Sunday, June 21, 2009

Need vs Want

Happy solstice!

Right on cue, Vegas has turned on the summer heat. I really don't feel like doing much at all. When we lived here before, if I wanted to get out of the house during the summer, we either went to the water park, the pool, visiting friends, or shopping. (Shopping was probably a year-round thing actually.) The shops are always air-conditioned and the toy section provided some different things for the kids to play with. Now though, I find myself not liking shopping. "Mum, come here, let me show you this..." x 3, plus "oh, this is cool, can I have this..?" x 3, leaves me feeling drained and the kids a bit resentful at the stream of "no"'s. The stuff they are asking for is stuff that I honestly think they would not use for long. But a surprise trip to the game store to buy a couple of new (used) games for their DS's is money well spent as they love those things! It's nice to say "yes" too.

We've been going to yard sales on Saturday mornings. The first week that we went we had fun. But the past two weeks, with the extra heat, I just haven't been into it. I don't feel like driving for miles chasing signs, hunting through someone else's "stuff" for a potential bargain. For what? Is there anything I really NEED?
When we got here, we did need some extra summer clothes, shoes and some basic things for the kitchen. But now, we have most of that, and anything else is just creating extra 'stuff' in our lives.

The past two weeks when we've gone out yard saleing, we've been seeking to attract Lego, luggage and clothes (AJ and Summer could still use an extra couple of pairs of shorts each). We haven't had much luck with the clothes or the lego but I did find a nice carry-on bag - they asked $8, I offered them $5 which they took. When I got home, I found $2.20 in coin in the pockets so it only cost me $2.80. That was a good deal! I'm still looking for a large piece of luggage so I can distribute the weight a bit more with the other two bags we have when we go back.

Here's the thing that's been niggling at me....I know I've only been looking for a few things, but I've been finding other things that were not on my list. Like some kitchen knives. One sale I was at had a big box of knives. A couple of them looked like the type of knife I used to use in the kitchen when we lived here before - long and deep. In Australia, I have a couple of knives that are long but narrow. They do the job and then slip away into their container that sharpens them each time. Quite adequate, but I did like the other kind of knife. Here now, I have one sharp knife that is also adequate, but it's not the same as the other kind. So I stood looking at the box of knives, trying to figure out if I really needed another knife, or just wanted one. I had no idea if it was a good knife or not. I thought if I spent $2 on something like that, then it becomes easier to spend another $2 on something else I really don't need, and another and another and before long, I've blown $20 on extra 'stuff'.
So...I used my old rule "when in doubt - don't". So I didn't buy any knives. But I couldn't let go of it so I looked up online about them and it turns out that the knife I was looking at was worth about $40-50. So I guess it was a pretty good one.

So the part of me that loves a bargain is kicking myself for not getting the deal. But the part of me that likes to Simplify is saying "yay - less stuff to deal with". And I know now that it is that side of me that has grown the most in recent years. And that's probably why I no longer enjoy shopping. Coming here and facing those old conditioning's has been a good test.

I know it's normal for the kids to want a whole bunch of different things as they try things out to help them explore different sides of themselves, at different ages and stages. In some ways, I'd like to give them everything, but that's not practical. The two best things I can give them are my time and my attention. They are things that they need and want. And maybe with time, as they grow older, they'll understand the difference between needing and wanting when it comes to buying things and hopefully they'll become conscious consumers. Maybe it won't take them 40 something years to learn that.

1 comment:

TheOrganicSister said...

i love a bargain too. i like your mantra; i'll remember it next time i'm unsure. i do the same thing with clothes. i use to buy anything that fit because it was so hard to find something. i ended up with tons of clothes i didn't wear because they weren't "just right". or i would buy something when i was in a particular mood - an outfit or top that matched that mood or personality. but it wasn't anything more than me trying on another personality, thus again i never wore them. now i have a mantra for clothes shopping...if it's not 100% perfect in every way, if i won't go home still thinking about it, then and only then i'll buy it. i haven't bought anything new in a long time. lol