Finances & Money

Can YOU live without your Tivo?

You may tell by now that although I want Tivo, I think it’s very foolish. I’ve had a few discussions with some coworkers who clearly state:


So, in your 20-something years of life before Tivo came about, how did you manage to survive?

My coworker was laughing at my version of Tivo. Here’s how I manage it:

  1. Browse TV Guide Online for listings of each day from 8pm-11pm on Channels CW, NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS. I’d like to remind you that we only have basic cable.
  2. Write down the shows I want to watch in a pocket calendar book. I can get over 2 weeks of future programming from TV Guide Online. The calendars cost about $10 a year. I used to use a Palm Vx, but it kept crashing and losing my data so I switched to paper.
  3. If we know we’re going to be home during the show, then we’ll just watch it. Otherwise, we just tape it on one of our two VCRs. You do know you can schedule recording on these things, right? And you can have it recur each week, right?

So, for 10 minutes every 2 to 3 weeks, and $10 per year, I have my own manual Tivo system. I can live with this system because of the following:

  • I’m frugal and the Tivo money can be sent to any one of our debts. It might not sound like much, but the $100-300 per year I’d spend on Tivo is a student loan payment or partial car payment.
  • I don’t want the ability to just randomly browse through TV listings and Tivo something. We spend more than enough time in front of the TV, and my first effort to cancel extended and digital cable only moderately helped. We need more discipline, not more temptation.
  • We don’t need high definition quality recordings, so a regular VCR tape works fine. We have been reusing the same tapes for the last 3 or more years and they have only lost a little quality. We did have to get a new VCR this year, but one of our parents gave us their old, unused one for free.


About the author

Clever Dude


  • I thought the same thing, that a VCR could be as good as a Tivo, until we got our Tivo.

    I urge you _not_ to buy a Tivo. Because once you have had one, you too will join the throngs of those who cannot live without one.

  • Ah, just go one step further, no cable, just over the air TV. Then go to yard sales and you’ll find plenty of nearly new movies for $.50 – $1. Its what I do. Plus I have a number of TV-DVD sets as well if I really want to watch something in super quality. I spend less than $200/yr. on TV, and the savings go into my 457 plan.

    Now the ultimate is to know someone that has a DVD recorder hooked up to a TIVO box and see if they’ll record shows for you. I have a friend that does this for one series I really like. So I see the stuff a month late, who cares?

  • You don’t actually have to sign up for the Tivo service to get program information. I’ve had my Tivo for two years now and I’ve never paid for service. You lose most of the features, like finding every episode of the Simpsons or only downloading new episodes of a certain program, but you can still set repeating recordings and browse program information.

  • Scratch that, I found out I’m one of the lucky few who bought a Tivo/DVD combo that came with Tivo Basic, which they don’t make anymore. Tivo Basic allows you to record and get program information without any of the features.

  • My wife and I are addicted to the tivo. If you have a show you really like you set it to record it and forget it. Don’t worry if you can’t make it home to see it that evening, tivo will take care of it. Then you can watch it on a lazy weekend when there is nothing on TV.

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