Things you don't need

3 Things You Think You Need But Don’t

What is your most prized possession? And by possession, I don’t mean a living thing, like your wife, kids or dog, those aren’t possessions. Now take away your most prized possession and what are you left with? Is your life any worse? There are numerous things you think you need but don’t in life.

My laptop is probably the one thing I can’t live without. Mostly because it’s the source of my entertainment, I use it for work, I watch movies, listen to music, read the news, check sports scores, and occasionally watch kitten videos. Without it I would be terribly inconvenienced (and incapable of watching kitten videos). But life would go on, I’m sure.

Many things in our day to day life can have this affect. Living without luxuries in Central America has taught me a valuable life-lesson about…value! Watching how many people live with less in Latin America made me realize that if there were an apocalyptic event, Latin America would probably continue to hum along just fine, or maybe have a slight limp.

Without rambling on in my intro, I’m going to list three items you think you need but don’t really need in this modern, kitten video world of ours.

#1. Your Car

I’m amazed that in over 100 years mankind has put a man on the moon, reduced computer sizes from that of a bedroom to the size of my hand, yet we still rely on the combustible engine to power our cars?

But to the point about needing a car; we make life choices and sometimes we justify them with purchases. I want a house in the suburbs away from the noise of the city. So you buy a bigger house and a car to get you places. You fill said house with stuff. You fill said car with fuel, oil, filters, fluids, gadgets for your phone, and the occasional stray under-the-seat McDonald’s fry. And I get it, living in the suburbs requires a car. Living in the city doesn’t. So what do you do without a car?

Most major cities have high-capacity public transport systems. Living in Panama, we take buses and the metro (subway) all the time. And in a pinch, a low-cost taxi or Uber ride. Added up, we spend probably $100 a month on transportation. A car costs WAY more than that, especially in North America. Heck, that’s gas for a month for even a fuel-efficient car! I don’t like having to negotiate my taxi fare here in Panama every time I take one, but I’ll gladly spend a few bucks on a cab than thousands on a car right about now!

And if the need for a car does arise, try renting one when needed. There are many options you can go with for rental car companies, but here’s another idea. Let’s say you absolutely, positively, MUST have a car for a day, month, three months, or more. Why not try a service like Rideshare, LeaseBusters, Swapalease, Leasetrader, or similar options in your area? There are risks when it comes to taking on someone’s lease, so do your due diligence.

#2. Television

My father in law visited us recently and we were discussing cable TV replacement options. The way Cable TV was introduced in the 70’s was that it would be commercial free. Obviously we’ve seen how that turned out.

He asked about things like Chromecast, Roku, and Netflix, of which I’m a supporter of for your entertainment. As a house sitter I’ve been able to experience all of those options. I would much rather be bombarded with product placements within these shows than interruptions on cable TV.

TV - one of the things you think you need but don't
Commercial free Zombies?

Really, you don’t need a TV. It’s probably the simplest to eliminate of the things you think you need but don’t. Sure, I suppose it’s nice to have one, and this doesn’t mean you should toss your current boob-tube out so you can “stick it to the man”. But in today’s digital world of smart phones, tablets and laptops, TV’s are becoming more and more obsolete. And I predict they’ll eventually become completely obsolete when smart phones start including projectors so you can watch movies on a wall…FROM YOUR PHONE! In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for this fun (and cheap) invention.

#3. Paper Products

I’m reminded of some Madonna song lyrics;

‘Cause we are living in a material digital world, And I am a material digital girl boy’. Prior to our move to Panama we had all of our bills coming electronically through e-billing. It was great. And all said bills were set up to auto-pay on specific days of the week. That was great too!

Even some big-box stores like Old Navy and Home Depot were offering to email receipts rather than print them on the spot for you. It’s an easy way for companies to save both money and paper. Add to that many grocery stores had their weekly flyers available online so there was no need to have one delivered (although they still did this).

I used to work at a Telemarketing company (I was the guy that put your name into a database for the agents to call…sorry). Anyway, one of our larger clients was a national newspaper. Agents would call people offering a free newspaper and people still didn’t want it. They couldn’t GIVE newspapers away anymore – a sign of how far we’ve come. There’s still a generation that enjoys the morning paper, getting dirty grey hands as they flip page after page of “news”. My generation and the ones that follow tend to lean towards digital “news”.

But let’s argue this paper point a little further, just for fun:

Q. But I need to make a quick note.
A. Google Keep and Evernote are great apps to make notes.

Q. What about money?
A. Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do away with paper currency and use e-payments for everything, like debit cards, or bitcoin?

Q. Okay genius, what about pizza boxes?
A. Wouldn’t it be a great idea if pizza places delivered your pizza in a reusable container and you got money back when you returned said container? Just an idea!

Q. But without paper, how will I – ummm – you know…wipe?
A. Yeah, think of many future generations that will be able to do the same because we didn’t use all the trees in the world to make post-it notes and maps you can’t fold back properly!

There are other things you think you need but don’t – items we could surely do without in this world (plastic water bottles anyone)? But as a starting point, see how you do without these three things you think you need but don’t. And be honest, you probably thought it would be pretty cool to live on Gilligan’s Island. Well guess what, they did it without any of the above.

Now go sell all your stuff!


3 thoughts on “3 Things You Think You Need But Don’t”

  1. Amazing how we become so easily programmed (tv) 🙂 and seem that we simply must have a television, car and of course paper. One thing I always make a point of doing when on vacation, is never turning a tv on! Surprisingly, I don’t miss it for a second! We have also gone paperless with billing statements, etc. As far as a car, for those of us living out of the city, that’s a tough one! Enjoyed the read, Robert 🙂

  2. Don’t need the car or the TV. But paper! I love evernote, but I like my paper. Not necessary for wiping (see west Africa, Thailand, etc..) but for love notes? notes to my kids? planning my life scribbles… Gotta have my paper!

    1. Haha, “planning my life scribbles”. We actually use a laminated piece of paper for our scribbles now, kind of like a mini-whiteboard.

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