Nice to Have vs Need to Have

As the end of 2008 nears and the beginning of 2009 looms, I find myself re-evaluating expenses and material possessions. I do this by applying the ubiquitous 80-20 rule to "Nice to Have" vs "Need to Have". As I consider my inventory of expenses and material possessions, I realize that most of what I have or spend falls into the "Nice to Have" category. When I categorize the things that fall into the "Need to Have" column, I find that over the past year, I've let the ratio get out of whack. That is, the ratio of Nice vs Need has risen over the past year to closer to 90/10 instead of 80/20.

Now obviously housing costs take up a larger portion of almost everybody's budget than 10 or 20 percent but I consider the "Need to Have" requirement for housing to be the average cost of renting a room in an inexpensive part of the city--that's the minimum I'd "need" to survive. Add in the expense of a downtown, two-bedroom apartment and most of my housing costs fall in the "Nice to Have" category. Since I'm not ready to sacrifice where I live nor am I ready to give up my three cats (don't ask, long story), I need to de-clutter and also get rid of some expenses that I find "Nice to Have".

Some early candidates for the heave-ho: cable tv--at least my HD box with PVR, all of my extra golf clubs, lots of old clothes I don't wear, my land-line, an extra 27" TV that I haven't even plugged in for 3 years, and old bills that I still need to shred so I can store new ones.

The moral of the story is, it's hard to build your vitality when you've got unproductive "stuff" lying around and money being spent on things that return little to no value.

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