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April 13, 2011


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Do we need any of these things? NO. Do we want them to make our lives easier and be entertained. Yes. I agree with that.

I have all of the above also and some I feel I do not need them all. Mostly the entertainment items.

Some I would classify as a need but not the majority.

When we really need to look at cutting back, we can if we need to.

I have all those things now, but up until I was about age 35 I had none of them except a car & landline. You can live really light if you choose to!

Yes, life is easier now that I have those things plus enough money to do pretty much whatever I want to. On the other hand, it was worth living like a pauper for a time so I didn't go into debt while I was in grad school.

I think "consumer debt" should be on the list too, as an expensive optional lifestyle thing that most people don't really "need". Debt costs you, you know.

Our appliances are very old and are going one by one. They cannot be replaced because we cannot afford to. First to go was the dishwasher, then the clothes dryer followed by the microwave. It takes a lot more time without these. We go to work, do more work, then fall asleep exhausted.

FMF--People who were polled were probably renters therefore did not think refrigerator as a necessity(as they come standard with home/apartment they rent).

Wow this is amazing to read. Personally on the list I would need a car (live in Miami, unreliable transportation), Home Computer, , Cell phone, and internet. I would primarily want these because it would solve many of my problems. If I had a steady job you could eliminate everything but the car, and if I had reliable public transportation you could eliminate that too.

-Ravi Gupta

Of the items listed A/C would be the biggest need for me followed by a single car for our family.
After that are big wants, cell phone followed by a home computer/laptop and internet tie. I could get by without a phone, computer and internet, but I'd be very isolated and probably wouldn't have much contact with my distant family.

We recently dropped our "land line" with our cable company as they would raise rates for no reason. Now, we have a cell phone that we piggy backed onto our daughters, thereby keeping the cost low.
We haven't had a microwave for years and can't say that we miss it. We don't want one in our house because of possible negative health consequences.
We do not have cable or satellite TV because we won't pay for television. It is free over the air.
The others we have and I suppose need but certainly enjoy.

Expenses We Will Always Have Unless We Are Starving:

Car - We live in Houston, TX. Public transportation doesn't even come near our house.
Clothes dryer - We are lazy.
Home air-conditioning - Did I mention that we live in Houston, TX. I'd be the biggest pain in the world without a/c.
TV set - We love TV.
Home computer - I'm a blogger...this is a need.
Cell phone - We don't have a landline.
Microwave - This and the propane grill are used almost every day.
High-speed internet - You can try to pry it from my cold, dead fingers...
Cable or satellite TV - Makes the TV useful and we love DVR.
Dishwasher - Again, I'm too lazy to give this up easily.

Expenses We Either Don't Have or Could Easily Live Without

Landline phone - we don't have one
Flat-Screen TV - we like ours but could live without it.
iPod - We like having one for each of us, but we could live without them.

I wish people would stop specifying TV's as "flat-screens" -- if you have bought a TV in the modern era, chances are it is a flat-screen.

Yes, some people have CRT's, but those used to cost as much (or even more) than flat-screens cost today.

Car -- need, as my job requires it
Landline phone -- don't need, and don't have
Clothes dryer -- need / want? We could get by w/out it, but life sure would be a lot more work
Home air-conditioning -- need / want. We rarely run ours, but have humidity problems in the summer sometimes and have to run it to drop the humidity level.
TV set -- want
Home computer -- need - my husband works from home
Cell phone -- need
Microwave -- want
High-speed internet -- need
Cable or satellite TV -- want
Dishwasher -- want
Flat-screen TV -- want ( I don't even have one)
iPod -- want

Very important stuff:

Car (some very important things are 20+ miles away, like the doctor.)
Home computer, High-speed internet (lots of family interaction online; wife is a programmer.)
Clothes dryer (Cloth diapers with microfiber inserts take forever to line dry.)

Nice to have, not really needed:

Cell phone, Microwave, Dishwasher


Landline phone, Home air-conditioning, TV set, Cable or satellite TV, Flat-screen TV, iPod

Some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life were in Indonesia and had none of the items in the list. They were Balinese people living in small tribal societies in villages governed by a tribal leader and a committee of elders. These people lived together, each in their own extended family compound that had been in the family for many generations. The men worked as house-boys, cooks, waiters, cleaners, drivers etc. in small establishments that catered to foreign tourists like ourselves, the older women looked after the children, and the younger women worked in their own rice paddies and fruit and vegetable gardens. We got to know many of them very well and were frequently invited back to their one room homes where we would sit on the floor with the family and share a meal. We could converse through the husband who had learned some English through his job. In their spare time, both husband & wife made artistic items such as paintings, rugs, carvings, jewellry, and bead work which they sold to tourists. None of them owned a car, a few owned a small motorcycle, and the children weren't used to expensive toys like American kids. Surprisingly their children attended a village school, all wore smart uniforms, and were very polite.

