What Do We Really Need?

IMG_2518 (1)Years ago, I learned the difference in wants and needs, but too often I have bought items that were clearly in my “want” category. I do not even know where some or even many of those things are. When I find something in my closet that I have worn so few times to warrant the investment, I wish I had the money that was spent on that item. Some of those items were most likely impulse purchases, and often, expensive ones. I am changing that behavior. One of my major commitments (you may call them resolutions) for 2020 is to manage my money, something I have never done. At 68 years of age, it is long past time. It isn’t fun, to say the least, but it is eye-opening.

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My single most expensive item of clothing, ever! A designer dress worn twice in 10 years. I would be embarrassed to tell you the price and the unit cost for those two wears!

I have been on a minimalist journey for the past few years, although I am a long way from being a minimalist. I doubt that I will ever be a minimalist, but I am on the journey. I ascribe to Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism, which is: The intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. To follow this philosophy requires that I know what I most value, and what detracts from it.

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A different type of change. How did these granddaughters grow up so quickly?!

What do I most value? First and foremost, I most value loved ones, especially family. This answer is obviously not an item that I purchase, so how does it fit in this subject? If I value family the most and yet spend most of my time with stuff, either purchasing it, organizing it, and cleaning it, then I may not have enough time to be with family. Thankfully, this is not the case for me. I make time with family a priority.

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This powerful message is on a walkway at a friend’s house.

I also value beauty. Beauty is a need for me, not a want. While I value natural beauty, including the ocean and mountains, I also value tangible items of beauty. This includes beautiful china, crystal, and sterling. I also have too many of these items, which can distract me from being able to enjoy those items that I value the most. Because of this, I am purging some things that I still love, because I have too much. I recently sold a set of Christmas china that I loved because it was only a service for eight, and we have at least twelve family members for Christmas meals. Given my current resolve, it made no sense to me to keep the china even if I loved it if I did not use it. I am going through all of my cabinets and cupboards and clearing out other items that I do not use, that I have even forgotten that I have. This is difficult for me, but necessary. And as those of you who have taken similar steps can attest, while difficult, it is also freeing. I feel lighter.

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If (and a big If it is!) we sell our home in Raleigh, I will miss our kitchen and Aga the most!

I also value our primary home, yet we travel so much that we do not spend enough time in it to warrant the cost and effort of keeping it. I have been thinking recently that Mike and I may need to make some major decisions regarding that, including selling our home in Raleigh. This is difficult for me to even consider. We built our home in 1988, raised our children there most of their years, and have had it as a base for our extended family for Thanksgiving all of those years. But our home is becoming an investment at this point in time like the clothes in my closet that are a poor investment due to the number of wears that don’t warrant the cost. Mike has said for years that the fourteen nights he sleeps in our bed in St. Maarten are the most nights he sleeps in the same bed consecutively anywhere, including our bed in Raleigh. While I laughed at his comment for years, at this point in our lives it is no longer funny. It is time to do something different. This change will be the hardest one for me to make. I am not even sure that I will be able to make a change in this area. But I am moving in the direction of considering it.

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On a storefront in Georgetown.

What do you really need? Are you able to have what you need most of the time? If not, is it time to consider doing something about that?

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About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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2 Responses to What Do We Really Need?

  1. Great article, there is a big difference between needs and wants. I think as I age I see the difference more clearly. I would love to have the money that I have spent foolishly on wants that are no longer important to me, such as jewelry. Life lessons learned and I hope to be much wiser in my spending! Have a most wonderful day my friend.

    • Patti Fralix says:

      Thank you, dear friend. Now that I am mindful of what I am spending, I am amazed at how making different decisions can be such a good thing. I hope to learn more wonderful lessons from my plan.

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