SOCIAL MEDIA

07 March 2014

10 Must Have Items You Don't Really Need



The struggle to make ends meet can be immensely frustrating--work as hard as you can and as many hours as you can, and still barely stay financially afloat. Sometimes, there doesn't seem to be any solution for those with high bills and limited financial resources. But other people are struggling to get by because they believe they need a lot of things that they actually don't need--and they're working hard to pay for those non-necessary items. I'm  a big believer in having less in order to save money, instead of trying to have it all and save money at the same time, so with that view in mind, here are a few things that (in spite of what the media, magazines, and your friends tell you) you can do without:

1) Smartphones. You can tell me again and again that they aren't that expensive, but I probably won't believe you. We currently pay about $90 a month for 4 cellphones for 4 people that allow calling and nothing else. Smartphones are a convenience, and conveniences cost.

2) Curtains. Sure, all the fancy homes in the magazines have them, but they're pricey. Even if you do need to sleep during the day, you can wear an eye mask to shut out all the light and an eye mask is plenty cheaper than enough window dressing for all  3 bedroom windows! Or you could borrow Angel's college dorm room style and tack flags of various countries to your window frames.

3) Pets. They're a luxury. Food, vet's bills, pet-sitters when you want to travel. Even fish cost something, and if you're barely getting by, you don't need them.

4) KitchenAid Mixer. I know a lot of people who have these. They seem really cool, and handy. But they're hundreds of dollars. I think between my muscles, Angel's muscles, and my $20 electric hand mixer, we can mix up a couple hundred dollars worth of food.

5) AirCon. "That's easy for you to say, you live in Michigan!" Yes, it is very easy to say as I sit here shivering. Aircon is not a necessity. I did spend a couple years in the tropics with no aircon, and that's where I learned the value of a ceiling fan. Fans are awesome, and significantly cheaper to run than aircon.

6) Home Internet. Ouch! Those you know me know I love my internet access. But you have to know yourself. If $30 a month for internet access is hurting you, let it go! Libraries have free internet and so do lots of other public gathering places. It's not as convenient, but you won't be totally cut off from civilization

7) Cable. Or any version of television you have to pay for. Public broadcast tv still exists. It's better in some places than in others, but it's free. And more and more libraries are expanding their collection of free dvds to borrow.

8) A Yard. Yards are awesome, but they're not necessary, and honestly, they're really expensive. Big yards often require tractor mowers, or, if you're too busy working, a lawn service. As a kid, I lived in homes with large and medium yards, one with a 5x3 foot patch of grass (not exaggerating), and one with no yard at all--and all of those homes were fun. Living without a yard could save you money.

9) A DSLR. Those point-and-shoot pocket sized cameras will capture your memories just as effectively, if not quite so prettily.

10) The "Cute" version of normal stuff. Just 'cause there's a "cute" version of a fire extinguisher or a dayplanner or lunchbag, crockpot, broom, can opener, or paintbrush, doesn't mean you need it. If you already have the ugly version, note that it still works in spite of being ugly.

This isn't saying  that none of these things aren't convenient or nice to have--but if you're feeling pressure to own popular items like these because seemingly 'everyone' has them--I'm here to say that everyone doesn't. And if striving to own nice things is causing you financial stress, quit it, because stuff isn't worth the stress.

68 comments :

  1. Yes! I was just considering the other day, how we still don't have a drying rack for washed dishes, and I don't really miss it at all despite it being one of the 'obvious' things I've always been accustomed to. In fact, we don't have a can opener either - just the one on my pocket knife. It really made me think how many things I think I need, but get used to life without.
    (that said, I also didn't have internet in my flat/digs for 4 years, and I would hate to be without it anymore!)

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  2. I love this!
    Our KitchenAid mixer was a "we've been married for 2 years, we have a Costco coupon, and I've always wanted one, plus I'm gainfully employed" purchase. Our pet was something we would not have considered 4-5 years ago when we were focused on debt payoff, moving/wedding costs, etc. They ARE a luxury. We put a lot of thought into him. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people, who are otherwise broke, just can't resist a pet (or ANOTHER pet). Seriously?!

