What do you to consider to be basic necessities/utilities? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 02-04-2011, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am curious as to what people consider to be things that aren't luxuries and that you think of as basic necessities, in terms of monthly or yearly expenditures.

 

These aren't mine specifically but I'm imagining the list would include rent/mortgage/home cost, electric, gas, water, trash for everyone but then there's cell phones vs. landlines, internet, cable, health insurance, life insurance, renters insurance, chiropractor/homeopathic treatments, vitamins, supplements, etc.

 

I'm sure there are more that I'm just not thinking of. Which of these would you consider to be a basic necessity or a luxury? I'm sure it's going to vary based on where you are and what you do?

 

(Edited for clarity, I'm  more interested in the question of basic necessity in your bills vs. a luxury to you, leaving the question of utilities aside.)

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#2 of 20 Old 02-04-2011, 10:34 PM
 
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I think of UTILITIES and BASIC NECESITIES as different things;

UTILITIES are anything I pay for and could use in my home – technologies, services, etc. so phone, internet, electricity, cleaning service, etc.

BASIC NECESSITIES for me means those that would vastly change my standard of living in the areas of physical comfort: gas, electricity and water.  I don’t see phone, internet or others as BASIC to my well being even if they are in my PERSONAL minimum, kwim?  Anything above BASIC is a luxury in my eyes, they may be luxuries I’m accustomed to and would have a hard time letting go of, but if my own or family’s health were in danger these would be the things that could all be cut (internet included even though I use it for work and school) in times of severe distress.


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#3 of 20 Old 02-04-2011, 10:37 PM
 
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duh I left rent/mortgage off my BASIC list, oops, I bet heat, water and electricity would not do much good without a place to use/experience them. 


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#4 of 20 Old 02-04-2011, 11:03 PM
 
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When I think of the term 'utilities' I just think of gas/electric and water/sewer.  anything else is just a bill, either necessary or not.

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#5 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You have a good point, I was really more interested in the question of basic necessities vs. luxuries, rather than utilities which I think just confused the issue. I edited my original question a little for clarity.
 

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Originally Posted by Maluhia View Post

I think of UTILITIES and BASIC NECESITIES as different things;

UTILITIES are anything I pay for and could use in my home – technologies, services, etc. so phone, internet, electricity, cleaning service, etc.

 

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#6 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 06:27 AM
 
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Here's how I see it:

 

Basic for survival:

Rent/mortgage

Gas

Electric

Landline phone

Water

Food/Groceries

Health ins if in US

 

 

Not necessary for survival, but still basic:

Internet

insurance - car and home (we live in Canada so health ins is not an issue)

Dental care

 

Luxuries:

Organic foods, supplements

Non necessary treatments - massages, chiro etc

Cable

Cell phones

Netflix

Cleaning service (if only I could have this!)

 


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#7 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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Here's what I consider when looking at our budget and why.  Sorry this is so long.

 

Necessities:

Health Insurance - Something I would never willingly cut from our budget to save money especially caring for 3 children and one on the way.  I feel that it's just too much risk if something were to happen to one of us.  I would scrimp on other things than go without.

Mortgage/real estate taxes/homeowners insurance -all of which is included in our mortgage payment, and needed or we lose our house...lol

Water/Sewer -we have city water/sewer so don't really have a choice, if you own a home, you have to pay this or they put a lein on your home.

Food - Everyone needs food to live, I could make due with a lot less than I eat now though... boy I'd like to lose about 80 lbs!  (I do pay more money for local milk in glass bottles and try to buy organic foods for our family, which is somewhat of a luxury, I do feel that buying chips/snacks is a luxury also, but buying healthy fresh fruits/veggies and nutritious foods are a necessity)

Adequate clothing/shoes - having clothes that are functional for the seasons and not torn/ripped.

Trash - Pick-up is free each week but the bags cost $1.50 each, recycling pick-up is free also here our city, so the trash can be reduced if you recycle well, which I do.

Electric - You have to have some sort of light since it's dark here now at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Gas or heat of some sort - in MA you have to have some sort of heating for winter, we also use gas for our hot water/stove since it's cheaper than electric.

land line phone/cell phone - I feel is on the border, you can make due without a phone if need be.  We went without many times when I was a kid.  Since here you can still dial 911 from a land line even if you don't subscribe to a service, but as far as keeping in contact with dr's, school, family, and other important things I feel having at least 1 means of communication is necessary (be it a land line or cell phone)  Sometimes I think you can even get away with having a pre-paid cell phone cheaper than having a monthly land line.

