SURVEY SAYS: Must-Have Everyday Items

July 21, 2014 ( - Last week, we covered a survey which indicated some people rank their mobile phones as more important to them than deodorant.

So, I asked NewsDash readers, from a list of items used in daily life, which one could you not give up? Let me stipulate up front that I realized my list was not an exhaustive list of items readers may think were indispensable in their everyday lives, but I was trying to get a sense of how important technology has become.

I also must say, respondent demographics were skewed towards the “older” generations (to which I belong, so do not get offended), which may have some bearing on the results. Only 1.2% of respondents are in the ages 18 to 30 group, and only 10.6% are ages 31 to 40. The largest number of respondents (42.9%) are in the ages 51 to 60 group, while 21.7% are ages 41 to 50, and 23.6% are older than 60.

From the list of items used in daily life, the toothbrush was the item the most respondents (41.9%) feel is a must-have, followed by the car (25%). Eight percent of responding NewsDash readers indicated they could give up any items on the list, and none of them selected iPod, e-Reader, gaming system or other electronic entertainment as their must-have items.

Other items ranked as follows:

  • Deodorant – 5.6%;
  • Razor – 0.6%;
  • Microwave – 0.6%;
  • Television – 1.9%;
  • Laptop/computer – 6.3%;
  • Mobile phone – 3.8%; and
  • Debit/credit card – 6.3%.


Just out of curiosity, and because I recently read a news report that a study found two out of every five households use a mobile phone as their only phone, I also asked NewsDash readers, do you still have a landline phone or is your mobile phone your only phone? Three-quarters (75.8%) of those who responded indicated they use both a landline and a mobile phone, 23.6% reported they use a mobile phone only, and 0.6% have a landline phone only.

Verbatim comments such as “I’m over 60 so I lived much of my life without many of these,” are why I said the skew of the demographics likely affected the choices. Apparently, a good number of NewsDash readers live in rural areas, as many said in verbatim comments that’s why they selected the car as their must-have item. And, a good number are considerate to others, as the hygiene items were chosen based on what others would experience: “While I feel I could give them all up, you might want to canvas those around me on things like deodorant… I could live without it, but I’m not sure they could live with my living without it…” Of course, many revealed must-haves that were not on my list: toilet paper, coffee, chocolate, fashionable clothing, to name a few. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “As for my ‘must-have’ item, it was neck and neck between my mobile phone and toothbrush, so I’m counting on my mobile one day coming with a toothbrush attachment.”

A big thank you to everyone who responded to the survey!


I'm over 60 so I lived much of my life without many of these. You can work around the first 3 items but where I live, I can't be without a car.

As for my "must-have" item, it was neck and neck between my mobile phone and toothbrush, so I'm counting on my mobile one day coming with a toothbrush attachment....

I would add toilet paper as well as toothbrush. First two things I use in the mornings. AC is another one I would have a hard time doing without, especially in Texas summers.

Keeping the toothbrush as I live with people - I could lose it all if needed....

Toothbrush and deodorant rank equally.

The toothbrush has to do more with health. That's why I couldn't give it up - you need healthy teeth!

Ahh, first world problems.

Most of the items listed can be probably be given up from the perspective of the user; however, I think some would be considered "must-have/must use" items from the perspective of the person coming into contact with someone who does not consider personal hygiene important.

you only need these items if you think you need them. Change your thinking and you'll find you can do without them all.

Too many of the items listed have changed from wants to needs in many people's minds.

A fatal oversight in the selections for number 2 above. You did not include chocolate or diet coke.

Although not an "item used in daily life," I couldn't give up my cat or dog!

I would need floss to go with that toothbrush. Since committing to flossing daily, I've not missed a day in over 9 years.


Giving up most of these items would be hard since they represent "convenience" and value vs. the alternatives.

Would not give up most of the items.

I'm a long distance runner, so I guess I would have to have my running shoes.

Even though I chose toothbrush, if lost on a desert island, I would "MacGyver" something to suit the need!

Computer is used daily for my job. Hard to give that up.

Since I commute pretty far, I would happily give up my car if it meant that I didn't have to work anymore! But since my ex made sure I will never retire, I guess I have to say I can't give up my toothbrush.

Verbatim (cont.)

I'm not one of those people who constantly checks their cell phone. For me, it just makes me feel safer to have help only a phone call away.

God and Family only things that really matter

It's not that we can't give up any of these or many more items; it's that some would cause great inconvenience. For instance a car really isn't a life/death necessity but where I live with bad/no public transportation throughout the area, other modes of getting around simply are not viable at my advanced age.

