8 Ways Watching Too Much TV Is Costing You a Fortune
Cable and satellite TV can run you a pretty penny -- especially if you fall prey to companies' cleverly crafted package deals. You really adore the programming on Channel XYZ, but you can only get it if you upgrade to the higher-tier package, which is an extra $20 a month and has dozens of channels you never look at. Found another provider who offers a better deal? Get ready to be socked with early termination fees by your current provider -- and for your new provider's fantastic deal to run out once you're not a new customer anymore.
The average American watches five hours of TV a day -- 1,825 hours a year. Think of all the other things you could be doing with that time to earn extra money. You could get a second job, start your own business, go back to school, or improve your skill set so you can qualify for a higher-paying job.
Excessive TV watching has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression and even a shorter lifespan. And the cost of treating a long-term health issue is rarely cheap -- in terms of money or happiness.
Kids aren't the only ones susceptible to the "I want it!" syndrome caused by too much TV advertising. No matter how savvy and impenetrable to marketing you think you are, companies invest millions of dollars in television ads for a reason -- because they work. Being pelted with tempting commercials for products and services takes its toll on your money mindset. It's easy to fall into the consumer trap when you're constantly being shown shiny new things guaranteed to make your life better.
Do you love watching the glamorous lifestyles on "Real Housewives"? Drool over the spacious properties on "House Hunters?" TV is a form of voyeurism that allows us to peek into the lifestyles of those richer and more famous -- and it can leave us dissatisfied with what we have because we get so used to seeing those who have more. This can result in us making purchases we can't really afford because we're trying to keep up with those televised Joneses.
In a similar vein, TV can make us feel dissatisfied with our appearance. Compared to the gorgeous, flawless people we see on shows and commercials, it's easy to find 101 ways our looks don't add up. Seeing nothing but an idealized standard of beauty on screen can drive us to spend tons to try to make our own appearances match, from jumping on the latest fashion bandwagon, buying whatever cream is the new hot development, or even springing for surgery to physically remake ourselves.
Snacking and TV watching often go hand in hand, and when your attention is focused on a show, it can be easy to down a whole bag of chips before you realize what you're doing. Combine that with the fact that TV watching is a sedentary activity, and you've got the makings for a much bigger cost than just that bag of chips. (See No. 3.)
While TV engages our attention, it doesn't engage our brains, at least not the way that reading, continuing education and real-life problem-solving does. It's a largely passive form of entertainment that can leave us feeling lazy, sluggish and unfocused. And that lack of mental energy can take a toll when it comes to things like our job performance, our drive to start that new business, or our willingness to get out and network our way to our next great job.
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for rebels who refuse to say, "I can't afford it." Visit Afford Anything to learn how to shatter limits and live life on your own terms.