How to Live Without a TV

photo c/o wikimedia commons

photo c/o wikimedia commons

I’ve lived without cable for most of my adult life. I just never saw a need for it. When my husband and I moved into the Airstream, we ditched our television set. We ditched our TV mostly due to space, but we don’t miss it. Whenever I tell someone that we don’t have a television, I’m usually met with shock and awe. You’d think I told them that I live without oxygen or the sun. The first question that our relatives asked when they visited our humble abode was “Where’s the TV?” (My first question when visiting most people is “Where’s the bathroom?”)

Prior to moving into the Airstream, we mostly used our TV to stream Netflix. We had a box to pick up public television, but it never worked, so we just didn’t worry about it. I cancelled Netflix when we ditched the TV. Full disclosure: I do have a Hulu subscription that I have hung onto, but I am debating cancelling that this summer too.

There’s so many perks to cutting the cable cord and ditching the “idiot box,” as my dad likes to call it. Here’s just a few:

  1. You’ll have more space.
    Even flat screen TVs take up space. Instead of a television, put up a beautiful piece of artwork that inspires you!
  2. You’ll have more money.
    Even if your cable subscription is only $60 a month, paying that bill adds up to $720 a year. If you have cable for your entire adult life and you live to be 80 years old, you’ll spend $50,400 on cable! And that isn’t even accounting for inflation, people.
  3. You’ll have more time.
    Cable and TV is a time-suck. How many times have you gotten sucked into a whole season of Law and Order? Be honest. Think about how much more time you’ll have once you cut the cord. You’ll finally have time to write that novel (or blog!), plant that garden, cook a healthy meal and so much more.
  4. You’ll be less stressed.
    When I did have cable for a couple years in college, I fought with the cable company all the time. They’d always over charge me or the cable would go out for no good reason. That kind of stress is unnecessary and I chose to eliminate it from my life. I also believe seeing less opulence from TV helped my psyche. I no longer cared to keep up with the Jones or the Kardashians or whoever.
  5. You might sleep better and be happier. 
    Exposure to dim light at night has been linked to mood disorders, increased risk of obesity and cancer. Also, the blue light of televisions and computer monitors mimics morning light and is more likely to keep you awake at night. Do you need more of a reason to smash your TV in an epic Office Space-like scene?!

So how do I get along without a TV? Just fine. I get most of my news from NPR. I listen on the radio on the way to work. I check the weather via an app on my phone. If I’m dying to watch a movie, I’ll check out a free movie online or from my local library. (Check out this post I did over on And Then We Saved about legal ways to watch movies online.)

So how do you manage to go about living without a tv? Cutting the television cord is a lifestyle change, I’ll give you that. But it’s a change that improve your live for the better, I promise.

Try at first to cut your television watching to an hour a day, then 30 minutes a day. Just see how much more free time opens up with one simple change. 

Have you tried living without cable or a television? Let me know how you survive in the comments!

love,
melanie

14 Easy Ways to Save Money

Photo c/o Getty Images CC.

Photo c/o Getty Images CC.

The going has been tough for this girl. It’s almost the end of the spring semester and my head is spinning with projects, conferences and classes. During these insanely busy times, it’s so much easier to just stop and pick up something to eat or buy something just to make myself feel better. But I don’t want to fall off the savings bandwagon, I want to keep savings toward my goal of travel and eventually retirement. Lately I’ve been looking for easy ways to save money during these oh so busy times. Here’s a few of the easiest ways I’ve found to save a little dough.

  1. Automatic draft
    This is by far my favorite tip for saving money. Set up an automatic draft to pull money from your checking account into your savings account each month. It’s automatic so you have no excuse not to do it. Think of it as a bill you pay yourself!

  1. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use
    Subscription services are becoming a huge industry. Subscriptions, like Netflix or Barkbox can be fun, but remember they charge your credit card each month. Check your monthly bank statement and cancel any subscriptions you don’t use.