We have 2 vehicles and my husband drives a truck for the company he works for (technically isn't ours).  I feel that us owning 1 car of our own that can fit our whole family is a necessity for us.  This includes Car insurance, and having it registered in the state, regular maintenance, and gas to drive it.  Having the additional car and the work truck is a luxury for us.  Though we could rely on public transportation if we didn't have a vehicle at all, plenty of people in our city do, so I guess us even owning one vehicle is a luxury for us by some standard (just not mine...lol)

 

I think everyone should have basic necessities such as a place to live, food, electricity/gas or some sort of heat, some means of communication and transportation, and access to medical attention if the need arises.  Those are all things that I feel are needed to survive.

 

Our Luxuries are:

Cable -Since you can watch all the basic channels for free (and it HD) if you have an antenna, paying additional for more channels I feel is a luxury.  We have a boat load of channels, and some paid channels, I would love to get rid of the cable completely but MIL lives with us and pays rent and she watches way too much tv for me to get rid of it...lol

Cell phone and land line -  We have both and I keep going back and fourth on the idea of getting rid of the land line, since the only people that call it are telemarketers and collection agencies for people we don't even know.

Internet - It would really really suck if I had to cut this out I almost feel that it is a necessity for me, but if I had to I could make do without it if it came to having food to eat or surfing the web...lol Unless I had no other means of communication (land line or cell phone) Then I could justify having the internet.  We also have the internet on our cell phones which is a total luxury.

Us having more than one vehicle.  I feel that is a luxury for us.  I could wait until DH was home from work to go shopping or do the things that I do with my car, but having it is nice and makes life easier, luxury.

My husbands gym membership that he never uses!  Totally a luxury!!!

Netflix - nice but totally not needed since we have cable tv

I donate items to the kids school for the class room, and give a cash donation for the yearly fundraiser - I like to do these things because they help the school, but they aren't a necessity.

Gifts for holidays, birthdays, and parties - There are plenty of people who don't celebrate these things for religious reasons, we could go without, but they make life fun, luxury.

DD's gymnastics classes - It's fun for her and she enjoys it but it's a luxury to be able to pay for her to do that.

Our pets - if times got really tough and it was a choice of feeding my children or 3 cats, the cats would go.  I love them to pieces but not as much as my children even though I've had the cats a lot longer than the kids have been around.  Plus the cats are a PITA because I get stuck scooping the poop all the time, so actually, gladly they'd go.

We get fast food/ take-out like once a week or so and DH gets coffee from Dunkin Donuts here and there (he's cut back a lot because I'm sick of him bringing home Styrofoam cups and throwing our money away when we have a working coffee pot at home), I could make a meal at home the times we eat out and save us some money, but it's convenient, luxury.

 

We don't really do anything extra like getting professional hair cuts (DH does maybe a couple times a year), I don't go to the salon to get my nails done or any other beauty treatments.  Having a cleaning service, getting our cars professionally cleaned....  I have a hard time with paying someone else to do something that I can do myself for a lot less money...lol  Things like vitamins go in with our food budget and medications go in with our medical expenses so they are necessities for us.

 

We are paying off credit card bills that we used to buy luxury items, things like our high def tv, wii, play station 3, camera, camcorder, and other fun stuff like that.  All of which I now realize that we could do without.  We're still in the process of learning how to define needs/wants and using our money wisely.  Having luxuries are great if you can afford the luxuries you have, when we put things on credit cards, we obviously couldn't afford the luxury at the time :)

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#8 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 09:36 AM
 
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Basic: housing, furnishings and household supplies, heat source, potable water source, food, clothing, health care, transportation and its associated costs. 

 

Things I was really glad to have when my parents were able to afford them: indoor toilet, hot water on tap, clothes that other children didn't mock, books that I owned. 

 

As an adult, I've always had the full array of indoor plumbing and I'm happy to have American social welfare programs support the indoor-plumbing lifestyle. orngbiggrin.gif And as an investment in the future American workforce, I'd be thrilled to vote for a massive public-works project that put first-rate interconnectivity (phone/Net/cable) in every home - I think it's good for us as a society to have easy access to information. But the idea that this stuff is a "basic need" is frankly funny to me. Not only is it not necessary to live, it's not even necessary to live happily. Human beings are seriously adaptable creatures. Well-fed, warm, mobile-enough-to-avoid-isolation, clean-enough-to-avoid-waterborne-disease human beings have happiness in their grasp. 

