The American home is much different today that it was 50 years ago. Sure, I wasn't around then, so I don't know for certain, but from what I've heard from my parents and grandparents, families lived differently. One major change, that came into many American homes around that time, was the introduction of the home television. However, back then, we're talking about one small box with one or two channels, black and white.
TV today is exponentially more important and standard in the American home. People pride themselves over their 50 inch plasma flat screens, hanging from the walls where art perhaps formerly hung, boasting 700+ channels, On Demand, DVR technology, and more. And, as the TV itself has expanded, in size as well as in broadcasting capacity, it's importance to us has grown as well.
Many people cannot imagine a life without TV. It wakes you up in the morning, it puts you to bed at night. However, TV can be costly, and ultimately - it is a LUXURY, not a necessity. So, how can you cut back on some of your boob-tube peripherals to help raise your bottom-line?
I had a co-worker once who revealed to me that she and her husband did not have a TV. I was shocked, "but how do you watch LOST?" I inquired. She just shrugged her shoulders. I don't even watch that much television, but I admit, there are some shows I really love (Lost, CSI, Rome, Entourage) and would miss if they were gone. But could I do without them if I needed to cut back and save some cash? Yes. Besides, there are other ways to get your fix.
Gregory Karp mentioned some tips in his column Spending Smart in last Sunday's Chicago Tribune. Here are some of his ideas, and my thoughts:
- Go online: If you're an iTunes junkie like me, you can get a lot of your favorite shows for $2/episode. News programs can often be downloaded for free. So, if you're keeping your cable just so you can watch the Daily Show, you'd probably spend less just watching it occasionally on iTunes.
- Tier drop: One of the quickest ways to cut back is to go down a tier on your cable service. For instance, if you're getting any movie or OnDemand channels, you may want to see about cancelling that for a while, and see how you miss it. You can get basic cable without a digital box, which will save you rental fees. Or, you can cut out cable completely! Old school!
- Haggle: Just like lowering the interest rates on your credit cards, sometimes it doesn't hurt to ask. Tell your service provider you're thinking about cancelling because of the cost, and see what they can offer you. Trust me, when you tell them you're going to cancel, they won't just say "Oh, OK - bye!" - they're going to try and keep you around. They may even be able to offer you a reduced price for a short time period.
- Package deals: It's always cheaper if you can combine your cable with your internet/phone. Just ensure that you don't overdo it in the package and get more than you actually need. For us, this doesn't really work, as we don't have a home phone - we use our mobiles.
- If you watch more movies than TV shows, cancel your cable and subscribe to Netflix. It may be cheaper.
Besides, the less TV you watch, the more time you have to spend with your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/dog/cat/roommate.
To find more money saving and budgeting ideas visit Young and Broke.