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The Real Cost of Your Television


If I asked someone, “How much does your cable cost you every month?”, they would most likely say something like, “$50 a month” or maybe “$85 a month, but that includes Internet”. If I posed this question to a die-hard investor, he might say something like, “$2,000 because I could have invested that money in the market and averaged a 10% return over the course of 40 years”. I love the latter answer, but I’m going to take it one step further. The real cost of your cable is astronomical.

Did you know that the average U.S. household spends 4 hours a day watching television? That’s approximately 120 hours of television a month! If, instead of glazing over at that infamous box, you decided to work 4 extra hours at your job every day, how much extra money would that gross per month? Let’s assume you make $20 an hour. That would be an extra $2,400 a month (yes, this would count Saturday and Sunday, but this scenario replaces TV with work, and you watch TV on the weekend don’t you? Thought so).

Since I often promote passive income, consider how much you might benefit from turning off that television and performing some work in the present that will reap monetary rewards in the future. It may not reap any short term benefits, but what will TV get you? An extra large depression in your favorite spot on the couch? You will be much more satisfied with yourself if you are progressing toward your long-term goals of wealth and regenerative income.

Within my own efforts to create wealth online, I have learned that the television is my worst enemy. Once I start watching it, I just can’t stop! The networks do such a great job promoting the next show while you’re still watching your current one that you feel inspired to watch just a little bit more. The next thing you know, the whole evening has whizzed by and you’ve done absolutely nothing! I have done this far too often in my life…

I have discovered that there is a market for my written thoughts. There are various websites that are willing to pay money for financial thoughts and suggestions. My television won’t do that. On top of this, by writing for these various websites, I am in turn promoting my own website, which is my passive income stream.

If I make $20 per article and I can produce a solid article within an hour, I will be making an additional $2,400 a month (just like the first example), plus these articles will no-doubt bring more readers to my site, which is my passive income generator. Each month, I could easily produce an additional $3,000 by ignoring my television!

So, no, your television does not merely cost you the amount of the cable bill. It actually costs much, much more.

After reading this article, how much do you feel that your cable is costing you? What would you do if the TV didn’t suck you in?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Got rid of cable! I do watch TV, but not as much. The savings, both time and money are incredible! Everyone should atleast give this some thought. Try it as an experiment for a month and then decide if you want to get rid of cable. In most likelihood, you would.

    • We did the same thing last year and got rid of our cable. Since we’ve moved into a new apartment though, cable is free. It is really tough to avoid vegging in from of the TV.

  2. We haven’t had cable for years! It’s great to be more productive in the evening. Well, I play video game sometime and that’s just as bad. 😀

    • We recently received a Wii for Christmas, so I can relate with you about the video game play as well. I think I do a pretty good job keeping this under control though.

  3. TV is the ultimate time and money-suck. It’s evil, period, end of story….
    except NFL football on Sunday! 😉

    • I am with you on that NFL Sunday comment! Can’t wait for that super bowl!

  4. I’ve had rabbit ears for a couple of years, and they work well enough for me to watch the news/sports, etc. I would never pay for cable. I have Netflix and use my girlfriend’s father’s account so it’s free. I don’t watch it often, but when I feel like lounging on the couch, I have an abundance of shows and movies at my (free) disposal.

    • Netflix is pretty handy and it’s cheap! (especially if you get it for free like you do)

      If I ever move out of this apartment (which I plan to do fairly soon), I’ll definitely ditch the cable and survive off from my 10 channels. That way I can get wealthy.

  5. I don’t pay for cable… if I did have to pay I wouldn’t have it. Boyfriend is die-hard sports fan (occupation; coach so that sort of makes sense,lol) I have never been a person to watch TV much, but since the boyfriend always has the dang thing on I’ve found myself slipping and we got into watching a bunch of good shows together. Killer on productivity! I’d say cable used to cost me $500 a month (even though I don’t pay for the actual cable) and I’ve got that down to ‘costing me’ about $250 in lost productivity… still way too much for my liking so thanks for the kick in the butt!

