minimalism, simplify

Simplifying Part 2: Keeping stuff out

Every time I move, it seems there is suddenly a long list of upgrades and additional items that I find myself needing, wanting.  Another lamp, more storage shelves, a mirror, a set of mixing bowls… etc.  We could actually use a few things, but none of them are urgent needs. Despite that fact, the need to buy them seems urgent. There is a thought in my head that says,” If we just have THAT, then we will have everything we need.”

This time, I wrote down every item that popped into my head as a “need” and made a running list entitled “wants.” Every time I have an impulse to buy something, I write it down on the list.

After keeping the list for a few weeks, and reviewing it on a regular basis, something strange happened. Over time, most of the things I thought I needed, actually seemed optional.

Writing down everything I wanted to buy on a physical list, created space for me to think clearly about those items.  A list took away the urgency to buy, and gave my brain time to think critically about each buying decision. It also helped me put all those small items into context of my bigger financial picture. Each purchase wouldn’t have had a huge impact on my finances, but if I bought all of them, it would impact my ability to save for larger financial goals.

It’s time to start questioning our “needs.” We need air, water, food, shelter, medical care, and relationships. We don’t need decorative pillows, side tables and stoneware pots and pans. There’s nothing wrong with wanting those things, but we don’t need them.

Every day we are bombarded with advertisements trying to convince us that we NEED their products. All the coupons, special offers, and “ending soon” sales have one purpose: to create a sense of urgency to buy their products. They want you to make a decision based on the fear of missing out.  Trust me, they are not trying to help you save money out of the goodness of their hearts. They are trying to convince us we need their products so that we will buy them on autopilot.

Now, that being said, there’s nothing wrong with buying something just because you want it. So why not just buy everything you want? Well, think about your future self. Would your future self rather have more stuff or a positive bank balance? If you’re like me and most millennials, you are saddled with student loan debt, and probably thinking about starting a family, traveling or working on your retirement savings. Those are four reasons why I would rather save my money than spend it on items I don’t really need.

What’s on your “to buy” list? Do you really need it? Do you really want it? What are your long term goals and dreams.  Can saying “no” now, help you say “yes” later?




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