Staying in a tourist place with lots of trinkets and stuff for sale has really helped me zone in on the wants versus needs dilemma. Everywhere I went I saw lovely items for sale. Being a tourist place they were also for sale at well above the price of a typical retail outfit.
This hat is a good example of wants versus need. It’s a darling, cute, little hat. The sparkly butterfly is delightful. Everything about it is something I want. The price tag was $32 USD which seems to me to pretty steep for a hat. I put it back even though it fit perfectly. I did so because I assessed my want versus my need. I definitely wanted it. Did I need it? No. I hardly every wear headgear and even less often, a baseball cap. I have three already, all gifts or hand me downs. I normally wear one of my baseball caps when I need sun protection while gardening or painting or doing outdoor work. My caps get dirty fast. I would be upset if this one got dirty so I would probably never wear it. Want? Yes! Need? No. I put the cap back and saved $32 USD. One of the ways I get myself to not purchase something is to set it down and congratulate myself on the money I just saved.
I once went into a fancy jewelry store and saw a gorgeous grandfather clock. When I met my husband at the food court I told him I had just saved us $3000.
He went white and said “What did you buy?”
“I did not buy a $3000 grandfather clock.”
There was a recent news story about how four large retailers got into trouble because they offered things “on sale” for say $999 with the regular price being advertised as $1299. However they never had offered the item for $1299 so $999 was actually the “regular” price. They dishonestly stated the consumer was “saving” $300 if they purchased the on sale item. And certainly when we say “I just saved $300” it feels a lot better that saying “I just spent $999.”
Now if you turn it around and say “I saved $999 by not buying anything at all, in spite of advertising and intense pressure on all of us all the time to give into our wants, that should feel even better.
Speaking of washing machines, we did buy one. I have my little portable for use in the trailer and I could have just used that at home instead of buying a new automatic washer. I suppose the new washer wasn’t really a “need”. But I WANT a proper washer because I don’t want to spend hours doing laundry every day and there is a point when want and need intersect and if you don’t give in you become cheap. I saved money by shopping around and getting a clearance item returned due to a scratch and dint that legitimately was a sale item at 65% less than buying because someone else didn’t want a scratched and dinted washer. It sits int he basement. Do I care if it is scratched and dinted? Nope. There is a big difference between wanting more time for important things and wanting a sparkly hat with a butterfly on it I would never use for $32USD.
I had a grand time at the Dicken’s Fair in historical Galveston. I saved $32 on a sparkly hat. I saved $14 on a “Parking for Worldest’s Greatest Grandpa Only” sign. I saved $93 on a lovely mermaid motif turkey platter. I saved $352 on a clam chowder soup tureen and matching bowls and ladle that was covered with absolutely adorable Disney style crabs, starfish and sea grass in white with sea green and sky blue trim. That tureen was hard to walk away from. I used to have a lovely tureen like that. I used it maybe three times in twenty years. So that one , as gorgeous as it was, definitely qualifies as a want not a need.
Life is good. It is better when we don’t clutter it up with all kinds of things we want, breaking our budgets, and draining the world’s limited resources, by giving in to those wants instead of simply providing for what we really need.