There are only a few things we absolutely need. Shelter, clothing, food, medical care, and perhaps basic transportation. Beyond these basics, what are the things Americans just can’t live without?
To learn the answers, radiant floor heating company Thermosoft International surveyed 1,000 Americans from all 50 states, all income levels, and ages from 18 to 77. Respondents were presented with a list of 50 non-necessity items and asked to rank each on a scale of 1 to 10 how difficult each would be to give up. Researchers weighted those scores according to the estimated cost of each item–presuming that if something is expensive and people still aren’t willing to part with it then they must really want it.
You can find the full–and fascinating–results here. These are some of the more striking findings:
1. We’ll choose a smartphone over a pet.
Smartphones and broadband Internet were tied for first place as the luxury Americans are least willing to do without. Having a pet ranked 11 points lower, just one point higher than a clothes dryer.
2. We don’t mind staying home to do the laundry.
Speaking of that clothes dryer, it ranked surprisingly high on survey respondents’ must-have list–ahead of microwave ovens, travel, and even beauty products. We are we so attached to this one household appliance? Beats me.
3. We’ll give up our babysitters, but don’t take away our Amazon Prime membership.
You would think most parents of small children would be eager to have someone else watch the kids so they could leave the house once in a while. But no: Survey respondents ranked the Amazon Prime membership as more important than babysitting. Amazon’s $99-a-year membership program gives members free shipping on many items, many free streaming videos, and a variety of other perks. Who needs a babysitter when you never have to leave the house?
4. We’d rather go out to eat than to the gym.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that survey respondents ranked both buying lunch during the work week and eating out in restaurants well ahead of gym memberships. They also outranked cable TV, on-demand movie rentals (such as Netflix), eating organic, and even getting our hair cut at a salon. I guess we really like going out to eat.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.