Money Mic: 7 Reasons Why TV Is Ruining Your Life

Alden Wicker
Posted

People have a lot of opinions about money.   

In our “Money Mic” series, we hand over the podium to someone with a strong opinion on a financial topic. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.

Today, LearnVest Assistant Editor Alden Wicker explains why she decided to chuck her TV, how it’s improved her life and finances for the better, and why you should, too. 

I am completely over TV. In fact, not only is TV useless, I would rank it right up there between “binge drinking on a twice-weekly basis” and “addiction to plastic surgery” on a list of habits that will ruin your finances.

And maybe your life.

This, in a nutshell, is why, in the year 2012, I don’t own a television set.

Listen, I know it’s hard to conceptualize giving up “Revenge” once you’ve developed relationships with the characters. Or to conceive of what sick days would be like without the comforting routine of “Family Feud.” I’ll admit that good television has the power to educate us, teach us truths about ourselves and help us bond with co-workers over last night’s shocking plot turn.

But trust me, even though there can be benefits, you’ll still be better off without the flickering box in your life. I am. Here’s why:

1. It’s Costing You Money

Let’s start with the most obvious point.

We get so many smart, capable, successful women writing in asking for help getting their finances on track. They want to save for retirement, pay off their credit card debt or see a concert with their friends once in a while, but can’t seem to make room in their budget. Meanwhile, they’re pitching $20 (if they have roommates) to $100 toward cable TV every month.

Let’s say, starting at 25, that you cut out cable and put the money the average American spends on cable a year ($900+) into a Roth IRA with an average return of 7%. By age 65, you would have more than $190,000. Maybe you should throw in the $250 you would pay for a new TV every few years too! Clearly, cancelling your cable could start you on the road to financial health.

And let’s be real. If you are in serious credit card debt, you need to re-prioritize. Period.

2. You’re Keeping Up With Fictional Joneses

Hanging out with rich people makes our own lives seem poorer. And if you’re watching TV, you’re basically hanging out with rich people–especially if your shows of choice are “Sex and the City” re-runs, “Gossip Girl” or any of the various cities and their Housewives. It’s easy to come to believe, like Carrie Bradshaw, that Manolo Blahniks are necessary for every woman, and you may decide to make it happen for yourself with the help of your credit card. Bad news. Fictional TV characters don’t pay rent or have student loans—and they certainly never go into debt as a result of their actions.

Want to know if you’ve got a case of money comparisonitis? Take this quiz.

3. It Makes You Covet Things You Never Knew You Needed

It’s not only the shows. By age 65, the average American watches two million commercials–commercials that are designed to make your life seem dull in comparison to those of the shiny, happy people cruising around in Lexuses. U.S. companies invest $70 billion each year in television advertising and they must be getting their money’s worth. If you’ve ever found yourself craving a cheeseburger with a cold soda, perhaps you might consider removing commercials—and the craving for said cheeseburger– from your life.

4. Life Is More Fun Without TV

Talk about living her richest life. Our Senior Editor, Laura, hasn’t watched TV in 20 years, and she’s living proof that cutting TV cold turkey will improve your happiness. Since college, she’s become a certified yoga instructor, picked up Italian and become an advanced Argentine tango dancer (while also becoming proficient at salsa, merengue, ballroom and swing). She makes almost all of her presents every Christmas, cooks dinner on weeknights that she doesn’t go out, regularly attends concerts and still finds time outside of work to blog three to six times a week and dance the weekend away with friends. She can also, depending on her schedule, work her way through a book per week.

On the other hand, the average American watches 35.6 hours of television a week. That’s a full-time job!

What would you do with over 30 extra hours a week?

5. It’s Cramping Your Social Life

TV is not an inherently social activity, even if you’re watching it with someone. Sure, you’re sitting in the same room, but instead of learning about each other and really bonding, you’re exchanging quips about reality-television freakouts in between commercials.

One event that compels Laura and me to make time for TV? Sporting events. We like to watch a good World Cup match, the occasional football game or the Olympics. But because Laura and I don’t even have TVs, we need to go out to watch them. “For the World Cup, we’ll pick a bar or restaurant where there will be a big fan scene, like an Italian restaurant for an Italian game,” Laura says. This places her and her friends in the middle of a raucous crowd where they can meet people from all over the world.

And if you don’t have friends you can bring along to watch your sporting event? Well, you should be out there making some–not sitting in front of your TV.

6. You Need More Sleep

I had a roommate who would stagger out of her room every morning, declaring, “I am so tired. I can barely function.” She was so zonked because she felt the need to catch up on at least three television shows every night, keeping her up past midnight. She’s not an exception. The average American gets a little less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights, but wishes she could get more. Just cutting one hour of TV a day is enough to make up the difference.

