I’m always the worst when it comes to thinking of how many needs I have. I need an expensive haircut. I need clothes with a more expensive price tag. I need, need, need. Life becomes a much simpler business when I realise that, in fact, these are wants, not needs and they are not essential to my well-being.
What do I need? Enough food to not feel hungry, a warm place to sleep at night, a couple of goals to chase and people who love me to surround myself. Beyond those things, I probably don’t need much.
This new Zen me is a little bit inspired by Adam Baker’s guest post on Get Rich Slowly, discussing his wants and needs. Returning from their nomadic lifestyle, Baker and his wife decided to look for a rental with three bedrooms, not the absolutely necessary two bedrooms, so Baker would have a space to work.
The house they eventually settled on had flaws, but Baker suggests that by concentrating on the fact that three bedrooms was, in itself, a luxury, the flaws of the house tended to lose their importance.
So, how can we start to fulfill our needs and appreciate our wants for what they are?
Write it down
The best way to understand your own psyche is, sometimes, to write it all down. Construct two tables and write down your needs and your wants. Have a look at the list. Are there things that are under ‘needs’ and are really more things you want? Write down the list again, this time with a bit more self-reflection, and see what that reveals.
Ask yourself if you really need this
Before you buy anything, repeat the shopaholics’ mantra- do I need this? You’ll end up saving a lot of money that you might otherwise spend on unnecessary purchases. Sometimes it turns out you neither need it or, deep down, want it all that much. So many of my purchases are due to boredom or a mild inclination. Don’t buy things you’ll never really wear or use. Save the purchases for something you’ll really love.
Fund your needs
Ever spent all your money on entertainment, only to discover you’re short on rent, bills and will be reduced to eating baked beans for a fortnight? Fund your needs first, then fund your savings, and then spend some money on your wants, You might think that constant partying is the thing that makes you happiest but, in the end, the anxiety that accompanies constant money problems is probably not helping you get the best night’s sleep.
Know your important wants
In all of this, it’s easy to lose sight of how to enjoy life. Don’t cut every single want from your life. Don’t become a martyr to the savings cause. If you cut out all the little wants from your life, you’ll end up with the money to spend on the important wants- like travel, or a renovation. Use your spare cash on special things, and appreciate them for what they are. I don’t need an expensive haircut, but I know how good it makes me feel about myself and how much I love the whole ritual of a good haircut, so I’m willing to wear cheap clothes and have nights with friends at home so I can spoil myself once in a while. An odd want, but there you have it.