Promises Are Meant To Be Broken

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about how I had made a vow that I would not replace our old TV with a new flat screen TV until it died.

Well, I broke my vow.

The old TV was a 32″ Toshiba tube TV.  I purchased it in early 1997 for around $800 from Best Buy.  At the time, I had been out of college for just under a year, and this was a great TV for my roommate and I.  Pretty much everybody else in our age group was sitting at a 27″ or lower.

We enjoyed the heck out of that TV, and our apartment was the de facto hangout place for our friends.  Not just because of the TV, but it made watching movies, watching TV, and most importantly, playing video games, a total blast.  We played a lot of Madden football (Madden ’98!) and NBA Live ’97.  Lots of great times!

At the years went on, we all grew up.  My roommate moved out and eventually to the other side of the state.  I ended up buying a condo in 1999.  The TV came with.  However, even within a couple of years, the TV was pretty average, and a few years after that when flat screen HD TVs started hitting the market, it was nothing at all special.

Except to me.  I still took great care of the TV, making sure to be very careful moving it, cleaning it regularly, and trying to make it last as long as possible.

Eventually, time passed up the TV, which was evident when HD programming was the norm and the once proud TV could, try as it might, no longer deliver the great picture, top resolution, and amazing viewing experience that it once was known for.

Still, I made the resolution that I would keep the TV until it died.  But, as I already said, I broke the vow.

Here’s why:

  1. When I wrote that article, the TV appeared to be going south – Around the time that I wrote that, there were some spots in the bottom corner of the TV which were different colors than elsewhere on the screen.  I thought the TV was about ready to go, but one day, it suddenly corrected itself and rarely reappeared.  I guess, yes, I had been actually hoping in a way that the TV would go.
  2. We found a great deal on a great TV – I always keep a look out for TV deals.  I have passed over many, many cheap TVs because they didn’t meet the top standard that I was hoping for, and I’d passed over a lot of high quality sets because I couldn’t find a price I was happy with.  Finally, I found one (another Toshiba, in fact) that was rated very highly by professionals and customers, and it was at a fantastic price.  Bottom line, we got a 50″ plasma TV for $450, which normally retailed for at least $650 elsewhere.
  3. We had the money for it – All of our credit cards are cash back reward cards.  We put the money in a discretionary fund with the sole purpose to purchase TVs and other electronic items.  We already purchased a small flat screen for our kitchen and a decent size TV for our bedroom over the last few years.  Last year we got checks totaling nearly $400, plus with money we had still in the account since the last purchase, we were more than able to cover the cost.
  4. Watching certain things just wasn’t fun anymore – When HD TV was first introduced, I was fine with watching shows in standard definition.  However, sporting events in particular got to be a lot less easy to watch as the feeds were changed to accommodate HD viewers.  This meant that our 32″ screen was essentially shrunk to about half that size as they would ‘letterbox’ the signal for standard defintion output.  When our Detroit Tigers were in the World Series last year, it was tough to read the score of the game, that’s how small the viewable screen size was.
  5. The old TV well exceeded it’s value – When I spent the $800 on the old TV, that was a ton of money, especially for someone who hadn’t cracked anywhere near even $30,000 a year in salary.  Still, getting sixteen years out of the TV, we definitely got the $50 per year that worked out to.  I realized that, although I did make that vow, that when I looked at how much value I had received from the TV compared to what I expected when I first purchased the set, I had come out way ahead.  That reduced the guilt that I felt from breaking my promise (though I still did get a little choked up when I pulled that plug for the last time).
  6. It was or would have cost us money – The cost of running a flat screen is a lot less, so while I might have only been spending $2-3 per month on electricity costs, even cutting that in half with a more efficient set will help offset a bit of those costs.  In addition, I could tell that the TV stand we have, though rated for a heavy set, was beginning to show a little sagging.  If it had gotten worse, chances are we would have had to replace or repair the stand, which was not something I wanted to do at all.  So, by getting rid of the old TV, we potentially saved the stand and will get many more years from that.