Sleep is essential for performing at your best at work. In fact, researchers have compared running on little sleep to being drunk. Even the wildly successful Arianna Huffington makes sleep her first priority. More success comes from more sleep … and less TV.

7. TV Can Make You Fat

When I was in high school, my mom and I would settle in on weeknights to watch “Law & Order.” During that hour of gruesome crime-solving, I would almost always find myself munching on something—chips, pretzels, dessert, whatever. I felt so gross after mindlessly shoveling half a bag of processed food into my mouth, but this habit continued into adulthood, when I would take my breakfast or dinner over to the coffee table to eat in front of the news. Now that I don’t have a TV, I don’t eat mindlessly anymore, and I believe it’s one reason I’ve settled back into a healthy weight. In fact, females who watch three to four hours of TV a day have almost twice the prevalence of obesity.

Not watching TV could bring two other health benefits. First, it can give you time to cook dinner, which is good for your waistline and your wallet. Second, it may give you a long life: Sitting too much actually shortens your life span, so after a day at the office in front of the computer, the last thing you should do is fling yourself on the couch for five hours. Instead, use that time to hit the gym, take a walk or even wrestle with your dog (or toddler).

So to summarize, throwing your TV unceremoniously out the window (or donating it, find resources to do so here and here)  will improve your social life, whittle your waistline, give you time to learn new things, and–this is LearnVest, after all–drastically improve your finances.

I wish transforming your life were always this simple.

  • http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/ Michelle

    I agree with all of these. However, I just can’t get enough of my favorite shows!

    • Guest

      I follow a few shows too, but they are online on the network’s site. I guess I’ll catch up on the others when they come out on DVD. I watch some oldies like Frasier on Netflix, too.

      • Rlc

        I agree with the moderation crowd, but would like to add something. Given that I (and most likely many other readers of this article) read this on my smartphone, it would follow that we should all throw those away too, and thus any chance of reading any more articles like this one.

        • Sjdemo

          not a bad idea. i’m tired of you all not paying attention to where you walk (or drive). i miss the days of taking my kids to a park and having conversations with other parents instead of seeing them all head down playing draw something.

  • Leah

    I got rid of cable about a year ago and it’s been one of the best decisions I ever made. My fiance and I still have a TV, and we do watch shows and movies on Netflix, but our experience is much more deliberate now. For example, we’re going through all of the AFI top 100 movies together and reminiscing while watching old episodes of Saved by the Bell (commercial free!). It’s made us much happier!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YLQ6CZRJLTHX426AYMNZZSMA4Y Melissae

    It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. When my beau and I moved in together four years ago, we decided to forgo cable and subscribe to Netflix just like Leah and her fiancé. It is completely different from consuming television, it is a conscious act. We go days without watching shows or movies, but it’s nice when we do want to watch something together. I fold laundry during this time and he checks his work e-mail on his laptop. :)

  • Ashley H

    I haven’t had cable TV for years, but I do have a TV and we love movies– We’re also very active physically, running marathons, and trails for fun, and we both outdoorsy people. I didn’t even think about the financial repercussions of this– I just thought it was a waste of money when I’m outside when the weather is nice anyways- and when I am home during in-climate weather, we can order nearly any movie online, and watch them. It works for us. 

  • Sarah

    Why does our culture have to be so deprivation oriented? It’s like anything that is relaxing and not work-oriented and happens to cost money is an automatic no-no. TV habits really don’t have to be an all or nothing thing. I don’t pay for cable, but I watch my favorite shows on hulu. It brings me genuine happiness to watch them, and I still have time to work out, hang out with friends and do other meaningful activities. I say moderation in all things. You don’t have to be all puritanical about life.

  • http://twitter.com/thefinancegeek Megan Z Taylor

    I’m in the same boat as Melissa and Leah.  We haven’t had cable for years, but we still have a TV.  My husband plays video games to decompress (he’s on his feet all day at work, so he doesn’t have to worry as much about the whole “sitting too much” thing) and we both really enjoy movies and the occasional TV show.  When watching TV is a deliberate choice,  and something we do together, we watch much less.  An hour a night, maybe.  Not being able to just veg mindlessly does free up a lot of time, and we use that time to go for walks, read, talk,  etc.

  • Judiescreations

    I think the article has some valid points but you don’t have to entirely give up things. If that were the case, we would give up phones, computers, cars, books (yes, some people are addicted to reading), excercise and anything else out there in this world. It is all about  allowing yourself to enjoy the things that are out there but do it in moderation. Anything we do can cost money and become addictive. Choose carefully what you do enjoy and expand your world to include a variety of things that will bring education and pleasure into your life.

