According to Dave Ramsey and Tom Corley, one of the ways rich people differ from poor people is that poor people watch a lot more television, and a lot more “reality” television. When I mention this to my poor friends and family members, I get flack.
“I LIKE Pawn Stars!” (Or whatever reality shows they watch.)
“I keep it on just for company.”
Ugh! I am not, and have never been, a fan of television. I’ll watch it if there’s nothing better to do, and I do like to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on occasion, but not enough to bother paying for cable or satelite TV.
There are a few reasons why television is bad for your financial bottom line.
First off, television shows are NOT primarily made in order to inform or entertain. Any information or entertainment value in the shows is meant as an adjunct to their real purpose, which is to enhance the effectiveness of the advertisements. Because after all, it’s the advertisers, not the viewers, who pay for the content. So while you may see programs like Extremem Hoarders, where they deal with consumerism gone mad, a program that speaks out against consumerism and tells you that you should only buy what you can afford, and what you need, will likely never get made.
Watching Wheel of Fortune the other day at my parents’ house brought this point home to me. Because I don’t watch television very often, I was very sensitive to what was being advertised and how. Not just any vacation, but luxury cruises. I had to have one! Pictures of Vegas and gourmet restaurants flashed across the 55″ screen in living colour. I so wanted to go!
Later the same day, watching Mike Holmes go to work, I became dissatisfied with my house. The renovation featured a bar, and because the renovation crew was not spending their own money, they really went to town. They produced a beautiful bar, but the total cost was something in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars!
So the true purpose of television is to encourage you to spend money you probably don’t have on things you really don’t need.
But that isn’t the only damage, or even the main damage, that is done by television. After all, though most of my poor friends lust after that luxury cruise, they don’t go on one because they can’t even line up the credit to pay for it. And they can’t line up the credit to pay for it because they aren’t earning the money to get the credit to pay for it.
Because television does more than make you want things you don’t have. It sucks up your time, and displaces activities that would otherwise be enriching your life. The list below is off the top of my head–I’m sure all of my readers can add items I’ve missed. I’ve done most of these things, and I want to do most of the items on the list that I haven’t yet done. (Especially the first one–that is totally cool!)
1) using cardboard props to re-enact scenes from your favourite movies
2) riding a horse
3) competing in the Olympics
4) earning money at a job
5) walking a dog
6) changing the kitty litter
7) cleaning the goldfish tank
8) having a garage sale
9) washing the dishes
10) doing the laundry
11) sleeping soundly
12) watching a sunset or sunrise
14) playing hide and seek with a child
15) playing board games with your family
16) reading a book
17) writing a book or a blog post
18) running a marathon
19) cooking a gourmet meal
20) sewing a wedding dress for a friend
21) crafting a doll
22) learning to juggle
23) practicing an instrument
24) composing music
25) attending a concert
26) having a real conversation
27) hugging a child
28) making love
29) going on a road trip
30) making a beaded necklace
32) cross country skiing
33) sledding down a hill
34) building a snowman
35) shovelling snow
39) taking a college course
40) drawing a face
41) painting a room
42) singing in a choir
43) building a house
44) making your bed
45) visiting your grandfather
46) jumping off a cliff
47) travelling to another country
48) learning a new language
49) looking through your photo albums
50) hosting a party (unless it’s a Superbowl Party)
51) reorganizing your pantry
52) comforting a distraught friend
53) working out
54) getting a massage
55) giving a massage
56) starting a business
57) building up your business
58) volunteering at the animal shelter or hospital
59) sitting on the board of directors for a charity
60) organizing a Nativity Pageant
61) running for public office
62) acting in a movie
63) teaching a person or a class
64) playing a sport
65) riding a bike
66) renovating your home
67) taking a luxury cruise
So if you’re an “average” North American, and sit for four or more hours per day in front of a screen, passively ingesting advertising cleverly disguised as content, you might want to displace at least some of that time with more active past times. Your wallet and your body will thank you!