We Americans are the biggest consumers of goods and energy in the world and incredibly spoiled.

My wife and I don't own a microwave oven because we don't believe that preservatives are good for you and most microwaveable, pre-prepared foods are full of them. We don't have A/C because we don't need it where we live, we have natural A/C provided by the Pacific Ocean on one side, and San Francisco Bay on the other. We also don't own an iPod because we only listen to music in the car. We have a cell phone but it's always turned off and is only kept in the car in case of an emergency.

One "Need" that we have developed over the last few years that is not on the list is NETFLIX and for that you need a DVD player. Of course, we also have a refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler, reverse osmosis pure water generator, water softener, 2 Cars, 4 bedrooms, three bathrooms, 10 cordless phones, 4 TVs and a DVR just for the two of us so we are also incredibly spoiled compared with most people in the world.

A landline phone being a need for most people? That one surprised me. Of course, that was 2009 - now that it's 2011, I would like to think that number has decreased measurably.

None are Neeeds. All are wants.

Of the wants, I have the following:
Car (10 years old)
Computer (4 years old)
Land Line
High Speed Internet
and a clunky old TV set.

I'd get more use out of a wine cooler than I would any of the following conveniences that I don't currently own or use: clothes dryer, AC, iPod, dishwasher or microwave.

I do have an e-reader. It's essential.

Of course, when you get right down to it, these ARE all 'wants'.

Old Limey, I think you're being a little unfair to microwaves - they're as valuable as the uses one puts them to.

They're highly efficient (both energy and time) heaters of food (whether it's preservative-laden or fresh), especially compared to an oven or stove where a lot of time & energy is going to be involved in warming up the pan or oven before you can even begin cooking.

Leftovers heat up in microwaves quite passably, and for a small family unit (for example, you and the Mrs, or myself, a bachelor) cooking & freezing large batches of food for later reheating in the microwave works great. Every two months or so I make 45-50 breakfast burritos, freeze them, and then thaw & eat one every morning before work. Saves me a lot of time, money, and energy over cooking breakfast from scratch every morning, plus they're hearty & home-made.

Finally, I can efficiently cook a single meal for myself in one. I warm up a can of corn or green beans, steam a medium potato in the microwave, plus a preservative-laden (or not) protein side, such as a chicken pattie, in just a few minutes. I could alternatively cook the corn on the stove and fire up the oven to bake the potato and heat the chicken. Not very frugal, although somewhat tastier, at least for the potato and chicken.

I imagine that being retired you come to a different optimal solution for your time spent on cooking, but do you just avoid leftovers by cooking small meals every day? Or do you reheat them in the oven / on the stove?

I also worry about radiation escaping around the seals of the microwave door but I appreciate that they use a lot less energy than an oven or a stovetop and am willing to pay the price.
I also worry about the radiation entering your head when you hold a cell phone up to your ear many times during a day, however my main objection to cell phones is that they tend to encourage people to expect instant response whereas I much prefer e-mails which I can answer at my convenience not at the sender's convenience. With our landline, for example, if we are watching a NETFLIX movie on our DVD player as we do most afternoons, and the phone rings I let it go to voice mail and only pause the DVD player and answer it if it is something very urgent from a family member.

My wife does all the cooking and with some dishes such as casseroles there's always some left over which she will heat up in the oven the next day for my lunch. We are both WWII Brits and never, ever, waste food. During the war the convoys of merchant ships that brought food into our island were often getting torpedoed by German U-boats so the slogan was "Waste Not, Want Not" and lessons learned as a small child stay with you forever.

You don't 'need' any of those things in general.

I can see a good argument for needing a car if your work requires it or you live far enough from work. Many people have much longer commutes than would be practical or even feasible with walking or biking and many places public transportation simply isn't adaquate. But even then its a little hard for me to consider a car a real 'need' as there are almost always ways around it.

Venkat makes a good point... some of the things on the list we renters will NEVER own, because we can't afford our own house. Things like refrigerators and dishwashers just come in the apartment with the rent.

Right now, I only own three things on that list and rent one: I own a computer, a free bottom-of-the-line cell phone (my only phone connection) and an iPod (the iPod was a gift I got over 8 years ago) And I have a monthly high-speed internet bill to go with the computer. I need the computer and the internet for my freelance work, which is the only work I have right now. (And yes, it has to be high-speed, since I'm uploading 50 meg files regularly).

I doubt I'll ever own a TV ever again. I haven't owned one in almost 10 years, and don't plan on getting one. So that knocks three things off that "needs" list that I'll never have (TV, flat-screen TV, Cable/Satellite TV).

