Unplug For a While

I stopped watching broadcast and cable television about a year ago, and it has been an interesting experience.

First, the obvious benefit is that I have saved a lot of money. I paid for both Internet access and television over cable and my bill has been cut in half since I cancelled the television side. I'm saving about $50/month.

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I find that I have filled up the time I would normally have spent watching television with watching DVDs I own and movies or TV shows from Netflix or other services. I'm not necessarily watching less television on a day to day basis, but I am watching a different mix of movies and shows.

I find that I actually enjoy watching TV shows in season form a lot more than I did on broadcast. Rather than waiting a week between episodes, I can watch several a night if I want to. It's easier to follow the story arcs throughout the season. I don't watch a lot of other shows just because they are on between the shows I really want to watch. I've been able to watch older classic shows like the Avengers, the Rockford Files, and others rather than watching just what's on now.

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I thought that I would miss most of the shows I was watching as their new seasons were introduced, but an unexpected benefit of not watching commercial television is that I hardly see any commercials. A good portion of commercial time is spent advertising other shows on the current channel. Making show premieres seem like "events" and teasing the plots of other shows. Without this constant reminder of what's on I quickly lose the urgency to watch new shows. Shows I really care about I can get on DVD in the next couple months anyway.

I actually think the greatest benefit of unplugging is not being inundated with the endless commercials on every channel. It frees me up to do research into the things I want to buy rather than trying things simply because they are advertised repeatedly.

It can be a challenge to unplug from cable television, but I've come to think it is well worth it. Now I'm trying to wean myself off of Netflix and the other broadcast replacements. I spend my working days online so it's nice to see something other than a screen for a while at the end of the day.

About The Author: Fletcher Sandbeck is one of the founders of ThriftyFun. You can usually find him feverishly typing code to make the site more responsive and stable. He is crazy for Legos, has a degree in mathematics, and is always trying to be more frugal.

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Have you unplugged from cable or taken other steps to reduce the amount of television you watch? Let us know in the discussion.

July 18, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with you! We got rid of Dish Network and just watch the basic networks and local stations for FREE with a cheap UHF antenna, and haven't really missed the rest. Because of weather reports (since we often have storms and tornadoes that we'd not know about otherwise) we did feel it was important to have local stations. We watch DVD's with a season's worth of shows, no commercials, and use Redbox for an occasional newer movie. Some of our favorite movies that we own, we've watched several times and really got a lot more out of it after seeing it a few times that we had missed the first time. We still feel we occasionally watch tv too much, but now we do get a lot of other stuff actually DONE rather than just waste precious hours flipping through channels and complaining there's nothing good to watch. Life slips away so fast, why waste it with a remote in our hands and listening to constant advertisements? :^)

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful

Heck no. I haven't cut back the time I spend watching FoxNews or on the internet during this precarious time in our nation's history. I do not spend time "tweaking" and telling people I don't even know what I'm having for dinner. I study. Now, more than ever, we need to be educated on what is happening politically and socially. I've never been political but began in 2008. I never thought our nation would accept the things it has. Many of us are quietly fighting the battle for America. I suggest you and your readers take what is happening seriously before it's too late. I am not an alarmist, I am in reality. Ignoring the problem or wishing it away will not work.

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful

I quit all TV cold-turkey about the time New Orleans was being destroyed by that hurricane. I survived the TV thingy eventually. I've changed mentally and can no longer watch more than about two minutes of any TV program I accidentally wander into viewing area of.

People: When you comment on how few video programs you watch, back up a step and think about what the word 'watch' actually means. It means that you are still directing the majority of your attention (brainpower) to what appears on that screen. Imagine the millions of couch potatoes concentrating on that screen. It's obviously bad for your health. I include mental health in that thought.

I have so very much more time for other activities since I 'recovered'! With only a bit of the money saved I was able to buy a really good radio that receives National Public Radio. For $29 a month I subscribe to weekday delivery of NYTimes. And, I love to read. I can listen to NPR while doing so.

My elder daughter dropped a meaningful comment on me, "If the same percentage of the population who watch TV compared to those who only read newspapers or other decent publications, was reversed, we would have a much more intelligent public."

If only!

Anybody out there really disgusted with their state and local politicians by now? Why would anyone think they are buying TV ads for your betterment?

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful

You have to take the cost of netflex out of that $50.00. That might be good for awhile but you are going to get tired of watching what you have unless you start buying DVD's. I have a satellite and I save by not taking all the extra movie channels because they have free weekends all through the year. We watch a lot of tv when it is so hot that you don't need to be outside or if it is snowing and we are at home. But the way I look at it is if I am at home on the internet or watching tv then I am not out spending money by shopping or traveling. The cost of gas is hign here.

