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The devil and the simple pleasures in life

In your conversations with your inner devil's advocate about your nonessential spending, who is winning?

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 11:15AM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.


In a few days my brother-in-law will be e-mailing to tell me I owe him $100.

It's for my annual renewal of Sirius satellite radio.


(Note: We share a Sirius account with him, for reasons that are way too boring to discuss here. But sharing an account does save us money. At least I think it does.)


I never even considered satellite radio until I borrowed my brother-in-law's car for an extended period of time when we first moved back to Phoenix. But I became a Sirius sucker for life after experiencing a few months of good music sans commercials.


Speaking of music, there are umpteen million channels on Sirius satellite radio. The options are endless! So endless, that I only listen to ONE station on Sirius, seriously (you know that pun had to be done).


That's right. I pay $100 per year for a single music station. But it's a good station. And, it exposes me to new music so I don't become an old fuddy-duddy who is unaware of what the cool kids are into.


So essentially, that $100 buys me instant indie cred (the station I listen to plays independent music, or "indie" music), which is important to me at the old age of 32. But this year as the due date for the annual fee was approaching, I was thinking of canceling my subscription.


Enter my new frenemy to help me talk this out: His name is Devil's Advocate. I'm finding that conversations with Devil's Advocate, or DA for short, are a financial right of passage.


Here is the conversation we recently had about Sirius radio:


DA: Lindy, do you really need to pay $100 a year for one radio station? Did you know that you can stream Pandora on your phone and achieve the same effect, for FREE?


Me: Yes, DA, I've thought of that. But do you know how complicated that is to achieve? It involves plugging in cables and finding a station to stream through, and pushing lots of buttons, and dealing with weak signals. I usually don't have time to mess with all that.


DA: But what about CDs? You have a whole cabinet full of them, like I said, FREE.


Me: Hmmm. That is something to consider. But I did that before, back in the days before MP3s. I think I'll leave that technology in the past, and take my instant tunes at the turn of the ignition. No CDs or cables to fuss with. Just simple pleasures, and convenience. Good ideas though. Keep 'em coming (*thinking -- terrible ideas, DA, terrible*).

We have a similar conversation about canceling HBO, or heck, cable for that matter. Watching a good HBO series is a simple pleasure I indulge in every Sunday night, when I spend an hour folding laundry. And as for cable, well, this article at The Writer's Coin explains it best.


DA: Lindy, did you know you can stream Netflix through the Wii? You probably wouldn't even miss cable. You could save $1,124 a year!


Me: DA, I know, but what about the kids? What will they watch? And will I have to navigate through lots of screens just to find something for them? Will that drive me crazy?


DA: The constant Nickelodeon already drives you crazy. When has less TV ever ruined a child?


Me: Sometimes I hate you, Devil's Advocate.


Another example: A-Rob has been contemplating buying Apple TV for $100 with his Christmas money. Apple TV is basically a box that makes it easier to stream iTunes from your computer to your television. Here's an excerpt of a conversation we had  a few nights ago:


A-Rob: If I had Apple TV, we could be listening to this music from the nice TV speakers right now, instead of these crappy laptop speakers.


Me (playing the role of DA): Don't you have a set of speakers to dock your phone to?


A-Rob: Yes, but it's in my car … and my back hurts.


Me: Can't you stream iTunes through the PlayStation?


A-Rob: Yes, but the connection is terrible. And it's my money. Leave me alone! (I may have added that last phrase to be more dramatic.)


So, with these three examples Devil's Advocate has offered to save us $1,324, most of which would be annually, if only we agreed to sell our souls. Well, maybe not our souls, but at least our conveniences.

Simple pleasures and conveniences in life can be expensive. But weighing the pros and cons is a good way to determine what's important to you. I don't buy a lot of new clothes. A-Rob can attest to this because at least once every morning I'm griping about having nothing to wear. Not buying clothes allows me to justify my satellite radio addiction.


As for cable, Devil's Advocate and I are still hashing that out. It is likely I will one day give in to DA and cancel the darn cable box. I just have to take the plunge. Actually, I have to wait until the final season of "Big Love" is over.


HBO -- they have my number.


Do you find yourself talking to DA too? If so, who's winning?


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