Do You REALLY Need (or Even Want) That?

by Miranda Marquit · 1 comment

When I look around my house, sometimes I am surprised at how much stuff there is. Whenever I have to go into our storage space under the house (I don’t call it a crawl space because I can crouch in there with relative ease) I am shocked. When we first moved in, we thought we could never fill up so much space. But it’s already half full. As a result, I am trying to be more conscious about what I buy.

Conscious Spending

So much about our spending as a society has become thoughtless. We think little of spending a few dollars on a DVD in the clearance bin — even though we don’t really care for the movie and probably won’t watch it. We see a bargain and are so afraid that we’ll miss out that we don’t even stop to consider whether we will actually use it.

Instead of buying on impulse (which is what stores want us to do), it can be worthwhile to stop and think about what we are paying for, taking the time to spend a little more consciously. Before you buy something, take yourself through this exercise:

  1. Ask yourself if you actually need that item. What will the item accomplish? What will you do with it.
  2. Honestly evaluate how many times you are likely to use the item. If you are buying it for a one-time project, consider borrowing or renting instead.
  3. Consider whether you will use the item at least two or three times in any given period of a few months.
  4. Realize that you just might be able to live without it.

Really think about where the item will end up. Is it just going to sit uselessly on a shelf? Will it be banished to a box that you don’t open for years. Really think about whether you need the item, and whether something you already have might do double duty.

What About Things You Want?

Life is pretty sad, though, if you don’t get something you want on occasion. Which is why sometimes you buy things that you don’t need, but that will give you pleasure. There is nothing wrong with this, provided you can afford it. But falling into the trap of buying things just because you think you want them can lead to having less money and more clutter.

When considering items that you want, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I want this? Being able to explain why you want something can help you prove to yourself that you have a reason for actually getting it.
  • Really, why do I want this? Ask yourself again, honestly evaluating whether or not you really want it, or if you are simply getting the item for some status reason, or because you want compliments, or because everyone else has one.
  • Will I still enjoy it in three months? Be honest. Are you really going to want to play that video game three months from now? Are you likely to read that book again and enjoy it? Will you still want to look at that picture later in the year?

Living more simply can help you reduce your stress, as well as help you live a life that is more financially free. You probably already know that stuff won’t make you happy. So, before you spend more money, stop and think. You might be surprised at what you don’t need or want when you start consciously spending.

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that you can save money with Netflix? Even if you don't plan on using the service, you should at least sign up for the Netflix free trial here to get some free movies for a month.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jesse July 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

It’s amazing how fast you can accumulate “stuff”. We have a 4 bedroom house, with two storage sheds. I never thought we would fill that house up, in 20 years. It’s been under five and we are out of space!! We are in the process of just getting rid of everything we can to make space for things that are really important. We also try really hard to evaluate the need when we buy new things.

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