How California Changed Our Budget

By glblguy


The following is a guest from Shawna who writes at Two Working Parents. I’ve been reading Shawna’s site for a few months now and enjoy reading her blog and invited her to write a guest post for me. She graciously accepted. If you enjoy the article, make sure you head over and subscribe to Two Working Parents.

For all of our lives, my husband, children, and I had lived in Michigan. For the last 6 years, we lived in the Detroit Metro area. If you’ve ever been to this area, you know that there is nothing to do, housing is relatively inexpensive, and winters are brutal. Despite the fact that we grew up dealing with winter, my husband and I both hate snow and cold. So, last year, we decided to do something about it. We vowed that 2008 would be the last winter we would spend in the frozen tundra. Then, I was blessed with a job transfer, and we moved to sunny California.

We now live in a suburb of Los Angeles. We love where we live. We are close enough to the city and ocean to go on a whim, and far enough away to feel safe and comfortable. We are also within a few hours of snow, so if we got nostalgic or something, we could see that too.

Shock to the Pocketbook

Of course, the problem is that California is EXPENSIVE! While my salary is higher than it was in Michigan, it barely covers the cost of living increase. There are obviously some changes that we had to make to our budget, and some were more unpleasant than others. The biggest, longest lasting, and least painful thing we did, though, was dropping our cable service.

Now, we have two kids and we are all big TV watchers, so this was a tough decision to make. It took us about 3 months before we finally came to terms with the fact that we needed to do it, and another few weeks before it actually happened. We cut cable in November, and honestly, rarely miss it.

Hallelujah Hulu!

We went out and purchased an expensive, top of the line antenna for the TV so that we could get the basic channels. Turns out, because we are in a valley, we can’t get reception on an antenna or with the digital convertor box. This was a bit of a disappointment, but we were determined.

I had read about on various PF blogs, and so I looked it up. We can watch all of our favorite shows (with the exception of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance….anyone know where I can get these???) online! We did not cut our internet service because we both use it extensively, so this seemed like a perfect solution…except no one wants to watch TV on their computer.

Since we had to return the antenna anyway, we decided to do some research and see if we could hook our TV up to the computer so that we didn’t have to squint at the computer monitor from across the room. Turns out, all we needed was a $15 S-Video cable. My husband hooked the TV up as a second monitor, we use our computer speakers, and now we watch almost all of our favorite shows on Hulu. The ones we can’t watch on Hulu, we can usually get on the network websites. It is not any different than having a DVR.

What About The Kids?

A lot of the shows that the kids watch are not on Hulu. We started using to watch Spongebob Squarepants and iCarly, but that was a hassle. The website is not as user friendly as Hulu. So, for Christmas, we bought a ton of DVDs for the kids (did anyone notice how cheap DVDs were last Christmas?). But, there is one more thing that really helps us with kids shows.

My husband started working at a video store! He started working there part-time, but is now an Assistant Manager and is full-time. The best perk of this job is that he is able to rent up to 5 movies per week…for FREE! We get a few movies for ourselves and a few for the kids. It works out great. Of course, not everyone has the free time to get a second job, but if you are trying to cut your entertainment budget, this is an idea.

Can’t Wait For Summer

As happy as we are with all of our entertainment options, we are still looking forward to summer. We really enjoy taking walks as a family, going for hikes, and going to the pool. Being in Southern California, we could do this now, but because our daughter is in school, it’s tough to fit it in during the week, and our weekends are full with errands and whatnot. I’m really looking forward to other free entertainment…the kind that doesn’t involve a big bowl of popcorn.

Photo by: Marshall Astor

11 Responses (including trackbacks) to “How California Changed Our Budget”

  1. SJ Says:

    Haha… I read the “Shock to the Pocket” and I totally agree.

    I recently relocated to UC Berkeley for grad school and it’s insanely more expensive than the midwest. I remember spending sub-300 rent.. and now i’m paying more than double that.
    The best part is there isn’t really a real cost of living increase for grad schools lol
    You should see if you can get an AV converter cord to go from headphones to the AV cords, then if you have nice speakers you can use them too =)

  2. Stephanie PTY Says:

    Oh yes, I remember the painful expenses of living in LA a few summers ago. We didn’t have cable either, although the HD antenna we bought did work well, but we only watched this one music channel with it. It was great – lots of music videos, all the time, with barely any commercials. Just music videos of all types! I also watched a lot of LOST on and DVDs of Buffy. It pretty much broke any habit I may have had regarding live television. Now I watch nearly everything either on DVR or Hulu.

  3. Craig Frasa Says:

    I would like to disagree with the author. While I’m glad your happy in Southern California I think its unfair to say there is nothing to do in Michigan especially when you describe your activities in California as going for walks and going to the pool both of which can be done just about anywhere.

    I like the financial advice but not the condescending tone.

  4. The weakonomist Says:

    I might also suggest an Apple TV. You can buy your favorite shows on iTunes and stream them straight to your TV. It isn’t cheap but if you don’t watch a lot of tv it’s a great solution.

  5. steven Says:

    stop by the getty when you’re on the way to the beach. minimal costs with student ids. try summers at the hollywood bowl; $1 tickets to the orchestra with the option of ‘sneaking’ forward at intermission. register with for rush ticket pricing and 1/2 events, too.

  6. Patrice Says:

    I moved from Pasadena, CA last year and although I miss the beaches and wonderful weather, moving away has been extremely more cost effective. I live in New Orleans now and I love that there is sooo much family stuff to do. Just yesterday we went to a Jazz Festival at the zoo! Only $13 for adult tixx, free parking and relatively cheap food. My friend and I were joking that in CA, parking would have been at least $20!

    My hubby’s part-time job also turned into a full time side job since his primary job is contract based. We don’t get free movies, but great healthcare!

    Good Luck out there!

  7. Workin' from Home Says:

    No need to limit yourself to the computer speakers. You can also buy a cable to go from the headphone output of your computer to the audio in on your TV. Vive la Hulu!

  8. Ace Says:

    I imagine Hulu and other TV streaming websites will be much more popular as this digital transition continues. The government just doesn’t realize that digital signals don’t go as far as analog signals. With analog you get some kind of picture, with digital, it’s all or nothing.

  9. twink Says:

    With analog you get some kind of picture, with digital, it’s all or nothing.