How California Changed Our Budget
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.
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 Hulu.com 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 Nickelodeon.com 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