The recent recession has necessitated hard choices for many of us. We’ve been cutting back, and some have found that lifestyle deflation isn’t such a bad thing. Indeed, frugality is making a comeback in many cases, and became the new money-stylish thing to do. Instead of showing off gadgets, many of us are telling everyone how savvy we are at finding good deals.
But, even as we cut back, selling items to bring in cash or refraining from buying some creature comforts, there are some things that we can’t live without. I saw an article on this subject from U.S. News and World Report’s Rick Newman at Yahoo! Finance, and it listed some things that Americans have a hard time living without:
- Portable computers.
- High-speed Internet access.
- Smart phones.
- Music downloads.
Some of these items on the list, like booze, coffee, pets, smart phones and portable computers aren’t really high on my list of must-haves. But I do need high-speed Internet access, TV and, to some extent, movies.
What Can’t You Live Without?
I looked around my house and thought about what I wasn’t willing to sacrifice throughout the recession. Obviously, since I work from home, high-speed Internet is a must. If everything else had to go, I would still need to get online. And my husband and I like to stay in, watching TV shows and movies from Netflix, or recorded shows using the DVR. So probably getting rid of the DVR is not going to happen — unless we got rid of satellite. In a pinch, we would probably cancel the satellite subscription, since it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we waited until seasons of our favorite TV shows came out on DVD. Or we could use the high-speed Internet access to watch them for free online. (Although my husband would quail at the inability to watch ESPN live.)
But there are things I can’t live without that didn’t make the list. I enjoy eating out. In order to justify eating out once a week when times are tough, though, my husband and I switched from going to dinner to meeting up for lunch. Lunch costs much less, and I still get to eat out, which I love to do. I also love books, and continued to buy them through the recession (although I’m trying to convince myself to buy an e-reader to reduce the clutter).
As a society, and as individuals, we have come to view certain things as necessities. Most people take for granted that a television is required as part of life. Most of us even think of cell phones as necessities. Items that were considered luxuries a decade ago are now thought of as needs — things that can’t be lived without. But when push comes to shove, we could probably survive without many of these things. Other than the Internet, which is my source of income, nearly everything I consider necessary for my sanity is actually a want.
What you really need includes food, shelter, clothing and a way to get to work. If you can provide those basic necessities for yourself, your needs are covered. But there are certainly a lot of other things that make living more pleasant, and that we rely on to help us maintain our sanity, stay connected with loved ones, or to just enjoy life. While there is nothing wrong with these material items and experiences, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that they really aren’t needs, and to re-assess your priorities. Prepare to let these “necessities” go if you have to.
What things can’t you live without?