Defining our needs

Its probably pretty obvious from many of my recent postings that I have been thinking a lot about money lately. Then again when faced with far more bills than money, its not hard to think about money and as a Type A worry wart, the money thing  is on my mind a lot.

So its probably no surprise to hear that I spend a lot of time reading finance books and searching out online information related to money management. This weekend I found myself at a forum where a poster spoke of having major financial woes and folks took the poster to task for mentioning she needed contact lenses and told her that just having Internet access at home is wasteful.

For some reason as someone who wears contacts and does indeed have internet at home, this point really stuck with me, so I am sharing it with you. Besides its Monday and there isn’t much else on my mind.

Now we do have internet at home but since the Spousal Unit works from home, (as in it’s really his job from 9-5 complete with a home office like a traditional office aside from the kiddie corner for girl child) not having internet is not an option. His clients are all over the country and he communicates and transmits work using the internet, so clearly not having internet is not an option. Even my own job allows for working at home and I need the internet. In our case its a legitimate business expense.

That said, I found myself think about would we have internet access at home if we had traditional jobs that did not require it and I have to say the answer is yes. While internet may not have been a need 15-20 years ago and I am old enough to remember quite well the world before the internet, that world does not exist anymore. Even my father who hates computers has started using email.

In fact one could say that folks without any reliable regular access to the internet are at a disadvantage. In super frugal circles, folks always say get rid of the internet, use the library, a cafe, etc. Well at least in my part of the world, while many cafes offer wi-fi, you still need to bring your own laptop to access it and over the years when I traveled, using a internet cafe is far from cheap. Now my library offers internet access but its limited to 20 minutes and there is always a wait.

Let’s be honest, just checking email and responding to email can take 20 minutes, what do you do if you are looking for a job? See my point? Now my best friend does not have internet or cable at his house but he works in media and has access to the internet daily through his job and lives in a large city where its easier to tap into the internet.

Considering we are living in a time where newspapers are going under, soon yours news may only be available online…when you look at it that way, it would seem that having internet could be more than just a frivolous luxury.

Now lets look at contacts, for years I only wore glasses and hated them, then about 10-11 years ago I made the switch to contacts and have been wearing them ever since. Until recently my two week lenses often were worn for months on end but it seems my eyes don’t care for that anymore.

I know that technically glasses are cheaper but they often require more cash upfront compared to contacts, but I am still not sure I would call them a luxury item…maybe that’s just me.

Its easy to say that we only need food, shelter, medical care and transportation but lets be honest it is sometimes the small extras that add value to our lives. The ice cream cone on a hot day with the kids, the desire for a brand new pair of shoes versus thrift store shoes…not needs but simple things that make us smile.

Last night I was talking with my brother about how years of living tight is really starting to fuck with me on a mental level, I should say that our basics get covered (though health insurance has been intermittent for the past two years) but rarely is there enough left for wants. I do eek out enough for the ice cream cone and the shoes but taking care of things like my hair (that’s another topic for another day and its coming soon), trips to visit family (haven’t seem em in years and would like girl child to know she has more family than us) these are the things that elude me and have done so for a while.

Part of me feels like a whiner but honestly its hard to work day in and day out knowing you still won’t be able to take a trip to see family…not a vacation around the world, a trip to see family. You know those folks who you arehappy to see the first day and on day three you are ready to leave.

Nope, seeing family is not a need in the strictest sense but I do think its some of these types of wants that when fulfilled can nourish our soul on a deeper level.

So what about you? How do you define your needs? What do you need to be happy? Are the basics enough or are there other things that seem frivolous yet you need them?