I started this spending freeze to give my bank account a chance to recuperate, and I hoped that maybe, along the way, I'd learn a thing or two about the way I spend. I'm two weeks into the freeze, and I'm already starting to do some heavy reflecting. I'm learning a lot about the who, what, when, where, and why of my spending. This freeze has got my brain wheels turning, and regardless of how much I save this month, I'm grateful for the amount of time its forced me to reflect on my spending. "Forced" may seem like a strong word, but it's true. Not buying, not going out, not aquiring...it really does leave me with a lot of time to notice what's different.
One of the biggest thoughts that has been resurfacing in my mind the past week is about needs versus wants. Needs are non-negotiables. You can't live without them; you gotta spend for them. Wants are obviously the extras, the icing on the cake, the things I should buy in small doses. Needs and wants...they're very different, yet somewhere along the way, I've gotten them terribly confused. And what's worse, is that even when I can identity something as a "want," I still find myself traipsing to the store to snag what I've been coveting. Somewhere along the way, I got entilted, thinking, "If I want it, I should get it. Even more shameful, somewhere along the way, I started thinking, "I deserve it, I'm gonna get it."
Even though I'm on this spending freeze, I still find myself creating an "I want" list. A fuchsia blazer, a pair of mustard pants, and a pair of perfect black flats. A rust colored chunky knit, an emerald silk blouse, and a hot pink statement necklace. I think these things would be perfect additions to round out my fall closet. But you know what? I don't need them, I won't go naked without them, and I won't even be un-fashionable without them. Do I want them? Yes. But since when did wanting something give me the go ahead to whip out my American Express and make it mine? When did wanting something turn into buying something, no matter what my brain or my bank account told me?
I wish I could peg down where this blur between needs and wants happened. I wish I could identify the spot where things went awry. I have a few hypotheses, but none seem to stick quite as they should. Before the freeze, I think I would have looked back and thought "Ehh I should probably do better about this." But something about the freeze has magnified this issue in a major way for me. I'm not just thinking back to my old ways, I'm thinking back and realizing how ashamed I am. Ashamed that I wasn't more thoughtful and ashamed that I've watched Matt and I's money drain away because I wanted the perfect polka dot scarf or the perfect fitted blazer. Those things weren't needs, those were wants. And I let myself believe they had to be mine.
Though I'm embarrassed by my blurred spending, I'm also incredibly inspired. Inspired because I see the error of my ways and realize just how backwards my thinking was. Inspired because I know better now and can choose something different. I'm inspired because I am choosing something different.
So for all you readers out there, how do you handle needs vs. wants? What trips you up?