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.