Monday, September 29, 2014

What Do You Really Need?

How much do you really need to get through the day?

How much do you need to be comfortable?

After reading this blog last week, I felt inspired to blog my thoughts on the issue. Optimistic Existentialist posed the idea that we have mixed up our needs with our wants. We don't need, for instance, a house like this:



Or a car like this:



Or a closet that looks like this:



It's a subject I know a little bit about. We went through the 2010 Nashville flood. Our house was in this neighborhood:



After our home sat in four inches of water for a day or two due to an Army Corps. of Engineers error, we had to tear out the drywall and flooring and rebuild.



When you're just trying to sleep in your own house--the one you're paying a monthly mortgage to live in--you seriously reevaluate what's important to you. You need just a few things to live. Four walls and a roof, basic utilities, a bed, and a kitchen. Once your basic needs are met, there are a few basic "luxuries" you need to live your day-to-day life. Among them are:


And:



Even those are more "wants" than "needs," though (unless you need a laptop to make a living).

Think about it. If you lost everything you own and had to rebuild your life, what would you really need outside of your loved ones? How much extra "stuff" do you have in your life?

Another fun video:



55 comments:

  1. But I do need that car...
    Sorry you had to rebuild your house. We get flooding around here and it's scary how just a little water can destroy a house.
    I do need my computer. And my guitars. Otherwise, stuff is stuff, and it can be replaced. Never been big on stuff anyway.

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  2. It's always good to evaluate one's priorities. I'm not sure I need much more than my family.

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  3. Floods give me extreme creeps... all of the people who lost their houses in the May floods here in my country still have no houses and what's worse we have new floods and mudslides almost each week... I can't even imagine how they will spend the winter and where given that there are entire villages left without roads, bridges, houses, fields....

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  4. Yes, Dezmond, we were fortunate here in Nashville that FEMA covered the cost of rental/hotel for 30 days while people rebuilt. They could get it extended if they didn't have anywhere else to stay. Many people aren't insured against floods, earthquakes, or mudslides and they don't realize basic homeowner's insurance doesn't cover it.

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  5. Yes it's quite terrible. We had something like that arounf the city last week and it keeps happenong everywhere. It's just so sad...

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  6. Laptop, transportation and the essentials, food, water, etc. I need. Rest of it can burn down for all I care, I'll grab the cats, take my insurance check and move on. You really learn what you need when **** hits the fan, been there a few times and yep, I know none of that extra crap really matters. Apt building caught fire once I was in, and as I thought about it, I knew I didn't need anything in there once I snuck in and got the cat out, so I just watched it burn hahaha

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  7. I believe whomever said, "We spend the first half of our life collecting stuff and the last half trying to let go of it." had it right. Once you collect all that stuff, it is really difficult to get rid of it. I finally understand why my mother didn't want "things" for gifts as she aged. As I get older I find all I really want and need is my family, the basic necessities, and of course my computer.

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  8. It's amazing how little you do need to survive.
    I live alone and have been living with less than others. I don't have a couch, or a TV or cable and I'm okay with that. I just prefer to have a TV for sports and movies...that'll help during the cold winter. It'll also help give my lap top a break! I'm tired of watching movies on it!
    I didn't want to depend on the internet, but you really need it to stay in touch with family nowadays. To view pictures, etc. You need it to find a job or to pay bills, etc.
    I want my laptop so I can write! I heard about a site called "Self Control" that you can add certain sites to block so you don't wast time on them, like facebook or twitter. I wish it was available for PCs, and not just for MACs. If you know of a site, let me know!
    But other than that- I just like my kitchen table, bed and nice blankets and curtains. You need clothes and shoes and soaps and brushes - food and water.
    I hate living in a small country town because it means I need a car- unlike living in the city where public transportation is available 24/7!
    I think living in my studio in Boston w/out a car was the best test of life- and it was then I realized how easy it is to be a minimalist!

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  9. Sorry about your house being in the flood. I can sympathize. Ours had 4 feet of water in our basement when the Hydro Power turned the power off in our city without warning. I had $30,000. worth of damage to my shop in the basement.

    We lived in the house with a coleman stove on the deck. We needed very little to get by and the thing I like the most was the silence of no TV, no radio, and not telephone. Peace...

    HUgs,
    JB

    We stayed in our house and travelled by huge tractor to and from the barn to milk the cows and feed the animals.

