10 Ways to Save Money by “Plugging Out”


I am one of the first to admit that television, video games, the Internet, and cell phones add fun and convenience to our lives. But this past April I took the challenge presented by TVTurnOff.org and shut the television off for the week. For good measure, I also shut off the video games, and the Internet and cell phone (as much as I could without missing work related items). I was surprised by a few things that week, including how little I missed it all after just a few days and how much more active my social life became.

What surprised me most, however, was how much money I began to save. I’ve kept the television mostly off since April, even discontinuing my satellite subscription, and I’ve saved more than I thought possible. Below are ten ways that “plugging out” — consciously allowing less electronic noise into my life — has saved me money.

1. The most obvious way that plugging out saves money is that you no longer pay high subscription rates for cable, satellite, movie channels, sports packages, TiVo, satellite radio, cell phone contracts, etc. My savings from canceling satellite alone is $600 per year, and I didn’t have a premium package or extra subscriptions. You don’t have to eliminate everything, but consider whether a smaller/less costly package might not serve you as well.

2. Plugging out saves money on your electric bill. A modest home entertainment system consisting of a tube television, VCR/DVD player, and a basic cable/satellite set top box uses about 1200 kWh of electricity per year. At the average residential electric cost of 11.06 cents per kWh, that’s $132.72 per year to operate the equipment. That’s before you add in speakers, a gaming system, TiVo, a Slingbox, or a big screen television. And if you have multiple setups in multiple rooms, the cost goes even higher.

3. Limiting television gets you and the kids away from advertising designed to encourage the want monster. How many times have you been watching a program and a commercial comes on for something that, until that very minute, you had no need for or no knowledge of and now suddenly you have to have it? Plug out and see how your wants and needs change without advertising constantly calling to you.

4. Plugging out cures you of unrealistic expectations set forth by shows like “Friends” or “Sex in the City” where young people with regular jobs are living in fabulous apartments in high rent cities, with cool clothes and hot cars. It doesn’t work like that in the real world, but watch enough television and you may start to feel like your normal life is inadequate. Plugging out has made me much more content with what I have and less inclined to pursue an ideal that can only be reached with a good lottery win.

5. Spending less time watching television or mindlessly surfing the Internet gives you more time to pursue other money making opportunities. Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own business or make some extra money from a cherished hobby, but haven’t been able to because “there’s never enough time.” There might be, if you didn’t come home and plunk on the sofa to channel surf all night. I’ve been able to get my writing career off the ground because I spend less time watching TV and more time writing.

6. Toning down your use of electronic gizmos gets you off the upgrade treadmill. If you aren’t using your TV, game system, or cell phone very often, who cares if it’s an older model or doesn’t have the jazziest features or newest games? If it does what you need, there’s
no need to go out and get a bigger, faster, flashier version every six months.

7. Plugging out gives you time to get out and be active, saving you money on your health care costs. If you come home from work and go out for a walk or play with the kids, you’ll be healthier than if you spent that time sacked out on the couch. You’ll probably visit the
doctor less often and, with some insurers/employers now penalizing the unfit and inactive, you may pay less in premiums.

8. You’ll have more time to learn and use money saving skills such as gardening, cooking, home/auto maintenance and repair, sewing, or landscaping. Read books or take classes to learn more. The more you can do for yourself, the more money you’ll save over calling a service person every time you need something done.

9. Without electronic distractions, you have more time to tend to your finances. You can comparison shop for insurance, balance your accounts, pay your bills on time, and make certain your financial life is in order. You’ll also have more time to educate yourself about finances, investing, taxes, and insurance so you can make informed decisions in the future.

10. Plugging out gets you away from over-hyped financial news that may cause you to make hasty and ill-advised financial decisions. When the media is screaming that XYZ Corp’s stock is plummeting and you opt to sell based on those reports, it stinks to find out the next day that a computer glitch caused the fall and that XYZ is financially sound. You should remain informed about world and national events, but limiting your exposure to the hype can save you money and heartache. (Not to mention the money you’ll save on therapy by avoiding depressing news.)

I certainly don’t advise that you never watch television, play video games, or surf the Internet if you enjoy those activities and find value in them. Just be aware of your usage of, and dependence on, these devices. Electronics should bring added fun and convenience to your life, not rule your life to the point that you’re losing precious money and time that could be better spent in other ways.

Image courtesy of BriD

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4 Responses to 10 Ways to Save Money by “Plugging Out”

  1. Karsten says:

    And, not to forget, NOT using certain devices is better for the environment. You save money and gain life quality as well as the knowledge that you are using much less energy and create less pollution than others. If you do this you are not responsible for the manufacturing, transportation, distribution, waste of resources, etc. connected with those products. Unless it is for survival or well-being, any product NOT used is better than used.

    BTW, even temporarily unplugging devices that are on stand-by saves you money and pollutes less. Not as much as getting totally away from it and you do not gain any of the benefits mentioned in the article above, but up to 75% of the electricity consumed by those machines is used for just waiting to be operated. The only way to stop that is to unplug them. Annoying, but this is where high-tech product design has led us. If it can be controlled by remote, has a little light on all the time, or is warm to the touch when turned off, you are paying for the electricity and you are polluting.

    Unplug it. Best is completely. Or never even start plugging the stuff in or getting connected. You don’t really need the stuff and you will get a life instead. Cool deal I think.


  2. db1974 says:

    I have come to despise TV over my lifetime. I have early childhood memories of TV blaring in the background even during holidays. I knew when I had children I would limit TV, but when I saw my husband watch TV in much the same way I remember my childhood (way too much, too loud, and a replacement for interacting with your own children) I knew we had a problem. It took awhile for him to come around, but I never gave up trying to talk him out of it.

    How did people survive before TV? They were probably much more interesting people. Today people plan their lives around the news and TV shows…for me, that’s no way to live.

    My kids are young (3 and 4) and they don’t miss it at all. I especially dislike advertising that targets these young malleable minds. We do everything we can as parents to prevent our children from being taken advantage of…why would we allow advertisters to create consumer monsters!?

  3. princessperky says:

    What is a sling box?

    And I so am swayed by food advertising..not that I go the restaurant in question, but I sit down after the kids are in bed, and suddenly I want shrimp or steak, or ice cream…weight control is much easier when not bombarded with food ideas late into the night.

  4. Ginny says:

    It took me a long time, but I finally figured out that the whole purpose of television is to make you feel bad. If you feel bad because you don’t live like those people, look like those people, have as good a time as those people, you will probably want what they’re selling so that you can feel, live and look better, the way they do. No wonder all the statistics show that people who watch the most television are the most depressed.

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