I’d like to posit that there are few things more emotionally cathartic than expunging your ex’s left-behind belongings from your shared home after they move out and you stay put, but I can think of at least one: when shedding those items results in cold, hard cash.
I should have never bought the TV, but as he was moving into my place, not vice versa, I wanted to do everything in my power to make him to feel at home. Home is not where the heart is, guys, contrary to what you’ve heard. It’s where the screen is. And for some people depth of devotion can be measured in inches.
For him to be willing to move in, for us to really give ourselves a fighting chance, he said we’d need a bigger television, plus one in the bedroom, and we’d need to get cable or a satellite dish. Those were his deal-breakers. That is how I, who had been content with a Roku box and the big, sticky, non-digital-compatible 27-inch monstrosity left behind by a roommate, converted my 2011 tax return into a bright, shiny, brand-new $600 47-inch LED Vizio flatscreen. From Wal-Mart. Because I was an adult in a relationship and I was like OK, yes, this is what grown-ups do in a relationship, to make each other happy: compromise.
I admit this new television was beautiful, and my love for all things produced by Andy Cohen grew exponentially. The smaller, boxy set was relegated to the bedside bureau, and we fell asleep every night in the glow of 237 channels. All seemed right in our little world.
By 2013 we’d broken up (he wanted to take the nice TV. I believe my response was succinct and appropriate: “HA.”), and he’d moved out. Let me tell you this thing that I know about break-ups, lest you find yourself in similar straits: Few things offer better immediate pain relief for a busted heart than hermiting away in your house with your dogs for several weeks, talking to no one but your two best friends and watching hours of mindless fluffy television every night.
But then you move on, get busy; the sixth season of Mad Men comes and goes, and the last episode of Breaking Bad airs, and you don’t like the new cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and you remember you like to read before you go to sleep, and you cancel Netflix out of spite when you realize your ex’s entire family is still using your account, and suddenly you find yourself not watching very much television. And you think: I was fine before, happier, really, with just one crappy old TV—why not again?
And that is how I made my best? favorite? Sort-of-inconsequential-but-infinitely-SATISFYING? financial decision of 2013. I sold that sucker—for $300 cash, the week before Thanksgiving—to a colleague, but only after my friends self-selected into surprisingly invested camps of, “Yeah, do it!” and “Vollbrecht, are you an idiot?”
The strangest response I received to the Craigslist post listing the TV for $375 obo:
“I’d like to buy your bozo tv.
My best friend from high school:
Me: Ways I will save/generate money in the coming year:
1) Sell my TV (the $600 one, that I bought because somebody couldn’t BEAR to not have a nice TV).
2) Get rid of Dish Network (waiting ’til Jan/Feb, when the two-year contract runs out, otherwise I have to pay a fee).
3) Put my car up for sale, in late Jan./early Feb. Walk everywhere. Dual purpose: get used to walking everywhere, save approximately $400 a month between gas/insurance/car payments.
Her: NOT THE TV
You do know TVs depreciate the minute you buy them.
My other best friend from high school; I used the TV-selling funds to buy tickets for us to go to a Jay-Z concert for her 30thbirthday. [Verdict: WORTH IT.]:
Me: someone just offered me $250 for it.
I said “$300″ and he said yeah, ok, probably.
Her: Money in the bank!
I only use my TV for workout DVDs…I wish I could unbuy it.
One of my dude friends, a self-described “renaissance bro”:
Him: You really sold it? I told you I’d give you $200 and hold on to it until you wanted it back.
Me: What were you going to do with it?
Him: Put it in my dad’s garage.
Me: It’s too nice of a TV for a garage!
Him: You haven’t seen this garage.
One of my favorite college buddies (contextual side note: he turned me on to Peepshow, available in full on the internet, and we have since killed several hours together watching that particular British gem, so it’s not like either of us are one of THOSE people, all high-and-mighty about not watching TV. I love TV.):
Him: You have a TV? What is this 1985???!
Me: It was an ex-induced purchase.
Him: So you have an even better reason to get it out of your life.
My Alaskan friends, who visited this fall:
Me, all: I’m gonna sell this TV!
Them, all: Think of how nice that corner of the living room will look without it!
A guy with whom I went on one date this summer. He subsequently (and very nicely) lent me his entire boxed set of The Wire, of which I have watched exactly one season, for which I feel an inexplicable amount of guilt:
Before we went out:
Him: wait are you one of those sad people with like a 27-inch television from a flea market?
Me: hahaha YES
Him: and you make people crowd around it pretending like it’s nice?!
Me: Now I have 47 inches.
and it feels outrageously indulgent.
Him: well thank god for that
you at least have HD cable right?
Me: I forgot to mention that in the fine print it reads that people who mock Lynn for selling her television are not allowed. sorrrrrry.
Him: Is there finer print that says people who sell their televisions BEFORE FINISHING THE WIRE are fools??
Me: HAHAHA. I still have a television. It’s just very…old.
and not connected to the DVD player, because I’ve been too lazy to move either.
Him: Life is full of poor choices…all of them being made by you right now.
Three of my best friends IRL, showing their approval via Twitter: (<3 you, Erin, Bubs, and broski):
Lynn Vollbrecht is a writer and editor in a committed relationship with her credit score. Photo: Geoff Stearns