Living Frugally: A TV in Every Room?

RS Living FrugallyTaz Bright helms this series. Taz is a father, speaker, long-time business owner and graduate of the school of hard-knocks. Taz uses his past business and personal finance experience to help steer others in a positive financial direction while, hopefully, avoiding the mistakes he’s made along the way. As a former 6-year victim of Identity Theft, Taz shares unique lessons learned while trying to regain his financial footing. Taz is a member of Toastmasters International, a martial artist, former bodyguard and a CrossFit athlete. As the owner of Bright Balance Ministries, Taz’s goal is to help as many people as possible reach long-term, solid financial stability.

I was watching TV, a rare occasion, the other day when I saw a commercial advertising their product which allows a family to watch programs on multiple devices, in multiple rooms all at the same time. Of course the advertisers made it out to be a magnificent invention, convenient for all and a must have.

The commercial featured a typical family with a few children, mom and dad. One child sat with headphones on watching something on his tablet while sister, right behind him on the couch, watched a program on the living room TV. Dad sat in his man cave watching sports while mom watched TV in the kitchen as she prepared a meal. Child number three was in yet another room, with headphones on, viewing his program on his cell phone. That’s five people in four rooms, five different devices watching five separate programs. This is seen as a good thing.

 It’s not! From a financial standpoint there is a lot of money being spent here unnecessarily.

Television and FamilyI remember growing up with one brother three sisters, two parents, zero cable and one TV in the entire house. I haven’t suffered mentally, physically or socially as a result. I’m not mentally underdeveloped, socially awkward or lacking intelligence nor have I been scarred for life. I lived perfectly fine without the ability to watch any program I wanted, whenever I wanted, on multiple devices.

Ninety nine dollars per month is the current advertised price of a package including this feature. That figure is before taxes and other fees according to the website. That means over the next eighteen years a family will shell out $21,384 to spend time apart in the same house.

Let’s see what how the Frugal Lifestyle could be supported by directing this $99/month to other avenues over 18 years.

  • Emergency fund
  • Contribution to a college fund
  • Automatic payments to keep credit cards paid off
  • Purchase a Tiny House without financing
  • Purchase a used vehicle finance free
  • Purchase a brand new vehicle with very little financing
  • Invest in stocks
  • Build a custom home finance free. (My parents actually did this.)
I want to be clear. The actual product isn’t the problem. In and of itself it’s not wrong or evil. However, when attempting to live Frugally we have to continually ask ourselves an important question: Is my current financial situation at a point where this purchase is justified or should I accomplish other financial goals before making this purchase?

We must keep the frugal lifestyle, and the goals it will help us accomplish, in mind. Don’t be distracted by the latest inventions that tempt us with convenience and awesome new features. Consider the price over the long-term. Don’t be distracted by low monthly payments. Begin with the end in mind and Stay Frugal!

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. My family is totally guilty of this now that tablets and e-readers have been invented. Of course, often its work related rather than watching TV, but work always turns into Facebook. I’ve never gotten why you would watch TV on a tablet though- generation gap I guess.

    • In addition to TVs in most rooms, the wife and I do spend a lot of time looking at mobile (iPhones and Kindles) screens. In my defense – not that I necessarily need a defense 🙂 – a fair amount of my TV viewing and interaction with mobile devices is centered around my interest in personal finance, the economy, etc. and activities associated with managing this blog (e.g. watching documentaries, approving comments, writing/editing posts, interacting on social media outlets, etc.)

  2. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been saying no to new gadgets and services for a long time, but I don’t even understand the need people feel to have them. If TV and cheap entertainment are your hobbies, it may be time to try some new hobbies. People you idolize aren’t staring at screens for several hours a day, they’re out getting stuff done (assuming you idolize someone).

    • Great point, Kyle. Doers are out doing; creating, inventing, innovating … . I have to acknowledge that I am one of those people with multiple TVs. However, two – the one in the guest bedroom and the one in the theater – are rarely used. It is more a case of desiring one in those locations whenever we have guests sleeping over and on the rare occasion we want to enjoy a new movie respectively. As I noted in my reply to JC, when I do choose to watch TV, I like to stream the desired content on my terms. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  3. Before we had kids, the wife and I used to have 2 tv’s – one in the living room and one in our bedroom. In retrospect, it seems silly. We downsized to 1 a few years ago and started saving $20/month by doing so which adds up. Plus, going forward, I certainly don’t want my family all glued to their own tv and completely ignoring each other/not communicating.

    • Makes sense. While some quality programming can be found – I’m a huge fan of streaming content; choosing what and when to watch on my terms – there is a significant amount of garbage out there. Moreover, time spent engrosses in a television program, irrespective of the quality, is time not spent with family and friends. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and offer your thoughts, JC.

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