I’ve Gone 3 Years Without a TV (And I’m Still Alive)

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Life without a TV - would you do it for 3 years? I'm not talking about canceling cable or anything like that. I'm talking about selling it altogether.

Just recently, I wrote a post about ways to cut costs in 2014, and one of my suggestions was to get rid of your TV altogether. I’m not talking about canceling cable or anything like that. I’m talking about a 100% sell-your-TV-on-Craigslist extravaganza. You know, ninja style.

Unfortunately, no one else thought life without a TV was a good idea, especially not the gents. Many of you said you could never give up football, and I admit, that didn’t cross my mind at all. Still, I like watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette a lot, and that’s somewhat seasonal, right? I just stream it online. Can’t you do the same with with football or am I just ridiculously uninformed? (Editor’s note – unfortunately not…at least not on a large scale and “legal” way 🙂 )

Anyway, after making that suggestion, I was surprised that not one person out there shared my thoughts about the TV or the lack thereof in my house.

So, let me just make this statement: I’ve gone three years without a TV in my house, and I’m still breathing!

Deciding To Go Without A TV


It all started when I went to grad school in 2009. I was living off of a $14,500 per year stipend, and I was really struggling to keep all the bills under control. I bought a TV off of Craigslist but never paid to hook it up. I used it to watch movies with a DVD player, and when I moved out of that apartment in 2010, I left it there.

Similarly, my husband was living in a studio apartment at the same time without a TV. His schedule was all wacky with alternating 12 hour night/day shifts, so he never really got into watching any shows with regularity.

Going Way Overboard


After two years where neither one of us had a TV, we had a brief break with reality where we bought a 50″ plasma with all of the extras. It was completely obnoxious, and to this day, I have no idea how I agreed to it. Soon, we were eating our dinner in front of the TV, not talking to each other at all, and watching about 7 episodes of Cake Boss in a row.

We knew we had gone way overboard, and when my husband got accepted to medical school later that year, we sold the 50″ to a good friend and moved to Grenada without one.

Three Years In The Making


If you are familiar with the journey I’ve been on over the past few years, you know that I lived in the Caribbean for about three years and just recently moved back to the United States. My lifestyle in the Caribbean was very, very bare bones. No TV and no car for the first year and a half. I got so used to watching shows on my computer, I had no real reason to buy one when I got back to the U.S.

Honestly, I enjoy my life without a TV, and as evidenced, I have for years now. I don’t think I would have had the discipline to build a business on the side while working full time if I had a TV in my house. That’s just me though.

Sure, there are times when my husband wishes he could watch a college ball game or when I’d rather watch Miss America on a bigger screen and not in a tiny streaming online video. However, these moments are so few and far between that we just can’t justify getting back into the TV habit again.

Would you ever try to go cold turkey and live without a TV?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says:

    I’m not a really a big fan of TV, I think I can also live without it. Usually when I woke up my daily routine is to read news on Yahoo.

  • Travis @debtchronicles says:

    I think it’s amazing that you ditched the TV for so long and are cool with it. As long as you’re OK with it, and it works for you….why not? For me, personally, I don’t see any reason to do it…..sure there’s a lot of crap on TV, but there’s also some very entertaining and educational shows. Plus, one of my favorite family activities is family movie night where we make popcorn and ice cream sundaes and snuggle up on the couch for a good laugh (we like comedies in the Pizel house). 🙂

  • Kay says:

    I think that’s great. We don’t pay for cable, just have about 10 channels on a digital antenna but I’d like to get rid of TV altogether. I’m working on my husband with this :). He would miss it more than me.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    That’s pretty impressive, Cat! I don’t know if I could go without a TV, but I’m definitely happy about some of the new streaming options out there. Unfortunately the only way to watch my beloved Gophers football team is Big Ten Network. You can’t stream it online unless you have cable. But that’s not the only reason I have a TV. It’s hard to imagine going without one after all these years of having one.

  • Michelle says:

    It’s hard to admit but I don’t know if I could go without a TV. I like mine too much! 🙂

  • Kasey @ Debt Perception says:

    My husband and I did go a while without a tv, have gone many years without cable. Then we bought one with a PS3 to use Netflix and Amazon Prime video streaming and that’s pretty much the only “quality time” we spend together before he falls asleep after working long days in the Navy.

    I’m a Packer fan and I still watch every game….whether it’s with a friend who has cable, at Outback Steakhouse (or some other sports bar/grill), or through not-so-righteous ways (shiver me timbers), there are ways to watch what you want without a tv!