    • ranavain

       It’s interesting that some people have $100 a month book habits that involve sitting doing nothing for hours at a time, but you never see people dismissing that in the same way they dismiss TV. There’s an unfair idea that watching TV is necessarily mindless, like if you own a TV, then you’re spending all your time watching Jersey Shore. As opposed to, say, Modern Family (which is very funny and clever) or Game of Thrones (which is incredibly intellectually rigorous). I agree that moderation is the key, though an article about watching only a little TV would be a lot lamer than this one about watching none. :)

      • Sjdemo

        if modern family and game of thrones is the best you can do i’ll keep my books, which i can check out free at the library. i quit watching tv the week the west wing ended.

  • maracujation

    I agree with moderation rather than deprivation. We don’t pay for cable and just have Netflix or use the red box for the times we stay in to watch a movie.  I also realized that having some speakers were I can plug my phone or ipod also helps since I use to turn the TV because I like noise and then I would slowly merge to the couch and waste my time.  Netflix takes care of not having so many ads that make us get things we don’t need, plus the crazy expensive cable bills.  I even use Netflix for yoga hahah I am new at it so whatever is better than nothing :D  
    For the last few month my routine has changed from getting home and sitting in the couch with the controller to getting home do my 12 min work out in bodyrock.tv (check out, free gym in your living room and it is effective!), then go make dinner while listening to music.  At night we do watch a movie or a show if we feel like it.  

  • http://www.kclmoneycoach.com Kelley Long

    I am not a big TV person (although cable is included in our rent) and I’m ok with that. The only downside is that I miss out on a lot of small talk/chit-chat with my friends who have small children or at cocktail parties where it can be a good way to start a conversation. 

    “Can you believe so-and-so got kicked off Dancing With the Stars”???? or “Did you see that hilarious new Bud Light commercial?” While that doesn’t make me want to veg on the couch, I will say that watching The Bachelorette last night will make tomorrow’s networking event a lot easier as I can just bring that up!

    • http://profiles.google.com/brandy.n.oliver Brandy Oliver

       I know exactly what you mean about missing out on chit-chat. I regularly have coworkers walk up, say “Did you see ____” then go “Oh wait, nevermind, you don’t have TV” and walk off.

    • Sjdemo

      I think not watching it is just as easy a way to start a conversation. if someone asks me if i saw [insert popular show here] i reply with i don’t watch tv, which often brings a perplexed look and question of why. when i tell them the things i do instead we find other things to talk about, common interests or things they “always wanted to learn but never had the time.”

  • Guest

    How do you know someone doesn’t have a TV? They’ll tell you. 

    • Sarah

      Ok. Just as someone who HAS A TV but NO CABLE! Cable is the main culprit of sucking people in. I don’t waste money on something that I don’t find interesting. Although, I do get the occassional Redbox rental just for thrills on weekends.
      So.. in theory.. this article is bull!
      Television is not making you fat and poor.. Cable just hinders your habits and wallet.

  • T.C.

    I think this stance is pretty extreme.  Everything in life is about moderation.

    My TV doesn’t make me fat, doesn’t make me desire anything of Carrie Bradshaw’s, doesn’t prevent me from sleeping, and definitely doesn’t cramp my social life.

    The only thing I can agree with is that it costs me money, but so does everything else in life.  To say that it could “ruin your finances” is kind of dramatic.

    If you find that your TV is at the root of any of the aforementioned issues, then perhaps hauling it out the window is the best decision for you, but I’m pretty sure there may be other factors at play.

    So to summarize, with moderation, time management + budgeting, you can definitely enjoy most luxuries….. even cable (gasp!).

  • Alyssa

    This article made some very good points, but some of it rubbed me the wrong way. First off, you would consider three hours watching tv as wasted hours. Would you consider those hours wasted if they were spent reading a book (an equally sedentary activity)? Would it depend on the book? There are some truly excellent programs out there, shows that make you think, laugh, and cry, that demand your attention and engagement. It’s not all Real Housewives and cooking shows. Second, I disagree with the dismissal of the social aspects of tv. Is trading quips about a reality show that much different from trading quips over a game like Apples to Apples? Comedies are funnier with company, and dramas are more intense, just like with movies. My friends and I are in the habit of muting the commercials and talking; sometimes we have to pause the show because we’re not quite done when the commercials are. Often the conversation is spurred on by the program at hand, other times it is unrelated. I look forward to weekly tv night with my friends just as much as I do to weekly bar trivia. Finally, I can’t disagree that watching a sporting event in a bar with a bunch of fans is the best way to do it. But you’re clearly a casual sports fan–nothing wrong with that! Does it cross over into unacceptable for you if someone is a passionate fan of a team or sport? I love baseball, and during the season, I like to watch two or three games a week. It would be incredibly impractical of me to do this in a bar or restaurant. At home, I can do dishes, fold laundry, knit, exercise, talk on the phone, etc, and still watch my beloved team play. Is this wasted time?

