The Writing Life- Wants and Needs

In keeping with helping you watch your writerly budget this month, I’d like to talk a little bit about wants and needs.

There was a time, not so long ago, that this was a major source of frustration for me. I want a lot of things, and I’ve never been what we’d call patient or well off. In the past, this has meant I’ve compulsively bought things I don’t need, and then end up searching couch cushions to get a loaf of bread so we can live off peanut butter sandwiches for a few days before my next paycheck came in.

It took me awhile to realize that just keeping my bills paid wasn’t the only thing I needed to do to be responsible for my money. It’s still a challenge that I face every day, though. I still have that compulsion to buy things because I want them right then.

So, I needed to spend some time thinking about wants and needs. I haven’t just done this with money, though. I’ve done this with my time, as well.

For instance-

I want coffee at the coffee shop along with a nice quiche. I need to have coffee to drink in the morning.

I want to have lots of cute stickers and washi tape for my organizer. I need to have good quality pens to actually get things written.

I want to read my comic books. I need to have time to spend with my kids.

I want to watch West Wing. I need to finish my *&$#^ rough draft.

I want to order pizza. I need to have food in the house by the end of my two week pay period.

You’ll notice, though, that I don’t deprive myself of some luxuries. I don’t really ‘need’ coffee at all, but I have noticed that it helps me wake up and have a more positive attitude. I also know that if I forgo the coffee shop, I will have money to get a bag of Pikes Place Roast to make coffee every morning. Yes, I could absolutely write with cheapo pens that are two bucks a bag. But, if I let go of the desire to have every color washi tape, I can afford to get the good Le Pens that write on any surface, glide really well, don’t bleed through pages, and can also be used to draw on my fiance when he’s asleep.

So, my advise to you today is to make a list of all the things you need. Basic needs, first. Bills, food, tp and tooth paste.

Now, list the things you really, genuinely want. Things that you really think improve your standard of living. Good coffee, a better e-reader, a little extra money to take a week off this summer, things like that. Finally, think about your past week, and write down all the things you bought not because they were good things, but because they were compulsion items. Did you grab dinner out because you didn’t feel like cooking? Did you grab a candy bar, or another new Eos lip balm, (three is fine, but my collection of these stupid wonderful egg shaped things is getting really ridiculous.)

So, let me ask you, as I once asked myself, how many of your compulsion purchases would it take to make sure you can have something on your really want list? Is that enough to keep your compulsion purchases to a minimum?

So, I’ve shared my weaknesses with you, I’d love to hear what little things eat away at your bottom line. Leave yours in the comments below!

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