What do you really need?
It's become a national question. With jobs and money scarce, consumers are taking inventory and tossing lots of stuff once deemed important into a humongous discard pile. To safeguard the essentials—a safe home and supportive community, the kids' education, Internet connectivity, sustenance for a pet—Americans are giving up lots of other things. Some sacrifices are painful; others bring surprise benefits.
To gauge America's changing priorities, I synthesized market research, business trends, economic data, and reports from hundreds of consumers into a list of things that many people seem to be significantly cutting back on, or living without completely. Here are 21 of them:
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