Find a private space, where you can be alone for an hour. Stand tall, stretching to your fullest height. Put your left hand on your left hip, touch your nose with your right index finger, and lift your right leg off the ground.
For the next 60 minutes hold this position while repeating the following to yourself over and over again:
I am not pretty or handsome. I am not intelligent or talented. I am overweight and unhealthy. I am not interesting. There is nothing special about me. I am not capable of having a loving, caring relationship. If I only had a better car, a better house, better furniture, more luxurious vacations, and better clothes, I could fix all of these problems.
Sound a bit far fetched? If you did this everyday, would it make you think or behave any differently than you do now? What if you were an impressionable child? Would this daily routine have any impact on your life, perhaps lowering your self-esteem and having you seek fulfillment from purchases, paid activities, or mind altering chemicals like tobacco, alcohol, or more?
This is your mind on television. Some of the brightest minds in the world, leveraging decades of research and experimentation in human behavior, take every opportunity to influence your desires and attitudes through lifestyle example, branding, and constant in your face presentation of their products. There is no resisting it, your unconscious mind is like a 6 year old repeating self defeating statements while standing in weird positions. Would companies continue to spend billions of dollars a year on advertising if it didn’t increase their income?
Fortunately, there is a very powerful tool that can be used against the advertisers. It’s called abstinence. Step one to an internal happiness and financial independence starts with removing television from your life
The average cable bill in 2011 was $86 a month, and rising. Ignoring price rises for a moment, $86 a month invested at 6% comes to over $14,000 in just 10 years. Maybe you are watching cable programming on your new 55″ flat screen television, which replaced the 40″ flat screen from 3 years ago, which replaced the 32″ projection TV from 7 years ago. If you follow a typical TV upgrade cycle in the US, maybe you will spend $2000 on televisions over that 10 year period.
The direct costs are not the main problem, however. The constant bombardment of advertising will inevitably cause you to open your wallet on stuff you really don’t need, or even want. Coffee shops have seasonal lattes for $5, you definitely must give it a try. Oh look, I saw this kitchen gadget on The Food Network. $20. That new movie looks amazing, I have to see it! $30. If I have an LV bag and Jimmy Choo shoes, then I’ll look just like a celebrity!!! $1000++
Even if you manage to resist the big ticket items, or worse the items with monthly payments (like deciding you need the car they drove in the latest Bond movie), the brainwashed 6 year old in you will cause you to part with your hard earned money on spontaneous purchases. If these add up to an arbitrary $150 a month, in 10 years instead of having $25,000 in your investment account, you just have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear, a drawer full of kitchen gadgets you don’t use, and a bunch of meals and treats you don’t remember but are still carrying around your midsection.
So ditch the TV. You are fabulous the way you are and will continue to be fabulous. And in 10 years you’ll have an extra $50k to fill that space in the corner where the television used to be