Is a Television a Want or a Need?

On Saturday afternoon, after a crazy morning of not sleeping followed by going hiking, I curled up on the couch for a nap. The sliding door was open, with both the sun and a slight breeze creeping in; that plus exhaustion was going to equal an epic afternoon nap (and would make up for the sleep I’d missed the night before). With a blanket up over my chin, I turned on my TV and started watching something on my PVR. My eyes were already half-shut, when my TV went blank.

At first, I wondered if the power had gone out. But my PVR was still running and so was everything else in my apartment. I tried turning the TV and PVR back on with the remote. The PVR came on but the TV did not. I walked up to the TV and hit the Power button. Nothing. Then I unplugged everything from the power bar, plugged them back into different spots, and tried again. Still nothing. I even plugged the TV directly into the outlet. No power. Nothing but a blank screen. And this is when I felt a few moments of panic.

I hit up Google and searched, “my 40″ Samsung HDTV died.” Let me tell you… the results did not make me feel any better. Post after post after post proved that I was not alone in the loss of a young Samsung HDTV. The upside is that most people said the problem was often fixable by replacing an electrical capacitor. The downside is that that’s not always the case and, unless you can replace it yourself, could cost up to $250 at a repair shop. I don’t exactly have $250 lying around… and that’s when I started thinking about whether fixing/replacing my TV was a want or a need.

First, I decided to calculate what this TV had already cost me. In October 2009, I purchased it from Future Shop for $900 (incl. taxes). Let’s now remember that that was during one of my spend crazes so, as you can imagine, it went on my credit card. $900 / 2.5 years = $360/year or $30/month. Plus interest. For a television that should have lasted me at least 10 years, making this purchase could potentially be my biggest financial mistake.

Second, I researched the cost of repair as well as the cost of replacement. A capacitor seems to cost no more than $2 so, if my dad can do the repair himself, it will cost basically nothing but time and effort. However, if it’s not a capacitor and he can’t determine the issue, I will then need to decide if it’s worth repairing or just buying something new. Another 40″ HDTV will run me about $499 + tax. A repair could be cheaper but I’m also one of those people who is really weary of getting any electronic repaired at a shop (that may be my one conspiracy theory, lol).

Either way, paying for a repair/replacement has not been in my budget. I’m beefing up my Emergency Fund right now, for the sole reason that I could potentially lose some of my income in the coming months, and anything television-related is just simply not an emergency. I haven’t watched much hockey since the Canucks lost in the first round, the Lakers are also out, and the only shows I’m really watching are Mad Men and The Killing (both of which I can stream). On top of that, the next 5 weeks could be the busiest of my entire life. What better time to not have a television?

Of course, there are things I will miss about not having a TV for a while (if it’s not an easy fix):

  • I won’t be able to watch Breakfast Television in the morning.
  • I will have to stream the Lang & O’Leary Exchange after work.
  • I won’t be able to have friends over for TV/movie nights.

But when I tried to make a list that could justify paying for a quick repair/replacement, I got stuck:

  • I don’t need a TV to survive.

And so, I’m not going to worry about it right now. I will bring it over to the ‘rents sometime, so Dad and I can take the back off and have a look at it. If it’s not something he can fix, it will have to wait until I can save up for a solution.

What would you do if your TV died today?

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