The Simple Life: Discovering “Want” vs. “Need”

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend; we were discussing our envy of those people that never seem to be at work yet somehow still seem to have all the money to travel, have nice things, go out to eat/drink all of the time, etc.

“What a luxurious life,” I said, feeling pangs of envy.  And then quickly followed with “but I really can’t complain… I have an easy life.”

Because it is true – compared to many people in this world, my modest life IS luxurious in its own way. I have everything that I truly need: I own a home, I can pay my bills, I can lease a car and put food on my table every day without issue. And the best part is that I rarely have to work even 40 hours a week.

The difference between myself and those other people is that I do not have an expendable income. After paying for the necessities and adding to my savings, I usually have very little left to spend week to week.

But what I am learning is that is okay. Because as I was having this conversation, I was sitting out in my beautiful backyard enjoying a perfect summer day… and it was 1:30 PM on a Wednesday.

Talk about luxurious.

Making the decision to work less throughout the week meant that I had committed to living a life where it was very important for me to define my wants vs. my needs.

No longer would I be able to go on mindless shopping sprees or go out to eat and drink every weekend. It would mean working hard to save money if we wanted to take a vacation, and putting as much as we could each week into our emergency funds (god forbid anything ever came up). We would need to budget and learn how to give up many of the nonessentials in order to keep our cost of living reasonable.

But to us, it was worth it. What we would be able to gain was invaluable: more time together in the home that we had bought for ourselves.

When I began this journey a few months ago, it was difficult for me to truly differentiate the wants in my life versus the needs. I had come to invest so much in purchasing “things” and trying to create “experiences”. Even at my highest salary, I was living outside of my means simply trying to keep up with current trends and the hottest products.

Stripping down my life allowed me to see my values much more clearly. It opened up my eyes to the fact that you don’t need a lot of money to be happy; having a ton of stuff doesn’t determine your happiness in life and traveling the world isn’t the only way to create experiences. When it comes to living a fulfilled life, it is important to remember to appreciate having what you need rather than not having what you want.

These past few months, AJ and I have spent our extra time working together to turn our new house into a home. I am able to take my sweet, patient dogs for a walk almost every single day and we still enjoy a weekly date night (it’s been fun finding recipes that we can make together at home). We have even managed to continue to travel by working some extra hours here and there and only paying for what we can actually afford at the time.

And although I am no minimalist (as I mentioned earlier, I still struggle with material envy and sometimes purchase unnecessary things), living a more modest life has been rewarding in ways that I never even imagined. I have learned to be so much more thankful for the present moment and the fact that I am able to spend more time with the people that I love.

In the end, that is all I truly want.



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