Monday, July 28, 2008

Needs vs. Wants

It is so easy need things. I need this fancy new knife in my kitchen. I need a new car. I need a new skirt. But are these truly needs? I have knives in my kitchen. My car is still running and perhaps I can get by with my old skirt a bit longer. We are such a society of consumerism that I think we have blurred the lines between these two words, which have very different meanings.

It may be a very interesting experiment to ask your children to write such a list to see what they may put in both categories.

I found it interesting this last Christmas that my daughter was not even clear on the word “want”. Even a want for me requires some ongoing use, otherwise why bother having it at all. When we had gone with Girl Scouts to PineGrove Dude Ranch, my assistant leader and I became a little side tracked at the air hockey table (Ok, the girls would use the word addicted). The girls are old enough to go off on their own, so we gave them strict instructions to stay in the buddy system and to check in with us at certain time intervals. Of course, the check in location was the air hockey table in the lobby. Sherry and I would both be embarrassed to divulge the amount of money we spent in that machine over the course of three days. Our arms actually ached on the way home, but boy did we laugh. My daughter took this as a sign that I wanted and needed an air hockey table. She began her campaign to make sure that I had one for Christmas. Her campaign was not long needed as my father quickly fell into her web. Needless to say, for Christmas I got an air hockey table. My daughter was thrilled, she thought that she had found the perfect gift. I was a bit distressed. I love air hockey and go right to it whenever I find a table in our travels, but truthfully, who needs a 6’ x 3’ (maybe 8’ x 4’ - I don’t know) table in their house. Who has time to play more than just a few times a month even when it is right there under your nose? Boy, can I think of a lot of other items that rank closer to the need side of my list that could have been purchased for that money.

Needs vs. wants not only do they need to be separated, but wants need to prioritized and ranked against what you may give up in order to fulfill your want. Please understand, I am not a monk myself and recently have done my own damage in wants at Lia Sophia jewelry parties. But especially as we are culling through 12 years of living in our home and packing for a move, needs and wants are becoming very important to me (and very heavy too!). So perhaps my family and maybe yours too need to start really thinking about what the difference is.

If you tried the experiment, let us know your results.

No comments: