I was sitting in our Chicago apartment one day watching TV when I got mad that there was a glare on the screen. My wife and I lived in downtown Chicago, in a large high rise building. Often in the afternoon the sunlight on a sunny day would flood our living room and cause a glare on the screen.

When I got up to close the window shades, I looked out the window and onto Lake Michigan and the rest of the city. It occurred to me how silly it was that I was mad at the sun shining down across the lakefront on a Saturday. courtesy Wikipedia (public domain image)

I don't remember what I was watching on TV, but whatever it was, I realized that it mostly a waste of time. I never considered myself a coach potato, but I realized that the TV that I did watch was basically mindless programming. It was keeping me from going outside on a nice weekend day.

So spontaneously I took a piece of blank paper and wrote the word "No" on it. I taped the paper over our TV screen. I told myself that I would not make some rigid rule that I couldn't watch any TV. But if I did want to watch TV, I would have to go over to the TV and remove the "No" sign.

From then on, every time that I wanted to watch television, the "No" sign forced me to think about whether what I wanted to watch was really worth the time.

This effectively ended my television watching. Eventually, my wife and I ended up giving away our only TV because we used it so infrequently. We have never owned a TV since then, which is about five years running.

We noticed some immediate benefits to giving away our TV. My wife and I talked more together over dinner. We went on more walks. We kept our apartment cleaner. Also, surprisingly, we found that watching less TV caused us to spend less money. The time that we used instead of watching TV partially went to keeping a closer eye over our finances, which drove better spending habits. For example, we had more motivation to get outside, which included walking to the grocery store rather than ordering delivery.

For full disclosure, I still watch a fair amount of sports. I love college football, and watch it through a TV tuner card on my computer in the fall. We will often go to a bar with friends to watch sports, and we make an exception to our usual habits for the Olympics as well. However, the benefits that we have gained by ditching our TV have stuck with us for over five years. We have never looked back.