Not long ago my younger two children were learning about needs and wants in school. I think this is a good thing for all of us to ponder from time to time. It's especially important when you are financially strapped and trying to take a hard look at where you can cut expenses.
The last couple of weeks I've been really trying to look at how many things in my life I treat as needs, but really they are only wants. I've discovered that I'm really good at convincing myself a want is a need if I want it bad enough.
My new strategy is to ask myself if I really have to have it right now. Usually the answer is no. So I wait until the next payday and ask myself again. I find the longer I wait for most things, the less I really feel I have to have it.
I have to wonder why it is that when I have no money, my desire to impulse buy is so much higher. My current theory is that it's because I feel deprived and sorry for myself. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind it's like I'm having a little pity party.
Of course a person can't be expected to give up everything they want. We all should have a little something now and then just because it makes us happy. So now I'm working to prioritize my wants, and those of the rest of my family.
The key for me here is to remember that just because something seems less important to me, doesn't mean that it is going to be less important to other members of my family. I need to remember to let them tell me what is most important to them and work out together how to fit those things in.
For example, I don't mind drinking my coffee black. So when things are tight, I can save a few dollars by cutting my flavored coffee creamer out of the budget. My husband, however, holds his creamer much higher on his list of priority wants. So that stays.
I'm realizing that it's all about perspective and not comparing my situation to others. Sure, I might want what someone else has. But I shouldn't feel sorry for myself because they have it and I don't. I need to focus on my goal and remind myself that even though I can't have everything I want now the pay off in the end will be worth it.
Every want I pass up now is one step closer to financial security later on.