things you actually need and deserve

The 5 Things You Actually Need and Deserve in Life

Here at Money Saved is Money Earned we spend a lot of time talking about ways to save money, many of which involve understanding how financial systems work so you can use them to your advantage rather than them taking advantage of you.

However, taking full advantage of Money Earned through Money Saved requires you to go a step further by learning how to shift your mindset from consumerism to frugalism.

You see, it is only through largely letting go of consumerist habits and attitudes that you can begin to find more satisfaction in what you save than what you spend.

A large part of shifting the mindset is to truly understand what it is we actually need to live our lives. We must be able to distinguish between what we want, and what we actually need.

We must also let go of the attitude of deserving. Many people justify bad purchases and decisions based on deserves. I’m a human being, so I deserve this.

This attitude of deserving seems to be especially pervasive right now, where a lot of people feel that they deserve luxuries and privileges just for existing. It doesn’t matter whether or not I can afford it, or in some cases, whether I’ve worked hard for it, I deserve and need it to be happy.

Well, we’re here to tell you that there are some things you do deserve, but they probably aren’t what you think.

In fact, there are only 5 things you actually need and deserve in this life, and unfortunately, not even these things are guaranteed. Anything above and beyond are things you must earn, and while we acknowledge that many individuals are given a head start in life, we guarantee they will fall far behind by the finish line if they do not continue to earn their way.

We are also not saying that you can’t indulge in luxuries and your wants, we are simply saying if you want to reach financial freedom you must work hard, spend smart, and live within your means.

So, what are the 5 things you actually need and deserve and why should you care?

Because if you have these things you have everything you need to do great things.

1. Food/Water

This may seem like a no-brainer, but for many people in this country and throughout the world not having enough food or water is a major concern.

In fact, around 42 million Americans were food insecure in 2016, which included 13 million children. Furthermore, there were around 5.4 million seniors that were food insecure in 2015. These numbers reflect what’s going on in our own country, and grow significantly when world statistics are considered.

Access to water is another prevalent issue, although not as much in the U.S. The majority of people affected by lack of access to water live in Africa and Asia, and many individuals must walk up to 6 kilometers (about 3 ¾ miles) a day to collect water.

When you are hungry, or do not have easy access to water, all other desires tend to fade into the background. You don’t just need food and water to live, you need it to develop and thrive, and to allow your body and brain to work to its fullest. You need these things first if you want to partake in other pursuits.

Food and water are the most basic needs/deserves we have.

I (Sebastian) went through a couple of tough years. There were times where I often went hungry and had only two or three pairs of clothes to wear. I had a sick family member and a baby brother, and any food we had went to them first. I remember days where I only had one small meal, and I learned to ignore the hunger pangs as best I could. This took a toll on me of course, and I struggled to concentrate in school and elsewhere.

When I was growing up everyone had to walk a mile to the nearest market to get fresh food just for the day or for part of the day (because we didn’t have refrigeration). Over time you get used to it, and it becomes normal. That is human nature.

Similarly, we are used to living at a certain level here in the U.S., and it is just our normal. Anytime we deviate from our normal life we worry and even complain.

I have experienced two normals: one being to survive and the other to maintain a comfortable living. I remember the awe I felt the first time I stepped into a grocery store in the U.S. The abundance of food, clothes, personal care products, candies, and other items were shocking. Even though it may seem somewhat extreme, the experiences I had growing up put things in perspective for me throughout my life, and I know all to well the difference between needs and wants.

If you’ve never known what it is like to go without food or water, you can count yourself very lucky.

2. Shelter

The next thing you need/deserve is shelter. Here we define shelter as a place out of the elements where you can call home. Somewhere that you can stay warm and dry and be comfortable.

Again, there are a great number of people within our own country who cannot say they have access to consistent shelter. A 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stated that there were around 554,000 homeless people in this country, with 193,000 of those having inconsistent access to nightly shelter.

Many point to the rise in rent costs over the last several years as the main reason for the rise in the homeless population.

Luckily, neither of us has ever had to live without adequate shelter. However, what is adequate and what is desired are again two different things.

Rising housing costs mean that it’s more important than ever to shift your mindset to frugalism and to live within your means. It also underscores the importance of foregoing luxuries in order to build up savings whenever possible.

You must literally save for a rainy day.

Luxuries are wants, shelter is a need.

3. Safety

This is a big one for me (Tawnya). I work with children every day that have experienced abuse and neglect, and I know how prolonged unsafe environments have a lasting impact on individuals.

Exposure to consistent violence and uncertainty literally changes your brain.

Children learn skills necessary to survive their unsafe environment, and translate those skills into other situations as they grow up. Unfortunately, the skills that help you to survive unsafe environments are maladaptive in the larger society, and these children grow into teens and adults who tend to struggle.

Again, while safety is something you deserve, it is not something that is guaranteed. According to the American SPCC, 7.4 million children were involved in child abuse cases in 2016, and an average of 5 children die every day from abuse and neglect.

Furthermore, according to the NCADV a third of women in the U.S. have experienced domestic violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

These statistics are not to dismiss violence in other capacities and toward men, but to underscore how widespread violence is, and how prevalent it is in some of our most vulnerable populations.

Like food, water, and shelter, if you live your life in fear of violence then other desires/wants become secondary.

4. Healthcare

This one is a controversial topic in this country. However, no matter what your stance is on who should pay for healthcare, if someone is sick then they deserve to have access to treatment options.