    I may have to link to this because I really do agree with it :)

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  3. When my roommates and I got rid of cable we saved money AND spent twice as much time exploring the city, going outside, and doing other better (free) things! Also I kind of HATE the "cute" version of things, especially when they don't work as well. UGH

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  4. Yep - a lot of those things we want but don't have now because it just doesn't make sense financially. We used our neighbor's wifi for 2 years until he was broke and had to cancel then we bought the cheapest service we could find. We use hulu for $7/mo instead of cable (and canceled it when i was unemployed) - I'd be fine NEVER having cable. I'm a snob about a few of these other things (AC - MD is SOOO humid!), but you're right, know yourself. Do your homework. Cheap isn't always quality so it's case by case.

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  5. There really are very few needs in this world, and so many people stress over paying for things they don't need. I agree with your list almost completely. Some people NEED curtains so the neighbors don't have to be subjected to their nighttime shenanigans.

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    1. Yes siree, bob. We live on site at the Bible Camp where we both work... and our house is actually right in the main parking lot area. Curtains are a need. For us, though, since it's a Camp house, the blinds were provided for us, and we got some cute curtains from my aunt when she moved. Done and done!

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  6. I resisted smartphones for a long time. And I mean, I could go back to not having one, but I do get a lot of benefit from using it, especially as a student (it's a lot easier to carry with me than a laptop or a tablet when I need to access e-books or other course material). I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but there's a service called Republic Wireless that's $20 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data, and that's what we switched to when we got married. $40 is pretty decent for all that, if you ask me :P Granted, there are a few kinks in the system (like no picture texts), as it's a unique kind of phone service, but overall I love it.
    Other than that, we have internet (need it for online classes....and netflix :P), the old curtains from my room at my parent's house, and pets. Daniel's had his cat for 13 years, so there's no way I was gonna make him give her up. The gerbil and the bird are pretty low-maintenance, and honestly they're kind of therapy for me. Cheaper than therapy for sure...haha.

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  7. lmao im never giving up my HTC One, that puppy gets me through some rough times. Like today, a quiet Friday. I can live without everything else on that list and in fact the only other thing I have is AirCon but it comes in the building so no complaints. We hardly use it, our elec bill is low - we're energy efficient as much as we can. Lol I totally agree on the pets department. I love them to death but haven't committed myself into getting another one due to the commitment level, my son is enough love and commitment ;) Have a great one and Happy Friday love! -Iva

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  8. i fully agree with all of this. i hate that i need my phone so much but it's a total convenience. as for curtains, i used to pin up old bedsheets a la college stylz LOL

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

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  9. I wanted a KitchenAid mixer SO bad while we were planning our wedding, because at the time it was the "hot" registry item. (Maybe still is? Don't know, this was 3 years ago.) But seriously, what would I do with one? I don't bake, I've used our hand-mixer maybe two or three times total since we've been married — it would have been a huge, expensive waste of space!

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  10. I live how your comments are all people explaining how they are just amazing at at your list. Must be nice. I really struggle with this. I don't like the ac but my husband does. I love the cute version of things. I like curtains. Hehe. That's why god has put this spending freeze on my heart that I'm doing, because I'm very materialistic!

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  11. this is such great advice & so true! i've been struggling with the smartphone thing - it's convenient to have email & everything on my phone.... but it is SO pricey. one thing i like is that it has GPS though. so i struggle with giving that up. but ahhhh it is so not necessary!

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  12. I have quite a few things on that list and like it. I also aspire to own a few things on that list that I don't yet. Like a real yard. And curtains (I have valences but think they look dated.) My kitchenaid mixer was a birthday gift and I love the thing.

    What I think people dont need is expensive coffee that they are paying brand name for (coughSTARBUCKScough). $8 Essie nail polish. Overpriced alcoholic drinks. Just to name a few. :)

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  13. As a single-income couple with one being in medical school, I totally get saving money. I had to learn it the hard way once when I spent too much on my credit card. Once I paid it off, I haven't touched the credit card with a ten-foot pole. If I can't buy it myself now, I don't need it. (I did succumb and buy a Mac recently, but I saved for it : ))

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  14. This is a good list. I am starting to feel the same about smart phones, but they have their perks, hehe! And curtains can be cheap for those who know how to sew them for themselves. :) I adore pets, but I certainly feel like that is one thing I can live without.

