Sense & Centsibility Blog

Confessions of a Financial Counselor, Part Two

People come to see us because of debt issues and we are the experts on dealing with debt, after all. We’ve got a highly trained counseling staff and a great Debt Management Plan (DMP) product. The DMP, though, only works with a balanced budget which is a fancy way of saying there isn’t more money going out than is coming in. So, we counselors go over budgets and suggest ways to trim expenses. (Confession: It’s a lot more fun to slash someone else’s spending than your own!)

The easiest place to make changes is with the non-essential expenses, otherwise known as “Wants.” My first zing comes when I’m going over utility costs (you know, heat and electricity,) and they bring up cable. I’ll answer, “Oh, yes. We will get to that under Leisure and Entertainment.” Then, when we’ve worked our way through the budget to that section I frequently hear, “But, cable is my only entertainment.” And, I wonder, did I miss some declaration of an inalienable right to be entertained? To be fair, humans have always entertained themselves. (Another confession: Even I, a staid financial counselor, like to be entertained.) And, enterprising people have always figured out ways to make money entertaining us. I certainly don’t begrudge those creative minds their livelihood. I start having a problem with paying for entertainment when we create financial hardships for ourselves. Did we stop and do the math before we signed that two year contract for premium cable?

Read More Confessions From A Financial Counselor >

It is usually less costly in the long run to cancel a contract and pay the early termination fee. It is painful, I understand, to pay for a service you no longer have. Contact your cable provider to find out what the fee is and how many months are left on the contract. Always take good notes when you make calls. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are not certain you completely understand. You may be surprised with offers to reduce the monthly expense. Know your bottom line before making the call so you aren’t sweet talked into another unaffordable contract. But, is cable really such a great entertainment option? How many spins on reality TV can there be?? I’ve always balked at paying to watch commercials. In today’s world, there is more than enough free resources to keep me entertained, with or without commercials. I love my public library, for example. All the books and movies I could ever want. And, bonus: I don’t have to dust them!

Other Ideas from Sense and Centsibility: 7 Cheap or Free Family Fun Activities, Family Fun on a Budget, Surviving Without Cable

Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling and specializes in helping people conquer their debt. She has helped hundreds of people just like you. Give us a call today at 877.577.2227 or visit our website at to learn more.