    I guess what I’m saying is, it’s great for you that you figured out your life is better without tv, and no doubt it would be for some others as well. No one is saying that hours spent watching mindless programs alone while eating chips is a good thing, and obviously, cutting cable is an excellent way to save some money. But I use tv to enhance my life, not to stop it or detract from it. TV is certainly not ruining it.

  • Aimee

    I work in broadcast television, so giving up TV would really be biting the hand that feeds me.  That said, we own one relatively small HDTV (our families all think that’s strange because they mostly have 3 TVs in their houses… or more), and we watch pretty selectively – most of our favorite shows are on PBS, History, or the Science Channel. Although I do love Mad Men.  And I rarely just sit there.  Like Alyssa, I do paperwork, knit, fold laundry, etc.  Or just sit & relax with my husband.  Our cable bill is still less expensive than a daily latte habit or fancy-pants yoga or pilates classes.

  • Erin

    I have another reason entirely for not watching TV.  While it IS true that being a one income household with a disabled person we couldn’t afford cable even if we wanted it, but that’s not why it STAYS off.  Television is pretty much morally bankrupt.  Seems like everything from bubblegum to bmw’s use sex to sell their product.  And it’s not just the commercials.  To use an example from the article, Sex & the City is teaching girls that it’s okay to go out and have a new boyfriend every week (well, I think it is based on what I’ve heard.  I don’t watch it LOL!).  From an example that I actually USED to watch, Ally Mc Beal did pretty much the same thing.  It shows a lifestyle of going into bars and finding a new sexual partner every other night like this is the norm.  As a christian, I do NOT want my children thinking this is “Normal” or even tolerable.  News Flash:  If you are looking for a good, reliable, trustworthy partner, chances are good you’re NOT going to find them drunk off their rear at a club or bar.

    • Deanna

      You could say the exact same thing for books. Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone? Plus, oth Sex & the City and Gossip Girl were books first, but you won’t see anyone saying that books are morally bankrupt. And this is coming from an English major who now writes for a living.

  • Lissy

    A little drastic I think. A better solution: I only watch TV when I’m doing something active like exercising or cooking. Every night at 9:00, my husband’s on the elliptical, I’m on my trampoline and we watch whatever we recorded on the DVR. In the morning I lift weights as I watch Doctor Who on Netflix. If it wasn’t for the TV, it would be extremely hard to get myself to exercise. Plus, it’s relaxing. We can’t be doing something productive every minute of every day.
    I’d love to get rid of cable and live off of netflix, but I already had that argument about a dozen times with my husband since he can’t live without his sports.

    One thing I don’t understand: all of my friends/family complain they’re broke on facebook while at the same time posting about the latest Game of Thrones episode. Do they all have HBO??? really???

  • Katherene`

    I know what it is like to do without TV.  When I was living in Va. Beach, I did just that.  I living close to the ocean front vs tv.  Well let’s just say the ocean always end up winning.  I really did not get back into watching tv and paying for it until I relocated back to New England.  I miss the ocean and I hate paying for cable which cost me more than I care to pay for.  So yes, I would consider getting rid of the TV.  I did more, workout, take walks, read, relaxed, mediate.  I need to retrun back to the simply life style. 

  • Candicemh

    I don’t watch much TV but Mad Men is on now, forcing me to up my cable package.  hmmm, is it free online?  not sure.  cable is definitely a splurge for me, one I grapple with often.  I usually have the bare minimum package.  thankfully, my other fave, Downton Abbey is on PBS.  sigh….yes, definitely a splurge and one I ponder as I look to ways to cut costs and add to my retirement savings.

  • Nicolle

    amen – I voluntarily stopped owning a TV when I was 19, and have never looked back.

  • Ms Caitlin Pie

    Here’s my reason for banning the TV: If I have one, I’m addicted. I’ll literally come home, turn it on, and tune out. And I don’t feel good after watching it, so for me, not having one works wonderfully.  Also, television is truly designed to be a medium for advertisements, even if the programs are great. So wait for your show to come out on DVD or Netflix it, so you won’t subject your brain to that abuse.

  • lepm16

    I haven’t had cable for the past 5 years and I don’t miss it. I watch my shows (Grey’s, How I meet your mother,) online, a day late, for free.
    I have tried to go without internet, no smartphone, for a two months. That was WAY to hard! It’s crazy how we are connected! Everything is online. I gave in after 3 weeks and got internet.

