Friday, November 7, 2008

Between wants and needs...

These last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the difference between wants and needs. For some reason there are a lot of things that I see that I want or think I need. Most of them are easy to distinguish. I want one of those little pc easy thingies... the ones that are small and easy to carry and would make me independent from my husbands laptop when we are on the move and would be easy to carry my calender in etc. etc. I saw them at Target when I was there to shop for babyfood and was immediatley entranced. That however is easily identifiable as a want. I do not need it. I have a nice, working pc here at home, which is where I spend most of my time anyway. It would be handy to have, certainly, but it is a want.
Then there are the things that are mostly want and sort of a need. I want a handy steamcleaner for my wooden floors here. Joseph makes a mess every day, and I want something that makes it easy to clean up quickly after he has gone to bed each night. I have a big, bulky, loud floorcleaning machine that I simply do not have the umph to get out at night, never mind the fact that it is so loud it might wake him up again, which is definitely not a want. So... I would like one of those light and handy shark steamcleaning thingemies. Especially since having the swiffer mini vac has indeed worked very well for those small daily messes.
And then there is the breadmaking machine. My apologies to all my American friends but it is asbolutely impossible to buy a decent loaf of wholeweat bread here without paying an insane amount of money. The crusts are never crusty, they're chewy instead, and the whole bread can be squeezed like a sponge. *shudders* Do I need the breadmaking machine? Not really... since I absolutely do not have the time to bake bread the oldfashioned way though... we will have to do with the storebought bread like just about everyone else.
What I do need is a wintercoat. That is a necessity, or I will be freezing through the season. And one or two more winter basics, like a good sweater and maybe one more skirt or dress. But the winter hat I have my eyes set on... is that a necessity?

With the economy in shambles, it is good to stop and think about what you want and need. As long as the want does not become a deep longing in your heart, wanting material things is not harmful. But there is the trap of becoming obsessed, about feeling deprived when you can not have what you want. I am not deprived for having my breadmachine and I most certainly am not deprived without that cute little on the go computer thingy. Wanting something, even something material, is not a bad thing, as long as it does not become a priority in your life. It can inspire you to live more frugally to save up for something. It can teach you hard work to reach a goal. This kind of want is productive. It can spice life in affording you a little extra after you have waited for it and earned it. It is a positive force.
I used to keep a list of wants on my computer. If I wrote it down, it was 'on the list'.
I visited it every few months and found out that a lot of things I wanted I simply did not have a great desire for anymore. It is one of the reasons why people who teach budgetting and frugality tricks tell you to always go home and wait a day or two before making a purchase that is not strictly necessary. Quite often after even a short wait, you find that the burning desire is gone or diminished.
I am certain that, when I look back at my little list in a few more months, it will have boiled down to things that are really essential, and as a bonus by then I will also have saved up for them.

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