During times of economic uncertainty, many people feel the need to economize whenever possible. This generally involves rethinking a household budget or changing spending habits in order to separate genuine necessities from frivolous purchases. It can be a challenge for an average consumer to determine what he or she could live without if times get tough. Opinions on what constitutes a necessity can vary widely from person to person, but here are some suggestions on what an average consumer on a tightened budget can live without.
Many people purchase bottled water because of its perceived purity or taste compared to municipal tap water. In reality, many bottled waters are processed from the same sources as regular tap water, and the regulations concerning testing are less stringent for bottled water than for municipal tap water. The containers used for bottled water can also be problematic. Using a reputable filter system to remove impurities from regular tap water should offer enough protection during difficult economic times. Bottled water is one item most consumers can live without.
With an increased public awareness of the importance of physical exercise, many people seek out memberships in private gyms and fitness centers. Over time, however, a significant number of these members lose interest in the facilities for logistical or motivational reasons. Instead of locking into a long-term contract with an expensive gym, consumers should consider other venues for exercise.
Many cities offer their residents access to public gymnasiums, while a number of larger churches now offer their own fitness centers and walking tracks to members. Inexpensive exercise equipment can also be installed in private homes, turning a spare bedroom into an affordable gym for residents. Some apartment complexes may also offer exercise rooms as a perk. An expensive gym membership is also something a consumer can learn to live without during a difficult economy.
One popular indulgence many people can live without is gourmet coffee and other upscale beverages. The money saved by not visiting trendy coffee shops on the way to work or school can be put directly into the gas tank or food budget. High quality coffee beans can be purchased in grocery stores for a fraction of the cost of a prepared espresso or latte. Other drinks offered at coffee shops often contain unhealthy levels of sugar or caffeine, which can have a detrimental effect on a consumer's health over time. Gourmet coffees may taste good, but they are another luxury consumers can live without.
While commuting to work in a private car may have its advantages, during difficult economic times carpooling makes more financial sense. Driving four separate cars to the same destination for the same amount of time is far more damaging to the environment than four people sharing a ride to work. Carpooling is not always a convenient solution, but it's a proven alternative to putting 200 miles a week on a single car's engine. Public transportation is also a viable alternative for many people, especially if door-to-door service is not a factor.
These are just a few suggestions to help people determine what they can and cannot live without during times of financial uncertainty. Many times the first items to go are non-essential services, followed by expensive gourmet or snack foods. Curtailing restaurant visits can also save money, along with switching off cable or satellite television services and other outgoing entertainment expenses. New digital television stations and online programming providers can readily fill in most of the entertainment void.