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I'm dropping cable TV

I won't save nearly as much as I expected, but having a TV-free life has many benefits.

By Karen Datko May 20, 2010 10:42AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Over the years, I've made a strong case for abandoning television watching as a good move for financial and career success.


Not only does TV offer up a lot of advertisements glorifying unnecessary material stuff and rampant consumerism, but many programs glorify it through product placement within the programs. Many programs exist solely to promote an expensive materialistic lifestyle as well.

Add on top of that the amount of otherwise productive time devoured by television watching and you have a strong case for doing without.


Over the last few years, I've slowly been paring down my TV watching. I've stopped channel surfing, turning on the TV only to watch specific programs. I've gradually pared down the number of programs I regularly watch.


As of May 1, I ceased all TV watching at home (except for "Lost," which ends for good this Sunday). This coincided pretty conveniently with the birth of our third child.


What exactly does this mean? Here are a few of the consequences of doing this:


I have plenty of time for other projects. Of course, I'm not directly seeing the time benefit yet as I'm spending a lot of time holding the baby and also playing with our two older children. The biggest impact I've seen is that I've managed to add this third child to my life without really reducing time spent on other hobbies and activities.


I don't want "stuff." I have no interest in new cars. I have no interest in whatever new food product is out there. I have no interest in great new home decor or furnishings or countless other things like that. The only things I can think of that I even want at all right now are a couple of items for the kitchen to aid with cooking, a few books, and eventually some sort of tablet computer to aid with notetaking in a wide variety of situations. That's it. The absence of TV leads to the near absence of want.


I might not be culturally up-to-date -- but I don't care. I don't feel bad that I'm unaware who won "Survivor" or who's still left on "American Idol." Yes, conversations have come up that I'm clueless about, but I've still been able to participate. How? I simply say, "I don't watch that program, but …" and then I ask a question about it. The person I ask almost always is very happy to answer the question and enjoys being the expert on the topic. My ignorance is a conversation builder.

Our cable bill will drop, but not as much as it might seem on the surface. Our cable provider advertises our package as costing $55 a month. However, we get a package that includes high-speed Internet, phone service and cable TV. Downgrading to the Internet and phone package only drops our monthly bill by about $20 a month, so the savings aren't that much. Even if we just keep the Internet (which is a work-related need for me), the drop is only about $45 a month.


In short, I'm happy with the choice, even if it won't save me as much as it might have seemed. I'm happy because of the secondary effects. The lack of cultural awareness isn't the hindrance I had expected, while the extra time has been wonderful.


More from The Simple Dollar and MSN Money:

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