Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money

Things You Own that You May Not Really Need

no need

Technological progress has a tendency to make things obsolete over time. People, on the other hand, tend to resist when it comes to giving up their things. I’m as guilty as the next guy; I like my stuff and I still have a lot of things I no longer use. I have my reasons, but if I’m brutally honest with myself, I know I could do without them.

So, since we’re all here in the interest of saving money, I’m going to offer a list of things that the average person could probably do without buying these days, and might want to consider selling if he or she already has them. I’m sure some readers will disagree with some of my choices, and that’s as it should be. Please note that the title of the article reads, “May Not”. That said, here’s the list:


I’m a book lover, so this was a tough one for me. I always loved the way that nice set of 32 red, black and gold volumes looked on my shelves. My kids used them for homework and we answered countless questions with them, once upon a time. It was hard to give them up, but only for sentimental reasons. (Well, that and the fact that I paid so much for them.) The point is, with a literal world of free information available on the internet, complete with full color pictures, audio and video, encyclopedias are no longer a necessity. Besides, it’s much easier to search for information with a browser.

Other General Reference Books

I have a big, beautiful, leather bound dictionary that I haven’t opened in years. I also have a thesaurus that’s collecting dust in my desk drawer. Not only can I get everything in both of those books online, the software I’m using to write this article provides both of those at a click. With the possible exception of business-specific publications, reference books have become obsolete. By the way, most of those business-specific ones come in an online version now, too.

A Fax Machine

Email attachments are much easier to handle than faxes, and can be stored as digital copies until needed for printing. If and when they do need to be printed, you’ll usually get better quality than a fax provides. A signed and scanned email attachment is often more legible than a fax and preferred for many legal purposes. If you don’t have a scanner, the same places that fax documents for you can scan them into an email-compatible format for less. If the document has several pages, the price difference can be surprising.

A Wristwatch

My left wrist hasn’t had a tan line in several years. Everything my watch used to do, my cell phone does, plus much more and with a lot more flexibility. This was true even when I had a “dumb” phone. A watch may still be a nice status symbol or a fashion accessory, but if you carry a cell phone, it’s no longer a necessity.

Wall Calendars

The best reason to own a wall calendar these days is for the artwork. I have one above my desk that I received as a gift, but it’s there for decoration. Keeping track of dates is easily done with a cell phone or computer and you can even set notifications to remind you of important events. You can also share your calendar over the internet or a local network, to manage multiple schedules.

Music CDs

I’m an audiophile, too, so this is another item that I’ve had trouble giving up. Nevertheless, vinyl isn’t coming back, neither are 8-track and cassette tapes, and like it or not, it’s time to stop buying music CDs. Digital music files are cheaper and don’t scratch or break. Not only that, you can buy individual songs instead of albums and save even more money. They also don’t take up any physical space in your home. Your MP3 player, computer or USB drive can be connected to your car or a home audio amp and you’ll still get great sound. If you have a wireless network in your home, you can share the music with multiple devices.

File Storage DVDs

Just like music CDs, DVDs for data storage are easily damaged and take up too much space. Flash drives and memory cards are much easier to store and don’t depend on mechanical devices to read and write data. Data transfers are usually faster, too.

A Land Line Phone

I know that some readers are getting ready to argue that their “wired” phone will operate when the power goes out. That’s true of most, but not all modern telephones. On the other hand, if your cell phone battery gets low, you can plug it into the car charger and use it, too. So, if you’re concerned about power loss, or you need a business line, you might want to keep paying the phone company. Otherwise, it’s probably a bill you can do without.

Expensive Computer Software

There is a wealth of free and inexpensive software available today that’s designed to do everything the commercial applications do. I’m not saying they’ll all perform as advertised, but it’s worth taking a look. Not only that, but thanks to cloud technology, you can use some commercial software online inexpensively, with nothing to download. One example for graphics is Adobe’s Photoshop Express. Need business software? Check out cloud-based soutions like JCurve. Most of these apps offer monthly or annual rates that are less expensive than buying the software.

There are probably dozens more things that could be listed here, but these are the ones that, in my humble opinion, the average person can let go of.

(Photo courtesy of cwillbounds)

11 thoughts on “Things You Own that You May Not Really Need

  1. the only thing on that list I own is a land line phone, but I would love to get rid of it, but as yet haven’t found a way to connect to the internet where I live without it. But i do keep searching for a solution

  2. i would add recipe books, manuals for your “stuff” (still have the manual but not the stuff?), misc cables (e.g., ethernet), radios, and for many, if you have a decent computer screen, TVs.
    I also highly recommend digitizing all records, saving as PDFs/whatever. In most cases, a PDF is perfectly acceptable as documentation.
    *Love* decluttering and simplifying!

  3. Backup Media? Really?

    a 50 Disc DVD spindle is $20 for 235GB of backup space . . . to get that in 64GB SD cards would be about $175 bucks. Under proper storage conditions DVD’s are arguably more reliable as backups too.

  4. I agree that SD cards are more expensive. In regard to reliability, I’m glad you said “arguably”. DVDs themselves scratch and break fairly easily. More importantly, they rely on the device that’s first to fail on most systems, because it’s got too many small moving parts. SD cards and USB devices make one static, mechanical connection and the rest is electronic.

    In terms of backup storage, network and cloud backups are really the wave of the future. I’ve dumped more than 100 backup DVDs and haven’t missed them a bit.

  5. I should probably add that I’d much rather watch movies or television on my big HDTV than on any computer I’ve ever owned. Still, that’s a matter of want, not need.

  6. But, I prefer a watch, as I don’t like storing calendar information on my computer, a wall calendar is very useful for me. I prefer to have CDs and DVDs to browse through.

    I only have a small pay as you go mobile phone. I do not see why I should pay a small fortune for a smartphone, then have to pay a monthly fee to use it.

    Your advice is great for people who are ‘into’ gadgets, if you’re not into gadgets it won’t work.

  7. I’m in your camp Minny. Immersed in technology at work, at home I like not having to turn something ‘on’ just to eyeball my itinerary. And there is a pleasure in viewing graphics etc. on music CDs. And a huge ‘Amen!’ to your smartphone observation.

  8. Not only do I have no intention of pitching my encyclopedias and dictionaries, I also have different foreign language dictionaries and atlases which I have found to be tremendous help when reading so I know where I am in the book or what a word meant. I read upstairs and the high speed computer is downstairs. Why should I go up and down stairs every time I want to look up something? Real books for me are much faster than looking something up on line. I also have a land line as we have no reason to fork out for a mobile. I love my cookbooks; I love just about all my books. We do save some vital info on flash drives. A wall calendar is terrific as we write our appointments down, etc and then at the end of the year it is stored with our tax paperwork as it has a record or all our doctor appointments.

    What may be clutter to some is essential and well used and loved stuff to others.

  9. I also am keeping the watch. I do have a smartphone, but when I rely on it to simply tell me the time, it’s far too easy to get distracted by notifications of texts or voicemails or the like. That and I don’t always have a pocket the phone will fit into. I’m okay paying a bit for a new watch battery every year or two.

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