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  10. that must have been dreadful. i need my health. i need my space. food, water, electricity, plumbing and my dogs. and a/c in the summer. :)

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  11. Sorry to hear about your flood experience. I agree about needing little, but I want that completely organized closet! :)

    Yvonne

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  12. Oh, Stephanie, that is awful on the flooding! :(

    I could totally get by with a lot less stuff. We're actually looking forward to downsizing once our son is off on his own in another few years. Besides my needs, the only "wants" I'd keep would be my computer and my iPad, books, and a few things for hobbies--like knitting and drawing supplies. I'd also be happy in a very tiny home. :)

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  13. it's def interesting having these kinds of epiphanies...I just need a house with heat/AC and my laptop and fam and I'm good! All that extra space with a mansion like that just looks like extra things to clean lol

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  14. Since we live in a state where wildfires can be prevalent and because evacuations can occur because of such, I often wonder what I would take (in addition to family and pets) if we had to evacuate. My Bible, computer, important papers and clothes for a few days always seem to come to mind. I think that's probably all we really need. I think we do have too much (speaking as a society) and the advertisers seem to think we need more :)

    betty

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  15. I think I am very lucky in that I don't need anything that I can't afford.

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  16. Excellent post, Stephanie. We tell ourselves that so many things are necessities, when the truth is that they're really luxuries.

    I'll find myself complaining about my computer being slow, completely forgetting that there are people in this world who don't even homes, let alone computers.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

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  17. I can so relate. My car is 12 years old. It runs just fine and I'll keep it as long and I can. About all I splurge on is books. We have way too many books.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  18. So sorry to hear you had to rebuild your home and have to go through a flood but from there you really did review what you really needed. Health is most important and family, of course. We could live in a mansion but if we lost our family and friends and had poor health we would trade in that home and wealth and have the family and friends and ones health. Less is more but i was a bad girl on the weekend and there was a garage sale just on paper crafting...yup I got more stuff and was in a tizzy over beautiful paper:)

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  19. Aside from my family, my laptop, and my coffee, I'm not sure I'd need anything else!

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  20. HI Stephanie! Oh my gosh, that video was priceless! Confession: I used to shop QVC. Not a proud moment.
    What a terrible experience you went through, how awful. But you learned so much from it! How much do I really need is a question I should ask myself daily. I have enough, and I have family who would help me out in a New York minute. I am really blessed.
    Great post!
    Ceil

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  21. I will say in addition to your family, pets, and laptops, the one thing you'll wish you saved if something happens to your home are your photos and rare mementos. Look around at the things you couldn't replace and have a plan to grab those. Your insurance will replace your TV, furniture, etc., but you can never replace that clock on your mantle that your grandmother gave you or that box of photos from your childhood.

    And yeah, Ceil, it's funny that I don't even like country music but two of the funniest videos I could think of lately to go with my blog posts were country. The one above was one I saw on a TV show years ago when they were interviewing Diamond Rio. You can tell how old the video/song is by the Gateway PC boxes in the video!

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  22. Hi,
    Great post, and I must say I too am not sure I need much more than my family.
    Carla

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  23. Yes. I justify my wants (books, the garden) as a means of keeping me sane(ish). And I over gratify them - and am still only sane(ish).

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  24. Yikes, I had no idea you'd been flooded. I am generally aware of my wants vs needs. I'm on the opposite side of that spectrum. I rarely buy stuff for myself and I could probably do with a few spending splurges.

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  25. I need my dogs, food and water and shelter for them, and a book for me.

    Love,
    Janie

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  26. I try to live life rather simply. I do have things that are "wants" rather than needs.

    I will say there's nothing wrong with having a TV or a computer, they're not luxuries. Unless you want a super-size TV or the fastest laptop out there.

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  27. Yeah, we were fortunate in the flood of '11 around here in that our house was not hit but we were stranded within a 4 mile radius with no open reachable stores, no power, and limited cell service for 5 days. The only real issue we had was a backed up septic system that had to be re-dug.I even got chewed out by the boss for not getting to work for a week!

    Queenie and I had the opportunity to help several families who were directly affected rebuild. Kinda a humbling experience for those folks. Eye opening for us.

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  28. I'm a minimalist so I don't have a lot of extras, but I would really miss my kitchen gadgets if I had to pare back!

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  29. Sorry about the house. That really sucks.

    We have a lot of stuff in our house. My family tends to reflect the TV show Hoarders at times, because we don't get rid of potentially useful things. We don't upgrade what we have either though. Take my car for example. Who cares that the dash is falling apart, there's a hole in the hood, the lock doesn't work, the door is cracked, and there's a hole where the dome light should be? It still functions.

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  30. Well said....though I could seriously go for that closet;)
    How was your vacation?

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  31. The biggest lesson I ever learned was that shelter was not a guarantee, no matter who you are or what your resources. Always be prepared and never judge others.

    Sounds like you done good! :)

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  32. When Keith posed the question I totally agreed. I'm moving this summer... at first I thought I need something bigger... I realized I have been wanting to get rid if 50% of my stuff before I move... So then I thought why do I want bigger? I don't want more stuff ... so I'm going to look for a place that is what I need..;-)

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  33. I live in a really small house so I can't have too much stuff unless I want to look like a hoarder. However, it hasn't stopped me from having too many books...