    • I think I just wasted another hour or two of my life tonight in front of that box. It gets worse when you’re tired from a hard days work. If I pulled myself away from the T.V. completely, I think I’d be right there with you at the $250-$500 mark. Maybe we should start a challenge to see how our financial and personal lives improve if we keep out TV off for a month. That would be an awesome experience! 🙂

  6. Great article! We are considering cutting our cable. This just might be the push I need. (The only reason I haven’t cut it yet is because I am up with the baby several nights a week, and I tend to watch it then.)

    There is another expense to watching tv–all of those commercials in addition to the advertising within the show can make you want more, and buy more.

    • It’s actually not so bad. When we did without cable, but we still wanted to enjoy TV, we got some movies from the library. There are plenty of free episodes online too if you want to watch a favorite show or something. It just makes it a little less convenient, and therefore frees up your time to do whatever you please! 🙂

  7. I do find that tv makes it hard to be productive because they made these shows great to watch. We don’t have cable for the tv which is good but the bad news is that my hon is able to download these shows on his computer which is another blow to being unproductive.
    Like you said: I rather make money than being a veg in front of the tube. It’s not my thing anyway. And I’m a writer as well as a mother to 4 kids. I thought to say “hi” and give my thoughts on this as well.

    • I agreed completely Laurie! It’s not that I’m looking to make a load of money or work 20 hours a day as some people might think, I’m just trying to point out that TV is a waste of time! I think you got that point, and it sounds like you’re going to make more of an effort to write instead of watch those screens. That sounds great!

  8. Oh Derek you have so much enthusiam for building your life! I do admire that! But easy buddy….not everything in life is for making money! Easy….enjoy your life…stop thinking everything is about the almighty dollar! All work can make one kinda crazy with the thought process! splirge on something great ~ just blow it ~ and do not regret it! Fine line between frugal and obsessed with saving/making money! Easy Easy Easy… have your entire life ahead of you!

    • Hi Diane! Thanks for coming back to the site! I appreciate your comments. I do enjoy making a buck here and there, but the point of my article was to help the readers realize what a waste of time television is! I would much rather go out and spend my money on an adventure than veg on the couch, watching something that I’ll forget about in 2 seconds.

  9. That’s an interesting way to look at it for sure. I used to watch so much television, I was addicted. It took a slow process of letting go, bit by bit, so that now there are times I would rather NOT watch it. And of course, not pay for it either.

    • I have a hard time pulling myself away from a show once I start watching, but I’m working on it! There are quite a few times when I would rather not watch TV as well, especially when I’m able to spend time with my awesome wife! 🙂

  10. I’ll give somewhat of a different perspective. When I started my job, my girlfriend and I went approx. 3 months without cable. We’d always had cable, but wanted to give it a shot. During this period we didn’t particularly miss it because we could get a number of shows we wanted to watch online. However, this was a hassle, and it didn’t allow me to watch the few occasional hockey games. We have a number of shows that we both really enjoy, which we watch together. It’s an activity we both enjoy, and we do it together. We record everything on the DVR, so when we watch together, it’s almost in a systematic manner. We pick shows to watch based on time, and what we feel like watching that day. Some days we watch none, other days we watch an hour or two. I wouldn’t call it lost productivity. When I’m not at my job (working 75 hours a week) I’m working on my online business. When work isn’t too busy, I’m studying for exams for credentials within my industry. My unproductive time per day (without counting my commute, which is used for listening to finance podcasts or business courses) is approximately 2 hours. On the average Saturday or Sunday that jumps up to five hours. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with TV, it’s just how some people choose to use their “free” time. I think that feeling guilty about enjoying yourself isn’t healthy. As the saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

  11. I’m in the process of getting rid of Dish. I’m upgrading my computer to be able to stream those shows not available through the digital converter box. That’ll be a savings of $50/month. I already make $15/article whenever I find one I’m capable of writing, and have made $50 this year so far. The savings from Dish will “pay” for the new computer in a year, and the faster processor may enable me to research and write more articles.

    I was so excited when I first got cable back in 1995, but the quality of everything has gone down and my interest in new shows has all but dried up. I have other interests and other needs that can be taken care of, first. TV isn’t my life, anymore (and wow, I NEVER thought I’d say that).

  12. Actually, the tv programming has not been that great; we record the shows we actually want to watch AND we fast forward through all those commercials. Also, we can watch them when we want to

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