It started when I was reading a book about frugality and whether an item is essential or a luxury. I got thinking about devices I consider pretty much essential these days which weren't around when I was a child and yet we got by quite well without them. However, times and society have changed. Many new devices have been invented. My lifestyle has changed over the years. Some changes in my life also mean there are items I once considered essential which I now find I can live without.
Some devices I currently value include -
My computer/scanner/printer/internet. I use my computer all the time to do my writing. I save digital photos on it and listen to music.
From time to time I scan things, sometimes emailing them to a business I am communicating with. The printer is convenient and I rarely send a hand written letter these days. I use the internet for research, communication and a host of other functions.
Television. My parents got a black and white television when I was seven. Dad had existed until he was 47 without television and I think my grandmother was about 70 when she purchased a TV. Although I rarely watch TV programs I do borrow DVDs from the library to watch from time to time so I consider my television essential.
Phones When I got married we did not have a phone of any sort. Somehow we survived. I appreciate the convenience of both my landline and mobile phone. I don't use my mobile excessively but there are times I really need it.
Microwave. I got a microwave oven when my first child was born and haven't been without one since.
Sandwich press. I find toasted sandwiches done in this gadget make a great lunch. I keep a supply of ham and cheese sandwiches in the freezer, (didn't have one of those until about 30 years ago) and can get a quick lunch on the table for unexpected guests in a few minutes. I recall a time when I would have been satisfied with popping them under the stove's griller.
Hair dryer. Now that I have gone back to short hair I don't need this as much but still find it useful, especially in winter. Somehow I existed without one until I was about 30.
Dishwasher There was a dishwasher in this house when I moved in and it seemed silly not to use it. I had never used one before so didn't see it as a necessity. Three years on and I am so used to it.
I could manage without some of these things but I don't think that would improve my life. Although I believe in decluttering if I am using something regularly I think it has a valid place in my life.
Things I can live without now, or almost
Clothes Dryer For many years I used a clothes dryer on days when clothes couldn't be dried on the outside line. When I was working full time I found it handy to be able to throw things in the dryer. I don't have one now but I have a clothes line under cover. In winter I use a clothes airer in the spare room to dry anything that doesn't dry properly outside.
Iron I used to do the ironing on a regular basis. There is an iron in the laundry cupboard, I think, but I use it so infrequently I could manage without it. These days I buy clothes that don't need ironing and the only tablecloths I have are three lace ones. I no longer bother with fabric table mats, serviettes and the like.
Sewing machine One of my prized possessions when I got married was a treadle sewing machine with which I made curtains and clothing. This was later replaced by a wonderful electric machine which I made good use of. I have owned my current machine for 8 years but rarely use it these days. I buy second hand curtains and don't make clothes now. There are so many great items available in the op shops for a lower price than I could make them for.
Changes in income, life stages and lifestyle can influence what we consider essential. One can quickly become accustomed to a device and then it is inconvenient to be without it. Everyone will have their own thoughts on what devices are currently essential for them.