Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt Poynette, WI
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Trimming the fat.

Trimming the fat.
January 19, 2009 Mary Jo

Today we turned off our TV.  For good.  Or at least for a long while.

Like so many of you out there, we’ve pulled out the magnifying glass to take a closer look at our habits.  How do we spend our money?  How do we spend our time?  How can we maximize both?  Call it a sign of the times, a product of New Year’s Resolution Idealism, or even Make Way for Baby nesting.  We’ve taken a scalpel (not a hatchet) to our budget, to our habits, to our goals.  And it’s been far less painful and far more rewarding than I could have imagined.

Financially, the To-Do list has been rather conventional.  Refinance.  Shop for better insurance rates.  Call the phone company for better rates.  (funny how you have to call them and pretend to be on the verge of canceling to shave that $20 off the monthly bill)  Assess the grocery bill, our area of greatest spending.  Can we buy more in bulk?  Make more ourselves?  Do more canning and freezing? Sure.

Then there was the matter of television.  With the impending switch to digital broadcasting in less than a month, it’s likely that we’ll not need satellite service to get reception on our free channels.  Turns out we don’t watch a whole lot of cable shows anyway.  We don’t, in fact, watch much TV at all anymore, much to our delight.  So we canceled the satellite, hewing a hefty chunk of monthly expense from the log of monthly obligations.  (A wood-chopping analogy is especially fitting here, as we are also trying hard to get more of the toasty wood heat from the stove in the kitchen to the living room where the thermostat does its assessing and where we’d like to do more curling up without 7 blankets.)

So the satellite’s gone, but our old, wonderful TV is without its digital converter upgrade and without any reception at all.  After a bit of thinking and talking, we’ve decided to keep it that way for awhile.  I’m sure that we’ll pick up a converter box sometime in the future, but not anytime soon.  (we sure aren’t buying a new TV!) How liberating!  I’ve always secretly wanted to be one of those families without a TV, but thought I was too dependent on it myself to go without.  It always seemed a bit radical.  Then there was Sesame Street, adding value to our everyday and representing a tic mark in the “Pro” column of my internal tally.    Never mind that the “Con” category was filling up faster.  Now that we’ve grown out of Sesame Street’s range of interest, however, the time has never been more ripe to let go.  So we did.

Filling the void is an ever-growing stack of library books.  There’s a lot of gardening in our future, bees, a greenhouse, perhaps.  And projects to do together – birdwatching, singing, building, making, hiking, drawing, dreaming.  And a great, big void in our living room left by the Christmas Tree that is now earmarked in BOLD for a beautiful old piano…earmarked by me, at least, and I have a lot of pull here.

Just how many months of saved satellite bills equals a new (old) piano?  You can bet I have my calculator in hand to figure it out.

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