Necessities You Can Live Without

cute cell phone

One simple way to save money is to keep your fixed costs low. In order to do this, you must first asses each of your regular expenses and see what subjective value it has for you. There are many items and services that we view as necessities or the basics these days that didn’t even exist thirty years ago. What do you really need? What is it worth to you? My husband and I have done this exercise and have decided to keep two cars but none of the other items in the list made the cut.

Cell phone: People in the U.S. spend an average of $50 – $60 per month for cell phone service — that’s $600 – $720 per year. I recognize that with out a cell phone I could end up stranded on the side of the road with only my sexy legs to attract help, but for now I am taking that chance and enjoying the fact that I am not always accessible. Someone asked me: What if something happens and we need to get in touch with you? My answer: I’ll find out the old fashion way – eventually. I live next door to one of my sisters, smack in the middle of suburbia, less than two miles from a hospital and less than one mile from the interstate. And I do have a phone in my house, with an answering machine. I also acknowledge that if I had children I may feel differently about this.

Cable T.V.: We did get satellite T.V. for a while but did I watch educational programs on the Discovery Channel or CNN in Spanish to improve my language skills – which is what I said I would do when we signed up? Noooo. I watched that darn, brain-rotting E! Finally, I couldn’t bear the thought of paying $45 per month to learn useless trivia about people I didn’t know so I canceled it.

Call Waiting: If I am on the phone with someone they deserve my full attention. Anyone else can wait.

Caller ID: I don’t need to know specifically who I don’t want to talk. Usually, it’s not personal. There are simply times when I am writing, eating, resting, reading, living my life when I don’t want to be interrupted so I let the caller leave a message. Your telephone is for your convenience not anyone else’s. You pay the bill don’t you?

Two Cars: I know a couple with two children who have a single family vehicle. They live in the suburbs, work downtown, and each child is in a different school. Through planning and communication they make it work by focusing on the upside. In addition to saving the cost, maintenance, insurance, and property taxes of a second car, they also enjoy an extra hour of family time each morning and evening while getting to and from work and school.

Storage Unit: If you are paying to store things that you have not used nor even laid eyes on in a year, consider this: You will feel years younger and 40 lbs. lighter if you get rid of the stuff, the expense and even more importantly, the mental burden. We don’t even use our attic because if we are considering putting something up there, we know it’s time to pitch it, donate it, or sell it. Sometimes, we let an item remain in purgatory for a year in the laundry room. The next time we are cleaning out, if we come across it and say, “Oh, I forgot about this!,” it gets the ax.

Newspaper: I get my news online and on the radio. I know some people love the ritual of having their morning newspaper and coffee but try it online for a while and see how much inky fingers and elbows really mean to you. Also, actual newspapers stack up if you get too busy to read them unlike online news.

Take a look at your expenses and make each item and service earn a place in your life. And since preferences and priorities change regularly, it would be wise to do this periodically to make sure there aren’t untapped sources of savings going to waste right under your nose.

Image courtesy of Spitzgogo

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9 Responses to Necessities You Can Live Without

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  2. John Jay says:

    A few helpful add-ons…

    Books (from the bookstore). You pay for the library’s books through your taxes, so use them already! Save book purchases for books that you’ll constantly use and that will save you in other areas (eg, good cheap/healthy cookbook).

    Restaurant food. Make it at home for much less; eat out only occasionally.

    Most extended warranties, service plans, etc. If you have a bit of cash in the emergency fund, buying these is a waste unless you’re really unsure of the product- and in that case you shouldn’t be buying it in the first place!

    Gym membership. If you’re not going to run or lift free weights when it’s convenient at home, you’re probably not going to go out of your way to do it at a gym.

  3. Dan M says:

    I agree with the idea on saving on books. I used to be an junkee until I learned to simple be patient and use the library. I also find books there I never would have thought of on my own.

    My gym membership though is cheap for me YMMV, and other people that go to the gym 5-6 days a week. I do not have the space at home nor the money to buy all of that specialized equipment. Plus while I am there I am focused on working out.

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  5. Teresa says:

    Get rid of Netflix, etc. and if you have taken the advice in the article and don’t have cable/satellite TV, use your library for borrowing DVD too!

  6. Monica says:

    I already live without all of these, so I don’t consider them necessities. (In fact we have NO cars.) Any other ideas?

  7. Cindy M says:

    Wow, you’re the first person who feels the way I do about cell phones, the newspaper and cable TV. I don’t miss having any of them and am doing just fine. More power to you.

  8. Morfydd says:

    I don’t have a home phone – I’ve been cell-only for years now. That gets me call waiting and Caller ID automatically.

    I don’t feel compelled to answer it all the time, but find it useful. (It’s also my PDA, and sometimes web browser, etc.)

  9. Mark Pris says:

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