As a culture we tend to want more. More time. More money. More things. We dream up the perfect life where we wouldn’t have to wait around for anything and we could have as much of whatever as we wanted.
The problem with that way of thinking is that when all you want is more, you can never be fully satisfied. Once you reach that “more” you wanted, you just want more of something else, and so on and so on. We have also started to take the basic necessities and over indulge them so much yet still believe it is in fact still a necessity, which in my opinion is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.
So today I wanted to talk about this! So, I’m taking it back to basics and explaining in detail what our actual necessities are for our lives and how you can or may already be turning them into extravagant wants veiled as necessities in hopes that you learn how to cut back and remember to be grateful for what you have. Let’s do this!
Back To Basics: How To Cut Back On The Necessities
You 100% absolutely need food to survive. You cannot live more than a week without eating and you should never cut back on meeting the basic need of hunger to save money! Don’t worry I’m not going there. What I do believe is that food is probably the most over spent category of almost everyone’s budget and it is completely unnecessary!
Food, water, nourishment, etc. are things you need to take care of in order to live. But the way we indulge ourselves with our food unnecessarily would make people in other countries sick. Not only do we over buy, over consume, and a lot of times over pay, we also throw out anything that has even flirted with the idea of going bad or is just not appealing to us anymore.
If you are reading this, you are most likely in a position where you have food options for each meal and you get to decide what you want to eat. Make no mistake, that is a luxury and we should be grateful for it. But we should also be mindful of what we are doing with those decisions.
Are we choosing to go out to eat multiple times a week but then complaining we don’t have money for gas. Do we have a pantry full of ingredients but are to inconvenienced by the preparation that we choose the more expensive pre packaged meal? I’m not at all trying to hate on or shame anyone for doing these things, I myself have been in these situations. I’m challenging you to remember what basic need is being met and that if you need to cut back your spending you can cut back on what or how much food you buy. Meet the need to the best of your ability but without spending all your money. Don’t go out to lunch multiple times a week and use it as an excuse for being broke. Eating is a basis necessity for sure, but the money you spend behind it can change!
Just like food, having a place to lay your head at night is an extremely basic need. Our first time moving out on our own is a very exciting time because it’s our first time being in charge of this human need. Usually when we move out for the first time everything is cheap. The apartment is cheap, the bills are cheap and we keep the heat down and lights off to keep it that way.
But, as we grow older and start making more money this basic need starts to grow into something bigger. We go from a small cheap apartment to being a homeowner and then to buying upgraded homes with multiple car garages and a backyard we never use. Wanting your own home isn’t a bad thing inherently, (I myself have been working towards that goal for the last three years) but when we start to want bigger and better for the sake of it being, bigger and better, thats when we’ve missed the point.
Think about where you live, or if you are in the cheap apartment stage of life think about your dream home. Are all the things you want in this home for necessity or are they for looks/amenities/status?
When you follow this scenario two major things happen. One, we continue our race for more for which we will never be satisfied in, and two, we are now paying unnecessary extra money on what is really just a basic necessity, not something to overindulge. My goal and one I think you should have as well is to yes, find your dream home but not for status or looks or anything other than what works nicely for you and your family. Also, make sure to find one where you aren’t overpaying what you can really afford and that you won’t be paying off until your 60.
One of my personal favorite items to buy is also the easiest item to go over board with. Clothing. Clothing is a common budgeting category for people every month and is easily accepted as a necessity. I 100% agree that clothes on your back are a necessity in our life. But that statement is very basic. Clothes on our back. It doesn’t say a specific type of clothing. It doesn’t say how much clothing. It doesn’t give you a dollar amount for clothing on our backs. It’s just a need to be clothed.
Clothing can be the most muddy subject in terms of deciding what is a need and want. One of the problems is that I think we have a belief that if we are missing a type of clothing and have a strong desire for that clothing item than it is a need. I think we view “wants” in the clothing category as either more expensive items, or random specific items we see in stores and want to buy right then and there. The fact of the matter is even though clothing is a necessity and I would say basic need, most of the times when it comes to what we are buying and how often, it’s an unnecessary want.
And I’m as guilty as anyone!
I am pretty good at finding cheap clothing items and because of that used to always be purchasing them! My bar for “necessary clothing purchases” was pretty low and I started owning a lot more clothing than was necessary. Sure they were all cheap, but I was still spending money and I was still over indulging for no good reason.
If you already have a closet full of clothes there really isn’t a reason to go out and buy more every month. We are too quick to add this to our need category and do any guilt free shopping we can. Instead we can cut this “necessary expense” way back or out all together (deep breath!) and start putting our money towards other important things in our life!
If you are smart you can twist any necessity to be more than just the basic need being met. My challenge for us though is to take it back to basics and remember what need we are meeting and try to meet it at that level instead of going above and beyond and wasting your money in the wrong places in the process!
I promise I’m not trying to take away all your fun. On the contrary! I want you to be able to put that money to more fun things you want out of life, like more free time, being debt free, a vacation or chasing a dream of yours!
Let’s get back to basics on the necessities so we can splurge on living a life of meaning!