Free TV – Would you still watch?

New rule, you can only have television viewing rights if you save 10x more then the costs.  Example – $100 per month cable bill requires $1,000 per month put into savings.  Now enjoy my witty musings on television.

You may have read previously, that in the spring of 2005, I bought my first house and thus began my real estate empire.  The house had many great features including worn carpet to which we added food stain designs (one roommate spilled a microwave dinner weekly), a kitchen that showed its age, and old metal windows that were drafty, damp with condensation, and flaked what was surely lead paint, allowing me to increase my blood lead content.

While all these items contributed to the character of the place, nothing quite compared to the round black cable that popped up through the living room floor.  No, this wasn’t a live wire that we secretly connected to a chair to excite our guests, but rather this cable brought the life giving goodness of cable television.  Since I write about financial choices in a round about way, I’m pleased to report that as we moved our collection of hand-me-down furniture an old TV was included in our original decor ideas.

I had bought an old 20” screen in college (this greatly helped me lower my GPA), that now made the move again and was connected in our living room.  For reasons unknown to me know, we connected all the cables and turned it on, never having contacted the cable company.  Low and behold, after a brief warm up, colorful moving pictures appeared.  The cable company must have provided us with some sort of introductory welcome package, we nodded to one another.

This makes sense as everyone seems to love their cable company with its giant bundles allowing you to watch channels you never knew you wanted, and they always raise their rates making it easier to spend your entire paycheck each month.

Hero if you see zero in your account balance right?

After a short but lively conversation, we decided to wait for the cable company to contact us in regards to their programming flowing into our household.  Diligently, we checked the mail each month, after a bit we assumed that we were receiving one of their introductory packages.  Free cable for 6 months, then you pay nothing for the next 6 months or something along those lines.  It turns out, we had gotten the free cable for 6 months, then you pay nothing for the next 2.5 years bundle.  Its one of the most popular offerings, so I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Sadly, like all introductory packages, ours came to an end, not with soaring prices, but with all the channels turned to snow.  They didn’t even try to up-sell us.  I was offended as I had looked forward to demanding another free year or I would take my non-payments elsewhere.  I was ready to play hardball.  Alas, what I actually got was the chance to break my cable addiction.

I attempted to understand my local cable company’s pricing in order to write a more engaging article, but the website is clearly unclear in regards to pricing.  They tout all sorts of information about download speeds, premium channels, recording features, definition levels, and they even stick a number beside all this.  This number represents little more then a monkey spinning a number wheel.  Prices are set for only short periods of time, followed by regular rates, which are unknown.  If you take the time to read the small print, you’ll see you also are responsible for the technicians lunch every other Friday, a remote control fee, and a mandated donation to the Television for Children Fund, which aims for every child to have their own TV by the age of two.

This silliness has led to many an individual cutting the cord, whether by force when the cable company cuts off your free lunch (my method), or by choice.  Desperate to have every human connected to their digital ecosystem so as to bombard you with ads related to your choice of toothbrush, preferred in home barometric pressure, and a personalized soundtrack to accompany your daily activities, many companies have attempted to fill the void.  I subscribe to none of this so my facts may be distorted, but it appears that many cable cutters are streaming Netflix for $10 per month, Amazon for $8.25, Hulu for another $8, maybe some HBO for $15, plus a sport app or two for $100 per year, not to mention Youtube and PBS for the kids.

I don’t question how people afford all this, as many aren’t following my 10x rule, and surely can’t afford what they watch.  Rather, what really keeps me coming back to the water cooler is who has time to manage and watch all this?  My brain hurts right now, just trying to understand things enough to write about them.  Between work, coaching, pretending to be a writer, playing with my kids, exercising, and decoding words written on pages that are stacked in sequential order, I couldn’t watch TV even if I wanted too.  Not only does cable cost money, but it eats away at your time and next thing you know, you are ordering dinner, paying to have your lawn mowed, and lifting your feet as the house cleaner vacuums around your vegetative carcass (I have been the carcass, and my wife the house cleaner, this is not a positive form of role play).

Sure, going without TV is odd at first; friends offer for you to come to their house instead, you can’t speak with knowledge or interest on any pop culture subject (although I love truthfully telling students I’ve never heard of a movie and watching them fall on the floor with amazement), and your house doesn’t look like a spaceship once the sun goes down.

The positives are amazing; politics becomes something you have to seek out as opposed to being beaten over the head by it, weather becomes something you experience each day rather then a crisis, you forget which celebrity is wearing which brand of underwear, you realize you don’t need to shop for new car insurance, and you forget that every part of your body needs serious medical attention involving pills, patches, and calling the doctor after 4 hours.  TV actually becomes unwatchable as you realize its just a big advertisement for stuff you don’t want, to deal with problems you don’t have.  I wouldn’t plug in a TV at this point if it were free, its a waste of time and money.

Make the change today and put thousands of dollars towards something actually useful.

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