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Love this, Cat. I think about this often, as we spend WAY too much time in front of the TV during the cold winter months. Summer, I think we’d be okay, but not sure we could handle it between November and March :-).

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    Some friends of mine have been getting really into projectors. Whenever they want to watch something they just hook the computer up to the projector.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I am glad that you are not only surviving my thriving! I never thought I could go without a tv, but this year, my focus has been on removing cable and in the process, I have become more mindful on my tv watching or lack thereof. I know that I could definitely make the leap, but unfortunately my husband and son cannot, so we will just take baby steps and get rid of cable first.

  • Michael Solari says:

    Please talk to my wife!! haha. I would miss it at first but in all honesty, TV is a time drainer. We now just have basic cable and subscribe to hulu plus. My wife says she can’t live without TV. I’ll have to forward this post.

  • Liz says:

    We cut our cable a few months ago and haven’t looked back. There are plenty of other distractions like the internet but overall I don’t miss a TV at all really. We did buy a cheap antenna from best buy the other day so we could watch the Olympics but other than that we only use our tv to watch movies mostly.

  • Kathy says:

    I guess I am not getting the point of not having a TV if you watch the same stuff on the computer. Wouldn’t it be more comfortable to watch from an easy chair instead of sitting in front of the computer screen? I don’t subscribe to Hulu or any of the subscription services on the computer but I assume it must be cheaper than cable or satellite. If we got rid of the TV our world would not come to an end but I admit that I do get enjoyment from watching it.

    • says:

      I think it’s just a personal preference. I don’t want to sit on the couch and watch tv bc it’s been a bad habit I’ve developed in the past. I put on a show I like on my computer and walk around and clean my room. It’s the only way I can motivate myself to sweep and put away clothes haha

  • Amanda says:

    We’re getting free digital cable for a year, and I’m a little bit scared that it’s going to turn into dinners in front of the tv, not talking to each other, etc. I’m hoping it won’t, but I was such a tv-junkie as a child, I can see myself regressing quickly! (At least it’s free, right?)

    • says:

      That’s pretty cool that it’s free. Yeah I couldn’t resist sitting on the sofa every night so it had to go.

  • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies says:

    In the last 13 years, I have had a tv for 1 of them, and that’s only because my mother was somehow convinced I would die in a hurricane if I couldn’t see the local weather on tv. I gave it away about a year after it came into my apartment.
    We have a projector for movies and Hulu on the iPad for zoning out while doig chores around the house. A tv and expensive cable bill are so not necessary! =)

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I do enjoy watching the news and keeping up with current events but I guess I can do that with a basic antenna. I have been thinking about cutting the cord on cable though. I have let go of a lot of shows because they have just gotten so ridiculous so when my cable contract is up we shall see what we do but I would not give up tv completely.

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    We’ve never paid for cable TV, but we’ve had a T.V and watch over the air TV. Although now with a little baby, there really is no time to watch TV anyway…even free T.V!

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    We have a TV, but we don’t have cable. I like catching up on my news with the TV, but I think I could go without it.

  • AverageJoe says:

    We didn’t have a television for two years while I was growing up. I wrote a 120 page book and my grades skyrocketed. Coincidence?

  • lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Nice post Cat 🙂

    “Would you ever try to go cold turkey and live without a TV?” – Nope!

    I’ve gone a few weeks without watching TV but there are a few shows that I watch and really enjoy so I don’t think I would want to give them up.

    That being said, I do not have cable, preferring to use an indoor off the air Hi Def antenna. I also watch a lot of programs on my computer as well, but for movies and concert videos, a TV is a must for me.

    Of course, if I HAD to give up owning a TV it wouldn’t be the end of the world and I would easily adapt 🙂

    Thanks again for a fun read and take care.


  • Kendal @HassleFreeSaver says:

    My husband boasts about how little TV we watch but I disagree — we plant ourselves in front of it every night from dinner to when we head to bed, which is a good 3 hours per evening! When it’s dark and cold outside during the winter, we don’t feel like there’s much else to do but I think NOT having a TV would force us to do more productive things. Who knows. I don’t think he’d get rid of the TV and I probably wouldn’t either, but I love the idea of not owning one!

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I’m pretty sure my husband and kids would revolt if I tried it. I’d probably be the only one who wouldn’t care … to much. There are a few shows I watch that I would probably miss but if needed to get rid of it I could. And honestly, if we needed too, Chris would give it up too. I know so many people say how much more productive they would be without TV and I don’t disagree. But for me, it’s my wind-down time because it feels like I cram a 12 hour work day into 8 hours, then have all the kids activities on top of it. So it’s my time my de-compress.

