Talk & TV: How much is too much?
A post over on MSN Smart Spending had some pretty horrifying figures. Apparently, the average American spends just under $2,000 a year for entertainment and communication: $997.07 for Internet, TV and video game services, $1,000 for cell phones.
Oh, and that $1,000? That doesn't include data plans. The average $83 a month is just for talk time.
It all sounds pretty obscene, eh?
Then I started to do the math. Internet and TV add up pretty quickly. We pay $25 for DSL and $47 for DirecTV. We don't have a game rental plan, but we do pay $40 a year for Xbox Live. That means the average monthly cost is $75.33, or $903.96 a year. Not too far off from the article's $997.07.
On the other hand, our costs end there. Our cell phones are part of a family plan, since my mom needs to have a cell for her work anyway. Each of our lines is $10 plus taxes. And right now, my mom is graciously covering that expense for us, while we try to plow through our debt.
That puts us at 44 percent of the national average. Definitely not bad, but $900 a year is still pretty pricey for anyone.
Of course, our home entertainment costs are high because of my condition. With my energy problems, I can't be very active and outdoorsy. Books are great, but I already read two or three a week, on average.
So we invest in satellite TV and Netflix. From what I've read in the blogosphere, in-home entertainment seems to be one of the main investments for people trying to be frugal. So I guess I could kind of understand the increasing amount -- especially since it only started outstripping inflation since 2008, the year when the economy really started struggling.
So what do you guys think? Is $2,000 a year too much? Is the entertainment expense more or less acceptable than the cell phone costs? How do your own numbers stack up?