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Most TV shows are harmless, aside from potentially wasting your time. You can sit in front of the tube all day without ever having to worry about "side effects." With this in mind, there are certain shows out there that can increase your credit card debt in a matter of seconds. You might not even realize you're watching one until it's too late. How could this possibly happen from a simple leisurely activity? I'll show you some examples so you know what to avoid in the future.
Here is a look at some of the ways television can throw you into financial turmoil.
Home Shopping Channels
Home shopping channels are among the biggest temptations on TV. They show you all kinds of stuff you can buy from home, and all you need is a credit card to make that happen. Their most popular products seem to be jewelry pieces you really don't need, may never wear, and are typically way over-priced. Nevertheless, the nice model on the screen will make those pieces seem irresistible.
If a jewelry item is priced at $99.95, it will likely be payable via credit card in four easy installments of $24.99, plus shipping and handling. That shipping and handling is almost always the value of one installment, or more. On top of those charges, you have to worry about any credit card fees you incur if you do not pay off your balance. The costs can add up quickly. In the end, you may have a $20 necklace you paid $200 for, and you won't find anyone to resell it to.
Other huge generators of credit card debt are the religious programs – the ones that constantly ask their viewers to send in contributions. "Even $10 or $25 a month, charged to your credit card, can help us carry on our good work." Some of these programs are legitimate and actually help the needy. Others exist solely to pull in contributions from the gullible, who each run up hundreds or thousands of dollars of credit card debt every year via automatic monthly deductions. Fall victim to one of those scams, and you'll do nothing but provide more airtime for these organizations. Is that what you really want?
Some TV channels are only available through the purchase of a subscription, which could be anywhere from $5 to $50 a month. Movie channels, like Stars and HBO, are the most common examples of these, but there are others to keep in mind. For instance, fans of "adult" movies often pay big money to see their favorite flicks and shows right at home. Then they use their credit cards to cover the bill. If you do that repeatedly for multiple channels, you might double your cable costs without even knowing it.
Anything On Demand
While you can watch some shows "on demand" for free, most of them come at a price. Renting a movie this way is much more expensive than running down to Hastings or Blockbuster, but of course, it's more convenient to sit at home. If you do this all the time, you will eventually have to pay for a big bill. This may not matter if you remembered all of your charges, but most people forget about them until they get a huge statement in the mail. If you're not a spending-conscious person, this can lead to a lot of debt in no time at all.
How to Avoid TV-Related Debt
There are two main ways to avoid getting debt from TV shows. You can either fight the urge to buy something when you see it, or you can avoid the temptations altogether. I have bought a couple As Seen on TV items before, and my massive disappointment in them was enough to stop that from happening in the future. Perhaps you need to lose money before you feel the same. Whatever you do, I hope you eventually learn to leave your credit card charges to stuff you actually need. That ceramic duck painted to look like Barack Obama can find another home with someone else.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.