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful

During a financial crunch years ago, we cut back our cable to antenna service (only the main networks). It was hard at first and I do occasionally miss some of the home and garden channels. But I hardly watch any TV now as the offerings on the main networks are so poor. We have really enjoyed sharing some of the favorites from years gone by with our kids through netflix. It has been a great conversation starter about history and how times have changed even in the short time since we were kids. Our kids read more and are more active because they are not tied to the TV.

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July 19, 20111 found this helpful

I guess this will reveal me as "older" but back in the late 80's I began to wean my family from TV. It started because I was noticing my children were imitating the people on TV. There were so many family situation comedies where the "put downs" were made to look funny and even popular. I found that my family was following suit. Unfortunately, in real life, put downs are not so funny. They hurt and make us feel dumb.

It was difficult at first to go "cold turkey" so I just limited our viewing to shows we felt were safe for us to watch. But then I began to notice that even though we were watching clean TV shows, the commercials were abrasive. So we eventually turned off the TV altogether. Thirty years later, I can tell you that my family is much better off. We found that while watching TV we had become hardened and insensitive to subjects which should be sweet and even sacred. Now our feelings toward family and others are very sensitive and tender.

I would recommend trying to "unplug". It is very satisfying. You will become an individual, not a Hollywood look alike. :)

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July 19, 20111 found this helpful

Good for you! We pulled the plugs in 1986 and never looked back. The kids went through withdrawals but ended up loving to read, play games, listen to good music and play out of doors. Somewhere along the line we received 'Thanks Mom and Dad for setting a good example for us and our families.' 'bout floored both of us but was so good to hear.

My hubby and I set definite time schedules and non-work related time for computer and Internet use in our separate businesses.

Don't let the world pass you by....<3

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July 20, 20111 found this helpful

We get channels on our tv, lots of them. It is mainly for Mom who enjoys watching the soaps. Most of the time my husband watches TV and it is always reruns, and things that were on years ago. What I would like to know is how can there be so much "nothing" on tv. I can go through lots of channels and there is absolutely nothing to watch. Other than Mom, it would not really be a sacrifice at all to get rid of the whole thing and we would be saving around 90 dollars a month to boot.

It does seem that TV "dumbs down" the public, because instead of going out and walking in the fresh air, we are watching mindless, sometimes meaningless drivel on TV. This is only a good thing when people begin to see that they are paying for sub quality garbage and that is why most of the kids are into games nowadays, instead of even watching TV. There just isn't anything on TV to hold an audience.

This was a very good idea and I am amused to see how happy people are to get rid of TV.

Blessings,

Robyn

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July 23, 20111 found this helpful

I unplugged for the most part back in September 09, using a smartphone to access the 'Net for months until I remarried and moved to the UK. My new husband does have Internet service to the house and on our mobile phones, but we don't have a TV license, and don't really miss TV anymore than I did back in the States.

I did install a digital antenna and used TV in the States to keep track of weather alerts (I lived in a tornado prone area), and when I visited my son and grandson in the States this past spring I installed a digital antenna for them too as they live in hurricane and tornado country.

When my son was growing up we didn't have cable until he was around 12, and didn't have Internet at all while he lived at home. I raised him to see being plugged in as a luxury, although I also made sure he understood he needed to listen to the news and weather. I'm proud of him now that he is an adult with his own child that he is raising my grandson along most of the same lines as I raised him. They do have Internet, but its use is highly restricted at my son's house.

They read, bike, hike, play board and card games-my seven year old grandson is something of a reverse snob, lol, viewing his plugged-in schoolmates as missing out on the better things in life.

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September 15, 20140 found this helpful

I have been without TV for a couple of years now and have not missed it at all. I was getting TV, internet, and home phone from the same provider and watched my bill climb every month until it was about $200 a month, plus $2.00 if I wanted a paper bill! I am in Ontario, Canada, and my provider was Bell Canada. I quit Bell and signed up with eyesurf.net and now pay $63.00 a month for home phone and high speed internet, with no TV - a savings of almost $140 a month! I have enjoyed watching some old TV series in consecutive order without commercials. I can get all the news I need from the news station's websites. Unfortunately, the Bell satellite dish is still on my roof - Bell tells me I own it and they will not come to remove it. If anybody wants it, let me know! If you can remove it with no damage to the roof, you are welcome to it!

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September 16, 20140 found this helpful

I stopped the cable and saved $70 a month. I had no HBO, Showtime, etc. in that price. Now we go to the Library every week and take out DVD's for a week and one week renewal. We have the converter box and an antenna and watch Public TV and some other channels for free. Best savings ever. We can also order any DVD from other libraries and they are delivered to our library of choice and can be returned to any library in the system. Right now I am getting The Desperate Housewives, Jack Frost, The Wire and MASH. I am being entertained watching old tv shows.

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