Wants V/s Needs


We don’t NEED much, if you really think about it. But we sure WANT a lot, don’t we? In the past several months, for many different reasons on many different levels, wants and needs keep resurfacing. “I need a drink” as spoken by a child in Malawi has quite a different meaning from “I need a drink” as spoken by a stressed out big-city businessman just before beer:thirty on a Friday.

So let’s talk “products.” Those over-priced, trendy-packaged items we buy for ourselves to make our lives easier, our skin smoother, our hair shinier, our smell a bit more seductive, our toilets cleaner, and our leather more supple. I started on an unintended mission a couple of years ago when I was given a big bag of sample deodorants and a bag of sample razors (no, I don’t have facial hair… yet). Then it became an obsession.

“I’ll never use these all up.” But I did. BAGS OF DEODORANT SAMPLES! And I wanted more. And then I started the quest. Every sample/complimentary hotel shampoo, lotion, conditioner, toothpaste, face cream, make-up, fabric softener, dishwasher soap became a prize. Things I would normally keep for a while, then finally pitch because I couldn’t stand the clutter in the cabinets. But I used them. And I didn’t buy ANYTHING if I had a sample of a similar product, or the slightest bit in the bottom of a bottle. Sure, I’d lust after sales at Bath and Body Works, Clinique Bonuses, and Younkers’ coupons, but my strength prevailed.

Actually I probably saved gazillions on gas too, since I didn’t frequent the mall and Target like I had before. I even got a bottle of shampoo off Freecycle (pathetic, I know). It’s now been at least 4 months since I’ve bought nearly anything that I would have considered a personal or household product (you need toilet paper, however). It’s really been liberating. Empowering. Defining. I haven’t kept track of how much money I’ve saved, but I’m guessing it’s a pretty phenomenal amount. Better than the dollar, the payback is nearly spiritual.

I feel genuine gratitude for this experience. There was really no big sacrifice, it just required a little discipline and common sense, both of which I discovered I must have lost along the way somewhere. I’m no worse for the wear, for sure.

Anybody want a razor?

Now, I really NEED a cup of tea.