Changes in lifestyle make it easier to battle 'I want-itis'

Changes in lifestyle make it easier to battle 'I want-itis'

So I mentioned this when I wrote my post about American Girl dolls a while back, but I've been thinking about it more lately.


I have, for as long as I can remember, struggled with the “I want its.” My first memory of it: circling something on every single page of the Farm and Fleet Toyland catalog, and my parents explaining to me that Santa was not bringing me a sleigh-load of toys.


There were the American Girl dolls, of course, and later I got sucked in to a CD club because I just had to have the 12 CDs for one penny. Turned out, it wasn't such a bargain by the time I fulfilled my contractual obligation to buy several more at an inflated price.


Since I've been living on my own and supporting myself, "I want-itis" has been easier to quell – many extras are just not possible for me. As in, my shoe budget went out the window when I bought a house. And of course, my parents gave me a good foundation for my finances by teaching me early to save.


But it's still something I struggle with, and Rob and I have been dealing with more now that money is a little tighter in our household.


For example, when we were pricing sinks a few weeks ago, we both stood in front of a copper undermount sink, mouths gaping because it was just so gorgeous. But it cost more than one of our monthly mortgage payments. We've learned (or perhaps, are still learning) to just say no to these expensive propositions. (By the way, we never even considered buying that copper sink and wouldn't have, even if we weren't having a one-income summer. Just clearing that up.)


We were hoping to make a few big purchases – including a vacation – that are simply on hold while we're on such a strict budget. We've stopped shopping for the sake of shopping, and we're much more careful about saying “We will spend this much” on whatever it is we need, and trying our absolute best not to overspend.


It's not always about money, though. I've been trying to use coupons lately, and there are certain stores that are almost always offering something free or nearly so. I've started asking Rob, “Would you use this?” and “Do we need this?” We've realized that just because something is free doesn't necessarily mean it will improve our quality of life. In a house so small, we have to be picky about what we're bringing home.


We also spend more time in the garden and are both feeling proud of how good it looks this year. We try to stick to free activities around town, and are enjoying regular use of the library.


“The library's a pretty good bargain,” Anne Phillips of the Urbana Free Library told me when I interviewed her for my most recent Stretching Your Dollar story about library brochures. She's right.


Our situation this summer has been stressful, but I'm thinking this valuable lesson – I guess I'll call it the anti-“I want its” will be valuable to our marriage and future together.





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algon wrote on June 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I clearly remember you circling even toys completely aimed at little boys. Seriously, though, it's interesting that even as an adult you can be affected by what the people around you have and obtain. I'm embarrassed to admit I sometimes regress to feeling the way I did when watching a neighborhood girl get all the new toys. Only now instead of being envious of Barbies or a playset, it's stuff like cars, jobs, vacations, and weddings other people have. I need to step back and realize just how lucky I am.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 24, 2011 at 8:06 am
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Pretty sure I thought dad would at least get me boys' toys, considering I was the son he never had and all. That backfired. But yes, I know exactly what you mean about other grownups who seem to have everything. I just try to remember that we're doing what's right for us and try not to put myself in anyone else's shoes. Remembering that we are still really lucky/blessed helps.

carolthilmony wrote on June 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm

You've come a long way!