Actually, the first 4 are must-haves. The rest I could do without.

I have the same level of "panic" when I forget my cell phone as I do when I forget my debit card but since I can only choose one, I chose the debit card. As long as I have it, I can always buy another cell phone!

Forget the "gadgets." I rely on dependable electricity and clean running water. Without those, the rest are useless...

Coffee is a definite "must-have" item in my daily life, too.

Tough decision between toothbrush and deodorant every day. However, if I want to work in my current capacity (at least 5 days per week), I would either need the computer (to work from home) or the car (to get to work). On second thought, I would have to go with the computer, since my co-workers would not want me to be around if I'm not using deodorant and a toothbrush and I don't want to do an actuarial valuation of any sizeable defined benefit plan on my calculator and paper.

#2 does not accurately reflect what my choices would be.... food, sex, water, yoga and fashionable clothing all beat the selections above....

As a child TV was something to watch Saturday morning cartoons and after you came in the house after being outside all day. While I still spend a good bit of time outside the TV is entertaining but a car has almost become a necessity to get to work, shop etc since I live in a rural area. I guess I could buy a bicycle.

Live in rural area with no access to public transportation. If I lived in a metro area, my answer--must have car--would be different.

add dishwasher to the list --

Since I live in a rural-urban area, there is no public transportation and a car is essential. I wouldn't like to give up any of the things on the list, but the car would be the hardest to live without in my current circumstances.

The older I get, the more I realize I don't need or want. Knowing that my dental health is highly aligned to my overall physical health, I'll keep the toothbrush, thanks, and I'll stay hairy. You can have the cell phones, e-readers, email, social media tools; just leave me in peace, please and let me do my job with thoughtfulness and some blue sky time to innovate!

Would add "spouse" as item I could not give up; hopefully, she feels the same.......

While I could give up ANY of the listed items, I probably could not give up ALL of them simultaneously. And giving up a toothbrush, deodorant or a razor could result in giving up some personal relationships as well!

"Must have" is an interesting concept. Most of us think we must have something that we already have, until we don't have it. I was recently off the grid for a few days, i.e. no cell coverage, no Internet... and somehow survived.

Close call on the choices: car vs. computer vs. mobile phone. The computer/mobile phone are interchangeable, and ultimately I went with "car" since I need it for my (and my kids') activities.

Boy, are you way off, I would not give up toilet paper.

The only thing that I must have in my life is God.

Verbatim (cont.)

Shower, books and newspapers -- on real paper!

My toothbrush is the only must-have. Without it, the other items would all be necessary as no one would interact with me, especially after a nice garlic filled meal this Italian loves to eat!

Toothbrush and Deodorant are high on the list. Car would be next. After that, I could do without any of the others.

Although I could give up all of these items for a single day, I would find it most difficult to go more than a day or two without a car to get me wherever I need to be. Of course, I would be hard pressed to go more than a week with any of the other items!

When asked what I would bring to a deserted island if I could only bring one thing, I said my husband. Sorry Honey, but I think I have a better chance of survival if I have another, resourceful person with me.

I would think in some cases, your decision would be based on where you live. To someone with available public transportation, a car would not seem to be all that necessary. However, for someone like me, who lives in the woods, a vehicle is a necessity!


I first checked "car." But then when I got to this question I paused and took a really hard look at the list. I realized I truly could give them all up and still be a functioning human being who goes to work every day, pays her bills, and enjoys her life just fine without all of those things.

I live in the boonies with no public transportation, car is absolutely necessary... though I do love my toothbrush

Coffee #1, car #2, computer #3.

My phone is my life line. It has all my contact information as well as my dad's doctors’ numbers. I haven't used an address book in years, but because it's all in my phone.

I can use my finger in place of toothbrush, or start oil pulling for dental health. But I could not start hiding cash all over the house, carrying large amounts of cash, or spending time at the bank, so I need my Debit and Credit Cards. I don't carry debt, but I do use them to pay for everything just out of convenience.

I could live without the modern conveniences - it would be hard, but I could do it. I cannot stand it if I smell bad.

I could get all of these items as long as I had the debit card!

I'm not married to the internet or my smart phone. If either of them were dissolved for all mankind, we would survive! Not as easily, but we'd do it!

Family, friends, and fly fishing.

People need to get a grip on what's important. Try talking to people face to face. How do you think the people who invented cell phones communicated to their colleagues?

with family in different areas of the world, the computer has become a necessity so we can stay connected

While I feel I could give them all up, you might want to canvas those around me on things like deodorant... I could live without it, but I'm not sure they could live with my living without it...


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.

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