Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

An Unintended Benefit of Saving Money

  • Sound Mind Investing
  • 2012 12 Jun
An Unintended Benefit of Saving Money

In April 2010, we gave up TV when we bought a new house. Our thinking was, "New house, new beginnings, let's try life without cable." I recently wrote an update on how we cut the costs of digital services. Here's part of what I wrote regarding giving up TV:

So how's the past year been with no signal? Mostly good, I'm glad to report. Now to be fair, we do have Netflix which can stream to our TV, so when we need a video-entertainment fix we can get one. But dropping cable has drastically reduced our watching. Our girls didn't watch that much before anyway, but even less now...

And it's the last sentence that I want to pay particular attention to: Our girls didn't watch that much before anyway, but even less now. And because what they do watch is on Netflix, there are no commercials. Now let me stop and say that we do not profess to be perfect parents, nor do we have perfect kids. But one area where our girls do not struggle with is materialism. Sure they like to look at toys (if we let them) but they don't "have to have" the next big thing. Why? Because they don't even know what the next big thing is. Why? Mostly because they don't see commercials. What things they do know about, it's because they've seen them at their friends' houses.

And materialism isn't a struggle confined to adults or teens or even tweens. Don't think a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old can't struggle with it too. Marketers are very strategic in going after our children. And they're only growing more and more savvy as they reach mediums outside the television. And while you don't have to cut cable to raise non-materialistic children, it certainly doesn't hurt.

Now I'm not saying that my kids never ask for anything, but it's rare (because when they do ask, they know we'll likely say "no" and that they'll have to use their own money). And having children content with what they have produces another unintended consequence: it frees us up to really take pleasure in the joy of giving. I've never been a fan of lists for birthdays or Christmas. Do you know how fun it is to search out that perfect gift that they didn't even know existed? It's a blast. And if it's an item that they happened to know about, they're delighted anyway because they were trying to save up for it (saving money mostly pertains to my 6-year-old as the 3-year-old is still learning the concept of money).

Talk about fun, one time I took them to Toys "R" Us to let them each pick out a small present. Why? Just because I love them and thought it would be fun for them. They were in awe, especially the younger one as she didn't even know such a place existed... a place with ONLY toys? Well, we looked up and down each aisle for quite some time because they had no idea what was even out there. After ruling out toys I thought would get limited use, conveyed the wrong image, or were too expensive, we settled on presents for each. And get this, the younger one picked books... BOOKS!

You see, the major purpose for a commercial is to create discontent. Remove commercials and there's one less device out there to compete with when trying to rear children to love the Lord first. So it's easy to see that of all the digital services we scaled back on, cutting out cable TV was the most profound, both in saving money and otherwise.

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Publication Date: June 12, 2012