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#9 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 10:29 AM
 
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This is just what I consider, for ME, not anyone else.

 

Basic necessities: rent, renters insurance, electricity, water, propane, car insurance, some gas to get to work and grocery store, basic food.

 

Step up from basic, but not luxury: Phone, internet, extra gas for visiting friends and family, snacks and "fun" food, gifts for immediate family on special occasions.  

 

Luxury: cable or satelite, netflix or other movie package, eating out, hair appointments, entertainment, gifts for non-immediate family.

 

This is basically the three tiered system our house runs on. The first tier is what gets paid/purchased first. These things HAVE to be paid for in order to live a basic life.

 

Tier two comes next. We have home phone and internet, and a pay as you go cell. We rarely have enough money for fun food or extra gas, although we always make sure that we have gifts for the kids on special days.

 

Tier three is last, although I feel like everyone needs SOME special luxury. Ours is netflix. For $10 a month, we can stream all the shows we want onto our Wii, and still get one DVD at a time. We don't have or do any of the other things on tier three.

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#10 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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Basic necessities for life: food, shelter, some clothing, a way to stay warm in winter (since we're in the NE of the country).

 

Basic necessities that living in this culture requires (to comply with zoning laws and laws about the provision and care for children): food, a house/apt with utilities including heat, electricity, and water, enough clothing to wash on a near daily basis, enough sq footage per person, and depending on where we live, a car (where we are now there is essentially no public transportation), at least a basic phone.  I think having a computer and the internet, at least some basic form, is fast becoming a requirement in this culture for communication, especially to research, apply for, and keep jobs, and for children to complete educational requirements.

 

Luxuries: any tech that goes beyond the basic, liberal rather than conservative use of utilities, air conditioning, TV/cable, food that is beyond the basic requirements for nutrition, snack foods/drinks, brand name anything (food,clothing, toys), any entertainment that must be paid for, in some areas, a car, square footage in the living space that surpasses what is required by law per person living there, etc.

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#11 of 20 Old 02-05-2011, 11:09 AM
 
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Rent/mortgage (if you have it)

Electric

Water (if you have to pay for it)

Waste management

Propane (if needed)

Phone

Health insurance

Car insurance

Fuel

Groceries/household

Yearly expenses: property tax, car tag/inspection sticker

 

Luxury:

Internet

Cable/tv

Anything else

 

Notes:

Phone: We keep cell instead of landline so we can have phone access in an emergency on the go but are about to switch to a prepaid unlimited monthly plan to lower our phone bills. If needed the same phone could be put on a daily rate plan that would only charge us for the days used ($2 daily rate, unlimited usage for the day) to be cheaper, if things were really bad then service could be disconnected but the phone could still be used to make 911 calls in a true emergency.

 

Car: We generally keep two cars but if needed we could always stop using one to not have to maintain it's expenses or even sell it if needed. We also have a different view on cars then most do. Most people keep new(er) cars to keep down repairs. Luckily I'm married to a capable mechanic so we opt to keep older cars and maintain them ourselves. When a part goes out it is replaced and then is good for quite some time. It's much cheaper than buying a new car plus the older car has cheaper tag/taxes and insurance costs and can be kept on liability only insurance instead of full coverage. It saves us a ton of money in the long run plus keeps monthly costs down.

 

 

 

 


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#12 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 12:48 AM
 
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Necessities

 - property tax &  management fees for flat

 - school fees for kids

- electricity

- water

 - gas for cooking

 - food

- clothes & shoes (minimum)

- transportation (bus fare, at least)

- lap tops & internet access (kids need for school now, required)

- insurance for house

 

 

Luxuries

- charitable donations (seems wrong not to put it as a necessity, but there it is...)

 - mobile phones

- some pay-TV stations

- car & associated expenses (insurance, registration fees, taxes, petrol)

- trips outside HK

- eating out

- taking taxis

- clothes and shoes beyond the minimum

 

 Another category - Saving & Investments - seems like a necessity, but can be viewed as a luxury

- savings for emergencies

- savings for retirement

-investments for retirement

- savings for kids university education

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#13 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 05:38 AM
 
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Basic essentials- Food, Drinkable water, Shelter and an ability to keep warm in winter (I live in Oz so you could get away with warm blankets and clothing- in the US it would probably mean a way to heat your home).
 