  • Camille

    I agree that just sitting on the couch staring at a screen with Real Housewives for 35 hours a week would be awful for anyone but… who JUST sits on their couch and watches TV anymore? It is very rare that I am not doing something else while watching a show – like exercising or folding laundry or making dinner or something else productive around the house. I doubt my routine would change much if I never turned on the TV again - it would just be quieter and less entertaining without a TV show to focus on rather than the mundane household chores that require my time.

    • Sheila

      Completely agree.  For me, watching TV while ironing makes it bearable for me.  I’d probably go nuts if I didn’t have a distraction.

    • Jenga

      You’d be surprised, people like you are in the rarity. Especially college years, so many of my peers spend HOURS watch shows like gossip girls etc or playing video games in there dorms with no “parent” to monitor them (hold there hand). And wonder why there grades suffer or they never have enough time. 

  • Cocoachanel74

    LOL…although I understand what the writer is trying to say I think a more appropriate title should have been: “Why Owning a TV Makes ‘ME’ Fat and Poor.” It’s stretching it to include a world with so many people with so many different financial situations and tastes. As it is, cable is expensive and so one must still be prudent in how they choose to entertain themselves. But that comes with proper budgeting, good sense and well….what YOU like! #lovelearnvest:)   

  • Funtobewith

    I made a series of drastic life changes last year, including a huge TV diet… I occasionally miss something, but my life hasn’t been harmed in any way.

  • http://profiles.google.com/brandy.n.oliver Brandy Oliver

    Your Senior Editor is not living proof that you have to get rid of your television to be happy. While all the things she does are awesome (and seriously, she gets a standing ovation from me!) I have a television, yet I have a rich and full life.

    Having a television has not kept me from trail running, cooking my own meals, making all my own breads, studying 2 languages, and practicing yoga daily.
    I’m a RedCross instructor, a volunteer firefighter, emergency responder, and a search & rescue team member.
    I have a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do, and am training for my black belt. I also kayak, climb, backpack, camp, and mountain bike.
    I, too, make the majority of Christmas presents, usually soap, jewelry, handwoven baskets, and baked goods. I also sell things I make online to try to fund some of my hobbies(student loans cut deeply into my fun money!).

    Television is not the problem. It’s a matter of moderation and self control. Everyone has a weakness.
     For some people, they just cannot turn off the television or video games.For me, I just can’t have chocolate no bake cookies in my house. I’ll eat them all!
     For some people removing that weakness will solve the problem. For other, it just gets replaced by a new weakness.

    • http://profiles.google.com/brandy.n.oliver Brandy Oliver

       I’d like to add that I did really enjoy the article and think giving up tv could benefit lots of people. I just think it was a little preachy.

  • Dolores

    Love this idea of no TV. Actually, most of what’s on, especially on prime time is filled with violence and finding a comedy usually means staying up late. If we can go on financial diets, we can certainly go on TV diets. Thanks for a great perspective.

  • Sarah

    Reading on the internet exposes you to just as much advertising. Just saying.

    • http://twitter.com/j9errr Janine Boyer

      But not in the same way like a tv does, blaring in your ears and all up in your face.

    • Namluv

      Investigate AdBlock. Best browser add-on I ever installed. I occasionally turn it off and am shocked by all the ads.

  • Beverly Smith

    I totally agree with you about the tv,  If you have it on and you get company, it seems people don’t talk to each other much, Then when it is off, no one knows what to say to the other. I hate tv, It steals most of our time. 

  • Dremedancer

    Got rid of cable 10 years ago. Haven’t really missed much. I can rent the entire season (sans commercials!) on DVD when I’m sick, or go to a friends house to watch. I moved recently and SOLD my TVs. Still not missing a thing! I can watch the weather on MY TIME on the internet.

  • Sarah

    TV will not “ruin” your financial future or your life. I’m sorry, but the wording in this article is so over the top. It irks me when articles like this urge readers to give up everyday pleasures like a cup of coffee or a magazine subscription or cable TV because over time these small purchases could add up to a huge amount of money (assuming you saved every penny and had amazing investment returns which seems like a very hypothetical kind of logic to me). I think readers should be empowered to go after the things they want. Why not get a better paying job or pick up a side gig so you can pay for the lifestyle you desire? People should not be made to feel bad about wanting the basics in life – like a little entertainment now and then. I think television is actually an amazing thing. Too much of it is certainly detrimental, but that doesn’t mean that no TV is the answer either.

    • AldenWicker

      Hi Sarah, 

      At LearnVest we’re all about increasing your income as well as reducing costs, whether through negotiating your pay or getting side sources of income. 

