Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Throw out your TV and save.

I am a firm believer in reducing TV viewing time to evening-only, 2 hour limit (well, 3 if its a long movie), single set houses. There is a very good reason that corporations spend billions of dollars annually on broadcast commercials: people spend more when they are exposed to ads. You can make a dramatic impact in your spending habits, especially if you are prone to impulse buying or spending yourself into debt, simply by controlling your advertisement exposure.

Here are my tips for reducing your TV time, increasing your family time, and saving money while you do it.

  • Get rid of your extra TVs: The average household has 2-3 televisions? Some houses have more TVs than people living there. The isolation that watching causes is greatly increased when you are all in different rooms watching different things. Just buy one really nice, high quality television. You will probably end up fighting over what to watch. Great! A family negotiating together (keep it civil!) is far better than one in separate rooms ignoring each other.
  • Dump cable: Or at least dump the digital 300 channel satellite. Basic cable comes with nearly a hundred channels, and personally I don't have more luck finding something I want to watch when I have 300 as opposed to 30 channels - it just takes me longer to give up and read a book. Its an unnecessary expense, especially nowadays because you can...
  • Rent or Stream your TV: Your favorite shows are probably on DVD, yes even the new ones. They are also on iTunes for a dollar a piece and some stations like ABC.com stream their shows for free with only 3-4 30 second commercials (as opposed to 15 minutes of them for an hour show). You will have to get creative to plug your computer into your TV, but online retailers like monoprice.com have cheap cables and adapters for just that purpose. You skip all the commercials without expensive equipment like TiVo. While you're at it...
  • Say No to TiVo: People watch more TV with TiVo because they are more likely to record future shows. Then they have 30 hours of TV recorded and no time to watch it. Sounds like a huge money waster to me.
  • Put your TV in a dedicated room: In a room without a table, preferably. Simply get that TV out of your living room and definitely out of your dining room. Meal time should be family time, sitting in the living room should be time to talk to each other.
  • Kill daytime television: Keep your TV watching to the evenings and limit it to 2 hours (or a single movie) maximum per day.
  • Avoid prime time news: News media exaggerates everything, and they love to create a panic. They also tend to insert fluff pieces or stories on products that are actually disguised ads. Stick to the newspaper or Internet (read the news don't watch it!) and you're more likely to think critically of what you read.

That's all I can think of. Reduce TV time, reduce your exposure to advertising, and you'll save money and strengthen your family bonds.


Jim said...

I agree that the TV wastes too much time overall. Some studies show high numbers for people who have a TV in almost every room now. Children do not need their own TV in their room because there is no way to monitor what they watch or how long they watch it. Regarding your tips, most people only need one, maybe two TVs max. I would add that a TV does not belong in a bedroom, kitchen, or dining room. Putting one in an entertainment area or den, those places make sense. As odd as this may sound, the lack of a TV in a family/living room is a sign of wealth or class.

I got rid of my cable and picked up satellite and get a lot more channels to choose from instead of settling for some I don't like. Also, I disagree with the DVR because I record shows I will watch later on my terms, instead of trying to schedule things around a particular show/series. Regarding the evening news, I agree with you that mainstream media promotes bias to drum up the ratings. Some people absorb this stuff like a sponge and don't apply any critical thinking of their own on the subject (i.e. global warming, Iraq war, etc).

This is an interesting thought provoking topic.

Beyond the Consumer said...

I am not against DVRs in general, although I do think it leads to more TV-watching overall, it's TiVo that I think is a money waster. I cannot imagine paying a monthly fee to record things onto my VCR, why would I pay monthly to record onto a hard drive?

Satellite gives you more channels, but does that make it better television? I personally feel that the increase in channels has led to poorer quality shows overall. A "diffusion of quality" as broadcasters increasingly rely on cheap productions like "reality shows".

Jim said...

I don't have TiVo service, just a DVR. It's nice to skip commercials and just watch the 40 minutes an hour show actually is. My satellite offers me a lot of channels, many I don't watch, but there are specialty channels I have a particular interest in that I would not get in a basic cable package. A channel alacarte would work for me, but not for marketing as less channels doesn't sound good to some people.

Reality TV shows are starting to wear down, I hope, and regular sitcoms and shows should return. I like watching shows Heroes, or 24. Growing up it was MacGyver and Perfect Strangers. Daytime TV is a waste of time and just tries to create controversy. What will Rosie say on The View, or what problem Dr. Phil say is wrong with us. If there is a market for this stuff, it will stick around.

August Anderson said...

Also, give hulu.com a try. Totally free some primetime shows, old shows, and now movies. There are ads but only about 3 - 4 depending on length of the program and the ads tend to be 20 - 30 seconds each.