Ten Things I Could Do without (Gulp!) If I Had to

I have been thinking a lot about the Depression lately, what with the recession going on and our post-retirement reduced income.  My kids at school come to me and ask “What if?”  They’re scared and, although I scoffed at a recent news headline that said kids were depressed because of their loss of “stuff,” I really think that’s the case.

My dental hygienist told me of a young family whose church was leading them in the direction those who lived through the Depression took, I think.  They were asked to think of Christmas as a time when their needs, not their wants, were supplied.  They have a sixteen-month-old son, and for him they asked for the kinds of juice and cookies he likes, for socks and for diapers.  For themselves, they asked for laundry detergent, toothpaste, dish soap and other things like that.

I don’t think that, as a society, it would hurt us any to do without some of our wants, and I have been thinking a while about making a list of ten things I could do without.  I saw a school assignment that asked kids to do this and I thought that perhaps my answers would be, umm…more mature?  So, I can’t exactly say that I want to do without that trip to Alaska when we weren’t planning it for another three years.  I think it’s more in the spirit of things to think of things that, if push came to shove, I really would give up.  Here’s my list:

1)  Vehicles.  I suppose, (sigh), that we could be a one-vehicle family.  We currently have three.  I drive a ’93 Olds, the hubby recently reacquired his ’94 Toyota truck, and an ’01 Chevy Venture van resides in our garage unless we take a trip.  If we had to, I suppose the hubby could take me to work and pick me up and we could let the other two vehicles sit.  I wouldn’t like it, but what we needed would still get done.

2) The dishwasher.  I didn’t have one until we moved here in ’99 and I like it.  I like it a lot.  Fact of the matter is, though, that my dishes still got washed when I didn’t have one.

3) The cell phone.  We only have one between us, and we use it basically to keep in touch when we travel and in case of emergency.  I suppose we could do without it if we had to.  People still might help us if we broke down.  Wouldn’t they???

4) Cable.  We don’t have fancy cable.  We live between two cities, just far enough away from both that I have no idea what would come in on our TV if we used rabbit ears, but TV isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anymore, anyway.

5) More new clothes.  I have enough clothes.  I just like to spice things up in the wardrobe department every now and then.  I could probably wear the clothes I have for the next two or three years without buying anything new.  I just don’t want to.   As a matter of fact, I was going to go shopping tomorrow.

6) Buying coffee at a convenience store.  Ever.  I have coffee at home, and I carry a thermos to work.  I don’t buy Starbucks.  Still, I like to have a coffee for the road, and at $1.38 a cup, it does add up.

7) The computer.  Can you hear the hesitation in my voice here?  I like being able to look things up at home, and I like being connected to the outside world in such an instant kind of way.  When the daughter was in Ireland, she answered something that I e-mailed to her within minutes!!  People have lived with far less communication and survived just fine, though.

8)  New books and magazines.  I don’t treat myself to them as often anymore, but they are definitely a want, not a need.

9) Soda.  I used to drink a lot of Diet Coke.  Now, if I am not drinking coffee, I drink lime water of the Sam’s variety.  It’s cheap, and it’s decaffeinated, but so is water.

10) New carpet.  It would be hard to describe to you the fiasco of our five-year-old expensive venture into carpeting.   We had it professionally installed so we wouldn’t have the problems we are having.  It stretched the first time we had it cleaned, and the people who put it in for us told us we were past the time limit, which was just months, for them to stretch it again.  They would charge us if they did it, and besides…restretching comes with no guarantees.  There’s more, but the point is that we hate the carpet and its wrinkles, which are in every room, but we don’t have to replace it.  It’s better than a dirt floor, certainly.  It’s just not what we want.

I have to admit I struggled to get those last three things on my list.  It did me good to write it, though.  As a country, I think we take our wealth for granted, and maybe a little more conserving–and a little more helping others–would make us a better people as a whole.

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2 Responses to “Ten Things I Could Do without (Gulp!) If I Had to”


  1. 1 Tena December 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Becky, good post. Your last line stood out to me, though: “a little more helping others–would make us a better people as a whole.” If we have a balance in our lives by giving to the less fortunate, then we will be a happier people. Having “things”, I feel, is not wrong, as long as we GIVE too. Love ya! I appreciate your honesty here. 🙂

  2. 2 Carol December 16, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I could definitely do without cable; don’t watch TV. And I can make do without new carpet for a little while longer. If I absolutely had to, I could do without a land line, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go the cell phone now that I’ve learned to use it to keep up with my kids. I don’t have to buy coffee out, really. I don’t drink sodas at home, but I do love me some Sonic Cherry Vanilla Coke when I’m rehearsing or performing. New clothes – only when they need replacing; I hate to shop.

    What else could I let go of completely, though? All this junk I have. A huge garage sale would be divine. Other than that, I live a pretty simple life. Downsize the house, perhaps? Get one without a pool? That’d be fine.

    But go without a dishwasher? Dunno. That’d be tough.

    Helping other folks out is the best way to help ourselves. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re helping someone in need.

    Thanks for visiting She Lives.


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