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Kill Your Television?

By: Joshua Unseth-- 2010-02-26 3:00 am --

Your television could be a huge source of wasteful spending in your budget, but it really depends on what you value. This is where making a budget can become a soul-searching experience.
Think about your television. Sure, it provides hours of entertainment, and great content. But did you know that the average American spends about 28 hours a week in front of the TV according to AC Nielson? That adds up to almost 10 years in a lifetime of non-stop TV watching.

If you work full time that's at least 40 hours a week; enough time to earn your entire year's salary. Consider how much you could accomplish if you shaved off even 4 or 5 television hours each week. You'd at least get a few of those years of your life back and maybe even increase your income.

On the other hand, it can be a good deal depending on your values. In 2005 the average American cable bill was about $40. That comes to about $0.36 per hour of entertainment. Compare this with movies that cost about $3.20 per hour.

Of course, more and more of those television hours are taken up not with content, but with commercials. Ask yourself if, on the balance, it's really the way you want to spend your time and, more importantly, your money.

Before you decide, consider all the options. Maybe you could catch up on the yard work or home repairs. You could finally write that novel you've been procrastinating or finally fix up that old hotrod.

Recent developments in Internet technology are changing the landscape of home entertainment and those looking to live more simply would do well to sit up and take notice.

For instance, Wii just signed a deal with Netflix to provide streaming Netflix content to your television through the Wii game console. Streaming online content is now cheaper and easier than ever. Sites like Hulu and viewmy.tv allow you view all the same content online with far less commercial time.

Getting this streaming content to appear on your tv screen instead of your computer monitor is a simple matter of buying an adapter from an electronics supply store.

Consider trading in your ever-rising cable bill for a much cheaper Netflix membership. At only $8 a month, it’s a much better value.

Mind you, these solution have their drawbacks. Sports fans have far fewer choices, but ESPN does offer streaming sports content for a reasonable monthly fee. Also, the whole household has to carefully plan what they want to watch and when, setting up a queue that's fair to everyone's taste.

This process, however, means there's much less tendency to just plop down on the sofa by default and flip on the TV. There's nothing wrong with watching TV or movies, but be fair to yourself about how much time you're giving to it.