Cutting Cable and Commercials

EatIn hopping around online to read new-to-me personal finance blogs, I found this post: Does Less Exposure to Commercials Translate to Fewer Wants? This touches on something I’ve been thinking about ever since our daughter L has reached the “I want” stage.

We don’t have cable, and we don’t have rabbit ears (though I thought about trying to get some in time for the Olympics), but we do have Netflix and we also watch Amazon Prime. L only watches movies on DVD or “Olivia” or “Dinosaur Train” on Netflix/Amazon, and none of these has commercials. Nothing drives me crazier than previews at the beginning of DVDs trying to sell something to my kid (really, Disney? “FastPlay”? THAT’S THE WORST MISNOMER EVER I HATE YOU).

Having been without cable for years (honestly, I don’t really even remember when we last had cable – it could have been 2008, because I kind of remember seeing things on tv about the election), we really have gotten very used to living without ads. (Side note: this makes me very unpopular with some of the surveys I do – I have never seen the commercials they are asking me about.) This has the following noticeable results:

1) My students and colleagues say, “Have you seen [fill in the blank commercial here] ?”, I say “No,” and then we move on. Well, if it’s students, they often want to describe the commercial to me. This is when I tune out and start thinking about something else, like reviewing my lesson plan.

2) My daughter doesn’t usually ask for specific toys, but more general ones. For instance, she wanted a castle (but not a Barbie castle). But it still happens that she sometimes asks for something by brand name. We went to her little friend’s birthday party, and the friend received a Bitty Baby, and then it was game over. Grrrrrrr. Overall, though, L really doesn’t know what toys are even out there. We get her games and invest time in playing those games with her, and I don’t think she knows what she’s “missing.”

3) I don’t really know what’s out there, either – I don’t know about new phone contracts, new gadgets/gizmos, upcoming sales at stores, insurance policies, etc. Usually that’s good, and I’m glad of it. The less I see, the less opportunity I have to think, “Ooh, wouldn’t my life be better if I had [insert thing I’m obviously doing just fine without] ?” However, there are times when I realize that I really don’t know what’s going on sometimes – I don’t want to buy things I don’t need, but sometimes I feel like I don’t know as much about what’s available out there. Maybe there’s a cheaper way to do something? A new credit card that will give me more perks? On the balance, though, I think the saving I’m doing outweighs any negatives from not seeing commercials.

Plus, let’s be honest – we spend tons of time online, and there are ads everywhere. I go to Target every once in a while, and when I do, I still want to buy 72.3% of what I see.

Perhaps the biggest perk of not watching commercials is that my mind just isn’t as cluttered by images and ads as it would be otherwise. No, I don’t know about upcoming films (but it would pretty much have to be a new Star Trek or Star Wars movie to convince us to go see it in a theater anyway), I don’t know about the newest vacuum cleaner, and I don’t know what the coolest new toy is for 4-year-olds, but I think that’s pretty much okay.

Do you think your life is improved by not having cable and tv commercials in your life? Or do you think they don’t affect you? Or do you enjoy a good commercial just as much as regular programming?

– M.

9 thoughts on “Cutting Cable and Commercials

  1. I HATE what commercials do to my almost 4 yr old. He loves watching them and dancing to their catchy toons, so that is kind of cute. But he always wants what he sees. If I am out of the room he will yell for me to come see what’s on and ask for it. Right now he is obsessed with Hometown Buffet because of the commercials. We are working on teaching him he can’t have everything he sees but this is a hard concept for a little kid so grasp.


  2. We don’t have television since moving to the UK and I LOVE it! We only watch movies on our tv and although we miss our “favorite” shows, we borrow old series from the library and it tends to satisfy us. I’m kinda hoping I can convince my husband we don’t need television once we move back to the states. We haven’t had cable since 2009. Guess we will see…


    • I recommend that you consider sticking it out for as long as possible when you get back to the States…. Couldn’t hurt to save that money if you’re used to not having it anyway! Of course, it sounds like your husband might not agree…. Good luck with that! 🙂


  3. taracoss79 says:

    i LOVE this. we only use netflix too. when my daughters were at their grandmother’s and a commercial came on, they thought the tv was broken. makes a huge difference! (although people think we are crazy). another thing i recently started doing is “unsubscribing” to email ads. then i don’t get tempted! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good plan! I have been slowly doing this as well! That’s really funny about your daughters thinking the TV was broken – it definitely seems “broken” when the show you’re watching is rudely (and frequently) interrupted by ads.

      Liked by 1 person

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