Cable TV is a want – not a need

Probably a week doesn’t go by in which we don’t receive an email from someone who is looking for resources to help them pay their cable TV bill. Each and every time we write back saying that cable television, or the equivalent like satellite TV or really any streaming service, is a “want” and not a “need”. You do not need TV like you need food, a roof over your head, medications if sick, utilities, resources for work expenses, or water.

It is so frustrating to see these requests of people who want assistance with their cable TV bills. It is also frustrating to see many similar requests from people for help with other bills that are wants. People think they are entitled to so many different things in life, and they seem to mistake that sense of entitlement for needs. Cable Television is just one of the many examples of quite frankly ridiculous requests we see, but it is definitely a great example of how a person’s or families priorities can get so out of whack.

Cable television can cost $100 to $150 or more per month. Of course streaming services are less money, but they too are wants and not needs. If struggling, shouldn’t those tens of dollars per month (or $100+) go to other, more pressing needs and bills?

We write about poverty levels in this country. Heck we just wrote a post about over 10 million children who are food insecure, who do not always know where their next meal is coming from. Yet even with children going hungry, some people want a charity or program to help pay for their TV cable bill. It is crazy to us.

There is also a retirement and savings crisis in this country. About 40% of Americans can’t even afford a $400 emergency, unexpected expense. This means they do not have $400 saved. Almost 50% of Americans have zero retirement savings, and the median savings for those that do have some for retirement is in the tens of thousands of dollars…a fraction of what they will need to retire. But people still want their cable TV even though they have no savings for retirement or emergency expenses.

A couple things. Number one – Even if your budget can afford cable television or a similar form of entertainment, wouldn’t that monthly expense of tens or hundreds of dollars be better used for building savings or retirement if you do not have enough? If you have no retirement or emergency fund, would it not be smarter to cut the cable and save?

Number two – If you are low income or are struggling at all, maybe with paying rent, medical bills, debt, car payments, food, or whatever, then it is 100% certain that the money you would pay for cable should go to those basic needs instead. Your priority needs to be on food, rent, health, job expenses, utilities, and an emergency savings account (among other expenses) before your cable. In other words, any one of those millions of parents who are struggling to feed their kids….they should absolutely not be shelling out cash for cable television plans, satellite TV, or other costly options.

It is always so surprising to us when we see this requests and similar ones. We think so much of this should be common sense…that things like cable are wants in life and no one needs cable. A big fancy TV is a want. Paying for one off movies on cable TV pay per view is a want. Even streaming services are wants. No one needs any of that stuff! Your basic needs, paying for education or employment costs, feeding your family, saving for a future should all (among other things) take priority.

You may ask…what would I do without TV? Well there are countless, healthy things to do instead of laying on the couch, having your body and maybe mind wasting away. Most of them are free.

Read a book. Go for a walk or exercise. Play with your kids and/or pets if have them. Take more time cooking a healthy meal. Eat slowly and actually taste the food. Mediate. Look for and take a free educational class or go to a seminar. Volunteer. Keep a journal. Get a side gig job. There are countless activities to do instead of paying for cable or satellite TV.

The bottom line is that anyone who can’t afford cable, and then goes and asks for financial help to pay for their cable does not have their priorities straight. Anyone that can afford to pay for cable, and has service, but has barely anything saved for retirement or struggles to pay their other bills also does not have their priorities in order either. Instead do one of the other countless, free activities that can entertain you and/or improve your mind and health.

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