Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
A few months ago, our cable TV stopped working. We had to wait a few weeks for an appointment, as we work full-time and weekend appointments book quickly. My husband loves TV, and was pretty upset. I didn't care too much, since I hardly watch TV, or so I thought.
During the weeks we had no TV, I became acutely aware of what a thief the TV was. It was a thief of time. I would turn it on to keep me company as I was preparing meals and watched longer than I intended to. Practically every show, even the news, had some kind of "cliff-hanger" before commercials. It was also a thief of time because I was working more slowly than if I weren't watching TV, or were just listening to music. It made me want to watch more TV, with advertisements for forthcoming shows.
It was a thief of money. There were advertisements for food, local events, services, clothing, and anything else I could think of. Many of the products advertised were unknown to me until the commercial aired. These commercials wanted to make me feel like a "have-not" if I didn't acquire them. Many commercials advertised sale prices, and limited time or supplies, so I had to act fast if I wanted that great deal.
It was a thief of intelligence. During the weeks I had no TV, I was forced to read more and indulge in hobbies that I thought I had no time for. I had the perfect excuse before; I work full-time. Those little snips of TV cost me an hour a day or more!
It was a thief of health. Without the TV, I had more time to exercise. My appetite was less because I wasn't bombarded with endless ads for food. I got to sleep at a reasonable hour. There is scientific proof that watching a TV or computer screen interferes with sleep.
When the cable was finally fixed, I was a different person. I now watch the traffic and weather in the morning and the news at night.
Frugal people guard their resources. Time is precious. Don't waste it!
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.
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.
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 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.
Have you unplugged from cable or taken other steps to reduce the amount of television you watch? Let us know in the discussion.