An Internet connection. An annual vacation. The financial freedom to shop for birthdays and other special occasions. Are these essentials or luxuries? For many of today’s baby boomers, they are essentials.
According to a survey conducted by MainStay Investments and reported by MarketWatch, 84 percent of boomers consider an Internet connection a necessity, 66 percent said it’s essential to be able to shop for special occasions, and 50 percent said they need a once-a-year vacation.
Other research into the needs vs. wants debate shows that the Great Recession is having an impact. Until recently, the trend was for former luxuries to morph into needs over time. However, the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking this topic, discovered a countertrend in its most recent survey: a significant number of people are rethinking what they truly need. Items going through the most significant necessity-to-luxury reclassification include microwave ovens, clothes dryers, home air conditioning, dishwashers, and TV sets.
A couple of years ago, we decided to become a one-car family. When our aging second car broke down, I remember automatically assuming we would get another car. But soon after my wife suggested that we try living with one car, I warmed up to the idea, and we’ve never looked back. I no longer view having two cars as a necessity.
What about you? Has the recession prompted you to reclassify any needs as wants? And despite the economy, what items do you consider to be a necessity that you once thought of as luxury?
By the way, I haven’t seen any surveys asking whether an iPad is a luxury or a necessity. However, the Pew Research Center did ask about an iPod in its most recent survey. Three percent of respondents labeled it a necessity in 2009 – up one percentage point from the previous survey in 2006.