Needs vs. wants

The practice of purchasing only what we need and picking and choosing the items we want is something that David and I have done in phases over the past couple of years. And now, at a time when we have had to plunk down significant amounts of money to repair both of our cars, it is hitting me (again) that buying what we need trumps spending money on things we want.

So, I am making a list of things that I buy here and there that I do not need, and I am going to do my best to not buy these things for a good long while.

1 - My weekly “Friday treat” at Starbucks. This was something I began this summer, mostly because I enjoy having an iced caramel macchiato on a warm day. At first, I felt okay about this because it was “only once a week,” but because my purchase replaced my breakfast, I was spending $5.14 each Friday morning for a drink and something to eat. That’s anywhere from $20 to $25 each month.

2 - Music on iTunes. Sure, it’s fun to have new music now and then, but do I need it? We have an entire CD tower full of music that I love, much of which I haven’t listened to recently. At anywhere from $7.99 to $12.99 an album (or $.99 for individual songs), there were times I spent up to $25 in a month on music. I’d much rather save that money and put it toward purchasing a season of a television show that I can watch while I exercise. It’s a much better use of that money for me.

3 - Lunches out during the week. This is one thing I have gotten very good at avoiding. For the past four or five weeks, I have brought my lunch to work every day. On the days that I used to buy a lunch, Jimmy John’s was most often my take-out of choice, and a Turkey Tom sandwich with cheese costs $6.22. That’s not even including a drink and chips, though I usually opt out of them anyway. But if I were to go to JJ’s once a week, I could spend up to $25. And let's not even mention the cost in calories!

4 - Brand-name food items. Groceries add up. We all know this. So if I can get something for less because it’s a generic brand, I’m going to buy it. What I really need to start doing is buying my produce from a market instead of Jewel, especially in the summer when we’re buying more fruit. But convenience has, thus far, won out.

5 - Clothing. This is on the list more so because, in the past, I have had a tendency to splurge on something because it was cute or on sale or because “I deserve it after the week I’ve had.” But the truth is, if I’m not replacing something I’ve given to the Friendship Center, or if it’s not a bridesmaid’s dress, I don’t need it. I have gotten much better at this over the years, but I still have moments when I struggle with wanting an item of clothing as opposed to actually needing it.

6 - A quick meal on the way home. We were on track with this for a while, thanks to the Menus by the Month blog, but the unpredictability of summer has made it difficult to keep up with that. The result? Ordering pizza, heading out to Chipotle, or stopping at the store to pick up a few things on the way home from work, none of which is cost-effective. As we head into fall, which will bring with it MBA classes for David and work on the church newsletter for me, it will be more important than ever to create our monthly menus, shop accordingly, and stick to them.

This isn’t to say we’ll never splurge or that we’ll deny ourselves anything and everything we like. After all, David and I very much enjoy our monthly date nights and count them as a priority. But I would rather put the money I’ve been spending on the above items toward our house fund. I’ve even found myself saying, “If I don’t [go to Starbucks] [buy that album] [get that dress], that money can go toward a house” lately.

It’s working so far . . .


Melissa said...

Good for you!

mar said...

i'm doing that for a puppy fund.
keep up the good work. i'm doing really well on the brown-bagging it. so easy to hit one of the 5 hospital cafeterias at lunch, especially since you can pay with your id & have it taken out of your paycheck.

Nancy said...

A note on your #4 -- if you eat produce that is "in season," especially fruit, you can still save $$ even if you buy it at the Jewel.

Keep up the good work and your house fund will grow even faster!

Ann-Marie said...

That's very good to know, Nancy, thank you!

And, Maren, that hospital lunch deal is a dangerous thing. Good for you for steering clear! :)

elm said...

This Dutch girl says,

simplicity said...

Needs Vs. Wants is something I am constantly working at too Ann-Marie. It's such a work in progress isn't it? Some weeks I feel like yeah! I'm doing great, other weeks (and days like today where I decide to get myself a starbucks treat) I realize I still have a long ways to go. I agree though that it's so nice to have a reason...putting money towards something else.

Audrey said...

Good for you! Its always good to re-evaluate how money is being spent and to make changes as necessary when working towards goals. My biggest challenges are "good deals" on new clothes and shoes with every season. I just donated a huge pile, and still have more to sort through!

tim said...

I don't know, it's good to be a good steward with your money, but you could spend your whole life not buying something just to save money. If you skip a meal, you'll save 5 bucks a week! Only use 1/4 cup of detergent in your laundry and save 40 dollars a year! I've gone down this road and back again and the fact is, I could get hit by a bus or diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, I'm going to enjoy my precious short time on this earth!

Ann-Marie said...

You make a good point, too, Tim, but notice I say we're not going to deny ourselves anything and everything we like. We will allow ourselves things that we enjoy, for sure, just more sparingly. Because of that, I have a feeling we'll enjoy those things all the more. Thanks again for your comment.

elm said...

amo, that's the best point of all -
ENJOYING WHAT YOU ARE GIVEN, when you are given it.

enjoying the ability to save - to say, "not right now."
enjoying the ability to spend - to say, "yes, thank you!"
enjoying the ability to abstain - to say, no thank you."

"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
-Galatians 5:22-24-

Quebecca said...

Do you shop at Aldi (there is one on Pulaski just south of Foster)? You can get a lot of stuff there for super cheap. I saved a lot of $ by shopping almost exclusively at Aldi and fruit markets when I lived there.

I can imagine that being married to someone can bring to light one's spending habits. I fear that day for myself...