Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.
Product: This is our second day on limiting money spent on entertainment.
Look around and you will find one of the most common entertainment choices is the television. We love our TV. Here are some statistics for you:
- 99% of Americans own a TV.
- The average American spends over 5 hours a day or 9 years of their lives watching TV.
- A kid will spend 900 hours a year in school but 1200 hours that same year watching TV.
- Half of us say we watch too much TV.
We’re very serious about it too. Last year we added “binge watch” to the dictionary because more than ever we have access to hours of uninterrupted, mind-numbing entertainment.
When I was 18 I moved into an apartment and had a tiny TV with only 2 channels and 3 jobs. I decided to see how long I could go without TV and was surprised when 6 months passed pretty quickly. Since it wasn’t a very serious ban and I only accomplished the task because I was rarely home, I turned it back on with an interest in what I had been missing.
What I discovered was shocking.
TV is dumb. Like, really dumb. The ads play to shallow greed and laziness, the dramas are obviously playing on fads and shock value, even the news was empty and void of any lasting value. After being without TV at all for a period of time, I was intensely aware of how empty it all was and how I missed not a single valuable thing in 6 months.
Deep down we all know all this to be true even as we keep watching several hours of TV daily. We’re not gaining anything of value, yet day after day we turn on the tube for more.
Worse yet, many (most) of us are paying for this mind-feebling entertainment to be delivered to us, or at least available to us, on a constant basis. If we miss it during regular air time we can pay a small fee is order to access it anytime online. We buy bigger TVs for our homes and will also happily access it on our phones when we’re away.
Most personal finance bloggers will yell loudly from the rooftops that we should not be paying for cable. However most will also quickly point out how much cheaper an option like Netflix or Roku is.
I say that we should expect more of ourselves. We don’t need to pay even a minimal amount for this crap.
Interesting enough, I do watch TV. We actually have lots and lots of TV access. We have two sets with over 40 channels. We also watch TV online and even order series to watch.
And we pay not a dime for any of it.
Since we live in a city we have those 40+ channels just floating around our heads; all you have to do is grab them. Any newer TV will do it itself, although our big tube style TV requires a digital converter—found at yard sales and thrift stores. I think we paid $1 for ours.
(Even if you don’t live in the city you will likely get at least two channels—see my example above from when I was younger and lived in a small town. Very rarely does anyone want to watch more than 48 hours of TV in a day that they get with two channels anyway.)
Watching TV online has really gone down recently for me, but I used to have a habit of finding a show I liked and then streaming it in the background while I got work done. I don’t do this much anymore but I have learned how to do it without paying.
The trick is to not buy into the notion that you need to watch the show as soon as it comes out. Most networks will insist on a subscription through some cable provider in order to show an episode less than a week old, but it’s free as long as it’s between a week and a month old. If you’re used to being a week behind, it’s really no big deal.
Recently we have been watching a series that is not free online because it’s too old for the network sites but not old enough to be free on YouTube. We introduced the kids to the series Quantum Leap. Remember that show? Guy jumps around in history “striving to put right what once went wrong.” We get to watch that for free (legally) simply by ordering it from the library.
So how about that? You can still easily rot your brain without purchasing anything at all, not even Netflix or Roku or whathaveyou.
Depending on what you’re spending now, that could be a real boon to your bank account over a year.
And the real benefit is that the slight increase in inconvenience may just encourage you to watch a little less than you currently do and that would make your brain happy.
Reason to buy less: Little (or big) allergic noses don’t like things that hold onto dander/dust/pollen/mold particles.
Suggestion: In keeping with the TV theme, a great suggestion for helping to limit the shopping urge would be to avoid TV—at least the ads. No one likes them anyway (unless they’re on during the Super Bowl.) So just avoid them whenever possible.
When my youngest sister lived with us she showed us the amazing effects of the mute button. Every time commercials came on she hit ‘mute.’ It was amazing. We had never thought to do that before, we just thought the commercials were a necessary evil but it turns out we don’t have to sit through them.
When you’re online just download Adblock. Please, do it now. I don’t make anything off this blog at this point so it’s no skin off my nose for you to block the ad that shows below. I don’t get anything from the link either. I’m just showing you because I want you to benefit from it, not because I benefit at all.
Adblock blocks the ads in the middle of streaming videos. Pandora doesn’t play any ads anymore. Even Facebook doesn’t have anything on the side. I even set it so it doesn’t give me those time sucking suggested articles anymore. Just do it. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s so freeing.
(The only problem I’ve run into is CBS. CBS detects the Adblock and refuses to play videos while it’s turned on. That’s an easy fix. I just don’t even try to watch CBS shows anymore.)
Unfortunately Adblock doesn’t work so cleanly on iProducts. I have one game on my phone, Solitaire, and I play it while I’m using the bathroom. (Yes, I am normal sometimes.) Since I want something mindless and quick to do I have to put up with the ads, or do I? Nope.
I mute the phone so sound doesn’t play then I cover the phone with my hand when an ad pops up, except for the top left corner. Once the allotted forced ad time is up an x appears in the corner and as soon as I see it, I kill it. It’s almost like part of the game now. How quickly can I get the cards up to the discard piles in order and how quickly can I kill the ads?
I know I sound paranoid but I can feel what the ads are doing to my thoughts and I don’t appreciate it. I will not watch what I don’t want to watch. I will not be constantly reminded what someone else says I should buy.
No. I’m in charge of these eyes. These eyes are Philippians 4:8 eyes. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
What do you let into your thoughts through your eyes? You can, and should, control it. Otherwise it will control you.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7575306@N03/2306137286″>Irony</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22285503@N00/3004665462″>Autumn Television</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>