Financial Friday #2 – Luxury Versus Necessity

A Bad Joke

What’s does our dishwasher and washing machine have in common?

They’re both washed up!

Sorry, a far reach for an intro, but it’s done now.

The Definition

This week we were forced to get a really good understanding of the difference between a luxury and a necessity.  Google defines a luxury as an inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.   I would argue that a luxury is indeed inessential and desirable, but not always does it need be to be expensive.  A morning coffee at Starbucks to me is a luxury not a necessity.  The definition of a necessity is the fact of being required or indispensable.  A simplified example of these would be the difference between diamond-studded teeth (luxury) and teeth (necessity).

Sometimes though defining what is a luxury and what is a necessity is just not that simple.  It’s purely a matter of perspective, and such is the dilemma we were faced with upon the demise of two household appliances, the washing machine and the dishwasher.

Youth Perspective on Luxury and Necessity

As per our children:

                Dishwasher – Necessity!

                Washing Machine – What’s that?

General Perspective

In the privileged lifestyle that we enjoy, most of us would consider both items as necessities and would have a strong argument for such as they both contribute to helping us function more efficiently through our day.   However, we were in a position where we were going to have to use our emergency fund for this purchase which required us to do the following analysis.

The Test

Because we were forced to, I found that the best way to define a luxury versus a necessity was to take said item away and analyze what happens when they’re gone and how well you adjust to living without (for a short while).  In this case, our appliances made that decision much easier in the fact that they turned themselves off and did not go back on again.

Here is a summary of the aftereffects of a week without a washing machine versus a week without a dishwasher.

After a Week Without the Washing Machine

Everyone is donning the dregs of their wardrobe…that sarong from Maui does not make great wintertime attire.   Strange looks from fellow grocery shoppers especially as I’m lacking the tan…would have been better to wear my pajama pants.  Those who do not produce clothes of seasons past start to have a slightly disheveled appearance and talk of turning underwear inside out for more wears.  White towels turn grey.  Dogs think we’ve never smelled better.  People we encounter disagree.  Mom gives up and hauls large baskets of clothes to her own mother’s house for washing.  Retires sarong.

Conclusion: Necessity

After a Week Without the Dishwasher

Early in the week, complaining coming from children about dish washing duty.  Complaining from mom and dad who find said children bringing up glasses and plates from secret places strategically when said parent is elbow deep in a sink full of dishes saying…”while you’re already washing dishes, do you mind?”  Frustration results in enacting a complicated schedule of who washes what when which everyone ignores. Settles to a nice routine when mom and dad accept they’ll be doing the lion’s share of the dish washing during the day, but enact dinnertime as a time when children wash and dry.  Conversations are had between parents, parents to children and sibling to sibling while washing and drying dishes.  Laughter emanates from the kitchen. Washing alone during the day becomes an exercise in mindfulness.

Conclusion: Luxury

The Outcome

We will one day own a dishwater again, but for now, its position as a luxury item counters against us using our emergency fund to cover the cost; though, our son did hint that he is putting it on his Christmas list. The washing machine, determined to be a necessity, has come out of the emergency fund and will be arriving this week.

Financial Update:

Emergency Fund Goal: $6000

Current Saved: $4300 – (Washing Machine – $700!)

The Five People

The Breakup

“I’m afraid I can’t see you anymore.”

“What?!  Why?”

“My guru said that I need to surround myself with five people who will help me towards my journey of (fill in blank – being fit/a more positive person/successful/enlightened/rich), and you just don’t fit the bill.

“That’s very hurtful.”

“Yes, it is, but please understand that I’m only just trying to find the best version of myself, and you’re an anchor that’s pulling me down.”

“Do you really think that’s how you find the best version of yourself?”

“That’s what my guru told me, and they are really (fill in the blank – fit/positive/successful/enlightened/rich) so they must know.”

“I can’t help but think that there’s more to it than that.”

“Nope, this is the way.  Goodbye, Mom.”

The Beef

My name is Jane, and I’m a self-help addict in any form…video, book, audio book, but particularly lately podcasts. Immersing myself in some else’s wisdom brings me so much joy, and there is such an abundance of *wisdom* out there. A day is incomplete without a good one liner to jot down in my notebook.

However, there is one popular piece of advice which I keep stumbling across and causes a visceral reaction like nails on a chalkboard for me.  If I hear it, I’m super quick to be flipping the pages or fast forwarding the podcast because I just have no patience for it, and the piece of advice is…Whatever your goal/intention, you need to find five people who can encourage you towards that goal. 

On the surface, a pretty harmless piece of advice and makes perfect sense too in many ways., right.  Let’s face it, how often do we sit down to brunch with our friends, and one makes a comment about how great someone’s skin looks followed by the question “What have you been doing to make your skin look so great?”  This great-looking skin friend enthusiastically launches into the newest craze of rubbing a homemade combination of applesauce and turmeric on their face. Next thing is you find yourself considering whether you need to adopt such a skin care regimen, and if you’re fortunate, you’ll stop after considering it, but the fact of the matter is you will think about it and may even do it.  Such is the power of enthusiastic information delivered about something you may feel lacking for yourself.

If you want a reason why this advice is dangerous, read the comments after such advice and see how the words are interpreted.  People are immediately asking for advice on how to give under-performing, couch-potato friends/family the boot and actively advertising for new “successful” friends. 

Loyalty, Smoyalty

What happened to loyalty?  What happened to unconditional love (with boundaries…always need those boundaries)?  What happened to accepting people where they are on their journey, faults and all?  What happened to valuing our fellow humans and the lessons they teach us about ourselves?

Dropped in the pursuit of “bettering ourselves” that’s where.

I would argue that this advice while well meaning needs an update.  After all what are our five friends for?  Advice, mentorship, accountability, encouragement and butt kicking. I would argue that in this day and age we can get all that without having to kick our friend to the curb.

The New Improved Advice

So instead of five people, I would argue for “five tools” to get us to our intention/goal.  Here is an example for someone who may be trying to get in shape.

Advice – Podcasts on motivation, health and fitness.

Mentorship – There are hundreds of gurus you can follow through YouTube or another platform.  Better yet, read others’ success stories and see how they got there and overcame hurdles.

Accountability – A dog.  Nothing keeps you accountable to that daily walk/run like your dog. Still struggling? Get two.

Encourager – Facebook groups dedicated to your specific goal.

Butt kicker – There are apps that can kick your butt, but I would argue that a dog is the best motivator.

The Power is In You

Yes, it great to have people instead of inanimate objects (I stand by the dog though), but if you find yourself mulling over who you need to drop from your life and blaming those in your life for holding you back, perhaps this would be the better, kinder option. 

Because “your better self” already exists, you just keep covering it over with crap.  Tapping into your power is up to you…no five friends are going to get you there, but your dog will do most of the heavy lifting. 

What are one of your five tools to keep you on track with your goals? This “addict” would love to know. =)

Note: The above does not apply to toxic or abusive relationships….remember boundaries!

Photo by Hannah Valentine on Unsplash