“I NEED new clothes for school!”
“I NEED a new car.”
“I NEED the new iPhone.”
These are the words we utter every single day: “I need.”
It is the internal uttering of a privileged generation.
We have grown up in a world where a want is translated into a need within moments. We become obsessed with researching our need, thinking of it throughout the day, and viewing it as the illustrious trophy to gain as quickly as possible.
“Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off.”
Has your heart wandered off? Is it looking for a warm place to stay in the folds of designer clothes and new running shoes, instead of God? Beautiful girl, the world is not going to fill your heart completely, and all the wants will never add up to a true need! We must not wander from our solid foundation of our faith and the fulfillment it provides in search of a prettier view with “stuff.” Take a moment and ask yourself:
What if the needs you seek are not needs, but the rumblings of a starving heart?
Ultimately, we have to determine the difference between a “need” and “want.”
Honestly, our faith plays into how we answer this. But for the sake of clarity and time, today we will only focus on the physical steps we can take to manage our needs and wants. How do we do this? I am going to suggest some pretty “radical” stuff, so just hang with me:
Your kids only need one pair of shoes, two if they play sports.
The food in your cabinets should provide adequate supplies for meals and a few snacks, not offer every flavor of chip. My cabinets are almost completely empty every two weeks, because I only buy what we need, not all the “extras.”
Your pets need food and a warm bed, not doggy daycare. They also don’t need doggy insurance. Or doggy clothing. Or… Need I go on?
Coffee from Starbucks is not a requirement to function, no matter how you spin it.
Now, are having these things bad? I don’t believe so. But if we are going to live responsibly with our finances, we need to cut back where we can. I do not like this! But if I am honest with myself, my wants cloud my financial judgement, and yours do, too. We look to the world to fill our emptiness with our wants.
What if the problem with the world isn’t that it takes away, but that it offers too much?
What do we really need to survive? Food, water, shelter. What does the world offer? Dinner out, purified bottled water and the biggest home we can afford. When our hearts wander, we get lost in a sea of things. I challenge you to take some time today to be honest with yourself. What does your family really need? It is an humbling experience to evaluate how you have been living and say, “I’ve been doing it wrong.”
I want you to write out 3 physical lists:
1.) Your needs.
Examples: A place to live, food for every meal, etc.
2.) Your wants.
Examples: going to an expensive salon, cable, big birthday celebrations, etc.
3.) How (specifically) you can cut back.
Examples: Coloring your hair at home, dropping cable for Netflix, having a simple birthday at home, etc.
Look at your list of wants and how you can cut back, and create a new list from the things you can easily give up or modify. Can you begin to brew your coffee at home? Get rid of your gym membership and run in your neighborhood instead? Think of ways to adapt your wants so that they can be more feasible! And if you don’t really need them, stop spending your hard earned money on them altogether.
Try sticking to this new list for one month and see how it changes you AND your finances. By evaluating where you are overspending, you can start to anchor your wandering heart and find your purpose in your faith, not your wants.
Free up some money to free up your life!