The prize for this week’s challenge is about Nine Thousand Dollars, plus getting the equivalent of about 36 weeks of extra vacation time each year. That would bring you up fairly close to my own level of leisure.
The challenge, of course, is to immediately and completely cancel your cable television service forever.
Now I will admit that TV programming has really advanced in modern years, with a spectacular array of new channels. At one moment, you could be watching a young Brazilian girl blow a Vuvuzela at the World Cup game, and with just the press of a thumb you could be transported into the deepest reaches of a smoke-filled senior center watching a bingo game. You can study the most incredibly well produced commercials for an average of 16.5 minutes out of every hour, which will keep you informed of the must-have products of the day, protecting you from accidentally thinking your current products were sufficient.
Contemporary television must be great, because everyone has it. If you’ve ever gone for a night time walk around your town, as I like to do often, you’ll notice that almost EVERY SINGLE HOUSE has flashing blue light streaming out through its windows. If you peek through into their living rooms, as I also like to do, you’ll notice that about 28% of the televisions are currently displaying advertisements, as predicted by the fraction of 16.5 over 60 minutes in the previous paragraph. The average American (and Canadian) watches about 4 hours of the stuff each day, adding to 28 hours a week or thirty-six 40-hour workweeks per year.
“No”, you may be saying, “Actually I skip all the commercials with my Tivo, and I have HBO and watch all the advanced dramas and stuff”. Good for you! You have made your time-wasting more efficient at a cost of just a few extra dollars per month. If time wasting were our goal, and this were the Mr. Mundane Mustache blog, you would have already won the challenge.
But now let’s talk about why you DON’T want to have cable TV, or any television service anymore.
First of all, let’s be honest: you can’t afford it! If you are spending 50 bucks a month on TV service, and throwing in the electricity to run a typical modern TV (about $2/month), you’re burning $9204 every ten years. And that is assuming that you are 100% immune to television advertising – some of the world’s smartest people are willing to bet about $40 billion per year (the annual television advertising budget in the US) that you are wrong on that.
Unless you are already retired, you probably have something better to do with $9204 and an extra 28 hours per week of free time than TV, right? Hmm.. how would that look? Is it possible to have a fun life without TV service?
Well, let’s ask Mr. Money Mustache, for starters. I haven’t had any sort of TV service for about the last 12 years. (That’s right.. we’re raising a 5-year-old child who has probably seen less than a dozen TV commercials in his life so far. Surely a good thing for a kid’s mental development and ability to focus on things).
What does a non-TV watcher do with the extra free time? I guess you could do a lot of things. I use the extra time to cook good food and take care of the house, and go out for night time walks to watch other people watching TV. I also get to play with my son a lot more than a normal dad. The extra time adds up to a lot of reading to your kids – at age 5, we’ve already burned through about 50 big novels (Harry Potters and Hobbits and such), and of course a few hundred kid picture books before that. With only five years of experience I’m still learning about how to be a good parent, but surely this kind of time together kicks the ass of family nights watching Dora the Explorer?
And the news, oh the nightly news. When you switch to getting your news entirely in written form, you are spared, for life, from the Pointless Bad News like Chilean Miners and families destroyed by car crashes. We didn’t even know there was a “Royal Wedding” until after it had happened. You just read the real stuff. Health, Science, Business, News, Politics.. it’s all there, with 100% less slow-talking fake-expressioned makeup-wearing tanning salon faces.
But don’t worry, without TV you’ll still get your share of moving pictures. Almost everything is available on a streaming basis over the Internet anyway, YouTube has the funniest things on Earth for free, Netflix has all the commercial movies and great documentaries for $9 per month if you need it, and your friends all have DVD collections from which you can borrow any time you like!
My persuasive list could go on and on, but I think at this point, the arguments presented have been so profound that there are only two possibilities for readers:
1) You already do NOT have TV and you just read through with a big toothy smile on your face, clapping your hands and shouting out, “Yeah Mr. Money Mustache! You tell ’em! Tell it like it is! Hallelujah! Enn-Ohh to tha Tee-Vee Babeh!!!!!
2) You DO currently have TV, but you started reading this and your heart started to pound and you realized the colossal enormity of your mistake to this point, the wasted life, the frying brains of your beloved children, and you ran out to the living room and unplugged the thing immediately. Now when you finish reading this article, you’re going to look up the customer service phone number to your cable company and get that umbilical cord cut OFF!
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Please share your stories of your new life without Cable TV. What do you do at night? Where will you ‘stash the extra money each month? Prosperity and happiness for all. Whew, not bad for just a weekly challenge.