Apr 10, 2009

Prioritizing Your Life: Services

Recently, I contemplated adding HBO back to my list of cable channels. I used to be a proponent for having the biggest cable package on the planet - I'm a "movie buff", after all. I also had Netflix, to get those movies I couldn't watch on HBO, Showtime, and Starz. To complement that, I bought the movies I really liked, to show some kind of perverse allegiance to the movie.

That was also when I was in college and lived with several people who could share the cost of paying for all those wonderful movie channels. When I moved in with my fiancee, I convinced her to throw out the channels, on the grounds that we could rent the 'exclusive' TV shows on Netflix or buy them on DVD, if we were desperate.

What I've learned is that availability matters to most people. I thought I would absolutely die when my favorite drama, Dexter, came back this year. I made it out all right. During this last stretch of Big Love, LP and I went over to JOAJ's apartment to watch HBO, bringing along brownies or cookies to "pay" for what we were watching.

It's easy for convenience services to get out of hand. This post is pertinent to my life right now, as well, because I am contemplating getting rid of a video game rental service from Hollywood Video. I keep rationalizing it by saying that it's actually saving me money, because I'm no longer buying video games.

And, honestly, it has probably saved me money, as I did not buy the new Resident Evil - which was very tempting - or Bioshock - which I wanted very much. Those two games alone would have set me back $120 bucks, easily half of my total yearly cost of being enrolled in the Hollywood Video service.

So what I guess I'm advocating here is that you should weigh the cost, both actual and opportunity, of these services instead of blindly paying for them. They could easily eat into your paycheck without any benefit. For example, if you have Netflix, divide the monthly cost by how many movies you watch per month. If you pay $24/month and only watch four movies, you're paying six bucks a movie. Is that worth the cost to you? What if you go months without watching a movie?

Moreover, if you currently suscribe to monthly convenience services and don't want to get rid of them, start using them to decrease what I'll call the per cost. Like Netflix above, if you suscribe to it, start watching movies. In fact, if you spend more time at home with movies - if they are your passion - you'll probably save money on other things, like going out to movies or to restaurants. It's all in your perspective.

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