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  34. So sorry that your house was flooded a few year ago. I remember seeing that damage on the news and it stinks that you experienced it firsthand.

    You are right though- most of us have way more than we need. I definitely need running water (bathroom/shower/sink) and I sleep best if I am in my bed, but besides that I don't need most of the stuff I have. I do love my coffee pot though (and I need my computer for writing). :)

    Always good to stop and take stock!
    ~Jess

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  35. Oh NO! That's terrible. Well I need very little to live, but I seem to want everything. I'm not proud of that.:)

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  36. Great post. As we downsize to prepare for a move to an isolated island, I think about this more and more. And the more stuff I get rid of, the easier it is to keep going and sell more and more of my belongings.

    Unfortunately, I keep buying too much when I travel! Haven't been able to nip that habit in the bud yet.

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  37. It's true that we don't need a lot to survive. But I hope our lives are not merely about surviving, but about enjoying ourselves too. True, we don't need such big houses etc to be happy, but a cup of good tea, a blanket, a computer, and a good book can go a long way :-)

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  38. We have flash floods and hurricanes, so I can relate. I don't need a flashy car or house. I've also been scaling back on the purchases and asking myself if I really need things. Another thing I've been doing is throwing out and donating things. I want to make life simpler.

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  39. Wow - I am so sorry about the hard times you have been facing and I completely commend you for sharing with us what really is important to you... to us all.. even if we don't realise it.

    Thank you.

    I am a new follower on GFC xxx

    www.bohemianmuses.blogspot.com

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  40. I have also suffered some losses, but I am fortunate to want and need exactly what I have. Good post!

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  41. Ugh - saggy drywall and buckling floors. So sorry for you! It's amazing how many 'needs' are really only 'wants'. We forget that so easily.

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  42. If the flood waters came, what would I grab? That is the best way to determine what is important for me. I'm absolutely a sap and I love pictures and keepsakes, but lately I've realized that the last thing I'd want to be is a hoarder. I need to trim down.

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  43. We live very minimally, but a disaster like a flood definitely helps put things in perspective. However, at the end of the day, it's who you surround yourself with and how you treat them at really matters IMO. I'd save my pets and as many pics/mementos as I can because those are the only things that aren't replaceable.

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  44. What a wonderfully thought provoking post. Given my recent medical diagnosis I have certainly given this very subject some thought of late. I'm with you on the laptop/computer and would add my books to my list.

    PS. An abbess in brief is the female equal of an abbot. Generally the superior of a community of nuns, in the case of the book I reviewed Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba is a sort of Buddhist/zen abbess.

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  45. Huge difference between want and need. Right now in CA we need water, so I'm focused on a very basic requirement for life. Great post to start my day. Thanks.

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  46. Oh that's awful. Glad you were able to get it rebuilt.

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  47. I'm so sorry you guys were involved in the Nashville flood. My best friend lives in Murfreesboro but works downtown and was keeping me abreast of the flood when it happened. That was so crazy and scary! I'm sure it definitely helped put things in perspective pretty quickly! I also liked Keith's post!

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  48. A place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear.
    And beer.
    I'd totally need some beer.
    How else would I be able to forget that I don't have anything?

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  49. My house was stripped due to water damage too. Completely gutted, no walls or floors. That's when you learn what you really need vs what you'd like.

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  50. I don't even have a flat-screen TV. I'm waiting until the TV I have dies. And I also don't have a laptop...I've learned to live without a lot of luxuries. I've been in bad places before and this year has been especially tough financially. I'm still in a bad place, but I'm optimistic. :)

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  51. Have a good evening, Stephanie.

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  52. At this point, with baby girl on the way, I feel like we need much more than I ever thought. I tried to stick to the "if a mother in the early 1900s didn't need it, I don't either" rule as I created the baby registry, and it seems like we actually need everything for which we asked. (Perhaps not right away, but I think everything will find a use eventually.)

    Oh, and post-season baseball. I NEED the Royals to win tonight :-) 29 years in the making, a girl NEEDS to see her team win!!

    Have a great Tuesday night, Stephanie!

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  53. I remember when your house flooded. What a terrible ordeal that was. But it's true. Sometimes it does take a disaster like that to remind us of what's really important.

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  54. That is a question that really makes you think. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose my home and I do know the first (material) thing I would grab would be the backup drives -- photos. We got hit hard in 2008 and we have learned to live a different life style. We've learned to live within our means!

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  55. I'm sorry to hear that your house was flooded. However, as with most bad events in life, it provided a lesson or reminder.

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