Bankrate: 12 New Necessities That Drain Your Cash
Author Jay MacDonald gives us a list of twelve items which, he says, current American society deems "necessities." As he writes:
In reality, there's a more accurate word for those pricey add-ons: entitlements.
Just for kicks 'n' giggles, I wanted to take a look at Jay's twelve "necessities that aren't" and see where I stand on each one. So here goes.
My wife and I love good coffee just as much as the next couple, but you'll see us standing in line at Starbucks maybe once per month. I do occasionally order coffee beans over the 'net, and I most certainly do brew my java at home (as in, every morning). But you'd never find me spending $4 or $5 per day on coffee. Not a chance.
Guilty as charged. We do have cable TV, complete with a host of premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) and HD programming. If times became tough, I could easily give up the premium channels. The rest of it? Tougher. But it could be done.
Uhhh ... whatever. Not an issue for my wife or myself.
Seriously? This is a necessity for WHO outside Hollywood?
I drink my share of this stuff. But the article seems to imply that folks invest in home-delivery services for water, and I'm not in that league by any stretch. A big ol' tray of Aquafina bottled water costs me less than $4 at Sam's Club. And even then, we reuse the bottles with water from our Brita filter pitcher (and at my work, the Ozarka service).
Sort of depends on the household, doesn't it? Ours is certainly a two-car family (well, three cars, if you count the rarely-driven '67 Mustang in our garage). My '95 Nissan truck's long since paid for, and our '06 Accord will be likewise in a few months. If dire financial times came along, could we become a one-vehicle family? Could carpooling become a household task?
Some consideration of the idea suggests that my work schedule, and our kid's school schedule, would make this somewhat challenging. But since Lisa (my wife) is a SAHM, it could be done.
How much money might be saved this way? For us, with both vehicles paid for, the financial benefits are negligible at best.
I have one (partially paid by my employer), and Lisa has one. In a pinch, I'd sooner give up our home phone service.
Guilty as charged (again). Lawn service (the weed n' feed kind) cost us $205 this year for the annual plan; that's about $17 per month. I'd give it up in a heartbeat if conditions warranted.
I do mow and edge my own lawn, thank you very much, which is the sort of "lawn service" that the article was actually discussing:
Everybody needs 'em. And if you have growing-up kids, you need 'em constantly. Sure feels like it, anyway. So far this year, our three-person household has spent just a shade under $1,200 on clothing. So yeah, this is an appreciable expense, and one we could slice considerably. But I wonder about this comment from the article:
No new socks? No new undies? Surely he jests.
As concerned parents who are getting our first glimpse of the public-school system in about twenty years, Lisa and I have considered this. The monthly private-school dues are stout, indeed, and the recommended school in our area is WAY across town. Yecch.
I can't say whether private school is in our daughter's future or not, but I can say this: It is not a necessity in any circumstance I can envision.
No extravagance on our part here — not yet, anyway. Birthdays at home or at McDonald's have been just fine to this point.
I can't see how anyone not about to end up on Oprah or Dr. Phil could possibly consider this to be a necessity.
We have two cats, for cryin' out loud. As pets go, we might as well have named them "Low" and "Maintenance."
Stuff I'd Add to the List
I'm good with most all of the expenses on MacDonald's list. But what about:
Especially at lunchtime and during working hours. Most of the people I know couldn't imagine bringing their own lunches each day. Sacrilege!
I'd sooner give up cable TV than my cable internet. A LOT sooner.
What else am I missing? What sort of stuff is out there now that folks consider to be "necessities," but in reality are just "niceties?"