IMHO: Whacking The Sopranos

March 9, 2006 ( - I may come to regret it - but we have decided to pass on the sixth season of the HBO "family" crime drama, The Sopranos.

This decision was not taken lightly in our household, where, since its January 10, 1999, debut, my wife and I sent the kids out of the room every Sunday night at 9 p.m. so that we could enjoy the “antics” of the “family” crime drama.    I actually still have recordings of the first three seasons on VHS tape – before I realized that it wasn’t really the kind of thing you would watch over and over again (let’s face it, some story lines are more compelling than others).

A lot has changed since then (our kids no longer have to be sent out of the room, for one thing – they leave on their own accord).   But as season five drew to a close, two things became obvious – our cable bill was out of control (I have long had a fondness for multiple premium channels), and the only real reason we were still paying for all those premium channels was – The Sopranos.   And the fact was that, as the “sabbaticals” between Sopranos seasons ran longer and longer (I think season six will start after a hiatus of 22 months), the rationale for paying those cable bills for all those months in between was less and less compelling.   So, with some trepidation, after season five, we went cold turkey on the premium channels (we did, l should add, upgrade our video rental package).

However, come Sunday night The Sopranos is finally back – and the truth is, as mad as I am at them for waiting so long between seasons, it is tempting to re-subscribe.  

There are complications, however.   In addition to the charges for adding HBO (actually, the package now includes ELEVEN HBO channels), our cable company requires one of those ugly boxes for premium channels (and there’s a charge for each box), and a separate remote control for the ugly boxes (for which there is also a charge, of course).   All in all, considering the TVs in our house, I figure it will cost us about $35/month EXTRA for the Sopranos – excluding all the funky taxes and equipment deposits (and we’ll either have to go pick up the boxes, or pay someone to bring them out – there may even be an activation fee).

Aggravation and cost concerns aside (and I DO hate those ugly boxes!), it struck me that this is exactly the kind of “discretionary” spending that we routinely tell participants they should turn into retirement savings.   The kind of small “sacrifices” that, over time, can add up to huge differences in the amount of money they are able to save for retirement.   So, though I will doubtless have to suffer through water cooler conversations about events I will no longer be privy to, we have decided to put our money where our mouth is.

We can even test that notion that, when it comes to that extra reduction in pay, after a while, you really do “fuggedaboutit.”