Living Frugally: Mute the Commercials

Save Reuse RecycleI distinctly remember last year’s Super Bowl Sunday. It was not because of the game, the highlights, the commercials, or the advertised specials. I remember it well because all the commercials were muted! I know that many of you are pretty shocked right now.

You see, a couple from church opened their home to anyone who wanted to watch the game and just hang out. In order to make it more interesting, the couple created an environment where – during commercials – the TV was muted and someone would talk about something they were thankful for, something positive in their life, or something they just wanted to share with their friends. What does this have to do with Living Frugally? Everything!

There is a reason retailers pay millions per second to advertise during the Super Bowl. It is the same reason that Super Bowl commercials are so much more creative than any otherCable TV time of year. The marketers realize that it is the most watched sporting event in the world and therefore, it serves as their best opportunity to get into your pockets. You’re glued to the tube and they know it!

At the party I attended there was zero opportunity for these retailers to influence our buying decisions. I was not tempted to spend based on an emotional response to advertising creativity. However, the neighbors next door, whose TVs were not muted, were subjected to creative attempts at infiltrating their wallets, bank accounts, and credit cards.

Resist the TemptationThe power in having the ability to ‘just say no’ cannot be overstated. Imagine the temptations you would avoid if you decided, before hand, that you are going to say no to all advertising during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year’s, and Super Bowl Sunday!

It brings to mind the fact that many folks who have a desire to save, live frugally, invest, etc. are sometimes thrown off track by a commercial designed to do just that…get them off track!

How many dreams have been wrecked because of one unplanned purchase which leads to regular unplanned spending? I imagine the answer is in the millions.

A well planned budget doesn’t include reaction or emotion-based spending. It is the result of a disciplined mindset that recognizes the importance of saying no to creative marketing ploys. My advice to those determined to live the frugal life? Mute the Commercials!

And you SavvyReader, are you able to tune out the commercials or do you occasionally fallen victim to those wily advertisers?

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. A Google+ reader notes…

    “All the more reason to have a game plan for your finances. That way you stay on course.”

  2. Three*

  3. Savvy James,
    One way to avoid the commercials is the DVR. Of course there is a cost to that. My wife and I are considering ditching the cable and going with Netflix instead and getting a Roku. My concern is the cable company upping the internet pricing. There is always the digital antenna feed which is free, but you have to watch the commercials. We haven’t had a land phone line in ages, but thinking about that once our kids get a little older. Seems like it would be good to have a house line for a family, but I’m new at this.

    • I have been a Roku user since they were called Netflix players. I am a huge fan of streaming content. My new device(s) of choice is the Xbox One and the Apple TV. I love the ability to watch content at my discretion. I have never been a fan of DVRs. I believe streaming is the best alternative to linear programming. No doubt that the cable companies keep their hooks in consumers via controlling Internet access…and the price for access. Like you, I haven’t had a land line for years – five to be exact. We got rid of ours and went strictly with cell phones when we moved into our new home. We have never missed a land line or had a need for it. Thanks for stopping by, RBD.

    • RBD: My wife and I have the sources for TV entertainment; Netflix, library and Pawn shop. We haven’t had cake since 2009 & we don’t miss it. I risky sort you in ditching the cable and saving your $$ for more worthwhile things. I’m with SavvyJames 100% when he says that watching programs at his discretion is better than regular TV. He and I part ways , however, when it comes to the medium- PS3 RULES!

      • I like the PS3. In fact, I bought one when they first came out for the blu-ray disc drive. However, considering I use the devices mainly for streaming content – and the Xboxes (360 & One) support greater number of media apps, it is the device of choice.

  4. What a fantastic idea! We don’t have cable TV so we rarely see commercials. We stream online and that makes it easier. I still feel guilty wasting my time, but at least it’s not a barrage of consumerism…

    • Yep, I also stream most of the content I do watch so commercials are less of an issue for me. Also, the really don’t have any impact on me because I am focused like a laser on my savings/investment goals and not easily distracted from that. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

    • Cash Cow Couple: I love that name 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your time. My wife and I haven’t had cable or internet since 2009 & we love it. To see a Super Bowl game we actually have to go to someone’s house (as we did in the story your read) or go to a sports bar. Life at home is just more peaceful that way. Not to say that having TV and internet connection is wrong but we’d rather put the $$ somewhere else. I hope to see more comments from you in the future.

  5. I do love the superbowl ads, but in regular TV life we mute commercials for that reason. We don’t need all the emphasis on buying or the marketers telling us what we ‘need.’ Also this year the superbowl is donating some ad space to some really cool companies like Goldie Box to promote some worthwhile things alongside all the beer and M&Ms. Here’s the link to vote for the top four potential winners:

    • I like the idea of the donation of ad space/time to bring attention to worthwhile companies. That will be good to see. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Krista.

    • Krista: I didn’t know that about the Superbowl giving away ad space. That’s good news for sure! I appreciate the info.

  6. When I was a teacher, I would get these samples of videos I could show in my classroom. A LOT of them featured product placement or even full on commercials! I would automatically toss those. It’s hard enough not being bombarded by ads then to have it happen during an educational video!

    • So very true. The advertising is quite insidious! Too often people – particularly younger persons who are a little more impressionable – are made to feel that in order to be ‘included’ or to have more worth, you must possess the latest ‘thing’. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, Michelle.

  7. Well, I can watch ads for 3 days in a row and they still wouldn’t make me buy the stuff I don’t need. As long as you have developed your own style and discipline, you can just watch the ads and ignore the ‘message’ 😀

    • Discipline is a key, whether it be during the holiday shopping season or watching the Super Bowl. A good point, Dojo. Thanks for stopping by and we hope you continue to add to the conversations here at RetirementSavvy.

  8. Hi James
    Try this site
    Its the UK answer to Black Friday

    • I love it, Mike! We definitely need to start something similar on this side of the pond. I certainly did my part as I hung out at the house all day – just returned from the East coast visiting family – and did not spend any money today.

  9. I totally agree. Much like Christmas, the Super Bowl has also become too commercialized. Fools and their money soon part.

    • So very true, Karen. Marketers are doing everything in their power to exploit holidays and significant events for monetary gain. However, SavvyShoppers know how, when, and where to spend their money wisely.

    • Karen, you’re so right. Although Americans don’t want to admit it, it’s the fool who falls for holiday marketing creativity. I keep wondering when they’ll notice that the holiday sales aren’t really all that different than sales throughout the year.

  10. Another great post. It’s sobering but true – unplanned purchases leading to habits of unplanned spending are harming families out there and they don’t even know it!

    What a wonderful idea that couple had for their super bowl party. That is one super bowl party I wouldn’t mind attending!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kay. Agreed. SavvyTaz has hit on a key component in being more frugal…avoiding unplanned spending.

    • Thanks Kay! I have to say that was one of my favorite Super Bowls ever. It was very cool to know that my son saw a big group of adults who were more concerned about learning more about each other than the shiny gadgets for sale. Great teaching by example.

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