Innately, I’m a person who values simplicity and the joy that comes from the “little things” in life; a kind word of encouragement, quality time with those you care about and love, blueberry picking and cobbler making with my Great Aunt Sarah, sitting on your front porch with your favorite drink and book in hand, a good meal at your favorite restaurant … to name a few. I credit this appreciation for simplicity to being raised in tandem with my grandparents and great grandparents. They knew the value of a dollar after living thru the Great Depression and World War II; they understood what it meant to be a supportive servant to the American community and a contributing member of society. They were God fearing people who lived enriched lives with so little because they operated from a place of gratefulness and put others before themselves. To have known them and been a benefactor of their tutelage, grace, and love is a blessing in and of itself.
Quick side note – a grateful memory moment and Mom shoutout…
Growing up, my Mom labored and gave it her all in everything her hands touched, making motherhood her number one priority. She was selfless in her efforts; her motivation being to give me the best life could offer and all the opportunity she envisioned and prayed for to shine down on me. She balanced it all by teaching me accountability, responsibility, and ownership of my path. Don’t get me wrong, she had some expectations for me. I was absolutely not a bench sitter. Nope. She expected me to put in the work for my future to supplement all she’d sacrificed, and she got in the trenches with me to ensure I made the best of it all. Fast forward to a full ride academic scholarship that would land me at the greatest University Florida offers (Florida State University plug); career success, and an amazing motherhood journey. Blessed and thankful.
While I appreciate having nice things and the luxury of not having to penny pinch or budget every single purchase in life, there’s a lot to be said for keeping a grounded perspective on what you need vs. what you want in life. Furthermore, there’s a lot to be said for personal reflection and understanding how incredibly blessed you are in this life.
I recently had one of those revelation moments; the kind that will slap you in the face with perspective. Griff and I were out running errands and I was giving him a heads up on our plans for the day. “We’re going to the grocery store, then to Target to pick up a couple items, and then we can have lunch and go to the park.” Griff’s response to this was eye opening for me when he asked, “Mommy, when we get to Target, can I get another Lego set to put together after the park?” This was after I’d already purchased a small Lego action figure at CVS when we were waiting for a prescription. Knowing he’d already been playing with a new toy in the backseat, and that we’d be eating lunch and going to the park for the afternoon, coupled with all the memories of the toys and goodies I’ve purchased at numerous stops along the way in life, struck me and really got me thinking. What message am I sending to Griff when he constantly “adds to cart” each time we’re at the store, leaving with something in hand he doesn’t necessarily need?
As a Mom to the most wonderful human on this earth (my biases are kicking in) , I want to give Griff everything his little heart desires. And when you have the means, it’s so easy to say, “Yes, you can have that.” and “Sure, throw it in the basket or on the conveyor belt for the swiping and bagging”. But is it necessary? Even though it may be inexpensive or monetarily in line with your lifestyle, why should there be a toy/goodie/treat purchased just because we had to get some essentials at a store? Moreover, am I teaching him the difference between essentials and desires?
I started my own household movement, adopting more of a minimalist approach to life – need vs. want. Back to basics! Not only am I applying this to the requests I receive from Griff, but I’m also modeling this behavior by being intentional with every purchase. Do I need this or do I just want this? And if it is a want … why? What’s the reason for me “requiring” so much in life? I should be focusing more on all the things I already have and cherishing them from a place of gratefulness. Sometimes, it’s hard to do in a culture of upgrades, the next best thing, and a “treat yourself” mentality. What are we placing value on?
Do yourself a favor and put pen to paper! Start making a list of needs vs. wants and memorializing your expenses. Yes, this can be seen as a budget, but it’s a little more than that. It’s taking your needs and wants a step further to “verbalize” your desires and put things into perspective so you can truly tackle the “why” behind what you’re choosing to spend your money and efforts on. Trust me, your perspective will start changing when you realize how blessed you are and how you can operate with so much less.
Over the last few months, I’ve truly seen progress in both myself and Griff’s life desires. He has a savings account and piggy bank and he’s been diligent about saving his money. When we go to a store and he asks for something out of “want”, I tell him what it costs and that he’ll need to pay for it out of his own personal stash. He evaluates … the thinking process is quite entertaining, I must say. Ultimately, he says … “Nah, I don’t need to spend my money on that.” He recently asked me if he could go thru his closet and donate the toys he doesn’t play with to kids who don’t have as much as he has. Humility moment.
One of my favorite quotes in life is, “When you love what you have, you have everything you need.” I greatly appreciate the fact that I can travel, explore, and live a very prosperous life. But I never want to lose sight of how incredibly blessed I am. I encourage you all to do some self reflection and count your blessings. There are so many people in this world who long for our everyday basics. As easy as it can be to check request lists at any point in your day, being intentional about needs vs. wants will fundamentally shape your way of thinking.
Please share any of your best practices, tips, and feedback on this topic. I’d love to hear from you!