying on the router, I invested in a new one with some serious horsepower.  It really wasn’t that expensive when compared to a month of cable.  It’s been great – very easy setup and nearly flawless performance.

What is your setup like?  Is your Roku wireless?

We have the Time Warner modem hooked up to our wireless router in our office so our computer can be hard-wired to it.  This makes both of our Roku’s wireless and we’ve had practically no issues with this setup.  Our main TV has our Roku 2 and it’s about 15 feet away from the router (through 3 interior walls).  The kids playroom has our original Roku and is about 20 feet from the router and goes through 2 walls.  Before upgrading to our current router, we’d have issues with the Roku freezing up, but since switching to the E3200 router 8 months ago, we’ve had zero issues.

I’m thinking about buying ‘brand x’ expensive antenna.

Don’t do it yet!  Try out the cheap option first.  Or at least research how good the over the air (OTA) signal is from your house: I had a lot of luck with this website because it accurately stated our rental house would have bad reception while our new house would have great reception.  Lucky for us!

Lastly, here’s a nice channel guide for OTA programming:

What about shows for kids?

It’s really surprised me how much content for the kids is out there. Netflix online ($8/month) has tv shows like Dora, Diego, Curious George, Sesame Street, Super Why, Wonder Pets, Barney, and more. Of course they’re always adding more.

Also, we made a one-time payment of $15 for a full season (26 episodes) of Olivia on Amazon Video. Between those two video services and Hulu Plus (my favorite, but practically no kids shows), there are tons of entertainment options.

Don’t forget the Roku 2 has a fancy remote that lets you play Angry Birds!  I would have thought my 2- and 4-year olds were too young for it, but both of them love it.  It comes free with the Roku and has hundreds of levels. Plus, it shows great future potential for the Roku and it’s fancy remote.

How can you live without cable sports?

As a lifelong sports fan, this was the toughest decision by far.  But, consider what sports are on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox: multiple NFL games on Sunday, all day Saturday of NCAA football, over half of the NCAA basketball tournament games, all of the championships for NHL / MLB / soccer,  golf tournaments practically every weekend, Olympics, World Cup – I think you get the point.

Keep in mind, though, that for a small fee Roku offers packages for NBA, NHL, MLS, UFC, MLB and more. Yes, you’ll still miss SportsCenter and NFL Network and specialized channels like that.  But, it’s up to you what those are worth when considering money and free time with family / friends.  Personally, I’m happy with my choice!

Lastly, here’s a good article from Wired magazine that discusses this same topic.


Debunking Importance of Mortgage Interest as a Tax Write-off

11 June 2012 1 comment

We’re in the process of refinancing our mortgage down to a 15-year, 3.0% interest rate.  Three – point – oh.  Insane!  Our previous rate was a crazy-low 4.375%, but when looking at how much money we’re going to save over the lifetime of the mortgage, it’s a no-brainer.  I highly recommend everyone looks into this!

However, I’ve heard a few people who thought the 15-year mortgage was unnecessary (as opposed to 30-year) because of the tax write-off.  It’s surprising people would want to stay in debt just for the tax write-off, but let’s take a look at the math…

                                   Scenario A    Scenario B
A - Taxable Income                   $100,000      $100,000
B - Interest Paid (tax deduction)     $10,000            $0
C - Final Taxable Income              $90,000      $100,000   (A - B)
D - Taxes Paid (30% rate)             $27,000       $30,000   (C * 0.3)
E - Final Cash on hand                $63,000       $70,000   (C - D)

So, after examining Lines B and D above, the people that want the tax write-off would rather pay $10,000 to the bank in order to pay the government $3,000 less in taxes?

I know this is a simplified scenario, but you see how obvious it is to pay off your house asap, right?!

Here’s some more helpful info on mortgages from the best financial resource out there, Dave Ramsey: The Truth About Mortgages.