When you go into an all you can eat food buffet, you are filled with excitement. Unlimited food! But after stuffing yourself to the seams, you regret your decision to overeat even though it only cost a few dollars more. Ordering buffets encourages us to overconsume and overpay, and this situation occurs in more places than just food.
TV and Internet Buffets
Outside of the ubiquitous food buffet, life is full of buffets asking us to overconsume. Two of the most common in life today are Television and Internet.
- TV plans charge one flat fee – typically $50-$100 per month – for all the TV you could possibly imagine.
- Home Internet and some Phone Internet plans allow for essentially unlimited usage of the world wide web at a fee ranging from $20 to $100 per month.
How TV and Internet Buffets Endanger Finances
Buffets know how much the average person will consume and are priced accordingly, but this doesn’t mean your goal is to consume all you can to get your money’s worth. Instead, step back and ask yourself what you really need and how much that is worth.
It’s great that you have every episode of every TV program ever at your fingertips, but if you had to pay $1-$2 per episode, how much would you really watch? In this scenario, let’s say you decide to limit yourself to 4 shows a week or 16 a month ($16-$32 monthly at the per episode rate). Would you be happy with that amount of content? If so, ditch the $80 cable plan and go get an Apple TV, TiVo, other media player, or just use a laptop to buy shows online a la carte and start saving money. I am currently giving this a shot and it has helped me prioritize my TV watching while saving money. Plus, there are plenty of awesome ways to get cheap entertainment.
The same financial concept also applies to the internet. AT&T now offers iPhone users tiered plans. No longer do you have to pay $30 for internet access. You can limit yourself to low usage or high usage and save $5-$15 every month (up to $180 per year), just by cutting the internet buffet. I have recently switched to the iPhone low usage plan and it has helped to keep me from overusing my phone while saving me money. Also, at my house, I have switched from high-speed to low-speed internet (heaven forbid) and am saving roughly $30 a month. Gamers aside, this is a great way to save on internet costs without giving up much (I still get online video, email, and blogs in great quality).
How TV and Internet Buffets Endanger Time
Just like buffets suck away some of your money by convincing you to consume useless content, they also suck away your time. We can all agree that we have wasted hours in front of a TV and couldn’t remember what we watched. Once you start paying a la carte for TV/Phone Internet, you don’t just save money, but you are forced to prioritize what you watch and how you surf. Now you get the content you really want without all the fluff. More importantly, you get your life back!
Buffets are a trap for us to overconsume and overspend. Consider how you would do things differently if you no longer had all-you-can-eat TV and Internet. Let me know your thoughts and what other buffets suck our lives away. It’s time to help ourselves live better and giving up buffets is a great place to start.