A landline is another expense I'll never have again. Why does anyone even have land-lines any more? The only people I can see who would need one are people who live in areas that don't get cell-phone reception, or people that talk a ton on the phone to where a cell phone would be too expensive.

Air-conditioning..ugh. I'm always cold. Can do without this!

Most of the people in the developing countries have cell phones because the infrastructure required for landlines was never constructed because the majority of the people couldn't afford phone service or even electricity, and it's much cheaper to just erect the required number of cell phone towers and not to have to run lots of wires in parts of the world where sometimes paved roads don't even exist. My landline for example comes into the house underground as do all of our utilities. It makes the development so much more attractive not to have loads of above ground poles and wires, as well as being much more reliable since adverse weather conditions have no effect on the service. There are parts of the world today where cell phone users don't have electricity and have to walk to a nearby market and pay a fee to some local entepreneur with a generator to recharge their battery whenever needed.

The other segment that still hang on to landlines are retirees like me because they no longer have to go to work every day and spend a major portion of their time at home. I have had the same phone number since 1960 and would hate to lose it. I also have only ever had one e-mail address and it's important to me to keep it. Fortunately when my old internet company, which was one of the very first in the early 90's, was acquired by AT&T/Yahoo they allowed us to keep our existing e-mail address which I'm happy about.

It is really now true that our needs as a human are getting larger in numbers. Even me myself, I cant deny that there are now material things that somehow I consider as part of my needs, like my cellphone i need to have my phone fully charged than to have my uniform ironed,a funny stuff to compare but it's true, My Cellphone helps me communicate with my clients for my business daily operation. Considering my phone as my best Business partner.

Landline - have and won't give up. I was coerced (well talked into) a cell phone by my kids to be used when I travel. I am on my daughter's line and pay about $12 a month. I give my cell number out only to family and very good friends. As to the good of landlines, in natural disasters, when cell phone towers, etc. are destroyed, you can still get help by a landline. They should be indispensible.

Car - I need as I live in a very small town. However, I do also have the OATS bus in MO which takes us to the larger cities about 4-5 times a month for shopping for a very reasonable fee and on side trips once in awhile.

TV set - mine is 10 y/o and I use it only to play dvd's, as I cancelled my DISH Network in Dec. I also watch dvd's on my computer. Regular TV programming can also be gotten on my computer, as well as much of the music I love.

I have a microwave and it is really good for a lot of cooking and reheating. It is perfect for one and it was a gift from my family. My previous one lasted 23 years. Also, it is electric and is much cheaper to run than my gas stove.

Dishwasher - never had one. Years ago my dishwasher was 2 children who needed chores. Now, living alone, I definitely do not need one.

Ipod - don't want.

AC - have it, but only use it on the hottest days and use a ceiling fan, a regular fan and open windows when okay and breezy. I also keep my AC at 78 or so. My husband used to always keep it at 72.

Dryer - I have one which I use in the winter months. In the summer I dry on my carport clothesline.

LotharBot - a neat trick that I recently started using is marvelous. To cut dryer time with your diapers, just dump a large, dry towel in with them and set the timer at 1/2 the normal time. I also leave my clothes is the dryer for an hour or two after it has stopped because there is still heat in there. All my clothes are permanent press and if they get wrinkles while in there longer, I just wipe them out with my hand while they are still warm. Works perfectly.

I'm frugal. I don't own a dishwasher (really not enough room in my kitchen) I don't have high speed internet... I like spending just $13 a month for dial-up. I finally bought a big flat screen TV just last week. Birthdays coming up and I decided I would treat myself. I don't own an I pod. My air conditioner is the window kind I put in each summer. My cell phone is pre-pay (Much cheaper than the contract plans) ... I guess I have most of this stuff.. But I don't spend a lot on it.

Car - no reliable public transportation that goes where we need to
Clothes dryer - clothes won't dry fast enough without it. In the summers we still run into mildew problems with damp towels after one day.
Landline phone - My husband works from home and uses the landline constantly. Cellphone reception is not reliable enough and it's cheaper than getting a cellphone plan with all the extra minutes he would use.
Home air-conditioning - We live in NC. It's "yellow season" now, so even when it's over 80 outside we still can't open the windows because the pollen is so heavy. Temps are usually in the 90s or over 100 with high humidity in the summer.
Home computer - My husband works from home, I use it for budgeting and bill-paying - and games :->
High-speed internet - My husband works from home.
Microwave - we follow the "cook once a week and reheat" philosophy. That wouldn't work with a stove or oven.

Could live without it, but it would be much harder:
Dishwasher -We do a lot of cooking and eating at home
Cell phone - We have a low minutes plan for long distance calls and on the go communication.

Cable -- We have it, but I'm not a TV person (husband loves ESPN though).
Flat-screen TV -- we have one, but again, I'm not a TV person.
iPod -- Don't have one, but might get one as a toy sometime

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