Luxuries- Sorry but to many people in the world these are luxuries and in our society of convenience where everything is easily accessible they are not essential for survival in anyway. To be a 'basic neccessity" it has to be ESSENTIAL TO SUSTAINING LIFE. 
 
- Phones of any sort
- Electricity/gas etc
- Transportation - whether that means your own car or bus tickets
- Insurances of all types- Im loathe to put this into this category because I am one of those people that doesn't believe in insurance, but for all those who think it is essential I will put it here. ;)
 
Completely unnecessary 'fun' expenses
- Internet
- Cable TV - come on how many TV stations do you already have FREE TO AIR in the US- we have 5 here, TOTAL and it is more than enough options. I cannot imagine paying for yet more stations. Then again we don't even have TV any more- by choice :lol
- Movies (renting or going to the cinemas)
- Eating out -  I am definitely guilty of this lately as I hate cooking!
- Beauty treatments/hair dressers/ massages etc etc
- Hobbies, activities, sports, gym, clubs
 
I haven't included things which are just basic rights for every citizen in my country. For example, I would never bother with health insurance living in Australia. We have an awesome health care system which takes care of all its citizens. The only reason people I know get insurance is so they can be treated at private hospitals if they prefer (which are often not as good/hi-tech as the public ones) or to cover non-medical types of treatments they regularly get- such as massage and accupuncture for free. If we lived in the USA I'm not sure it would be possible to survive without health care insurance of some kind. Makes me so glad I live here and know that if my children get sick- they get treated immediately, no matter what!
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#14 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is really interesting to see where people took this. I personally wasn't thinking of basic necessities as that which is only necessary to sustain life. I meant something like the basic minimum to sustain life at a very basic functional level in the modern world. We're all on the internet, so obviously to some extent we participate in modern life. For instance, I do actually consider internet to be a basic necessity in our society, not a luxury, I need it for school and increasingly you need it for work, and no, not everywhere you live is there the ability to go to the library or a coffee shop. Of course I would cancel it before my family went without food, but starvation aside, I wouldn't cancel our internet unless I had to. On the other hand, we have netflix, and no we don't have a tv so there is no access to free entertainment, but I do consider that to be a luxury.

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#15 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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Strictly speaking i know the difference in reality between a necessity and a luxury.  Necessities are somewhere to live, a means to keep warm, food to eat and drinkable water.

 

Everything else is a luxury or at least not a basic need.  

 

Having said that i definitely have "wants" on my "needs" list which are "needs" only in the context of maintaining the standard of living we currently enjoy.

 

So my Needs are:

Mortgage

Gas/Electricity

Food

Council + water Tax (non optional tax one pays here in the UK and which covers things like bin emptying and sewerage)

Car costs (diesel, insurance, tax, running costs like tyres and servicing - only servicing is optional in the UK and to me if i'm taking my kids around in it it needs to be serviced)

Landline and mobile phones

Clothing

Leisure

 

Everything else is a Want, but then a lot of the "needs" could be broken into need and want - we NEED clothing, but i can buy it in thrift stores, it doesn't have to be designer.  We "need" food but i can buy the cheapest meat cuts and dry goods in bulk, we don't need to dine out every meal.  We "need" phones but i don't have to run up a huge bill, just have access to a working phone.  And etc.  When i say "leisure" i just mean whether or not we have a ton of money i make sure we all get a little something every month.  It might be a magazine, a thrift shop toy, a swimming trip, some old fabric for me to sew with, anything really.  In a good month it could be something truly wondrous like a really expensive item of clothing for DP or a meal out to a really nice restaurant.  In a lean month it's more likely to be a trip to our favourite pizzeria or even just a coffee in a cafe together.  IME when couples fight about money it's because one or other or both feels they aren't "seeing" the fruits of their labour and/or feels the other is (like my parents used to fight because my mother scrimped and saved and thrifted so they had some small savings, my dad bought expensive gadgets because he was under the impression that the savings existed because they had enough money - if mum had TOLD him how hard she worked to create the excess it wouldn't have happened).  On top of that DP loves the finer things in life and he can be very "full-on" with activities, and finds it hard to walk away - like Mon-Fri he is at work, even when he's home his head is "in" work.  He's aspie, so that's normal for him, but it means it's really valuable and worthwhile for him to relax.  For this reason i feel we should enjoy ourselves a little.  We have no debt and own everything but our house (no credit)  - i always do this WITHIN the budget.

