No. You don't actually need it. You are kidding yourself by saying "need" instead of "want". Your lizard brain is trying to fool you. Don't let it!
If you are considering a purchase that provides anything other than basic:
- Shelter: A place to sit, eat, bathe and sleep that is heated and/or cooled as needed.
- Clothing: Keeps you warm and dry and is acceptable attire for your occupation(s).
- Sustenance: Real, nutritious and filling food.
- Health: Hygiene habits and emergency or preventative medical interventions required to maintain optimal health
- Transportation: Gets you where you need to go on a regular and reliable basis.
- Entertainment: you are able to learn, play and connect with others.
...it is a WANT, not a NEED. Period!
It's hard to swallow, given that a significant portion of an average person's pay cheque, 25 - 75% or even more, goes to wants, not needs.
Don't believe me?
I ran the numbers and the basics cost under $15,000 per year, and that is by going above and beyond what the absolute basic definition of "need" is. If you want to review what made the cut, I have itemized the purchases in a reasonable level of detail at the end of this post.
Total up front costs: furniture, clothing, sundries = $1,474*
An individual would have the necessary furniture to eat & sleep and clothing that is appropriate for work, exercise, and outdoor activities, including commuting.
Total monthly costs = $1,085
Includes a generous bachelor apartment close to essential services, 2 transportation options other than walking and a large food allowance for an individual.
Total cost for Year 1 = $14,494**
Total cost Year 2 and every subsequent year = $13,167***
The assumptions I have included in the figures above enable an average individual to live independently, meet all basic human needs and offers the potential to live an active, healthy and fulfilling life. Indeed, I would challenge that he/she could even manage to achieve this on less than what I have included, but I wanted to make this summary reasonable in the eyes of the mainstream.
I challenge you to take a look at your own spending with fresh eyes. Can you reclassify "needs" into "wants" where they belong based on this view? Any surprises? Agree/don't agree? Did I miss anything fundamental to a person's health and welfare? I'm all ears.
Detailed List of One-time and Monthly Purchases
Let's review the costs to provide the above list to an average adult. We are providing this person the means to be healthy and productive.
1. Shelter ($504/mth):
- Living space: 1-bedroom apartment that includes fridge, stove, bathroom, heat and water & is close to a huge park, grocery store, bus route and health services = $504/month. Technically, this should have been a bachelor suite, but none were readily available
- Furniture: IKEA Sofa bed + sheets, pillow and blanket & 4-chair dining set = $600
- Up front acquisition cost: transportation cost to source/deliver one-times = $50
- Kitchen stuffs: basics to prep food, eat it, store it and clean for 4 people to ensure an individual can have friends/family over and share a meal = $105
- Bathroom: towel, face cloth, hair brush = $10.50
- Property Insurance: what is there to insure? = $0
- Daily attire: 2 sets (tops, bottoms - work appropriate) & 7 sets undergarments and shoes = $319
- Dressing for the elements (rain/snow/heat/sun): $247
- Backpack to transport groceries and other supplies = $17
3. Sustenance ($400/mth):
- Food allowance: $350 per month, which is MORE than sufficient for an adult to eat fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and other regularly consumed foods that promote health and wellbeing.
- Minor incidental purchases: usually purchased at a supermarket (pen & paper, light bulbs, band aids, stamps etc.) = $50 per month
4. Health ($76/mth):
- Teeth: toothbrush, floss and tooth paste: $4/month
- Dentist: $90 every 9 months = $10/month
- Eye exam & glasses: $150 every 2 years = $6/month
- Hygiene: soap, shampoo, razor, lotion, household cleaner, dish soap, deodorant, bathroom tissue = $40/month
- Laundry = $16/month for use of laundromat and detergent
- Medical: yearly check up = no cost in Canada
- Insurance: coverage needs depend on individual, low income may mean no cost
5. Transportation ($85/month):
- Walking = $0 (walking shoes included in clothing costs)
- Bicycle: bicycle & lock = $125
- Public transportation: monthly bus pass**** = $85
6. Entertainment & Community ($20/month):
- Basic prepaid voice-only cellphone with alarm clock feature****: $20/month
- Library: Internet, books, other entertainment = FREE
- Park = FREE
- Volunteer opportunities = FREE
- Community Centre services = most are FREE
- Walking/biking/running/hiking = FREE
- Spending time with friends & loved ones = FREE
- Other entertainment: see city community calendar for opportunities = FREE
*Everything included is NEW and based on shopping at IKEA, and lower cost brand name stores. Up front costs would be significantly lower by purchasing used furniture and other basics to set up an apartment.
**And that is if you are an individual living alone. If you live with someone, your costs have automatically gone down by 20 - 24% by sharing accommodations alone!
***Includes replacement of upfront costs at of 10% of the total initial outlay yearly, which is VERY generous. Does not factor in inflation.
****The bus pass and the cellphone may be excessive as a "need". They total $1,260 ($1,020 & $240 respectively) per year or nearly 10% of total spend. Preferably, a person would live in proximity of work/public services, using public transportation only as needed and could forego significant cellphone use by using email at work/library, calling during free evening and weekend calling time and using alternate phone service where available during the day.