I don't understand technology, and I hate messing around with numbers.
But every once in a while, I go ahead and torture myself.
With tax-filing behind me, I decided this month to enter the primo techno-finance torture chamber: figuring out whether to cut the cord and dump cable TV.
Thriftiness inspired the idea, along with a triumphant Facebook post from a friend. "We're about to join the cord-cutters! Estimating a savings of $70 to $80 a month," she posted along with a picture of a tote bag stuffed with cords and remotes and something resembling a metal box.
I assume that was the equipment going out her door rather than in, but I'm not sure -- and therein lies the problem: I have absolutely no idea how all this works. On its way in, she said, was a gizmo called Roku, along with an antenna for local stations and Hulu, which has "lots of stations and DVR capability," and was about to be piled on top of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Confusing as all of this was, I am good enough at math to multiply her monthly savings by 12 and figure that at her rate, I could save nearly $1,000 a year. And if I added that to my travel budget -- oh, the places I could go!
"It can't be that hard to figure out," I told friends, and immediately hit Google, which led me to something called Untangle, a website devoted to the task of, yes, untangling the mess of cutting the cord.
In truth, Untangle launches cord-cutting drama more intense than any episode of "Call the Midwife."
Its "cord-cutting wizard" guided me through a series of increasingly difficult questions, all of which were supposed to lead to a recommendation of thriftier new services and equipment I should subscribe to or purchase before I cut the cord.
I was absolutely sure of the answers to only two: my ZIP code and whether I am tech-savvy.
Then we were off to checklists of my viewing preferences -- which shows, which channels -- and I realized I watch very little TV, which might be a clue that it's time to throw out the set altogether and make more room for the piano. But by then I was seized by the vague anxiety that I might forget to save some channel I might really miss -- and then how could I get it back?
At that point, not surprisingly, it wanted to know how much I was paying for TV.
Untangle obviously has never heard of "bundled services," which makes it impossible to figure out how much I am paying for any one thing -- TV, internet or phone -- so with clenched teeth, I decided to call my cable provider to find out.
I was totally up front that I might be headed toward cord-cutting and asked how much of my bundle was TV. The immediate response was that they could give me a better bundle for less and, by the way, there would be a one-time installation fee for a new modem, which I would need even though my old one works just fine.
At this point, my tongue was hanging out, but Untangle cheered me on with the news I might save $47 a month if I bought about $150 in equipment, including an indoor antenna.
But it occurred to me I'd probably need an antenna for each TV (I have three) and that my favorite one, which looks like an apple, has no slots for gizmos.
So I need to sleep on it. Possibly for a long time. After all, I just learned how to work the cable remote.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.