      We’re also about getting the most value out of your money. This article just reflects my own belief that paying for cable and spending time in front of the TV isn’t the best use of my time or money. Believe me, I’m not an ascetic! I pay for yoga classes and good food and even magazine subscriptions, because they are important to me. If TV is something you really value, I would encourage you to continue to pay for it. But I definitely think there is value in reconsidering what is a “basic” and what makes us happy, especially for someone struggling to reach their financial goals. 

    • guest

      I agree! And watching tv doesn’t make you a fat, lazy, poor, antisocial underachiever, either! This article is way out there and quite insulting.

  • Sjdemo

    i would toss our tv if hub wouldn’t throw a major fit afterward. it’s nice to let the kids watch netflix so i can get an extra half hour of sleep (we don’t have cable, either.), and i know that’d be his main reason for saying to keep it, but he is one of those people who claim to do other things while watching tv and i wonder how much faster the laundry would get folded with the radio or an audiobook on instead. i read all these comments of people vehemently defending their tv watching and how it’s only an hour a night and wonder how many have things they say they never have time for or if they feel like they get enough sleep each night.
    i’m no saint here. i watch a movie or two on weekends, often staying up too late. during the week i don’t watch anything, but i do spend a lot of time on my laptop in the evenings. i can’t access facebook at work so it’s nice to catch up with friends or read articles in the evenings.
    still, on the days i am unplugged i get more accomplished and enjoy my time and family more than the other days. if i want reality i go outside.

  • Kmwither

    Im 28 and rid myself of tv at 16. I remember people being so shocked that I did not watch tv. It is a little better now. However, my reason was that I watched it until I fell asleep really late..or watched too much and had to stay up extra late to finish homework. Getting rid of it early on definitely helped in college and even now. I have real hobbies. I have 3 shows that I keep up with online. What I am working on taming now is limiting non work internet time to 1-2 hrs per day.

  • Hi

    Eh. This article is a little heavy-handed. I gave up TV when I moved out of my parents’ house. I just couldn’t be bothered with it. This, however, did nothing to prevent me from having weight fluctuations, financial fiascos, sleep deprivation, desires to spend money on things I didn’t need, or from life generally sucking at times. In fact, I could say that my other extra-curriculars, knitting, cooking, and also Argentine tango have given me ample opportunities to overspend (hi pretty tango shoes, you cost so much but I loooovee you), covet, under-sleep (you cannot dance tango regularly and get enough sleep, it’s just not possible), etc. No matter how your fill your free time, life can cost a lot if you allow it to.

    I am curious now though if I’ve ever seen/met Laura. The tango world isn’t massive. Have you danced in Ann Arbor? If not, I highly recommend it!

    • laurashin

      Hi!

      How nice to “meet” another tango-dancing LV reader! No, I haven’t danced in Ann Arbor, but if you find yourself in NYC, you should definitely check out our milongas — Richard Lipkin’s tango page has the most up-to-date calendar.

      Laura

      • Hi

        Hi!

        Someday I will get to NYC for dancing. Xavier was just in Ann Arbor and pushing the East Coast Marathon, but sadly I have to work that weekend. Soon though.

        Happy dancing!
        Elizabeth

  • lifelibertyhappiness

    I gave up my TV 8 years ago, and I have never looked back. I don’t miss it at all!  I am much more active (now a size “0″),  and I have saved a load of money each month from cable expenses. I shop much less because I see fewer commercials. As for news, I feel better informed because I read my news or listen to public radio.TV news covers a lot of entertainment material that does not really pertain to my daily life anyway. I live alone, so I didn’t have to consult with anyone else before ditching it.

  • Sheila

    Although I admire those that may have been able to give up TV or cable, but aren’t you spending the same amount of money that you spent on cable or TV on something else – books, eating out more with friends, exercise classes, internet, or  something.  Aren’t you just replacing one thing for another?

    I live alone so my tv comes on pretty much when I enter the door until I go to bed and that’s mainly because the noise distraction keeps me sane.  I appreciate getting caught up on the news in the morning while trying to get ready for work and I wouldn’t want o be stuck home sick or in a snowstorm without it.  I save money by renting more movies or catching them on cable rather than going to the theater.  In addition to keeping me current on the news and weather I’ve also learned some new cooking skills and it keeps me exercising by giving me a distraction other than looking at how long I’ve been on the stationery bike.  I realize not everyone thinks this way, but I certainly wouldn’t call TV evil.  Maybe it’s just not for everyone.

    • Kay

      Books can be had through the library, exercise can be done outside or at home.  Why do you have to eat out, with time to shop or research recipes or organize a potluck or progressive dinner.  The internet is a different animal and is usually bundled in the cost of cable service but is significantly less than the whole pkg. when purchased alone.  I am dropping my cable because they continually raise the price and I think they are deceptive in their pricing.  Was looking for another company and shocked to find they are essentially a monopoly.  Satellite is an option but weather can make that debateable.  I can live without it, it is a convenience but have sons who like sports so…looking at other options.

