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Can you pull the plug?

By on April 29, 2010

no tv
photo by mykl roventine

No television. Does it seem possible? Many people are downgrading their TV channel packages or completely terminating TV services. Sure, there are options, such as watching shows on Hulu or renting from Netflix or Redbox. But what about temporarily or permanently cutting out all TV viewing? How did we ever get by without it? I’m not knocking television. But if you ever feel like you don’t have enough time to do things that you want to, this is one place you could be wasting it. Spring and summer are the best seasons to experiment with whether or not you’ll miss your TV time.
Here are a few ideas for even the most comfortable couch potatoes.

READING: Maybe you’ve missed reading but never seem to fit it in. Instead of flipping through 100 channels and not finding a thing to watch, pick up a book and read. Remember audio books? Yes, they’re still around. One reader, Donna from California, shares: “I’ve been force-weaned off TV several times, and it was always just a matter of days before I didn’t even miss it. Once it was reintroduced to my life, I found myself watching less of it than before. Now my TV is literally about a 14-inch teeny little thing in the living room that rarely gets switched on. People come over and look at my library shelves (full of books) and my dusty little TV and say, ‘TV doesn’t play a big part in your life, does it?’ I do have another, larger TV in my bedroom, but again, it goes for weeks without being switched on. You will love it. It’s like being taken off of narcotics.”

EXERCISE: Too busy to fit in daily exercise? Think again. You don’t have to join a gym. Start a walking or bicycling group. Or if you can’t live without TV, use it to play fitness DVDs, which can borrow from the library. Equipment such as dumbbells, a jump rope, stretch bands, aerobic step or resistance stretch bands can be bought cheaply, too.

TAKE A CLASS: Add to your frugal skill set. Examples of skills that are good to have are gardening, home repair, hair cutting, sewing, home and pressure canning, cake decorating, carpentry, upholstery, wild food foraging, cooking from scratch (cheese making, homemade yogurt or bread, grind grain, etc.), soap making and homemade cleaners. Call your local cooperative extension and see if they have any classes that interest you. Find community classes that are being offered or workshops that are available at your local home-improvement stores. Another reader, K.K. From Canada, shares: “There are many skills that our grandmothers knew that have been completely lost. I want to “know how,” not only to be more frugal but to be more self-sufficient, too. There’s a strength and a greater connection to things that you have done start to finish. Whether it’s planting a seed, canning the tomatoes and then serving them for dinner or being able to make a beautiful quilt from fabric (like jeans) that others would throw away.” You can learn an instrument or foreign language. Or enjoy an old hobby or start a new one, such as genealogy, too. If you already have an abundance of skills, teach them to someone else.

CONNECT: No, not to the Internet. Connect with friends and family or volunteer some of your time. Days pass so quickly. Time is a luxury. Use it wisely for something that’s meaningful to you.


  1. even-star

    4/29/2010 at 10:58 am

    I gave up TV about two years ago. Or actually that was when I got rid of my TV. I had given up on it about 6 months before that. I just watched it less and less until weeks went by without turning it on. Because there was nothing on it or what was on it was very negative for no apparent reason. I live in the UK where if you own a TV you have to pay a license or tax that goes to the BBC. Well if I was not watching the BBC because there was nothing worth watching why pay a fee just to have a piece of furniture? I didn’t have cable or satellite. I considered getting cable or whatever so I would have something to watch but then I realised how much time I had to do other things like those you suggest above. Because I didn’t just come home from work and turn on the box.

    Giving up TV per se is not difficult. But I still consume TV to a certain extent via downloads or dvds or the internet or whatever. This makes what I watch and the decision to watch it a very conscious choice. Just turning on the box to veg out with any old rubbish is not an option any more.

    Granted giving it up is not for everyone. I am not a no TV evangelist but it certainly has been beneficial to both my mental and physical health.

    I would add a few more suggestions to your list:

    clean the house
    work in the garden
    play with the cat
    .-= even-star´s last blog ..Stitching Resources: Floss Colour Conversion Tables =-.

  2. Carol

    4/29/2010 at 1:42 pm

    I have given up TV several years for Lent, because I feel it is one of the things that distracts me from my relationship with God. As others have mentioned, it generally only takes me a couple of days to get out of the habit, as TV is generally not very uplifting. There are a couple of programs to which I often get “addicted”: Biggest Loser being the primary one, but after a week or two without it, I don’t really know what’s going on anyway! This year, I have found myself less drawn to go back to it now that Easter has come and gone. I am much more interested in reading or in spending time with loved ones. I’m actually considering getting rid of cable (if the other members of my household will concur!). Paying money for something so unsatisfying seems really pointless.

  3. Grampa Ken ranting for change

    4/29/2010 at 3:35 pm

    Connect is a good point. At one time television in the living room was a place for the family to get together and watch a family program. Programming was quite limited. Now it has ‘progressed’ in such a way that most programming is directed at different segments of the family. As a result most of it is not watched as a group and programs may be watched separately at different hours or on TV’s in other rooms.

    “I wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There’s a knob called “brightness”, but that doesn’t work.” – Author Unknown
    .-= Grampa Ken ranting for change´s last blog ..Selling Bad Health to Kids =-.

  4. Kate

    4/30/2010 at 6:34 am

    I so agree, In fact i have started to resent watching tv at all. i find it all so boring and vacuous now.

    Now that the spring evenings are getting lighter i find myself out in the garden more during the evenings or pottering around the house doing this and that my tv viewing hours has dropped dramatically, i dread the winter though and would to be able to find something else to do on those dark cold evenings.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Apr 29, Save $1.50 Classico Sauces Today’s Coupon =-.

  5. Austin @

    5/1/2010 at 3:19 am

    Great post. I’ve been thinking about this same thing for a while now.

    What an excellent way to end the post .. “Days pass so quickly. Time is a luxury. Use it wisely for something that’s meaningful to you” — I totally agree!

    Heading for the ‘Subscribe’ button on your blog 🙂
    .-= Austin @´s last blog ..Investing in Mutual Funds – Dividend or Growth Option? =-.

  6. Carla

    5/5/2010 at 7:32 pm

    We had a year or two with no tv, but when my husband moved in we hooked up the cable again (without cable we received no channels at all). I have found that since we got the PVR we spend much less time watching tv and absolutely zero time just channel surfing. The machine automatically records the shows we enjoy, and whenever we feel like TV we sit down together and watch our recordings. We can barely keep up with our favourite shows, so there is never a point when we end up just watching whatever’s on.

    I don’t think I would shut it off again unless we had to. We enjoy television and find plenty of programming that is high quality and worth our time. It is something that we do together and it gives us a chance to share a common interest. We read a lot, but when we are reading we are laughing at different things, pondering different issues; when we are watching a show, we are laughing together and sharing our thoughts.

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