Life Is Possible Without TV!

May 26, 2010 — 12 Comments

       About a month ago, my wife and I canceled our satellite TV subscription and did not replace it. I’m here to report that we have survived this terrible experience and are doing quite well.

TV Is Not the Secret of Life

       I say “terrible experience” because many people simply cannot imagine living without TV (cable, satellite, antenna, whatever). How will I get on without my favorite shows? What will I do when I get home from work/school? What will I do with my spouse without TV? Because we’re so dependent on TV for automatic, easy, and mindless entertainment, we can’t imagine going without it. But TV is not essential for life, and it is possible to live beyond American Idol and (Glee/Chuck/Psych/NCIS/enter your favorite show here).

Free Alternatives

       Now, I’m not claiming that my wife and I are the ultimate example of giving up television. We still have our TV – just no subscription. I’ve hooked up a computer that I got by bartering my time with a friend. We can watch shows that are available online and we occasionally borrow DVDs from our library. We also use our laptops to watch shows when we’re not watching together. But we have significantly reduced our time in front of the TV/TV shows, and I think it’s a good thing.

       So how do we live without a cable or satellite subscription? It’s not as difficult as you might think. My wife has been able to find most of her favorite shows online using Google’s video search. Many of the networks now have full episodes on their websites as well. As I mentioned before, we sometimes borrow DVDs from our library. And many of the shows/videos I like to watch have been available for free online for quite some time. (I find a lot of interesting talks on even though I don’t agree with the views of most speakers.)

Finding Better Things to Do with Your Time

       But beyond replacing the cable/satellite subscription with free* alternatives, we’ve found other activities to replace the time spent in front of the TV. My wife is reading more books than before and finding new hobbies to explore. I’ve been working on my business more, studying the Bible, and reading about theology and other subjects I find interesting. We’ve been working to find things we can do together. But most of our shared interests are outdoor activities and the weather hasn’t been nice enough to do much hiking or kayaking lately.

* (I say free even though the online videos require an Internet connection because I need the Internet connection for my business. Since it’s something we’d have anyway, I consider it a sunk cost and the online alternatives to TV as essentially free. If you wouldn’t have the Internet connection anyway, these wouldn’t be free alternatives for you.)

Saving Time, Saving Money

       My point is that you can save a significant amount of time and money by cutting out your TV subscription/addiction. As Ben Franklin said, “In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.”

       The money you save from cutting out TV can help you reach your goals. And the time you save by not watching so much TV can help you improve yourself, start a part-time business, pick up extra time at work, pursue a hobby, spend time with your family, volunteer, or do a number of other more meaningful activities.

       As Christians, we know that much of what we find on TV isn’t worth watching at all. It does little to strengthen us spiritually, and there are certainly better ways we can spend our time if we want to glorify God and be a witness to His love and grace. That alone is a good enough reason to go cold turkey on TV. The time and money savings just makes the deal even better.

       We’ve become a nation of people who think life is hardly worth living without constant entertainment. But my wife and I, along with many others, are proof that life is possible without TV. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. I’m sure the shows you might miss will be back in reruns…



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

12 responses to Life Is Possible Without TV!

  1. James and I have been considering this. Cable is expensive and a lot of the popular shows can be found on sites like Hulu. It is amazing how much more free time you end up with without TV.

  2. I probably should have called this “Life Is Possible Without a TV Subscription!”. Michelle and I still watch TV shows online, but we’re just able to find them for free. The benefit is that you can’t just sit down and start flipping channels. You have to know what you want to watch. This makes your TV time more intentional, and I’ve noticed that we watch much less than before. There are tons of benefits with that “extra” free time (we had it before, but wasted it on TV).

    I’d recommend it. You can always sign up again later if you really want to. Michelle and I also wanted to get used to less TV so it’s not the norm for our kids when we have them. Most stuff on TV is worthless anyway, and there are better things they (and we) could do with that time.

  3. Great article, Paul. My wife and I have made the same decision, for the same reasons. We have a Netflix subscription and watch tv shows through our Wii and with DVDs. It is great for saving money and also a great way to discipline ourselves as well.
    .-= Khaleef @KNS Financial´s last blog ..A Closer Look at Tithing Before the Law of Moses – Abraham’s Example – Does Abraham’s Tithe to Melchizedek Provide an Example for us Today? =-.

  4. This is a subject I have been thinking about lately. I noticed one day that I had not had the TV on all day and I got so much done! You are right, it is often on for background noise and mindless info. I do not know if I can convince my husband to cut the cord so to speak but it is something for us to ponder the options. Great post Paul. Blessings.

  5. @Khaleef: Thanks for sharing your experience! Netflix is something we may consider later, but we’ve been able to do without it so far.

    @Donna: It’s eye-opening to see what you can do when you’re not stuck to the TV. Your comment about mindless info is insightful. So much of the “news” is nothing but background noise itself.

    As for your husband, I’ll say it does take a little getting used to. But after we got over the initial “what do we do now” phase, we discovered other things we’d like to be doing and replaced our TV time with more constructive things. Let me know if you two ever take the plunge! :)

  6. My brother got rid of cable. He misses it some, but he don’t miss the monthly bill I’m sure. Most of the stuff on TV is garbage anyway…

  7. Thanks for your comment, Financial Bondage! I’d agree with your brother. Sometimes it’d still be nice to have, but it’s better not to be paying the bill and wasting time on mostly useless programming.

  8. Excellent post! This year, I decided to give up all tv, except when I watch with friends, which isn’t too often.

    With the extra time, I’m exercising more, reading more books, finishing the Bible, and working on this blog I started early in the year.

    I agree that most of what’s on tv isn’t helpful to watch anyway. I’m really convicted about this, and may just keep it up for more than this year!
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..Use Math To Alleviate Fear Of Stock Market Volatility =-.

  9. I think I should probably give it up altogether as well. I don’t watch many shows now that we don’t have satellite anymore, but I’m not always pleased with the ones I have watched. There’s too much emphasis on sex and violence – which makes it harder to keep my heart and mind pure. Shows don’t need to use sex (or lust or any other emphasis on sensuality) to be good. I wish Hollywood could just get that.

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