  1. Keep your tires inflated & change your air filter
    Keeping your tires inflated can save you about 5 percent in gas mileage and keeping your car’s air filter fresh can save you about 7 percent in gas mileage! Just keeping up with your car’s maintenance and could save you hundreds each year.

  1. Reusable water bottle
    Ok, I admit it, I used to go through at least two plastic water bottles a day. The costs of those little suckers can add up– especially if you are purchasing them from a vending machine. Two bottles of water at $1.25 a pop over the course of a year adds up to almost $1,000!  I’ve made the eco-conscious and money-conscious switch to a reusable bottle and never looked back. I’ve been drinking more water since I don’t have to pay for it and

  1. Keep snacks in your desk at work
    Do you see a theme here? Avoid the vending machine! By keeping snacks in your desk at work, you won’t be lured by the glow of the office vending machine. My workplace also has a coffee shop nearby, so to avoid that temptation I keep instant coffee at my desk. Some of my favorite snacks to keep at my desk are apples and peanut butter, tea, instant coffee (of course) and individual packs of nuts.

  1. Generic version
    The generic version of everything is cheaper than the name brand. I love to save on beauty products by buying the generic version. I recently bought some over-the-counter medicine and I was shocked at how much I saved purchasing the generic version. Think about the savings that will accrue over the course of your life by always simply buying generic!

  1. Unplug
    Phantom power is a thing, ya’ll. Even devices that have been turned off can draw power (phantomly!) and up your power bill. Scary, huh? By unplugging the power suckers you’ll decrease your power bill and save yourself some change. I’ve been unplugging my laptop and cellphone charger when not in use and I was surprised at how easy it was to form the habit.

  1. Negotiate your cable, phone and Internet bills
    This is one of those big wins that can save you thousands over a lifetime. By simply calling your Internet, phone and cable provider and asking for a discount, you may be able to obtain one. Ask and ye shall receive!

  1. Wait to purchase
    Since I’ve been on my journey to saving money, I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to impulse buy. Instead of buying the item I want right away, I’ll pin it to my Pinterest board or promise myself to come back to the store tomorrow. Nine times out of ten by the next day, I won’t even want the thing anymore!

  1. Pay off your credit cards immediately
    I don’t think credit cards are evil like some people will lead you to believe. Credit cards just have to be used wisely. Don’t put purchases on your card that you can’t pay off right away. And don’t let interest accrue on your purchases. By paying off your cards right away, you’ll avoid paying any interest and you’ll strengthen the health of your credit score.

  1. Avoid ATM fees
    ATM fees are ridiculous. ATM fees are just one of those things that I refuse to pay, eve if the fee is only a couple of bucks. There’s so many ways to avoid those pesky fees. You can bank with a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees, use a large bank who has branches all over the country and you can get cash back during purchases. I’ve bought a pack of gum before just to get cash back and avoid a fee. Afterall, I’d rather have a $2 pack of gum than a $2 ATM fee.

  1. Use the library!
    Libraries have a variety of goods and services available to their patrons for free! Your library probably offers more than you think. For more ways the library can save you money check out this post.

  1. Price check
    One of the best things about smart phones is that now you have the instant ability to price check stuff while out and about on your phone. Before I’m about to make a purchase over $20, I’ll whip out my smartphone and do a little price checking. If I can get it for less online, I’ll wait to purchase it. The delay in purchasing also helps with impulse buys. f you don’t have a smart phone, that’s ok too. Just write down the price and when you get home (or to the closest Internet connection) check out the price from other retailers.

  1. Make frugal friends
    I love my frugal friends. They’ve taught me so much about money, deals and saving. They aren’t afraid to stay at home and just hang out to save money. They invite me to yard sales and I invite them to the flea market. Frugal friends don’t put pressure on you to spend extra money or to go out to eat because they’re happy making a meal together at home. Making friends with frugal people is life-changing. Don’t have any frugal friends? Feel free to email me or leave me a comment and we can chat. Virtual frugal friends are better than no frugal friends!

