True Cost of Watching & Owning a TV

Cute Tasty Photo Credit:….

I was discussing this with BF on the weekend, and I’ve realized that by not owning a TV, I’ve saved much more than just the cost of cable and the TV itself.

Granted, I do “watch TV” when I’m on the train, because I watch Sex and the City episodes, or Cashmere Mafia… but that time is wasted travelling anyway. I’m doing double-duty y’all! But let’s assume I never had to travel… (HAH!)

Disclaimer: I’m not ragging on anyone who owns a TV, or trying to tell people NOT to own a TV, etc. I’m just writing out my and BF’s weekend thought process on TV and the costs of it. I used to be a TV-aholic. I watched many many hours a day. I’m talking 3 hours a night at least on weeknights, and 5 hours a day (each) on weekends, for a whopping grand total of 25 hours a week!!!

Let’s break it out:

Initial Upfront Cost:

TV: I would’ve probably purchased a Flat Screen 32″ (I don’t like bulk and would’ve probably gone for this): ~$800 as a 1-time cost

Cable Subscription (with my HGTV, TLC and Food Network channels): ~$60/month or $720/year

TOTAL COST: $1520 for the first year, and $720 for each subsequent year.

Now if I kept that flat screen and never upgraded (probably pretty true), and assuming it lasts for 10 years, and I watched TV for 40 and kept upgrading to the “best” of the market at the time in terms of slimness, clarity, etc.

I’m also assuming that cable prices stay on average, the same (may drop, may increase)

Lifetime Cost (Next 40 Years):

TV: $800 x (40 years / 10 year TV lifetime) = $3200

Cable: $720 x 40 = $28,800

TOTAL COST: $32,000

Popping those numbers into a savings calculator, assuming I don’t upgrade my TV every 10 years:

I end up with:

Can you BELIEVE IT? $84,343 in 40 years!

And that’s just for my ‘basic’ TV cable package without upgrading my TV every 10 years.

Now to add more poundage on to the entire thing..

Cost of Time

I earn about $67,000 gross a year or about $53,000 net.

I work 40 hours a week, and I get 3 weeks vacation + holidays.

This means I work about 48 weeks a year, or 1920 hours a year, assuming a whole week for holidays, which I’m sure is inaccurate.

$67,000 divided by 1920 hours* = $34.89/hour (gross) or $27.60/hour (net)

*this is just a simple calculation. I could go into detail about how I get bench time, or the fact that sometimes I just sit around waiting for people to give me information before I can get working, and I think my hourly wage would actually be about $69.79/hour. This also doesn’t include the perks I get like sometimes being able to live in a hotel (therefore, rent-free), get my food paid for and my cellphone covere. But I digress.

They say the average North American spends about 170 minutes a day, or ~20 hours a week watching TV.

Let’s be clear though. I’m not saying that you’re going to be working those 20 hours in addition to the 40 that you already do to make the additional cash, but hypothetically and for the sake of concrete metrics/comparisons, the value of your hour is your working wage, and in my case, it’s $27.60 (net).

Which means 20 hours x $27.60 = $552 a week, or $28,704 a year.

And $28,704 x 40 years = $1,148,160 in hard numbers. But if you take that $28,704 a year (net) and put it into a savings plan, you could end up with almost $3 million in 40 years.

Other incentives

Just off the top of my head….

I’m able to cook my dinner and lunch
…..because I have more time to concentrate on it. Yes, I know I could be cooking while I watch TV, but.. I’ve found in the past that it took longer to cook because I got distracted easily. And if you cook your lunch every day (not even including dinners), that’s saving about $7 a day ($10 for a lunch, $3 to make a homemade lunch), which is $1680/year, $67,200 in hard numbers or if I invested it, $185,733 in 40 years (assuming the above numbers)

I’m able to go to the gym or exercise
…..because I’m not sitting on my butt watching TV and I have no excuse NOT to work out or feeling too lazy to.

I’m able to get my other ‘chores’ done
… laundry, painting my room, organizing, decluttering, throwing stuff on FB Closet, whatever!

I’m not constrained by time
…..because I don’t HAVE to be home at 7 p.m. to watch American Idol. I don’t HAVE to be home to do anything. I can take the time out to wander around Toronto, check out little boutiques (oops.. bad idea if I want to save money), and to just have the freedom of time. Of course, you could just throw it back at me and say: Hell I watch TV online, so I watch it WHEN I WANT. Or you have Tivo.. which brings me to my other point.

I’m not spending $$ on TV “necessities”
….like Tivo. Apparently it’s a godsend to everyone who has children and/or busy inflexible schedules. But Tivo isn’t free. Or add to that getting HD-TV, or a fancy sound system, and comfortable TV-watching couches, dimmers, lights, a whole theatre set up. We’re talking about maybe another $1000 – $10,000 (depending on your tastes) in TV accessories, not including Tivo or HD-TV subscriptions.

Plus if you have kids, it’s a bonus. More time to play catch with them, or board games…instead of sticking them in a corner and throwing them a cookie now and then to keep quiet..while your eyes are glued to the set I KID! I KID!!!!!!!!!! 😛

So what’s the final total (in 40 years)?

(Note: Hard Savings / Invested at 5% Savings)

Cost of TV + TV Subscription: $32,000 / $84,343
Cost of my time: $1,148,160 / $2,929,268
Cost of accessories: $5000 (a nice average)

Adds up to a hard number of $1,185,160 or if invested at 5%, taxed for 35% for 40 years $3,018,611.

Naturally, I’m not saying that EVERYONE will come to the same conclusions (all of our numbers are different), but it’s clear that even just the intangible benefits of having more time to yourself, and being able to cook your dinner, lunch and do what YOU want, is far more valuable than cash.

(Time is always the most precious resource available to women…and men)

And it’s certainly UNREALISTIC to assume some of the numbers above, especially the cost of my time with a total of $1.15 million, because I would never work more than 40 hours a week. 🙂 But it’s nice to sometimes see the numbers on a page to make me realize that the littlest amounts, of just $60/month, really do add up.

I am also no angel. I’m addicted to my MacBook, the Internet and all the pleasures that come with it. I bet you I spend tons of time on here, which is just as bad as watching TV, but somehow, it makes me feel better because I feel productive; I blog, I listen to music on iTunes while I read, which is the same as listening to a stereo and reading, I post stuff on FB Closet to sell, I manage/play with my finances, and the list goes on……

Which I’m sure some people can consider as ‘wasting time’. But let’s face it, what’s the point of having time if you can’t fritter it away once in a while watching a movie or just lying around staring at a wall?….er.. not that I’ve done that 😛

What I’m really saying is that my priority is not TV any longer. It used to be but now I find I have much more time to do what I want to get done, and I feel more productive without that ball and chain around my ankle.

But hey, if it makes you happy (as Sheryl Crow would say), it can’t be that bad 🙂

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About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.