Electronic Media

When I was growing up, one of my two best friends wasn't allowed to watch TV. At all. Her family just didn't own one. They were ok with movies, but felt that TV just wasn't something they wanted or needed in their lives, I guess. We had cable but our watching of it was strictly limited.

When I got married, my husband and I decided to live on the frugal side (mostly by necessity, but somewhat by inclination). We also decided that if we had TV, we would do nothing but watch TV all the time, so it would be better not to spend $50-80 on monthly cable.

That isn't to say that we totally avoid electronic entertainment. My brother and sister-in-law gave us a fabulous, fabulous TV when we got married. We have an XBox 360 from my husband's pre-married days.

To make up for not having cable, we do the following:

1. We play video games. Occasionally we play together, but more often we take turns or play when one of us isn't home. Video games are expensive, but we're very careful about which ones we buy. We tend toward games with a high re-playability factor, so we stretch our entertainment dollar as much as possible. For instance, we both favor RPG-style games. These have 40-90 hours of gameplay for the first time you play through it, to say nothing of the fact that they can usually be replayed with enough changes to keep it fun. For a game that costs $60 without any coupons or trade-ins, that means you're still averaging only about a dollar an hour for engrossing entertainment. If you spent that little on the movies, you could pay about $2.50  to see the newest Blockbuster. This of course is even less if you only rent a game.

2. We have Netflix. Because we didn't refuse cable for ideological reasons, we saw no problem in going with a cheaper alternative (just a few bucks a month) in order to get movies and seasons of tv shows that we like. Because we have the XBox, we're able to play Netflix movies on our rad TV. In fact, we don't even bother with the DVDs. There are so many movies available for "Instant Viewing" that we've never, ever been without something to watch when we felt like it. The difference I've found between Netflix and cable is that when I had access to Cable, I would watch anything, even junk, rather than watching nothing. I'm sure not everyone has this problem, but it's a failing of mine. I get sucked into trashy TV and then I feel guilty but I don't stop.

With Netflix, because it's all movies or full seasons of TV shows, I'm more likely to wait until Mr. Scrimp is home and watch something with him. If I'm going to sit down to watch a full-on movie, it's always more fun if he's watching it too. If I'm going to start watching a TV series, I wait to watch it with him because neither of us will want to be out of sync with which episodes the other one has seen.

Note: Netflix is only worthwhile if you are sure you're going to watch enough movies to "pay" for the monthly plan you select. If you only watch one movie or so a month and have no desire to watch more, it probably isn't for you, because you can probably rent for less.

3. We have the internet. This is a necessity for us, for various reasons, including family, friends, blogging, and work. This does cost us, and I'm not entirely proud of it, but it doesn't cost us a lot, and I do believe it's not really something we can do without.

There are also one or two cable shows that I got really into long before we got married, when I still had cable TV access. Most of these I can find on hulu.com and watch on the computer.

Because we don't have a straight-up ideological opposition to TV/games/what-have-you, we haven't really tried to get them completely out of our life, but we have taken good steps to regulate what place they have there. We're careful about how we spend money on digital entertainment without turning ourselves into some kind of luddites. We have a good time together, and we do exactly what our Scrimpalicious goal is--to have nice things, for less. We cut out about $100 of monthly spending that most, if not all, of our married friends indulge in, by opting for no cable, almost no trips to the movie theater, and very frugal spending on video games.

And the best part? We don't feel like we're missing anything.


  1. Oo, I'm totally with you on this one. Though we too do without cable, we supplement our entertainment the same way you do - via internet, Netflix, and Hulu.

    Recently, however, I've found myself watching fewer Netflix, to the point that I'm considering letting our 2-at-a-time plan lapse and just going to 1-at-a-time. It's not *significantly* cheaper (9.99/mo. as opposed to 14.99/mo.), but these days every little bit counts.

    Also, for the one cable show I can't get on Hulu and must have as soon as possible (Mad Men), a season subscription with iTunes is a one-time ($22) splurge that has paid wonderful, wonderful dividends.

  2. woohoo--no cable here either! no netflix though either, Jay prefers to just buy the dvds I guess. Glad to hear we're not the only ones "scrimping"!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...