fbpx
U

Rethinking Life’s Necessities, Wants, and Wishes

June 10, 2008

240544250 1b1317f885 M

I think a lot about our culture and how the virtues of frugality and simplicity seem to have been forgotten by many of us.

As never before, the popular media show us how ultra-wealthy athletes, entertainers, and business titans live, travel, eat, and dress. Combined with easy credit and a "want-it-now" mindset, we’ve started to lose sight of life’s necessities, wants, and wishes.

In reality — where we all actually live — we’re deluding ourselves when we blur the lines and turn everything into a must-have necessity. Wants and wishes aren’t necessities!

Jay MacDonald, a favorite writer of mine on Bankrate, wrote recently about 12 new “necessities” that drain your cash. He shared a point of view that really hit home with me:

… modern life has created a host of "new necessities" that many people swear they cannot live without — a daily latte, premium cable, a weekly manicure, a new leased automobile and cell phones for the family.

In reality, there’s a more accurate word for those pricey add-ons: entitlements.

If you want to significantly cut spending, it’s important to take a closer look at what you consider to be needs.

MacDonald opens the article by reminding us that the true necessities in life never change: food, water, shelter, and clothing. He then goes on to list 12 "necessities" that individuals and families should reconsider if they want to save some serious cash. It’s not my intention to take all the fun out of life and not all the ideas will work for everyone, but the list may be a good starting point to rethink some of your spending.

As you listen to the show, I’ll touch on some of these items:

  • Daily lattes: Topping $5 in many cases, these drinks can be 100 times more expensive than what you brew at home. Save by buying your Starbucks coffee at Costco and investing in a high quality grinder and coffee maker.
  • Cable television: How many channels do you really need? Could you watch your favorite shows online at Hulu? Consider dropping your premium channels or discontinuing cable altogether.
  • Weekly manicures and pedicures: Getting these done every week feels like a possible indulgence, especially if you can alternate weeks where you do them yourself.
  • Botox wrinkle treatment: Not my area of expertise, but consider letting more of your natural beauty show through. Like a fine wine, I’m letting myself age to perfection 😉
  • Bottled water: A genius business model! You can get water out of any faucet and treat it yourself with a charcoal tap filter. Many refrigerators will even filter tap water for you.
  • Multiple cars: Your job and commute may necessitate multiple cars for your family, but a third and fourth start to feel excessive. Buying reliable used cars and maintaining the ones you have should always be part of your plan.
  • Cell phone: The savings opportunity here will depend on your personal circumstances. That said, prepaid plans can help cap your spending and avoid month-end surprises. Scaling back on expensive plans with music, television, and Internet access can also deliver painless savings.
  • Private school: Again, the opportunity here will depend on your circumstances. Public schools are certainly cheaper than privates ones, but you’ll need to feel comfortable with your decision. As I’ve done, you can get also involved locally to improve your school system.
  • Childhood parties: Have you seen MTV’s "My Sweet Sixteen"? We all love our children, but I don’t think anyone should be expecting a BMW or Ashton Kutcher just because they aged another year. Keep your parties simple and avoid the temptation to compete with other parents.
  • Pet grooming and walking: You can go online and learn how groom your pet with a $25 set of electric clippers. And who knows, maybe the daily dog walk will motivate you to cancel the gym membership you pay for but never use? 🙂

In the show today, I also touch on some interesting new web services that help you find the cheapest gas in your area. On the web, check out GasBuddy or Mapquest. If you’d like an application for your mobile phone try out www.getmobio.com/learn/cheapgas. Stay tuned in future weeks to hear more about easy ways to stretch our budgets.

***

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the show, please visit the Apple iTunes website and leave us some positive feedback. They often feature shows like this one that have consistently good feedback. If we can do a better job, drop me a personal email. See you next week 😉

***

PS – I’d like to try an experiment this week while I’m away on a long overdue family vacation. If you share my concerns about our culture’s materialism or if you’ve got more examples of unnecessary "necessities", share them with your fellow readers by using our comment submission tool (below). I’ll give a big shout-out to readers with particularly interesting and/or helpful ideas.

PPS – If, like me, you worry about raising grounded children in our consumer-centric culture, let me recommend a tremendous book by Juliet Schor in my site’s bookstore: Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture.

… According to consumerism and economics expert Schor, the average 10-year-old has memorized about 400 brands, the average kindergartner can identify some 300 logos and from as early as age two kids are "bonded to brands." Some may call it brainwashing, others say it’s genius; regardless of how you see it, the approach is the same: target young kids directly and consistently, appeal to them and not the adults in their lives and get your product name in their heads from as early an age as possible. From TV shows and toys to video games, snacks and clothing, kids today, according to Schor, know too much yet understand too little, sopping up subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages of "buy, buy, buy."

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-0595d7bf3391b21b3e8da33380bbf830}

FILED UNDER: Podcasts
TAGGED WITH: budgeting, frugality, saving

Most Recent Episodes

How to Win With Money in 2023!

Financial resolutions are always near the top of the list of Americans’ most popular New Year’s resolutions. Whether you want to save and invest more, pay off debt, or have other financial goals, we will give you the tools you need to win with money in 2023.   In this...

TikToks That INFURIATE Financial Advisors

The most powerful time to get serious about building wealth is when you’re young. So, what is the younger generation learning? Financial Advice (good and bad) is being produced in massive rates across online platforms and TikTok is the new frontier. Is there good...

5 Levels of Wealth AND How to Achieve Them! (2023 Edition)

We believe there are five distinct levels of wealth, but they aren’t solely dependent on income or net worth. We’ll walk you through each of the five levels - including how to know where you are at, how to advance to the next level, and signs you are doing it right.  ...

Average Net Worth By Age in 2023!

It’s time for one of our most anticipated shows of the year: our annual Net Worth By Age show! In this year’s edition, we’ll shared updated numbers and data for 2023 and discuss the most important things for you to focus on in each decade.   In this episode, you'll...

Win Financially During a Recession! (Everything You Need to Know)

The bear market we've experienced in 2022 has been longer than many in recent memory - and some are concerned that the economy may soon enter into a recession. Here's everything you need to know to stay on-track and win financially during a recession!   In this...

The Fed Just BROKE the Car Market! (What You Need to Know)

Car prices have been on a rollercoaster ride the last few years, and it looks like they might finally be coming down. In this episode, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the current car market, pitfalls of buying a car, and how to do it the right way.   In this...

Top 4 Money Mistakes People Make During the Holidays!

There’s a reason why financial resolutions are always near the top of the list in January - many Americans spend the holiday season making financial mistakes. In this episode, we’ll discuss the top money mistakes people make during the holidays and how to avoid them....

Financial Advisors Share What They WISH They Knew About Money Earlier!

Have you ever felt like if you just knew this one thing about money earlier your finances would be in a better spot? In this episode, we’ll share the five biggest things we wish we knew about money earlier!   In this episode, you'll learn: What we wish we knew earlier...

Dave Ramsey vs. The Money Guy: Which Strategy is The Best?

Dave Ramsey has an incredible legacy of helping folks get out of debt and take control of their financial lives. We agree on a lot of things, but there are a few points of contrast. In this episode, we’ll discuss differences between The Money Guy Show and Dave Ramsey...

Top 4 Financial Mistakes We Saw This Year! (2022)

We saw some wild financial mistakes this year during the bear market. From making extreme changes to portfolio allocation, chasing the hot dot, and using too much leverage, we’ll talk about some of the biggest financial mistakes we saw in 2022 in this episode.   In...