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  15. I agree with a few of these on the list. We have been a one income household for the past 8 months and its hard at times. We have had to make compromises on a lot of things. LIke cable for example. We do have a package but not a huge one, if he had it his way we would have the biggest one. Ive always eyed those kitchenmaids but i cant fork out that kind of money. Im having a hard time just forking out the money for a nutri bullet that i know I love. Our world is very materialistic and honestly it can be very hard to not join in and be super materialistic.

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  16. I agree with all but one but thats only because I live in the uk. No need for air-conditioning here to be honest. that said its a must in the car.


    Thanks for visiting my blog and your lovely comments.
    X x

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  17. I think this is the second time I am totally the opposite of you, lol. I love all those things you think are not necessary, except that kitchen thingy. I can't cook, never will anyway, though. But I am all for the rest. I love curtains, my ac, internet at home, I mean Rachel if you don't want to pay $30 month for home internet but using the public ones instead, you have to drive there which will cost you money as well, not only fuel but also using the car makes your car used even more. Using public transport OK but it cost money as well, though. And what about the time you spend driving around? My time is precious to me, very precious. Too precious for running to and fro. OK I stop it here, I don't want to start a debate about modern life, though. I work for what I want and I love doing it.

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  18. I loved reading this ;) thanks for being creative and informative. Haha your so cute. Rachel xo

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  19. Well AC is relative depending on where you live. Houston summers are so hot and humid that charitable organizations start giving out wall units to the elderly because living without one is awful. We got ours fixed in June and it was over 90 degrees inside while it was off! Hulu and Netflix are great ways to save money. My company pays for half of my smartphone bill in exchange for giving the number to outside groups I work with, so that is a great savings if anyone else's employer will do it! And I do have a KitchenAid mixer and rarely use it, but it was purchased with American Express points - a great way to "shop" without spending more money. So all of that to say that I think needs vary depending on where you live and your lifestyle but there are creative ways to be able to afford your favorite little luxuries!

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  20. You are so right! My biggest one is the smart phone plus internet plus cable. It all adds up and once you get a smart phone it is so hard to go back.

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  21. Love this post! I've been thinking a lot about living with less. It's hard when "necessities" are thrown in your face all day every day...but want vs. need is a really good lesson to learn. I do have a lot of the things on this list but I know that if push came to shove, I could definitely do without most of them. And anyone who says smartphones "aren't that expensive" is flat out lying unless they know some secret I don't. I'll just put it out there - our 2 smartphones with MINIMAL talk time and the smallest data plan you can get cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 a month. They're super convenient, sure - who doesn't like to be able to Google something at a moment's notice? - but if we were struggling financially they'd be the first thing to go.

    I have a KitchenAid mixer but it was a gift and if I'm being 100% honest? My $20 hand mixer gets 100x more use than that thing. It's big, takes up room, is a pain in the butt to clean, and lives in my cabinet. I rarely use it.

    I ESPECIALLY agree with cable television - there are WAY too many ways to watch movies or television shows for either free or dirt cheap (hello...Netflix is $9 a month vs. what, $80 a month for cable?). I haven't had cable since I was in my early 20's and I can honestly say I do not miss it one little bit.

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  22. YES! So many people believe they NEED things when they really don't. We even lived with 1 car for a year while we were both working to help save money. Speaking of which you don't NEED to buy cars new! You can save so much by getting them a couple years old. I think I have everything on this list, however we got it as our income grew. So obviously they were not must haves for us. They are conveniences we now appreciate because we have gone without them! Great post!