  • Smilealong

    I totally agree with this article.  I am now 67 and haven’t had a TV for at least 30yrs.  When I visit my daughters if the TV is on, I still stop what I am saying and become glued to the screen——-  Very addicting to me 

  • guest

    Absolutely excellent article. Cannot commend you enough really enjoyed reading that although I must admit I am quite guilty of over indulging in TV. I feel the odd movie here and there is fine but to obsessively watch daily is really time consuming and wasteful. I feel the many people not agreeing with the article are finding it hard to digest the truth!!
    Thank you for the reality check

  • Mmafvg

    So very true!!! when in college we had a TV at the student union and a friends. So there was no TV on 24-7. We were more active and gosh darn it we liked it!!!!!

  • Cat_mansion

    I cancelled my DIRECTV Service. I still have my TV, and run a DVD of an acquarium. I confess I watch baseball games on my computer and few things I can find for free. I also watch tapes on my TV. Is that OK? I watch about 4-6 hours a week.

  • Cat_mansion

    I lived 1000 miles away and would visit my mother once every two years–spend maybe a week. This entailed unpaid time off for my husband (now ex) vacation time for me, airfare and boarding costs for three cats. Visits consisted of sitting on front of the TV watching boring stuff. When I tried to talk my mother would turn the TV to a painful level. “I can’t hear the TV when you’re talking.” I decided I wasn’t going to visit. Apparently the TV was more important that her daughter. In time though I moved to where my mother was to be a caregiver. I subscribed to Directv and I enjoyed it. Then my mother moved in with me and took over MY TV and complained about Directv. She watched “educational” shows like Jepoardy and Wheel of Fortune and a lot of news. I still couldn’t talk or she’d turn up the TV. She watched lots of news and then would discuss it with me and get me depressed. I got tired of her complaining about Directv which I was paying for and my TV so I finally pulled it. She passed away not long after. It is sad that people have to be quiet so someone can watch TV–that someone can’t tape or DVR shows when an adult child living 1000 miles away visits biannally and yet the TV is more important.

    I watch some free stuff over the Internet and I watch baseball games–which I should probably quit since my team is losing and I’m getting depressed. I also watch free stuff on the computers. I have some old tapes and DVDs I watch occasionally–cheaper than going to a theater. I have inserted a DVD so I have an acquarium on my TV screen.

  • Crocky

    I got rid of cable because AT&T U-Verse has such horrible customer service.

    When I moved this last time back in July, I had Comcast all lined up for phone, internet and cable.  I was good to go!

    However, when I arrived at my new apartment, I was told that the complex was going exclusively with AT&T U-Verse.  I called them that day, and they said that the soonest they could get to me was 2.5 weeks.

    Well, stupid them for making me wait that long, because I realized during that time that I REALLY didn’t need cable.  Instead, I bought a digital antenna, and still enjoy 25 channels of entertainment.

    • Sheila

      I had AT&T for my internet when I moved and I have to agree, horrible customer service.  They disconnected it from my old apartment, but failed to connect it at my new apartment.  That took a week and then about a month later it unexpectedly went out and in waiting for them to send someone to fix it I got frustrated and switched to another company.  Their prices are lower, but it’s not worth the service.

    • fauwl

      So funny- one of the reasons I cut cable was because I had Comcast and it was always a mess!  Who has time during their day to leave work and go meet the cable guy at home? 

      • Sheila

        Exactly!  Sometimes I think these companies think no one works during the day.

  • Shelleydee

    I took Communication Studies in university focusing mainly on television in popular culture.  I don’t know if this article shows the state of audiences (that we fall for consumerism) or if its a poor reflection of it (that we are nothing but automatons that follow blindly what we are watching), but I would like to assume that audiences are smarter than the shows they watch and know that they are fictional.  We all (enjoy to) watch these characters live over-the-life lives and we all know they live a life that we cannot- that’s the glamour of TV and movies.  We indulge in a fantasy life.  In doing so, we should know there is a difference between reality and this perceived fantasy.
    There are some points made in this article I agree with.  Although I think that to an extent some TV watching can be made a social thing, such as people commenting on internet articles on TV recaps, or having a TV show watching party (which is pretty much the same concept as a book club).  
    I am disappointed in viewers though, if they cannot understand that what they watch on TV is a fantasy and that just because Carrie wears Manolo Blahniks doesn’t mean we have to, or we can indulge in knockoffs!

