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What do these things have in common?

What do these things have in common?

1. Cell phones.
2. Computers.
3. High-speed internet access.
4. Cable packages.
5. Microwaves.
6. Planes.
7. Cars.
8. TVs.
9. Landline phones.
10. Washing machines.

They’re all things that most people can’t conceive of life without. Well, maybe that’s going a little too far, but I guarantee you’d get a response in a roomful of people if you announced that you didn’t have cable, or a computer, or a phone, or that you don’t have TV. Someone would say, “What? You don’t have TV?!” They might ask you what you do instead of watching TV, or if your children are deprived. At the very least they’d look at you funny. (Can you tell we don’t get TV?)

The first five items in the list are all things that people in their 20’s probably can’t conceive of life without. The last five items are all things that people in their 40’s probably feel likewise about. (With the exception in both cases possibly being cars, for people who live in cities where it’s more convenient to use public transportation.) And with every passing year, all of those things become more and more of a “necessity” for more and more people.

But what is a necessity, really? If you go with the standard definition, a necessity is something that you can’t live without. By that definition, not a single thing in that list is a necessity. And that’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re working on cutting expenses or starting with a budget. Start with the real necessities: food, water, and shelter, and go from there. It may seem like everyone has a cell phone now, ranging from 6 year old kids to 85 year old grandparents. But it wasn’t all that long ago that early adopters were spending a couple of bucks per minute to call from their car on a phone attached WITH A CORD to a battery pack, saying excitedly “Guess where I’m calling from?! Right outside your door! Really. Yes, really! I swear. Come look! *waves from car*.

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Sometimes it can be good to play the what-if game, to break outside the usual (bombarded by advertising) way of thinking. Your wallet may thank you. You may also find more time to spend doing things you’d enjoy if you weren’t busy surfing the internet or responding to 12 text messages in the last hour. I think that the only thing in that list that I would truly miss excessively would be the washing machine, because I just don’t like doing wash by hand. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to toss our microwave or give up the internet, but it is nice to take a break now and then.

View Comments (2)
  • My brother doesn’t have a cell phone, and has no desire to get one – I’d join him in that boat, but I pay less for a cell phone then I would for a landline (I get a discount through work, plus the “unlimited mobile-mobile”).

    I avoid cable packages like the plague (and canceled cable as it is, anything worth watching tends to end up online) but do have netflix, a HSI Connection, and a microwave.

    One thing I wish people couldn’t live without? Better public transportation. I miss using the subway/L-train. I loved not needing a car.

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