I was searching for something recently and I came across the story of Brianna Karp. Basically, she lost her job in 2008, and ended up living in a trailer in a Wal-Mart parking lot. She was without electricity, and didn't have the ability to take regular showers or prepare home-cooked meals.
The article then tells how Brianna held on to her laptop throughout this entire ordeal. She then started a blog about her life (she updated it at a Starbucks), received an internship at a magazine, and now has a book deal.
Reflecting on the fact that she held on to her laptop even while being homeless, the article then goes on to list then things we can't live without! This is not based on the author's thinking, but rather on the recent trends during the last recession.
I'll list the items and my view on whether it really should be considered a “necessity”. Now, before I start let me just say that nothing is really a necessity except for food, water, and covering (clothing and shelter).
For the purposes of this article, we will define a necessity as “something without which a ‘normal' life would be extremely difficult, and it becomes an ‘untouchable' item when extreme budget cuts are needed“.
I think that in light of this story about a homeless woman catching a break because of her ability to update a blog, it is easy to claim that we can live without a computer…especially a laptop. Also, I may be the wrong one to ask considering that I earn my main income and my side income by using a computer!
It's hard to imagine someone who is used to communicating with a computer, suddenly being left without one. However, if I was facing the prospect of my wife and I being homeless, and I could get 6 months rent by selling my computers and related equipment, it would be a “no-brainer”!
High-Speed Internet Access
I would have to disagree with this one. I mean, if you are in a budget crunch, and you don't depend on the internet for your income, then going to the local library or Internet cafe once in a while is fine.
Although, it would be extremely difficult to cut out high-speed Internet access if you have become accustomed to it. But if I was forced to miss Facebook status updates in order to save $50/month, I think I could do it (especially, since I'm hardly on there to begin with) ;-)!
Another area where I disagree. I understand that the sale of smart phones has gone through the roof, but it is still not a necessity. Most of the people that I know who have a smart phone, don't need one. They don't even know what most of the features are or how to work it – they just bought it because it's a new status symbol!
In fact, I still know people (young people actually) who don't own a cell phone at all. Still, there are others who only carry a prepaid model for emergencies.
The article really has in mind payments made to private high schools. I'm torn on this one. I know that private school tuition is insane, but I can't imagine a child learning at an advanced rate (an assumption that is not always true) at one school and then having to move backwards!
Obviously, there isn't always a difference in the level of education at private and public schools, but when there is, I would vote for necessity. But only when the child is already in private school. If your child is in a public school and you want them to receive a better education, then you need to spend more time with them helping them with their studies!
Remember, we are looking at cases where we have to make serious budget cuts! If you are in financial trouble, finding an extra $20,000 per year really doesn't fit into your plans.
Movies actually refers to going to the movie theater. TV refers to watching hours of TV and also to buying high-definition sets.
I'm going to give all of these things a huge no! We have managed to place entertainment on such a high pedestal that we are now willing to sacrifice almost anything for it!
If you must watch movies and TV shows, there are free options online (if you kept your internet service), and you can get unlimited DVD rentals and streaming movies for $10/month with Netflix! However, I must point out that there are many other alternatives out there for entertainment – especially if you are married and have kids!
See “movies/TV” above! Most people already own a huge collection of music, and there is no way that adding another 1,000 songs to their playlist can be considered a necessity!
Ok, I refuse to start any trouble on Peter's site! I want to quote an article on this one:
Fido sits at the table these days. Maybe even at the head of the table. While Americans have cut spending on themselves, spending on pet food, supplies, grooming, vet care and clothing (clothing?) has been rising uninterrupted by about 5 percent per year. Industry officials attribute this to the “humanization” of pets, which in turn has led many pet owners to close the “quality of life gap” between their animals and themselves.
Definitely not a necessity…no matter how warped our thinking may become on the subject!
There is no way that alcohol should be considered a necessity! The article points to the fact that beer and wine sales have risen over the last few years, while bar sales are down. That would seem to suggest that more people are drinking at home – which shows that people aren't willing to give it up!
Unfortunately, most of us know people who are flat broke, but still find a way to buy a six pack every night! Alcohol is definitely not a necessity, and I wish it wasn't even an option!
A few years ago everyone began to realize that if you spend $5-$10 per day on coffee, those seemingly small purchases add up to thousands of dollars! However, instead of stopping, more people are just brewing their own at home.
Even with that, I have to give this category a no as well. If you like coffee, it is a nice thing to have; but, it is not something that you can't live without!
- What would be the absolute last thing to go in a time of financial crisis for you?
- Do you already have a plan in place as to how you will systematically get rid of expenses at that time? If not, learn how to prepare for financial hardships before they happen!