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How to Save Money and Time on TV and Internet

By Ryan Knight

Stop Wasting Time on TV to Save MoneyWhen 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.

Ryan Knight
Ryan is a business analyst in Atlanta, GA and proud supporter of Georgia Tech. He enjoys blogging as a way to share with others ideas about finding time, saving money, and having fun. He regularly contributes to ObsessedAnalytic and MoneyCrashers and has been featured on ChristianPF and RedeemingRiches. In his free time, Ryan enjoys playing and watching sports including running, soccer, football, and disc golf. Follow him on his twitter account: ramblinknight.

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  • Adam Slide

    Good post. We cancelled our satellite TV plan a while ago and started using a HD antenna to get over-the-air local HD channels. The antenna was only about $50 and it has worked great and the channels come in crystal clear. We also download shows online and then watch them on our TV using our Xbox 360. So we’ve been able to save a lot of money (and time) and still watch most of the shows we like.

    • Casey

      Yeah, I am glad we did it. We do save money and time, and it seems like we spend more time as a family.

    • Ryan Knight

      Great to hear you are enjoying your life after satellite TV. Some people don’t think it’s possible, but it saves money and you still get what you really want. As more services like downloading to your XBox become available I think we’ll see more and more people doing it.

  • http://onairfree.tv Dr. TV

    Adam, I have unlimited Internet too. Yes, it is addictive as well. Maybe this a generational difference but being offered things in excess does not mean you have to take them.

    But, we the people are weak and I agree that we are more cautious of our spending and our time if we paid a direct fee for the shows we watched. I prefer to buy used DVDs on Amazon and then sell them later to pay the least for an hour of entertainment.

    Example: I record and watch The Middle, but if there was something better it would be gone. I record lots of show and put them in my iTunes for later viewing too.

    I also buy episodes of House, The Closer, CSI and Law and Order because I love these shows and occasionally enjoy a “brain dead” weekend Blitz of popcorn and TV marathons.

    These shows will be reruns forever but I hate commercials and I prefer to watch them (especially House) in chronological order.

    I do agree that pay-as-you-go works well to keep down entertainment costs.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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