Here Are the Luxuries You'd Never Give Up

Budgets mean trade-offs, and part of that is deciding what's worth paying extra for. Quality of life can outweigh your monthly ledger, and it's not always a bad thing: If a gym membership keeps you happy, healthy, and balanced, it's not necessarily a self-indulgence. You may be willing to live on rice and beans if it means keeping your cat happy. A new survey asked 1,000 people what their budgeting priorities were, and some of the answers are surprising.

ThermoSoft manufactures radiant flooring, a definite dream for anyone who's ever had trouble leaving a warm bed on a cool morning. Its market researchers asked participants about what they called "common American 'luxuries' — smartphones, personal trainers, etc." Those answers were then ranked according to how much they cost and what kind of commitment they involved. The survey included both single and married people of all ages and genders.

The goods and services that allow us to access the internet were far and away the most valued amenities. Smartphones, Wi-Fi, and broadband led the pack, a sign of how necessary they are for staying in touch, navigating the world, and doing work. Next on the list: animal companionship. Having a pet scored higher than eating out, access to a babysitting, and streaming music accounts. This won't surprise pet owners, especially given the mental health boost living with an animal provides.

Respondents were also more concerned with the benefits of travel than how they accomplished it. Flying first class scored far lower than one international trip per year. Even the convenience of Uber is less important than the chance to broaden your horizons and see the world, underscoring the truism that millennials in particular prefer experiences over possessions.

If you're having trouble figuring out where to make cuts in your budget and what to start saving toward, check out ThermoSoft's infographic, which weights responses as well as ranking them. You may agree or disagree with the data, which is valuable information for you as you map out your own financial priorities.