Thursday, March 26, 2009

GMAT, cutting the cable, Dilbert

Well, the big thing on my mind right now is not actually the economy, or our place in it. Nope- it's the GMAT. The GMAT, short for Graduate Management Admission Test, is a test that business schools require you to take and get a certain score on in order to enter into the graduate school. The scoring goes between 200 and 800, with 500 being the average score that a test-taker will get. Keep in mind that the average GMAT test taker is someone who has a Bachelor's degree in Business and is interested in furthering his or her education, so average on this test ain't is not exactly the same as average on the ACT. For my business school of choice, a 500 is the minimum requirement. I've been studying now for a few months in the hopes of breezing past that 500 mark, but I've got to tell you, I don't think I have ever felt so stupid in my life as I do when studying for this thing. Complicated algebra, geometry, sentence structure, analytical reasoning, and don't even get me started on data sufficiency- it's enough to humble just about anyone. Anyway, my test is TOMORROW. So everyone, please wish me luck! I get results immediately, so I'll let you know if I passed (got at least a 500). And if I don't pass, well, if I happen to never mention the GMAT in this blog again, you'll know why.

So what's "cutting the cable" all about? I'm referring to your cable TV, or satellite TV if that is what you happen to have. As we talk about ways to save money in a bad economy, especially if your income just dropped significantly, I think everyone should consider 'cutting the cable'. Why? Well, is it just me, or do TV service providers only have 3 packages? You get your Basic package, which is barely more than what you get free over the air (OTA), and it's about $35/month. Then you get you Advanced package, which comes with a lot of bells and whistles and hundreds of channels that you're never going to watch, but the price goes up to about $70/month. And then the Premium package comes with additional channels that you actually might want to watch (HBO, Showtime, etc.), but comes in at over $100/month.

Jenny and I cut our cable a couple of months ago when our bill went up to $90 (in order to better serve us, of course), and we really haven't looked back. The vast majority of the shows that we watch are on local channels and thus available for free OTA, so long as you live within about 50 miles of the station and have a decent roof-mounted antenna. But what about the shows on channels that are not available for free (such as stuff on USA and FX)? Two options- many stations are making full shows available online, for FREE. Also, with all of that money that you're saving on not paying for TV, you can spend $10-15/month on a Netflix account and rent TV shows as part of your package. So there you go- unless you're a huge sports fan, it's actually quite easy to do without, and you save yourself a bundle of money each and every month.

Finally, I wanted to call your attention to a Dilbert strip today that I think perfectly satirizes our current economic situation. It also does a good job of summarizing my rant yesterday in just 3 frames. Check it out!


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