We don’t know the answer to the healthcare dilemma, but we do know that people deserve access to the best treatment options available, even if they are largely the cause of their malady.

I have written before about my grandma, who died of lung cancer after she wouldn’t stop smoking. Yes, she was warned and wouldn’t stop. Yes, many thousands of dollars were spent on her treatments and could have been saved if she had stopped smoking. Yes, it’s not fair for your tax dollars to go to someone who is making the choice to kill themselves.

But if that were your husband, wife, child, or even grandmother, you would want them to have access to the newest and best in the hopes that it might be enough.

You would want them to live.

Healthcare is something that is a need and is deserved by all.

5. Worth

Finally, we come to the 5th thing that everyone needs/deserves in their life: worth.

While it may be possible to feel like you have worth without one or more of the other 4 points, the value and impact of worth will be pushed aside in favor of the other, more urgent needs.

Thus, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we’ve placed worth as something that can be most felt when the other 4 needs are already achieved.

Worth refers to having a meaning in your life, feeling like you’ve accomplished something, and having a reason to be here.

Worth is fulfillment.

People obtain feelings of worth in many ways. Some feel it through religion. Others, through their work. Typically, worth is the feeling that we are making a difference in the world, no matter how small.

Worth is also something that can ebb and flow, and change throughout the course of your life. Perhaps what gives you worth as a young adult will be completely different when you are elderly.

Whatever it is, people need and deserve to feel like they have accomplished something, and that their life is worthwhile.

Moral of the Story

Why are we telling you this?

These points sound more like an inspirational or self-help book than a financial blog post.

However, shifting the mindset from consumerism to frugalism requires you to be able to put your life in perspective, and to readjust your priorities.

What are the things you actually need to live and succeed? What are the things you should focus your efforts on attaining most?

Millions of people in the U.S. live without consistent food and shelter and are consistently exposed to violence.

When you think about that does a new car or a daily latte really matter that much?

Is it worth it to live paycheck to paycheck just to have things you don’t need while jeopardizing the things you do need?

The 5 things you do need and deserve are food/water, shelter, safety, healthcare, and worth.

If you don’t have one or more of these things, work as hard as you can to attain them. If you do have these things, you have everything you need to live.

The rest are wants, so if you do indulge make sure they’re worth it.

Talk about Money Saved.

12 thoughts on “The 5 Things You Actually Need and Deserve in Life”

    1. Thanks for reading Gary. We think it’s fine to strive for more, but what we get sick of is all the complaining when people don’t have every luxury. It’s important to keep things in perspective and to be grateful for what we do have.

  1. I agree that what we *do* deserve is a lot different than most of us think we deserve. I’m definitely sometimes guilty of the “I work hard, I deserve a little something” mindset, though I try to keep it in check.

    And thanks for including healthcare. Despite having two chronic conditions, I don’t think I’d have remembered to include it, but you’re definitely right that it deserves (as it were) to be in there.

    1. You’re welcome. Healthcare is a definite deserve. Many conditions arise through no fault of our own, and even if it was through our lifestyle, you still wouldn’t want your loved one to suffer because of lack of healthcare.

  2. Ahh, yes. Maslow’s Hierarchy. Well, you probably already saw me talk about some of these things so needless to say, I agree for sure. Indeed, once your basic needs are met, you start to get into that grey area where consumerism has led a lot of people to believe they “need” things that they quite honestly don’t.

    It can be tricky sometimes, though. For example, you might say you don’t need a smartphone because it doesn’t fit the above list. While that may be true, I do use it for navigation. And yes, I could probably find my way while in my local area. But it can be tough going somewhere new. Without GPS, I could end up getting lost and waste a lot of time!

    Well, that’s just one example. But of course, I still agree that so many of the ideas we quite literally buy into are things we don’t actually need.

    1. You’re right in that there are some other things we do need to be able to function in today’s world. I think our point was more that people complain so much when they don’t have everything they want while there are so many people living in our own country that don’t have basic necessities like food and safety. Our goal was to give some perspective and to hopefully help people see that if they have those basics and can still get things they want then they are doing really well.

  3. My first favorite line, “Like food, water, and shelter, if you live your life in fear of violence then other desires/wants become secondary.” My second fav, “Worth refers to having a meaning in your life, feeling like you’ve accomplished something, and having a reason to be here.”

    I write a lot about purpose because, in my humble opinion, it is the most important thing we can strive for.

    You’ve reminded me of the basics that without, purpose won’t matter. Thanks for making me think.

    1. Thank you for reading! I (Tawnya) work with kids who have experienced trauma, and whenever a kid is upset or escalated everything stops and we focus on solving the problem. If the problem isn’t solved there is no way that student will be able to focus on school. It’s the same with the basics, when those aren’t met it’s tough to focus on anything else.

  4. Great post! Sometime I think more people need to appreciate that they have the five things that are actually necessary for life, and how grateful they should be to have them. Rather than obsessing about the latest and greatest tech, I consider how fortunate I am to be able to turn on the tap for water, or that when it rains I am inside warm and have electricity to light up my room. Just steeping back and considering all the inventions and discoveries made to be able to give me electricity and light makes me feel fortunate and blessed.

    1. Thank you! It’s amazing what we take for granted, even from generation to generation. It’s important to remember that there are others who are less fortunate and to appreciate what we do have. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for more, just that we need to be appreciative as well.

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