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12 new 'needs' that drain your cash

Your mind-set about needs versus wants may determine whether you thrive or flounder. Here's a closer look at some of the entitlements that people think they must have.

By Bankrate.com

True essentials never really change -- food, water, shelter and clothing.

However, modern life has created a host of "necessities" that many people swear they could not live without, including a daily latte, premium cable TV, a weekly manicure, a new leased automobile and cell phones for the entire family.

In reality, there's a more accurate word for those pricey add-ons: entitlements.

If you want to significantly cut spending, it's important to take a closer look at what you consider to be needs.

"Basically, what we need has nothing to do with Starbucks coffee," says money coach and psychotherapist Olivia Mellan, the author of "Overcoming Overspending."

"A lot of us in wealthy, overspending America are either born or raised with a tremendous sense of entitlement. We say to ourselves, 'I work hard' or 'I work at a job I hate -- at least I should be able to have a Starbucks coffee every day or eat out for lunch.' But, of course, those are not needs, they're wants. They're pleasures."

'Ugly attitudes of entitlement'

Mary Hunt, the author of "Debt-Proof Living" and a recovering overspender, fell into the entitlement trap to the tune of $100,000 in obligations before she realized that so-called necessities were burying her in debt.

Hunt says that since turning her financial life around, she avoids malls, shares a car with her husband and spends much of her time helping groups wake up and smell the Folgers.

"When financial ignorance and availability of credit meet ugly attitudes of entitlement, that is a recipe for a horrible disaster," she says. "I know; I've been there. That's why I tell people the road's out up ahead -- turn around!"

Jeff Yeager, who has long lived the frugal lifestyle he espouses in "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches," says the irony is that the more we consume, the more we are consumed.

"When you simplify, you almost always save money, but the really great thing is it makes us happier," he says.

"We take 'stuff' as being such a positive in our lives, but I'm not convinced that it is. It's certainly costing us more money. Not only does it not make us any happier, it arguably makes us less happy. It makes the quality of our life decrease."

Meanwhile, commuting by bike or public transit can eliminate the "need" for a second car.

Click here for the 12 new "necessities" you might find you could downsize or even live without.

Watch the slide show

Slide show: 12 new 'necessities'

Take a look at the costly culprits draining your bank account. See what you're paying for that daily latte or bottle of water. Click here for the 12 new 'necessities.'

Dialing back the entitlements not only saves you money, it can start a domino effect. For instance, doing your own lawn care and dog walking can eliminate the "need" for an expensive health club.

Average prices quoted are courtesy of Costhelper.com except where noted.

This article was reported and written by Jay McDonald for Bankrate.com.

Updated April 20, 2010

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