    • says:

      I can see that. I like to take a long bath to decompress but I can see how that will be hard to come by with kids.

  • Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter says:

    I can totally relate to this post. We cut our cable about a year ago. Our 50-inch TV we also had to have, is sitting on the wall in the basement pretty much collecting dust. 🙁 We stream everything that we watch. We watch a lot more right now that it is so cold otherwise we would all be outside! Like you said, if we had cable I would definitely be planted in front of the TV rather than pursuing other interests. 🙂

  • Debt Hater says:

    I think that I would be able to go without cable for the most part, but I would want Netflix and maybe even a Hulu Plus subscription to deal with that. I would at least need the physical TV to watch movies and game on, even though I do a lot less of both of those things now.

    The only problem that I have with completely cutting cable is with sports. You can pay for the sports packages individually, but then they black out the local games anyways. They are the ones I want to see! There are really no other legal options to watch live sports unfortunately. I think if there were solutions for that the amount of cable subscriptions would drop substantially.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    We cut our satellite TV this summer, but that’s as far as Jim would ever go. He likes to watch movies in HD with surround sound. He will literally watch movies he likes a hundred times. We used to have TV on in the background all the time, but now it only gets turned on in the evening and we watch something on Netflix or network TV to unwind. I like the idea of not having a TV, but I also enjoy watching it, so I guess we’ll never get rid of it, and if you haven’t seen Bob Costas’ pink eye in HD, you’re not living!

  • Mackenzie says:

    We watch quite a bit of football and hockey in my household so going without a TV would be hard! 🙂 But hey, humans are adaptable, right? 🙂

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I think I’ve covered why I like my TV entertainment so much! I think it’s great you can go without it though!

  • Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life says:

    TV is one of those things we have as background noise, but we find we can stay there for hours. It’s terrible. We’ve been definitely trying to not mindlessly turn it out but carve out time to watch our favorite shows together. It’s so hard if it’s there…

  • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    While I love Netflix, the physical TV itself is fairly superfluous. I didn’t have a TV in my first two years of grad school and only have one now because my husband thinks it’s vital to life. I do like having one so we can host basketball watch parties, but it’s not a necessity.

    I might want to talk with you about that $14.5k stipend sometime!

  • Deia @ Nomad Wallet says:

    People are horrified when I tell them I don’t have a TV, but there’s so much I can watch on my laptop! It happened naturally when we moved. Because there were so many boxes in the living room, we put the TV in the basement storage room and never missed it. We gave it away and we’ve never had a TV since then.

  • C. the Romanian says:

    Congrats! Maybe three years ago I would’ve been shocked to hear that, but we are closer and closer to giving up cable as well. I don’t think that we watched TV once since the year started and therefore, there’s no reason to keep paying for it. Probably by the end of the year we’ll dump it too.

  • Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt says:

    I think I could do it! I used to watch TV every evening until I started my blog. Then I realised how I could put my evening to good use and I ‘disconnected’. We still have a TV and I watch something now and then, but I’m not hooked anymore. And I’m glad about that!

  • Michael@Save-Invest-Grow says:

    I got rid of my satellite last fall and I was surprised at how easily I adjusted. Now I only watch TV when I really want to see something, as opposed to just killing time in front of it as before. To me, the money savings plus extra time for more productive things is great. Getting rid of the TV altogether might be tough, especially in the winter. I still prefer to have the option. Great topic and some great responses!

  • Marvin says:

    It wasn’t until my deployment to Iraq that I got “unplugged” from TV. Of course I still watch it today, but I binge watch tv shows once they’re available and I have tried vigoriously to get back into sports but I just can’t.

  • Joyce says:

    Like you, Cat, I have been without TV for several years now. I just decided to try living without one, and haven’t regretted it. When an event like the World Series or the Olympics is going on, I find someone who is tweeting about it or else watch it live streaming on my laptop. I’m certain, like you, that there are things which would never have been accomplished had I kept watching TV. When I visit my daughter I binge watch the shows I miss. Or I borrow them from the public library. Great post! Thanks for sharing. ~Joyce

  • Cedric @ Fuggingdebt says:

    I am year 3 without cable and do not miss it. I’m too busy with more productive things and rarely have time to watch a damn movie. The main thing is I don’t miss my cable bill!

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