Archive for April, 2009

Needs and circumstance

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Interesting poll on what people consider necessity vs. luxury (via WorldChanging). Perceived necessities are shrinking in the recession, but:

Finally, there’s the automobile — the ultimate survivor. It’s been around for nearly a century, but in good times or bad, it retains its pride of place at the top of America’s list of everyday necessities.

I hope this means “I need a car in my current situation” rather than “I need a car no matter what.” There are many places in North America where a car is a necessity – I grew up in a rural area with zero public transit, and the closest grocery store was over eight miles away. If I lived there now, I’d also tell the pollster a car is a necessity. Food is a baseline need, and if you need a car to get food, then yes, a car is a requirement.

However, such needs are a matter of circumstance. Realizing that your current situation is often a choice and can be changed means that you can largely define, and therefore limit, your needs. When making major decisions such as where to live, what size and type of home to buy, what type of work to do, or whether you have children, you are pushing some things from luxury to necessity. Make these choices carefully, and be mindful of the needs they will trigger.