    What easy ways have you saved money? Let me know in the comments!

    love,
    melanie

Birthdays and Money

baby me!

baby me!

Well, today’s my birthday. I celebrated last weekend because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do much celebrating today. As I get older, I want to do less and less celebrating anyway. I’m happy just laying in bed and watching movies with George. And maybe eating pizza… I do love me some pizza. And to be honest, as I get older I want less and less things. Sure, I’ll occasionally see something pretty when I’m browsing Pinterest and maybe I’ll want it for two minutes, but I’m more interested in acquiring experiences now.

This has been a really nutty and difficult year. In some ways, I’m kind of glad that 27 is behind me. This year I’ve learned a lot about money. I’ve forced myself to stop being scared and careless with money and learn how to use it. This year I’ve also learned a lot about life and death. I’ve been forced to think about how I want to live the rest of my life and how money can help acquire that life. I don’t think money can buy happiness, but we all need money to live and we need to know how to use money as a tool for a better life. I believe the meaning of a better life is up to the individual. My better life means more time to travel, more time to spend with the people I love and to live life without debt.

Zora Neal Hurston once said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” This year was a hard, real, thorny answer.

love,
melanie

 

 

Love Weekends: Almost Birthday

Tilling the gardenMy birthday actually falls on a Tuesday this year which isn’t the best for celebrating. I also have a big presentation that day for instructors and a VIP dean at my school. So this weekend was more of a celebration than I am planning for my actual birthday.

Tomato sproutsI had off work on Friday, so George and I started my garden. I was so thankful that he was there to help. Tilling is hard work!

Baseball GameOn Friday night we went to see the local minor league baseball team, the Mudcats play with friends. Their mascot is a catfish. So southern. Tickets are only $5 and they even have gluten-free beer. It’s a good time.

photoSaturday we headed way out into the country to a pow-wow. The dancing was rained out, but most of the vendors were still there. I scored some insanely beautiful jewelry. George even bought me this gorgeous ring for my birthday present. It’s so lovely. Pretty sure it’s going to be an heirloom piece.

For Easter Sunday we visited my parents and my mom stuffed us with all kinds of delicious food. I must admit that I’ve been feeling a little down and stressed out lately, but this weekend had a way of bringing me back out of it. I have so many people who love me and I will soon see another birthday and another year of life.

love and almost birthdays,
melanie

Love Weekends: Work it!

gluten-free whoopie

Gluten-free whoopie pie

“This semester is almost over, this semester is almost over, this semester is almost over,” I keep repeating to myself. This past weekend has been another busy one. George and I sold some wares at a local neighborhood yard sale with friends. My friend, Gabby rewarded me for helping her with the yard sale with a homemade gluten-free whoopie pie. It was stuffed with cannoli cream! It was insanely decadent and delicious.

Working on the computer
Then, George and I high tailed it to the mountains because I have a conference this week. On the way, we stopped by Asheville– one of my favorite cities. But instead of puttering around and enjoying the beauty of the city, we sat in a coffee shop and did more work. Some weekends are like that.

But the summer is almost here. I’ve got trips planned and there will be time to relax… one day.

How was your weekend? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

 

 

 

 

Frugal Friday: Change The Way You Speak about Money

I’ve been pushing myself to learn more about how our mindsets and sometimes even our language affects our spending. The psychology of why we spend is so fascinating! On the way to visit my parents last weekend, I serendipitously heard this story on the TED Radio Hour. The speaker, Keith Chen argues that language can positively or negatively affect the way people spend or save money. People whose language uses the future tense are more likely to be spenders and people whose language do not use the future tense, like Japanese, are more likely to be savers. You can listen to the whole TED talk above.

What are your reactions to the talk? Will you change the way you talk about money? Let me know in the comments! And happy Friday!

love,
melanie