  • MCI

    When I moved to Paris in 2001 to do my graduate studies, I had so little money that a TV seemed a luxury (particularly since in France there is a TV tax). Since then I’ve lived without a TV, reading two books per months and going out with friends, to concerts, cinema, etc an average of four times per week. Last August I moved in for some months with my mom, who has a TV, and was horrified to see how quickly I became “re-addicted”, wasting up to three hours an evening in front of the TV! I’ve moved again, and while the new apartment came with a TV, I didn’t get a cable connection, so the box sits still and quiet and my life as become active and very social again.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z5ILZ3STTF2OIX3EB4GYJLKQ44 Sherry

    Though I can’t agree that TV is ruining my life, I could definitely save some money by ditching DirecTV and catching my favorite shows on the Internet for free.  Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple because, like so many others, I have a husband who would be lost without his daily dose of TV, which usually involves reruns of “M*A*S*H” or movies he’s seen dozens of times before.  What’s even more frustrating to me is that half the time he’s not even watching the TV; he just has it on for the noise!!

    While we’re on the subject of “luxury” expenses, I’d also love to do away with his monthly satellite radio and wireless bills. Personally, I have a Tracfone because I prefer knowing that I can get a yI If I could convince him to g

    • Mgk1118

      When I moved, I cut out DirecTV and cable.  We use Netflix and Hulu Plus for a lot less than we were paying.  I find that we don’t watch as much TV as I used to and we are enjoying life a lot more.

    • Yoda

      Maybe a great stereo system or a pet could replace the need for the TV’s background noise/ having a sense that another being is around.

  • Kellie Greene

    I don’t think I’m ready to cut it out of my life, moderation works and during the summer, its off more than on!

  • http://www.livingwellwithjackie.com/ Jackie

    Thanks so much for the interesting perspective! While I personally don’t choose to give it up, mainly because I am a die-hard movie fan, I do agree that it can have all the effects described and isn’t really a valuable learning and/or information tool now that the Internet has come along. I do admire the writer for going against the grain, and making the effort to show LV readers another point of view.

  • Speechanm80

    I haven’t had a TV for about 13 months now- I was burglarized for a 2nd time and thought why buy another? It really was an experiment to see how long I could go without. I will say I do have a computer that I have Netflix on but I have since been enjoying cooking out of new cookbook and reading more which I live to do. I think most people would be surprised how easy it was to give up-

  • Nyshirazgirl

    I put my cable on pause for about month and my 14yr. old daughter almost went postal. She is a loner so she was lost without it. I myself can see where cutting down some TV time would be sufficient.

    Thank you.

    • Yoda

      Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School by Katharine Beals (Sep 29, 2009)Maybe this book could be helpful.

  • Schmidt Katrina

    I got rid of cable TV 4 years ago, and I seriously have never missed it once. I figured, life is so short already, and no one ever gets to the end of their life and says, “Man!  I really wish I had watched more TV!”  Now I have so much more time to accomplish all those things I’ve always wanted to do, like yoga, gardening, reading, sewing, cooking, etc.  I even sit down and play piano from time to time.  And do I give a hoot what I’m missing on the latest reality tv show?  Hell no. I am living my life to it’s fullest capacity.  Besides, if there ever WERE a show I wanted to catch (like Dexter or Vampire Diaries!!!) You can just watch it online, for FREE! 

  • fauwl

    I cut the cord almost a year ago and it was definitely a good decision.  Since cancelling my cable subscription, I have joined a kickball team, a running group, and a book club.  Definitely better uses of my time and money!  Plus, not having TV at home forces me to be productive during the few times I am at home (no more putting off laundry, dishes, bill paying, etc.).  I also find I never go to the movies any more.  Because I don’t see all those ridiculous commercials for them, I never know what’s playing in theatres so I never go.  And guess what?  I definitely don’t miss ponying up $10+ to watch some lame romantic comedy.  Lastly, not having TV in my home means when I do watch TV it’s largely a social experience (watching the Super Bowl at a bar with friends or going to a neighbor’s to watch the Academy Awards).  That’s a huge difference from the way most people experience TV (solitude). 

    Disclaimer:  I do still have Netflix (but only the cheapest option available). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1273843985 Pam Kaelin

    I didn’t find the article “preachy” or “over the top” or “heavy handed” at all. I LOVE life without TV. The house I moved into during 2006 in the middle of my divorce never had cable and I didn’t feel the need to install it. At first my daughter,  who was 8 at the time wasn’t thrilled. Now she prefers living without TV to the weekends she spends with her father who has cable and the whole proverbial “9 yards”. She says all her father does is sit and watch TV and it’s boring. She prefers opening a book or magazine, spending time outside with friends PLAYING and moving. This past year I got the digital antenna so I could at least get news or anything important. We still watch less than 2 hours worth a week and that’s mostly just for news. So to each his own, but our house is LIVING life, not watching fictional life on tv.