I Have What I Need, and That’s Hard to Remember

what-do-you-needI’m scheduling this post for my 36th birthday, which (as I write) will be here in less than a week. I just deleted some emails from various retailers promising sales on down jackets, shirts, and shoes. It was the down jacket one that got me ready to write a post — because I thought “oh, I should look at that.” Then I remembered that I have a totally functional down coat that I bought about five years ago and that shows no signs of dying. Why the impulse to go look at that online shop, then?

I’ve never been much of a shopper-just-to-shop, but I do like to have the right tool for the job. I felt like all the way through my 20s and early 30s, I always needed something. Shoes, a coat, a particular kind of kitchen tool, curtains, sheets…the list of stuff that makes up what I consider a gracious lifestyle ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, I do want to replace and supplement some wardrobe items this year, and think it will be a justifiable expense whenever I get around to it. But really: I may be stretching a little, but I can make do with what I have. In terms of winter gear, I have two hats, four pairs of gloves, a couple of scarves, a down coat, a wool coat, long underwear, lined boots, and slightly dressier boots I can wear for work stuff. All of it is functional. I don’t need anything.

Kitchen stuff: same thing. There are a few things I covet (rice cooker, stand mixer) but just with what I have now, I can make pretty much anything I want to. I don’t need anything.

I have a car. I have sheets and towels. I have jewelry. I live in a furnished room, so I don’t need furniture, although I do have some in my friend’s basement. I have a computer, which might die this year but also might not, and an ipad and a phone. I even have attractive hangers, a hamper I don’t hate, and assorted tupperware. If you plunked me down for a shopping spree in Target right now, I’m sure I could come up with a few things it would be nice to have, but…. There’s nothing I need.

It’s kind of a strange feeling, and it’s hard to get used to. Whenever I had spare cash, I always stocked up on whatever I’d been putting off. That’s where my impulse to look at the down coat sale came from, I think; I know I have money on hand, so I’m casting around for good, “responsible” ways to spend it, with the baseline assumption that I must need something.

But I don’t. Note to self.



32 thoughts on “I Have What I Need, and That’s Hard to Remember

  1. Alicia says:

    Happy Birthday my dear! I hope you have a great day filled with at least a little something special ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for your situation, where you now feel comfortable and have most “necessary” amenities and items – I’m right there with you. Sure I’d love some new dishes, or a new couch and a bedroom set, but I’m fully comfortable as I am now. Oh, and what is it about those stand mixers? My excuse is I don’t bake enough to require one, but maybe one day I’ll pull the trigger on it.

    Life is good.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      ooooh, yeah, I want a stand mixer. But not enough to buy it now if I’m going to have to move it again ๐Ÿ™‚ I get along just fine with my 15-year-old hand mixer! Thank you for the birthday wishes. It turned into a very nice day, actually. And it’s good to be in this place of contentment.

  2. Yay happy birthday!

    I definitely hear you on not needing something but wondering if maybe you do. Maybe I missed something?! I’m pretty sure I need some tasteful patio furniture from Crate & Barrel to make it more attractive out there…er, must resist…

    The rice cooker does save me a fair amount of money as it prevents me from eating out as much. Not that that’s necessarily a helpful statement to the cause.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m avoiding the rice cooker for now less because of cost and more because of counter space/the certainty of moving again within the next couple of years. I’m perfectly capable of making rice the old-fashioned way — but I’ve had rice-cooker rice at my friends’ places and it’s just so good! Fluffy and perfect. So, I covet.

  3. Happy Birthday! Sounds like you’ve got the gracious living thing down and now it’s time to coast!

    I think I know what you’re going through. My parents are down in Florida and wanted to know what we needed from the States. We couldn’t come up with anything. It was hard! We really tried too! We got some Christmas money and had the same problem. I will be buying some new clothes this year (need pants) and will be using gift money I’ve hoarded to buy a new ukulele but I could get by without.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I mean, on the one hand, this is a good problem to have ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s just a little weird! Eventually I’ll move again and need to spend $$ on furniture, and I really do need new clothes this year, so I’ll probably get to spend something eventually ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  4. dojo says:

    Happy birthday. I’m 2 months older, it looks ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I also think about what I NEED, reason why I haven’t purchased anything for myself in quite a while. It’s a good idea to really look at your needs (the real ones) and then make a decision. Otherwise we’re just gonna stock on useless stuff.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I can’t stand the thought of moving unnecessary things! Happy birthday in advance to you too ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. It’s kind of a nice feeling to know that you have reached a point where you are comfortable with what you own. Sure there are lots of things that “would be nice” but all of my basic needs are covered and I try to be grateful for that. So I guess one plus for you to move to LA is that you won’t need all that winter stuff, unless you ski/snowboard. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. thesingledollar says:

      hah, so true! Although I’d still have to store some stuff for coming back east during the winter ๐Ÿ™‚ It is certainly a good feeling to know that all the basics are covered. It’s funny that I find it so unsettling!