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  23. Ha ha ha! I like the last one about the normal stuff. Yeah, I went through a semi-mental struggle while standing in Target looking at planners. I chose a cute-ish one. I probably could have gone for a much less cute one. It's true, I could go without a lot of that stuff you mentioned and some we are, like cable and I'm happy about that one! On another note, I remember buying my first smartphone. And I knew I shouldn't have but I did and I paid for it. Since being married, my sister in in law who works for a cell phone company has given several to us already :) Sorry for the long commentary :\

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  24. A large round of applause to you, my dear!! It all comes down to choices. I have always heard similar arguments about becoming a stay at home mom. "Oh, I could never afford that." But.....maybe you could. We don't have a lot of the things that you have listed for that very reason!

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  25. Love this! It's funny how almost everything we own isn't necessary when you think about it. My husband is such a spender and I'm such a saver. I hid the money my grandma gave us for Christmas so he wouldn't spend it. :) I do have several of these things (kitchen aide mixer was a wedding present and I do use it!). Like someone above said, I resisted smart phones for a while. We finally caved but went with the Straight Talk plan which is cheaper. It is a great convenience, but I could live without it if I had to. I'm working on convincing my husband to get rid of cable. There are so many other cheaper options out there now to watch TV. We like to enjoy our comforts, but we've been blessed to be able to have them right now. I'm sure there will come a time (like when we have kids) where those things aren't possible.

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  26. I could live without 4,8 and 9... the rest I neeeeeed, Rachel!!!! hahaha

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  27. My curtains were super cheap and bought so long ago I can't even remember getting them! I agree with the others being unnecessary but some luxuries I'm willing to pay for… for now. Cable might be going soon.

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  28. Agreed! We still don't have curtains or cable, but post grad school, we got a kitty and internet (and I got a kitchen aid for christmas one year - but I was doing just fine with my little hand held prior to that!)

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  29. Thanks so much for your comment on the pet peeves of blogging post of mine. I also am more app to keep following/commenting people who comment on my blog or who really do keep their blog simple yet interesting enough for my attention. Thanks so much for all your comments and fun(ny) posts. I love how you have commented on so many peoples blogs whether they have huge to no followers , I admire that . Have a good weekend. Rachel xo

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  30. I love this post. Seriously.

    I think I may have to write a post on the same topic, sort of- mind if I steal your idea?

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  31. We don't have cable! And we totally do not need it. All the good shows are on 4, 5, and 9 anyway.

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  32. Argh! I have most of these things and am really not sure i could live without them... you'll never take my iphone away!!
    x x

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  33. Girl this is spot on. Thanks for sharing these. I completely agree. We don't have curtains here in Korea, a pet, or a kitchen aide mixer. All things that maybe I would want someday but when you're paying off debt you gotta buckle down and save money. We haven't paid for cable in over 3 years! Huge money saver there. Cable back in the states was super expensive a month!!!

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  34. I totally agree with these! All but maybe air conditioning and internet (husband works from home and i love my AC here in humid VA). I recently posted on our plan to majorly downsize and included eliminating cable and a much smaller yard to name a few. The stand mixer is hilarious - i am not sure why and how people use those, but not my thing. Thanks for sharing!!

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  35. This makes me feel a lot better about not having curtains in half my house, six years after we moved in! I agree that they're SO expensive (even at Target) and I refuse to spend the money. I can ALWAYS think of a better way for "curtain money" to be spent. Visiting from SITS!

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  36. What a great list. I've never used my kitchen aid mixer my SIL gave me as a gift once. It is too big for my little kitchen, so I keep it down stairs. My little hand mixer works just fine. As for smart phones; I rarely use mine - only when the internet at work is down. A flip phone would work just fine. Curtains - totally agree. My living room curtains are so ugly we are contemplating taking them down and going without. Cable - my husband uses. I don't need.

    Home internet - I can't live without.

    Fun list and great post.

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  37. I think this is a great article to point out the difference between needs and wants. There's nothing wrong with any of these things on this list, but if you are struggling financially, not buying stuff from this list might be a good place to start saving money. My husband works with a guy who re-does his bathroom every six months! All new curtains, rug, paint, etc! If he's got the money to do that, great! I think it just sounds like a waste!

