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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Needs Vs. Wants.

With my recent list of eight in '08, I've been doing some thinking on really living out my list. One of the things that's been on my mind is the amount of "stuff" we have. In case you've missed that point somewhere along the way, we have a lot of stuff. Between clothes, toys, books and everything else that goes into raising kids, we've got it all. We've got too much. So much that we don't even know the difference between a need and a want anymore.

How do you teach this to kids when we (the adults, the role models, the big people) don't even demonstrate it?

Nine out of ten times when someone calls me on a weekday I am either on my way to or from Target. The other time, I'm in Target. Yes, this is a slight exaggeration but really I go to Target a lot. Just to pass the time sometimes. Henry and I enjoy our regular treats, a cookie for him, a coffee for me and we shop. Because this is what we like to do when dad's at work and T and M are at school. Yesterday, just to mix things up a bit and to look into a few things we tried the Home Depot out. They don't have cookies or coffee, but they do have fun carts.

Between, January 2-7, my bank account tells me that I spent $91.28 at Target. That does not include much groceries (besides maybe a few little things) or any clothing necessities, rather it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Actually, I can't even tell you what I spent it on. When I say that's not diapers, that's not much of our food, that's not clothes, it makes me wonder, what is it?!?

Yes, there is usually something we all need from Target, but just as often I leave with a cart full of extras, good deals and then the occasional impulse purchase.

The other day I heard about a woman with seven children who is taking a year off of buying any thing they don't "need". I am astonished, amazed and jealous. I want to do that. I want to do that, but I don't want to. How's that for ironic.

Then the other day I read this story about The Compact. Extreme, yes. But also a very neat idea when getting rid of the stuff in your life.

I will probably never join The Compact and I will probably never go an entire year without buying anything unnecessary. I am just being realistic about myself and my family.

But, I do want to try it. For a month.

So, for the next month, I am going to try and not buy anything we don't "need".

Obviously, I still need to pay the electric bill and the mortgage and our family of five still needs groceries. But everything purchased will need to be clarified and justified as an actual need, not just a good deal or something I just had to have. One of the kids might need new socks or underwear, or someone might need a new toothbrush. Those are needs. Buying a shirt on clearance because it's only $2.99 and will be so cute next winter, is not a need.

It's going to be hard. I've got gift cards for a few non-need stores from Christmas, T's birthday is coming (please don't worry, he'll get good gifts from us.)

I'm not going to do it to save money (though I'm sure we'll save more than a few dimes) and I'm not doing it to save the planet (though I'm sure we'll help with that too) I'm doing it to show myself and my family that we can learn the difference between what we want and what we need and change our behaviors.

Since I just thought of this the other day, I haven't "stocked" up on anything. I haven't gone out and splurged and gotten all my shopping out of the way. I don't have any set rules either. I'm still trying to figure a few logistics out. (Like the gift cards and the upcoming birthday. I'll keep you posted on what I decide is fair.)

Considering I'm trying to eliminate the "stuff" in our life and the non-essentials, I'm still going to have coffee dates and dinner plans with friends, and I definitely qualify date nights with my husband as needs.

One month. For now at least. My hope is that I will change my habits and live out what I believe.

I'll be reporting back my progress and my purchases, will you help hold me accountable? Or maybe you want to join me in changing the world, one Target trip at a time?


Blogger Kim said...

You know I'll join you!

Friday is payday, and in my house that normally means a trip to Target. This week I pledge to leave with just diapers, formula, and lightbulbs because we can't live in darkness for a month.

January 10, 2008 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Absolutely. In fact I just re-worked our budget so we will be able to save a bit more so there won't be room for anything besides needs.

January 10, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger ann-marie said...

this is something i try to do on a continual basis. believe it or not, it gets easy to do pretty quickly. i wish you luck and cheer you on!

January 10, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

rooting you on in this effort. i usually do this out of i'll-be-paying-off-college-loans-for-
frivolity necessity, but still find myself justifying certain purchases now and again. i'll gladly hold you accountable and am eager to see how this impacts you and your family in the coming month. you can do it!

January 10, 2008 at 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Dadio said...

Wishing you great success in this endeaver to take a step from the adding of more Stuff to clutter your lives.
Love to all

January 10, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try to do this on a regular basis, I always ask myself do I REALLY need this?? sometimes I will have a long discussion with myself. especially if it's a GREAT price.. ").
I call target my $100.00 Store.
Good luck on your venture.
Love You
Auntie Laurie

January 10, 2008 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger charish said...

Well, mine is Walmart. Stop for milk and come home with stuff. I was cool at the time

January 10, 2008 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger audrey said...

what a wonderful challenge, and a great way to learn what is really needed versus what we want.

target is a difficult place for me to shop, as well, but a more recent indulgence that i've discovered are the outlet stores that we now live near. j crew jeans for $15? banana republic pumps for $8? hard to resist, but certainly not needs.

i'm going to join you in this by not even setting foot in those stores for the next month. thanks for the inspiration, samara.

January 10, 2008 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Jill Davis Doughtie said...

Kathy and I tagged you with a "Roar for good writing" award over at The DHX -- -- we hope you'll share some of your tips on writing!

January 11, 2008 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Damama T said...

Hi - I popped over here from Motherwise Cracks. I love this idea! And I think I'm just going to borrow it. You'd think it would be easy since it's only me and Hubby living at home now, but...

Anyway - it's been almost a week for you now, how's it going? How about an update?

Good luck!

January 16, 2008 at 11:09 PM  

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