All in all, I don’t feel (very) guilty about the purchase, though I did struggle with taking something out of use that technically still did work. After all, the old TV did still function and did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It just didn’t do what TVs today are capable of, and that of course is just a sign of the advancement of technology.

Readers, be honest.  Did I do OK by breaking my vow or should I have held out a bit longer?

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33 thoughts on “Promises Are Meant To Be Broken

  1. I think you can congratulate yourself for doing an absolutely great job of keeping that TV since 1997. 16 years for a TV is great!

    Forget the guilt about buying a new one, it’s understandable to get one after all this time. Good job!
    Squirrelers recently posted..Paying Cash for a CarMy Profile

  2. I would have broken that promise, too. The oldest TV in our house (also a Toshiba) is about 8 years old. We purchased it for about $1500. It was one of the earlier HD TVs and was our first purchase for the current house. It still sits in the living room. It gets an HD signal and has a nice big screen (I don’t remember what size, though). But it’s not a flat screen, and it sits on it’s own base (which nicely rolls). That means it takes up more space, and we randomly think about replacing it.
    I don’t think we will replace it anytime soon. As I said, it is HD and a big screen, but we do think about it occasionally. And right now, we’re at just under $200/year in cost of ownership. At $50/year, I think you got a great deal of use out of your old TV.
    shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet recently posted..Money Mistakes We’re Still Making (and Not Regretting)My Profile

    • Yeah, I remember those. Two of my uncles got them, I guess they were definitely early adopters having not waited until flat screens were readily available.

  3. I had a 13″ (yes, one inch longer than a foot) TV with one of those big butts, that weighed about 30 pounds. I lugged that thing around from 2000 – 2011. It was a cheap brand from Wal-Mart called Orion.

    I figured eventually the thing would go kaput, everything else from Wal-Mart usually does. Nope, that thing kept going and going. I would purposely turn it ON and OFF several times a day to try to short circuit it. The thing wouldn’t DIE!

    Eventually, I had to realize since I wanted it to break, it probably wouldn’t. I bought a brand spanking new flat screen 40 inch TV to replace it. I don’t regret it, and hopefully some kid got some good use out of it or something.
    Melinda Gonzalez recently posted..Cheap Furniture is Dangerous to Your Health & Your DogMy Profile

    • That’s hilarious. Yes, it would have gone forever had you let it. I’m sure my TV went through the same reasoning.

  4. I bought my LCD TV (flat screen) about 10 years ago when our TV died. About 2 years ago, the lamp burnt out. I though it was an opportunity to get a newer, better flat screen until I realized I could replace the bulb for $150. I did and the TV was great again, but now I tied to it for another 8 years! The pain of being frugal, oh well. I feel your pain!
    krantcents recently posted..Should You Invest in Rental Property or a REIT?My Profile

  5. Obviously this was not an impulse buy and it adds value to your life. Watching your favorite teams can be a great family experience. I’ll always remember our family going nuts for Kentucky when they won the NCAA tourney last year. Your old TV might have lasted a while longer, but if it blew out and you couldn’t get that great deal again, that would have been disappointing.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..What Do I Miss From My Days of Spending Too Much Money?My Profile

  6. My father-in-law has had the same TV for 22 years. It’s the 32″ kind that came with a built in swivel stand.
    Although, I have heard that those old TV’s last longer. Heck I remember when I was a kid and my parents had a TV repair man come to the house.. do they even have those anymore or do people automatically throw their new broke tv away.
    But it sounds like you made a good choice. You may not have found such a great deal during the time when you old tv blew.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Profit From Your Passion: It’s not always possible.My Profile

  7. We had tube tv’s in our home and said we would not buy one either but we broke down. We saved the cash and bought one for a great price and haven’t had any regrets. We have the tv on the wall and it created more floor space for us by getting it up off the ground. We saved and paid cash and we donated our old tele to someone who could further enjoy it.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Soft Or Hard Water-Is Your Water Softener Costing You Money?My Profile

  8. I dunno…am I the only one who thinks you could have waited a little longer?

    Your price for the new tv is good — but not great. The other reasons sound a little bit like coming up with reasons to back up what you decided — rather than reasons that persuaded you to act.