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  38. I agree with you on a few things but stuff like the smartphone, DSLR and air conditioning are needs for me. As a student and student journalist I need to be able to look things up easily and connect with people via social media. As a photographer and sorta photojournalist, a DSLR is needed for me to get the job done. Same goes for home internet. My work as a student and journalist pretty much requires it.

    As for air conditioning...live in the desert southwest for a summer and then say it's not needed. Those 100+ degree temps for 3-4 months straight can be deadly. I live in Vegas and have endured some very hot summers, including last year. Air conditioning is definitely a necessity.

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  39. I have 7 out of those 10 things haha. I have to have internet and DSLR for my photography business. I need cable or else I would be bored hahaha. We have to have a yard for our dogs to roam around in. We have central air or whatever, but it is way too humid here to go without. I need these things :-)

    I could care less about expensive curtains. Give me the cheapest. Honestly, no one is going to know the difference. I don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer, because as much as I like to cook.. I just wouldn't use it to get its money's worth for me. I don't really buy "cute" versions of stuff either.

    I don't think I could live without these things lol, but none of these things are putting us in financial distress. I think you are so right that people about people struggling in general but yet are still trying to buy things. I think if you can buy it, cool. If you can't, wait and save.

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  40. This is a great and very true list! I live without all but 4 of the things on this list and until 2 months ago didn't even have a smart phone. I know it's not necessary but I love it. I have to disagree with the yard though--for people with kids. I homeschool and a yard is a necessity for my children (and my sanity!). Also, a yard can save you money if you have a garden. Found you from the SITS linkup.
    Anna
    http://blessedbeyondcrazy.com

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  41. Sooo I have 7 out of 10 of those things. I don't know what an AirCon is and I am not a pets kind of person so that is probably why I don't own those things. I'm not a "cute" kind of gal. While I agree that we don't need any of these things, they sure do make life easier. We saved for the electronics and are now in a position that the monthly fee is not a burden on us financially, at all. I can say with the exception of my DSLR we get our monies worth in use from all of the items.

    Stopping by from the SITS link-up

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  42. I have to laugh at the curtains one because we've owned our home for 3 years and still do not have curtains or blinds in the main living areas. The bedrooms are the only rooms with blinds and even they have no curtains. Sure we have very little privacy but I honestly can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on curtains and blinds especially with a toddler who would just tear them apart anyways. :) Awesome post!

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  43. These are definitely all luxuries that we take for granted and believe we can't live without them. I don't think I could not live without air conditioning. We have many days of 90% humidity. It so uncomfortable. Ceiling fans don't help much at that point and trying to sleep in that is dreadful. If my Razor didn't break a few years back I'd still have that instead of the smart phone I have now!

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  44. This is a great list. All of these things are fairly easy to live without, especially when trying to save money. I don't have cable, a smart phone, or air conditioning and really don't feel like I'm missing anything.

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  45. I can go without most of the things. But I do need my smartphone and cable, along with my DVR. We don't really have a lot of curtains. We just use the blinds the house came with.

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  46. But I really do need my internet, my smart phone (as well as 2 ipads, 2 desktops and 2 laptops) and my DSLR. HONEST! :p

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  47. You are so right, when it comes down to it and you've gotta make smart $$ decisions these things can all go. Though I'm lucky to have inherited my grandmother's KitchenAid mixer, and since it's like 25 years old I get to be trendy and say it's "vintage," right?

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  48. I am so with you on 7 & 9! (and all the other things, too! lol)

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  49. I hear you on the Kitchen Aid mixers- they're adorable, but really just decorative for most people.

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  50. I love my KitchenAid... but I really don't use it that often. I feel like a handmixer is just easier because you can throw the beaters in the dishwasher and be done!

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  51. Ahhh, yes. I totally relate to the cuter versions of normal things...even digitally. I just redid my mac icons...*nerd sigh*

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  52. I agree with all of these lists, things we thought we really need in our daily life and yet we can still live without it. I won't complain though, we have cable, wifi, pet, bigger yard at home and a DSLR, and a kitchen aid mixer that I really want to buy but I cannot afford. Life is life.