 

There are things i would consider incredibly useful that we don't have, like a 2nd car, but i can't tell myself it's a need.  It just isn't.

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#16 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OnEarth View Post

This is really interesting to see where people took this. I personally wasn't thinking of basic necessities as that which is only necessary to sustain life. I meant something like the basic minimum to sustain life at a very basic functional level in the modern world. We're all on the internet, so obviously to some extent we participate in modern life. For instance, I do actually consider internet to be a basic necessity in our society, not a luxury, I need it for school and increasingly you need it for work, and no, not everywhere you live is there the ability to go to the library or a coffee shop. Of course I would cancel it before my family went without food, but starvation aside, I wouldn't cancel our internet unless I had to. On the other hand, we have netflix, and no we don't have a tv so there is no access to free entertainment, but I do consider that to be a luxury.


I think there are poeple living very functional lives that don't do things the "regular" way.  And I am not talking about the minority that have off grid renewables.

 

For instance, I WOH and I got to work just fine this morning by walking despite having subzero windchill factor.  I didn't mind at all and was actually the tiniest bit sweaty when I got to work. We also don't have trash pick up either.  It's actually easier in the winter to keep it in our unheated garage (next to my unused car) until we have a 50 gallon container full and then drop it off at the waste station when running other errands than to pay $15 per month and remember to set it out weekly.

 

There's a blog I read often where the author only takes cold showers because it conserves the propane in his tank in the RV he lives in.  That is something I would never do.  I love a good hot shower more than anything, but it works for him.

 

My folks live rurally and have electricity and water service, but they have septic for waste and use wood for heating their house and hot water.

 

 
 

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#17 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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I think Internet (high speed) and cell phones are a necessity.  Not necessarily a fancy smartphone - just a basic phone.  I think a landline is actually more of a luxury sometimes.

 

Health insurance, well see, in America I consider that a necessity BUT I don't have it.  Which sucks.  It's the one thing I stress about.

 

We don't have life insurance, we don't do homeopathic treatments or use supplements, etc.

 

A gym membership is also a luxury - you can get exercise without one.

 

Pets many people consider luxuries but honestly I don't think "responsible pet ownership" requires all that they brainwash you in America to do.  Most other countries don't have expensive groomers/trainers/supplements/yearly checkups/doggie daycamps/Halloween costumes, etc.  That can get mad expensive really quickly - but you can have pets without treating the animal as royalty financially.  Get them rabies shots and whatever else they NEED and they'll be just as happy as not. 


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#18 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 07:55 AM
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I don't have a lot of time to post, but somewhere upthread someone put chiropractic care into the "luxury" category, and health insurance in the "necessity" category. For me, it's the other way around. Allopathic medicine has, in the past, done nothing for my upper back, neck, and shoulder troubles. The insurance I can get through my job does not cover chiropractic, which actually helps me to stay functional. So my money goes to the chiropractor rather than to the insurance company, and I just try to not get sick.

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#19 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 08:30 AM
 
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Me too on the Internet and cell phones. I cannot imagine driving out in the terrible weather we have here in winter without a cell phone in case of emergency, the high is going to be 4F today, and we live in the country, getting stuck or having car trouble could be a problem if you couldn't call for help.. I have a super basic, cheap cell phone plan.

 

However, I cannot remember the last time we had a land line. I can't imagine what I would need one for.

 

On the topic of the Internet though, even though I consider it essential for us (we won't pay for trash pick up, but we insist on high speed Internet!) I am surprised how many people I meet who don't use it and do not have a computer. Which is totally cool, just one of those things that surprises me. We use the internet for everything. Banking, research, communication with family, entertainment.
 

Quote:
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I think Internet (high speed) and cell phones are a necessity.  Not necessarily a fancy smartphone - just a basic phone.  I think a landline is actually more of a luxury sometimes.

 

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#20 of 20 Old 02-08-2011, 11:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post

I don't have a lot of time to post, but somewhere upthread someone put chiropractic care into the "luxury" category, and health insurance in the "necessity" category. For me, it's the other way around. Allopathic medicine has, in the past, done nothing for my upper back, neck, and shoulder troubles. The insurance I can get through my job does not cover chiropractic, which actually helps me to stay functional. So my money goes to the chiropractor rather than to the insurance company, and I just try to not get sick.

 

I agree that Chiro can definitely help some people. But what I was meaning was that you NEED health insurance or something to help you if you get in a bad car wreck, get cancer etc. Chiro won't help you (unfortunately) if you need to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.
 


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