Is Television Costing More than You Think?

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Television has become such a part of our lives that most of us seldom think of what it may be costing us, but there are a number of costs in owning and watching TV, not all of them financial.

• Cable or satellite fees.

Cable and satellite TV services can run from $20 a month (for a minimal package) to nearly $100 if you get all the bells, whistles and movie channels. Take a mid-range cost of about $50 which is average and multiply that by 12 months. You’re spending $600 a year to watch TV. That’s a lot of money and when money is tight, you may need to reconsider your decision.

• Advertising that entices you to spend even more money.

How many commercials have you seen recently? How many times have you thought, “I could use one of those!” I can’t count the number of commercials I’ve watched, some of the items that have appealed to me include a handy vegetable chopper, bags that make produce last longer, a battery-powered floor sweeper that swivels, toothpaste to whiten my teeth, long-lasting fragranced candles, and a stain-removing pen.

Want to know how many of those products I actually bought? Over half! And I’m usually pretty cautious with my spending. The fact is that as much as we say we hate them, commercials do get us to buy. That’s why ad agencies are still in business.

The next time you make a purchase, ask yourself, “Where did I first see this product?” Chances are the answer will be on TV.

• Advertising aimed at your kids.

If it weren’t bad enough that you have your own shopping temptations to contend with, you also have to deal with commercials aimed at your kids. And these aren’t just toy ads anymore! Advertising for cell phones, clothing, cereals and soft drinks are all designed to get kids to say “I want that!” And if you have kids, you know the results of those campaigns firsthand.

• Food advertising that makes you eat more.

I firmly believe that one reason Americans today weigh more than in generations past is because of the hours we spend sitting in front of the television watching a parade of commercials that make us eat. It’s not that we’re hungry. It’s just that they make everything look so good, we want what we see!

And eating more, costs more. Not only in the amount of food you eat – which is an expense – but in the type of foods you buy. TV commercials are typically for higher priced convenience foods or fast foods, which any fan of frugality knows cost more than homemade.

Add to that the cost of new clothes when we outgrow our old wardrobe and the cost of television just keeps rising.

• Using more electricity.

Not only does your TV use electricity when you’re watching it, but it uses power even when it’s not turned on if you leave it plugged in. And while the power usage is minimal, like everything else, it adds up.

• Renting or buying movies and DVDs.

You’d think with the prices you have to pay for cable or satellite, you wouldn’t have to have movies, too. But that’s not the case. The average family is said to rent 1-3 movies a week, and at about $3 a pop ($10-20 if you buy one), you’re spending anywhere from $150 to $1,000 plus a year.

• VCR and/or DVD player/recorder.

Of course, you have to have a DVD player and/or VCR to watch all those movies. And while you can save money with these gadgets by recording your own movies instead of buying them, there are still expenses involved including the initial purchase price(s), potential repairs, cleaning tapes and DVDs or tapes to record on. All of these costs add up.

• Time lost that could be better spent.

One of the greatest costs associated with watching TV is our loss of productive time or time spent with our loved ones and friends. Our time could be better spent in activities that help us interact with each other, or even communicate.

As you can see, there are many varied, and even some hidden, costs of owning a television. And while I am certainly not advocating that we burn all our televisions, it does make sense for frugal moms to evaluate their family’s television usage. Maybe your family could turn the TV off one day a week, or even one day a month. The financial savings might be minimal but the investment in your family could pay off tremendously.


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