Growing up in my household there were discussions about the difference between needs and wants. You may remember from a previous blog post that my mother was good at stretching every dollar, and one way she did this was carefully restricting the number of wants she purchased for our household. Being a kid who wanted the finer things in life (Penny candies!!! Those were great.), I can’t say I could fully understand her reasoning at the time. However, I have to say that learning the difference between needing something and wanting something early on in life really helped me as I grew up and gained my own independence.
One of the places I remember my mom teaching my sister and me about the difference between needs and wants was in the grocery store. So what do I remember from way back then? One of the things I noticed was that we would often stay to the outer aisles of the store, to pick up essentials like bread, eggs, milk, meat, fruit and veggies. These things form the bulk of the “needs” that kept our house going. She would then pick up the essential dry goods by buying in bulk or in large quantities to get a cheaper unit price. I also remember that we never chose the brand-name items. If there was money left over from fulfilling our needs for the week (maybe there was a big sale and mom got a really good deal that week), every once in a while, we could get something we wanted, like a fudgsicle or a small bag of chips. I had a vested interest in helping find deals if there was maybe going to be an occasional treat!
Speaking of deals, shopping sales and coupons was a go-to for our family growing up. I remember helping my mom go through the weekly flyers circling the best prices, and helping her cut the coupons out. Keeping in mind that getting good deals might equal treats, I was always happy to help! It was also a great way for my mom to teach me about the cost of things, how to compare prices, and how to figure out what the best deal is based on unit prices. I know it made my sister and me feel special to be involved and occasionally get a want. When something is a rare treat, it makes the thing even more special – and that’s something we’ll talk about in a future post when we talk about how important delayed gratification is.
My new want is a glass of wine. I got good deals at the grocery store this week, so I think I earned a treat!