A Morning Jolt: Our Monthly Media Bill Is Up 13.6 Percent.
Bright and early Saturday morning, I got up and paid the cable bill. Then I started thinking, which is never a good thing.
We sure pay a lot for media around here.
At this point, there are only two of us in the house. We haven’t added services or purchased much in the way of pay-per-view films (and zero when it comes to movie tickets).
But our monthly bill for media, communications and entertainment is up 13.6 percent from last year, from $831 in May of 2021—including amortization of some quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payments—to $944 this year. That’s a current tab of about $11,328 a year, not counting some stray magazine purchases, up from $9,972 the year before.
To me, that was a bit of a shock. No movies. No subscription news blasts. Certainly no Broadway shows. But the embedded cost our modest media life is up sharply from a year ago, thanks in part to the expiration of a ‘welcome aboard’ deal from Spectrum. And it is surely headed higher as Verizon implements some already identified price increases and the Los Angeles Times makes its yearly attempt to up our bill by about half (every year, I negotiate down by calling to cancel).
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Granted, everything else is rising. On Friday, we should get May’s inflation statistics from the government; the April year-over-year number was 8.3%. With gas in Los Angeles bumping $8 a gallon and a 2 lb. rack of lamb selling for $102 at Gelson’s, it’s hard to anticipate good news on that front.
Some costs, of course, you just decide to eat (but not that lamb, thank you). Our home insurance is up 33 percent year-over-year; but so is the cost of construction and everything else that goes into property repair and replacement. Auto insurance jumped by 12 percent. Painful, but Owen Wilson’s Tesla just had its wheels stripped somewhere in the neighborhood—somebody’s got to pay. Health insurance inevitably keeps climbing. We’re not getting any younger.
But our income certainly isn’t increasing, not by more than a point or two each year. A 5.9 percent hike in Social Security was more than offset by the Covid-collapse of an investment. Some minuscule pension pay-outs from the New York Times are static, though, so far, solid. We’re not uncomfortable. Semi-retirement is what it is.
Still, those media, communications and entertainment charges. Something’s got to give. Satellite radio, I’m keeping. Someone here still reads The New York Times. But maybe lose the Los Angeles Times for real this year? That would save a few bucks. Or drop the not-so-free Verizon line that supports an iPad they once gave me for “free.” Or finally cut the cable cord, though it’s all tied up with the Internet, and phone lines, and the alarm, and kind of a bother.
Certainly we won’t add anything new. Sorry Puck, no newsletters. No premium movie purchases. No new streaming services. We’re in for a round of media belt-tightening, and I don’t think we’re alone.
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