Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Help with "The Wanties"

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Melody Beattie

As a budding minimalist, I still like to randomly spend money once in awhile, particularly on my kids - a quality-non-plasticy-toy, fun art supplies, good books, clothes. It's just fun. Retail therapy. Something to do. Or just a case of "the wanties." And, really, sometimes the stuff is cute and good and useful and edifying and, and, and....I'm convinced I can justify any purchase one way or another if the funds are there.

One thing that has really helped me lately, when I'm about to buy something, is to stop and think about what I have. By that, I don't mean just make a mental list. It's deeper and more thorough than that.

Let's say I want to buy a new set of markers or other drawing/coloring implement for my kids - because it's kind of cool or different than what we already have. I'm sure my kids would love it and get good use out of it and it doesn't take up too much space and it's a good price and it's totally in my kid stuff budget and I get 20% off because it's from where I work and it's good quality and it's for doing art for goodness sake there are worse things.

Bam. Justified.

But I stop for a moment. I go through a checklist of the art supplies we have at home. But then I picture actually getting them out, handling them, looking at them. I picture them in detail. I picture setting them up for the kids. I picture the kids sitting at the table working on their creations. I picture the art they create. I picture their proud smiles as they show me what they've made. I picture putting it all away. I take a moment to be grateful.

This process goes a long way to curb shopping, particularly impulse shopping. The sense of gratitude begins to overwhelm that "wanty" feeling. I am now trying to teach my kids to do this at the store as well. My daughter is nearly six and it works pretty well with her.

And, if you have too much stuff at home in any category, you will have a hard time picturing each individual item you already own (hello, item-in-closet-with-tags-still-on), and by definition you probably don't need more, even if it's a slightly different item.

Could your kids give you a relatively accurate inventory of their toys? Just curious.

Anyway, it helps me. Maybe it will help you.

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