    Nonetheless, they’re good reasons. And there’s no specific reason, especially since you had the money in hand, why you shouldn’t have the tv you wanted.

    Can you sell the old tv for at least a few bucks to help out?
    Cindy Brick recently posted..FluMy Profile

    • Nope. We donated it to the Salvation Army Thrift store. So we’ll get a few bucks back on taxes next year.

      From everything I’ve seen it was a great price. Every other TV deal outside of Black Friday with a TV that size would be for a brand that is low quality or where people complain about the picture or the sound, or it would be a refurb. Our sound is great, the picture is incredible, and it was brand new.

  9. I support your decision to buy a new TV 100%. I think you should be commended for waiting as long as you did, I don’t think I could have done that. The bottom line for me though is that you had the money to do it, so you shouldn’t feel bad about doing it. I’m sure when you consider the number of hours you will use the TV over its lifetime/purchase price of the TV you will come out way on top. :)
    Nick @ ayoungpro.com recently posted..I’m Joining the Yakezie Challenge!My Profile

    • Great point and we really do watch TV there more than when the old TV was in place.

  10. I’ve had the same debate myself! We’ve had issues with trying to save things until they fall apart but end up replacing them before they are completely done. I feel a twinge of guilt but I usually end up selling the items while they still have some use left in them. It seems to soften the blow of getting rid of something before I should. I like the debate and I’m enjoying reading through some of your back articles! Keep the good post coming.
    Simple Economist recently posted..Earn More vs. Spend Less: Attacking Financial Freedom from Both EndsMy Profile

    • In our case, we took it right from the TV stand, out to the car, and to the thrift store for donation. It beats having it sitting around collecting dust and not getting used.

  11. I tend to keep my electronics as long as they work. I’m still using a Compaq Presario with Windows 8 on it as my finance computer!

    We had a Magnavox console TV for 15 years, then a Phillips Magnavox up until last year when the kids bought us a flat screen. We still have the tube tv, but it isn’t hooked up. We’ve always been a one TV family and haven’t seen fit to change that yet.
    Marie at Family Money Values recently posted..Financial Fables – Whinny Makes a ChangeMy Profile

  12. Props on having it last so long! We replaced a perfectly fine tube tv in 2007 with a $1200 47″ LCD that we still have downstairs in the family room. And we have a $1700 projector/screen/surround sound setup in the media room. $3000 for entertainment gadgets over 6 years seems like a lot but we use them daily and for movie nights with friends. And it was budgeted fun money. Overall, it’s worth it to us.
    Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter recently posted..Friday Links – Spring Is In The AirMy Profile

  13. When I read the title of the post I thought it was something more serious than a TV :) I know sometimes a lot of material possessions have a sentimental value but in this case you found a great deal on a better TV and you had enough saved with your rewards cards that buying a new TV was a logical and better choice. I’m actually thinking of getting a new TV as well but I have other priorities I need before I buy one.
    Kevin Watts recently posted..Learning for Earnings – Highest Paying DegreesMy Profile

  14. About a year ago, our TV turned off and refused to turn back on. We probably could have had it repaired (at a cost), but it was ollllllllllllllldddddddddddd and very out of date. Paying somebody to fix something that was already obsolete seemed to defeat the purpose.

    We have one other TV in our house, and it’s the same 13-inch color CRT set I took with me to college in 2000! That one I’m not replacing til it busts.
    Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals recently posted..The Beauty and Benefits of Old ThingsMy Profile

  15. Great job on keeping that tv for so long! I see friends that will buy a new tv every 3-4 years it seems like because their last one just isn’t good enough any more. And by good enough, it means it doesn’t have all the latest tech. I just got a new tv about 2 years ago when my last one completely died. I intend to keep my current one as long as possible. With how fast technology is changing, I’m curious as to what features tvs will have by the time this one dies(hoping its not for a few years). The new CEO of Apple recently said they are very interested in the TV market, so I wonder how they will try to revolutionize that area like they did with the tablets.

    • I honestly shy away from so called ‘smart’ TVs because you know the things that make them smart will evolve to the point where those extra (costly) features aren’t even usable in 3-5 years.

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