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Today’s Necessities

QUESTION: Matthew on Twitter asks Dave to define necessities on a budget in today’s world. Dave says necessities haven’t changed.

ANSWER: Today’s world hasn’t changed any of it. Necessities are food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities. Food (and that’s not eating out), shelter (and that’s nothing fancy), and clothing (you probably have enough in your closet. Shut up!). These are your necessities. They’re needs versus wants. Transportation—you got a bike? Or get you a hoopty if you can save up $500 or $1,000 to get started, keeping the brakes and the license and the insurance on it and gas in it. That’s transportation. Food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities. That’s paying your light bill. That’s not a $600 cable package because I have to have the NBA, NFL, super-double-triple twist sports package. You can get those things if you want them, but those are not needs. They’re wants.

Go back to ninth-grade civics class. In ninth grade, they teach you civics, and these are food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities. Those are necessities. Everything else is a want. There are some very important wants. I want you to have life insurance on your family. I want you to have a will. I want you to have health insurance. I want you to have some other things, and you want to have some other things—a nicer car, a nicer house, some nicer clothes, the luxury of being able to eat out sometimes. But those are wants. They are not needs.

Very few Americans—a small percentage—struggle with needs. There are a lot of things we want that we can’t do, but there are very few of you that struggle with your basic needs. Yes, there are a few hungry people, but they’re such a low percentage in this culture that most of you have nothing to whine about. Now it’s just about wants. There’s nothing wrong with acquiring some wants, but you need to define them correctly.

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