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  53. No air conditioning? This is the Chihuahuan desert, are you trying to kill me? It's over 100 degrees 4+ months out of the year!

    My biggest gripe is people who can't pay their bills but have 1 or more car payments, live somewhere they really can't afford, have some huge package of satellite tv, have XM in their vehicles, go out to eat all the time, etc. Eliminate debt by living within your means, and suddenly, you have more money. My $5K '99 GMC Jimmy gets me around just as well as a brand new SUV would, only it's not costing me a car payment. So I may have most of what you list, but I live debt free, so I can afford them. This "gimme gimme now now now" attitude that society seems to have these days is just... gross.

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  54. I survived an Australian summer without air conditioning, while it wasn't amazing it was liveable!

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  55. this post needs to be on the cover of the times or the WSJ or some other highly public place where they can clearly see the difference between wants and needs, and then begin to think about how willing they are to work for the things that are truly just wants -- before you decide you need a mixer and a dslr and an iphone, consider how much time/energy/effort is going into the time it takes to earn them (and then whether or not that could just be saved..)

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  56. LOL the day I stumble across a cute version of a fire extinguisher, I'm totally buying it. I'm sure there's one out there somewhere, decked out in a bow and sprinkled with pink glitter. It'll be mine. I own it.

    This is absolutely an amazing list. Your writing really never ceases to amaze me (and be humorous at the same time--it's so refreshing to read your posts, Rachel!!).

    Also, I'm so very glad that someone read my blog creation story on Lily's Guest Post of me. :) You've totally gotta write your own version now. Go for it!!

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  57. It is true that we don't need these things but they are so nice to have in our lives! I am not sure how I could make it through the day without most of these LOL! :)

    Rebecca
    www.winnipegstyle.ca

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  58. So true!!!!! I do love the very few of those items that I own, but I choose to go without other "necessities" to have them. Great Post!

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  59. Hear, hear and then some! One should buy because they want, or need, to do so, not simply because they're aiming to keep up with the Joneses and going in the credit card debt to do so. This is a wise post that feels like a breath of much needed fresh air amongst the constantly consumer driven culture that prevails throughout so many corners of the web (the blogging world majorly included).

    ♥ Jessica

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  60. We do go without a lot of these things, except for curtains (on sale at Target), smart phones (we are grandfathered into unlimited data) and air conditioning (we use fans until the Midwest humidity is just too unbearable for us). If we absolutely needed to we would give up these things though!
    Eva Marie Taylor

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  61. I have to say, you're pretty right on with all of these. lol. They're all things we feel the need to have. Wow, I kind of just got convicted about wanting stuff :/
    By the way, I haven't read your blog in a while and I am playing catch up. I literally just re-heated my coffee before I sat down to read your blogs because I figured it would take me a bit. haha. don't feel obligated to respond to all of my comments. ha. it's not your fault I've been slacking.

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  62. i recently said goodbye to my iphone because it's such an unnecessary expense!

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  63. Outfitting our new house really has me thinking about these things! Like curtains. They are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. I wanted some for our bedroom to brighten it up, but I refused to buy any until I found a set for sale at TJMaxx. I was not buying four single panels at $20+ dollars each. We would not have a dog, smartphones, or a lawn if I could help it, but oh well, haha.

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  64. I actually agree with most of these things. I wish I didn't buy a iphone. I'm still paying on it and wish I would of just got a prepaid phone.

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  65. The Kitchen-Aid mixers are glorified counter decorations, in my opinion. I've never used one myself, so I have no idea if they are really amazing or not, but every single bride I know has one in coordinating kitchen decor color on her registry…

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  66. Home internet are more important thing here.Gone are the days when Internet access was limited only to the home. These days, people use their smartphones for Internet access all the time, from finding the closest store to checking Facebook. But what about people who use their mobile devices exclusively to access Internet?

    Using new data from the Pew Research Center, the Washington Post reports that “[t]he share of Americans who access broadband only from mobile devices has reached 10 percent.” According to the data, these Internet users tend to be young, have never gone to college and earn less than $30,000 a year

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