Guide to Happiness & Money: Do you need a TV?

Did these guys need a TV? (seen at the amazing ancient greek city of Ephesus, today in Turkey)

Woodpecker’s last TV

Do you remember these bulky huge TVs, one bought in 90s?

Big as a wardrobe and energy-consuming in a way you could heat your flat with them?

That was the last TV I owned.

I don’t know how many hours I spend in front of it…
…until finally it broke down in 2004.

I was going to let it be repaired, but it was Mrs.Woodpecker (Mrs.Woodpecker in spe at that time), who voted for putting it away in the basement for some time, as she felt that she could not control her TV consumption.
Because of that she was one of the few persons who never possessed a TV, until we moved together some years before.

So the TV set went to the basement, and guess what:

I missed it terribly the first week
I missed it a lot the second week.
I missed it a little the third week.
I had forgotten about it the fourth week.
And I was glad like hell to have gotten rid of it from the fifth week on until today (being week 400 or so since then).

I had simply so much more time!

And I was starting to think so much more consciously about what to do in the evenings. I was forced to think what I want to spend my time with and that was (and still is) a good exercise, because many people just forgot how to plan your own evenings or how to get active without the help of TV.

I have to add that later on we bought a projector for home cinema. A quite elegant one from LG (AN 110), that you can mount flat on the wall. So we were able to watch movies and occasionally a serial.
And we subscribed to a DVD home rental service, which sends you 2-3 DVDs per month at home.
But that’s different because then you have to make an active decision what to watch instead of zapping around. You have a huge variety of good quality films and you can watch without annoying advertisement or hectic “the world is going to end”-news every 20 minutes. Plus I can everybody give an unimpressed smile if they are posing with their brand-new 1 meter diagonal LCD TV, because that’s still a bit tiny if you got used to the projector picture.

The savings aspect: Money and Time

And there is a lot of money saving in not having a TV too!

Let’s look at it:


Saving p. month

Saving p. year

Saving until now (8 yrs)

GEZ (German TV fee)

20 EUR

240 EUR

1.920 EUR


20 EUR

240 EUR

1.920 EUR

Buying costs (one TV á 500 EUR each 6 years)

82 EUR

656 EUR

Electricity (3hrs a day, 350 Watt)


96 EUR

768 EUR

TV guide (1 EUR per week)


48 EUR

578 EUR

…and here comes the stunner:
Additional free time (3hrs p. day average German TV consumption)

90 hrs

1080 hrs

8640 hrs

= 360 days

= 1 year !!


So, total savings amounted to 5.842 EUR during the last 8 years, or 730 EUR p. year or 60 EUR per month.

Not that bad, isn’t it?!

But for me the real stunner ist the vast amount of time I fortunately did not spent in front of that radiating box:

8640 hrs!!

No TV as well. (seen at Meteora monastir, Greece)

This is ONE YEAR! I would have spent ONE year out of 8 in front of my TV hadn’t Mrs Woodpecker insisted on storing it away.


But let’s be fair and look what the projector did. It fortunately has an inbuilt counter, telling me I used it for 1.700 hrs (about 1.000 films/serials) in the last 8 years. Still a lot, but way better than 8.640 hours I would say!

Saving in time: Still 6.760 hrs.

And that was all films and series from DVD, so not a single minute of boring and consumerism-fostering advertising!

And the costs?

Well, ok, the sub and the fees for DVD rental is about 2,50 EUR per film. But I lended out half of the stuff I watched from friends or public library (great source) for free. Plus I typically buy serials at Amazon UK and sell them later in Germany, strangely enough often for more or less the same price (price difference for DVDs is significant between Germany and UK).

So let’s say I had to pay for the equivalence of 500 films, á 2,50 EUR, is 1.250 EUR. Purchase cost of the projector was high: 1.100 EUR at that time (but stylish! 🙂 ). Electricity is 1700hrs * 350 watt = 120 EUR. Total 2.470 EUR.

Saving in Money: 3.372 EUR.

Still an additional nice little holiday for my family and me for free each 8 years!

So think hard about it:

Do you really need a TV?

If in doubt:

Store it away somewhere where it is hard to reach and see what happens…

And as long as you still have a TV: Never tell me, you don’t have time!

And in the next post I will write about the happiness aspect of not having a TV, because there a some things that happiness economics has to say on TV consumption…(klick here to jump there)




6 comments on “Guide to Happiness & Money: Do you need a TV?

  1. zeldesse says:

    Over the time I have not had a tv for a few years as well. I didn’t miss it. I am like your spouse, I find it hard to resist the easy entertainment and am glad if I do not have the temptation. But we have kids now. And then it is easy to have a tv to put them in front when making dinner, or on a rainy day when they seem to be able to think of no other entertainment than fighting each other. We have restricted the tv-options though. No commercial tv, only public broadcast tv. This helps, also for me. It is easier to turn it off when there is just not much on. Still, if it were not for the kids, I would like to get rid of it again. Instead my husband and I used to read to each other. We still do, but not as often as I would like.

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      For our older one (around 4) we use the projector and he can choose from a couple of DVDs we typically lend out from our public library. He has his favorites already and loves to go to the library to pick up his famous DVDs.:)
      I also know of people who don’t have TV or projector, and they let their kids see short cartoons or whatever on Youtube.
      But I totally agree that TV and kids is OK as long as the content and amount of time is controlled and you avoid that they spent 1 complete year of their first 6 years in front of a screen.

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