The television is an expensive toy indeed. We’re not just talking about the cost of a snazzy 50″ plasma screen or the monthly cable bill here, although those are obvious expenses. There are hidden costs as well: The time we lose and the opportunities we miss.
While none of this means you shouldn’t own a TV, there are a lot of reasons why you should at least think about cutting back on how much TV you watch. It can make a huge difference in your life.
* The Cable Bill
These days, hardly anyone is going to be satisfied with the basic channels. Cable and satellite TV used to be luxuries. But now, they’re pretty much basic. Cable service can cost anywhere from $50 to $60 a month, and sometimes more. It could cost you more than $600 a year.
* The TV
There’s the cost of the TV itself to consider. You can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a serviceable TV, or drop at least a thousand dollars for a really good TV. It gets even more expensive if you buy more than one TV, as many people do.
By the way, if you already have a perfectly good analog TV, it’s going to be useless within the next couple of years. Analog signal is being discontinued by 2009, which means you’d have to buy a digital TV before too long.
* The Electricity
Most of us don’t think about this one, but it does take energy to keep your TV and cable box running. Depending on how many TV sets you have and how much time your family spends watching them, it could be eating at least a few dollars a month in electricity. That may not sound like a lot, but it adds up.
* The Extras
Buying a TV rarely stops there. We usually add a DVD player, a video game console, and a cable box. There’s also the cost of the entertainment center to consider. After all, your TV has to go somewhere.
* The Commercials
You can’t watch TV without being inundated by commercials, all telling you that your life will be so much better if you drive in this swanky car. Your house will smell like clean mountain air if you buy the plug-in air freshener. You’ll never get your kitchen perfectly clean without this cleaning solution.
Even if we don’t rush out and buy something we saw on TV, these advertisements have a psychological effect on us. They make us more aware of the things we don’t have. When we’re constantly told that we need this or we have to have that, it’s hard not to have this vague feeling that something is missing from our lives.
Oh, yeah, and if you have kids, they just might beg you for that great new toy or fantastic cereal that they saw on TV.
* Your Health
We’re all familiar with the term “couch potato.” We spend time sitting around with our eyes glued to the TV when we could be moving around, going for a walk, or working in the garden. This sedentary lifestyle takes a toll on our bodies in the long run, leading to expensive health care later on.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and it is largely thanks to the fact that kids are spending more time watching TV and playing video games. It doesn’t help that many families eat their meals in front of the TV.
Watching the news is an excellent way to work yourself into a depression. There are terrible things going on in the world every day, which is what news networks like to focus on. Certain shows can also get your dander up when they discuss controversial topics; a little bit of O’Reilly bantering with his guests should do the trick.
Stress can also come in the form of guilt. It’s easy to use TV as a way to put off doing the things we could and should be doing. It’s easy to lose track of time, too. One minute you’re watching TV, and the next you’re wondering where the last few hours went.
* Lost Opportunities
The time we spend watching TV could be used doing things that will pay back in the long run. Think of the time you’d get back if you watched less or no TV. Just think of what you could do with those extra hours: You could pursue a new hobby, start a business, spend more time with your family, find additional sources of income, make cookies with your kids, or read that new novel.
By cutting back or getting rid of the television altogether, you get more of your life back.