Minimalism: Want vs. Need

There is one aspect of minimalism that gives me the most trouble, and it’s distancing myself from the things I want, and focusing on the things I need.

It was really easy to declutter my clothes and declutter my books and I was very happy with what I ended up doing with the stuff I didn’t want to keep… But there’s this purchasing instinct that I’m trying to control and every once in a while fail at.

More often than not, it’s really connected to the scarcity mindset and impulse purchasing. God forbid I fall into that hole right after my paycheck when there’s nothing stopping me from buying the thing. Only recently, I attended a very good webinar about money management. At the end of it, the speaker was advertising their money management course. It was discounted because of that webinar and it would only be discounted through the coming week. It’s a week before I get paid at work. I don’t have the money to spend. I shouldn’t be spending that kind of money every freaking month. Not when I’m trying to save for the down payment.

And yet, I had to keep telling myself I can’t afford it and the course wouldn’t offer any added value to me, given the rather good financial situation I am in right now. It was hard.

That was a battle I won.

But I lost a battle of getting a digital planner template from an author I follow on YouTube who does her planning a quarter of a year at a time and it seems so freaking productive… So I spent the money I should’ve spent on something else and I still haven’t printed out the worksheets… 

I want to have the things I want, but that desire seems to disappear once I have those things.

And that’s the problem.

It’s different to want stuff and then get a ton of use out of it.

For example, I get a ton of use out of my bullet journal, out of my Tombow brush pens, out of my phone.

I’m actively trying to train myself into analyzing the possible use of an item before I buy it. It stopped me from buying so many things! And yes, I still fail sometimes, but the Path To Less is about the journey, not as much about the destination at this point.

This problem isn’t new to me. Chances are it’s not new to you either. So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about how I can make it work. Here are some of my ideas:

Write it down and close the tab

A lot of things I buy end up in my cart because I keep the tab open after realizing I want it. I then go back to that tab and look at the thing. More often than not, I will give in and purchase the thing.

But, in the past, when I wrote down a name of the thing that interested me and closed everything after that, by the time I came back to the list, I didn’t feel the urge to buy it anymore.

So I’m thinking about modifying this technique and creating a dedicated list in my bullet journal, where I’ll be putting down the things I want and a date the urge to buy it showed up. After some time, maybe a couple of weeks (if I’m still thinking about it) or a month, I’ll see if I still want to buy it.

Figure out how much use I can get out of  the thing

There is this concept called “Cost Per Use”, where you divide the retail price of an item by how many times you use it.

For example:

I bought my bullet journal for 29.99 PLN in July 2018. I will need to set up a new bullet journal starting in September 2019. That’s 14 months. That’s 427 days. Which means, assuming I use my bujo every day, the cost per use is approx. 0,07 PLN. That’s nothing.

A different example:

I bought my office jeans last May (I think). I only wear them Monday through Thursday. So it’s approx. 250 days. I spent 75PLN on them, so the cost per use is 0,30 PLN and will go down further, because I don’t need to buy a replacement just yet.

I’m not doing these calculations just for fun. I believe that the cost per use should be influencing you during your purchases. If you buy a dress and only wear it once, that dress will cost more than a dress you wear every day during the summer. Because you’re getting so much more use out of the other one. You know?

Right now, I’m trying to only buy things I know I will use more than once.

Ask yourself “what do I need this for?”

This is something I only started doing recently, and I’m hoping this will help me curb the impulse purchasing a lot. I need to wire my brain to think about what I need, as opposed to what I want. And so I’m trying to frame it in term of purpose and not desires. If I have to think about a reason behind the purchase, I might not be as willing to spend the money on things that serve no purpose other than satisfying that impulse at that specific moment.

What techniques do you use to curb your spending on things you want? How do you differentiate between the things you want and the things you need? Let me know!

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