  6. Debt Hater says:

    Happy belated birthday! Hope you had a good one ๐Ÿ™‚

    I noticed myself in a similar situation when it came to Christmas as I tried to think of things I “needed” and nothing really came to mind. It’s definitely somewhat of a weird feeling!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! It was a nice day ๐Ÿ™‚ And yeah, it’s a weird feeling. I always used to need something or other! Actually I did need some stuff still at Christmas — I asked my parents for a nice set of gloves and they’re wonderful. But apparently that was the very last thing I needed ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Happy Birthday girl!!! Whatever you do celebrate!! Those ads are a trip for they play on your emotions. Trust me you are not alone when it comes to having that impulse to buy. If my BFF Visa could talk she would have a lot to say, Hey don’t forget to treat yourself. Totally ok to treat yourself with a gift for your birthday.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I totally did treat myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Story coming next month sometime. Thanks for the good wishes!

  8. Happy bday! And holding onto that money is smart, because we all will inevitably need something in the future. Allow it to build interest in the mean time!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yes! No extraneous down jackets around here ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the birthday wishes. It was a pretty nice day.

  9. I hope you had a lovely birthday! It sounds like you may need to do an unsubscribe purge. It feels so good! I’m so glad you’ve gotten to the point of contentment with what you own. I finally got to that point with winter gear. Our weather has been crazy up and down this year and I’ve been able to say “I have a coat for that!”

    p.s. If you decide to cave and buy a rice cooker, there is no need to go fancy. I bought a $10 one from Target 5-6 years ago and it is only just showing signs of replacement.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, it’s totally time to get off a lot of these mailing lists! I hardly ever buy things from them — I just end up spending time deleting them. Thanks for the birthday wishes! It was very nice. And, also thanks for the word on rice cookers. At this point the holdup is more that I dread having to move the thing, but whenever I do settle in for a while somewhere, I’ll keep Target in mind.

  10. Vickie says:

    Happy Birthday…
    Somehow the needs seem to come up when you least expect them. Glad you are holding back and will have some money to help you when they do!

    Love the above comment about the rice cooker…have to look at Target someday.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! BTW I tried to comment on your site earlier but couldn’t — it only seems to take google+ identities? Any way you could change the comment system to allow for name/email/url comments? Anyway, I wanted to say I also shop at a Meijers so we must live reasonably close to each other ๐Ÿ™‚ Love that place.

  11. Love this! You put it so simply ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you! It really is simple, it’s just weirdly hard to keep at the front of your mind. BTW, I’m pro-refund. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Mel says:

    Happy Birthday! It’s so true. I feel like everything in our society is geared to push us to want more and buy stuff. It’s too easy to be discontent even when 99% of us have more than we could ever really need.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you! And yeah — like you I’ve lived out of suitcases before and it’s been *fine*. It’s really all about marketing!

  13. Cindy says:

    I’ve found that the happier I am with my life, the less I think I “need”. For years I was obsessive about creating the perfect home. For some reason I thought that if my house were perfect (remodeled, and pretty, and decorated well) that my whole life would fall into place, and I’d be happy. Actually, the opposite ended up being true; Now that I’m happier in my life, I find myself needing less. I don’t have the urge to completely redo the apartment, because we’re pretty happy the way our life is right now, and the bigger, long-term goals seem so much more important.

    Happy belated birthday! Did you find 36 to be any easier than 35?

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Actually, yes: 35 was pretty rough for me. I think maybe I got all my mid-30s angst out in one go (and it was a hell of a go, I had an awful spring.) I agree with you that the happier I am overall, the less I feel like I need! Not that a nicely decorated little house wouldn’t fit well into my life, but I’m really fine just the way I am.

  14. Felix Money says:

    Happy Birthday! Mine was about 2 weeks ago ๐Ÿ™‚ I was recently thinking about what I actually need to be happy (and came up with an income level I would be comfortable at), and it turns out we don’t need as much as we think to be happy. My spouse and I love to travel, and that would be about the only thing that we wouldn’t want to give up. Other than, financial freedom is more important than objects. Best of luck!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you, and happy birthday to you too! And yes, most of us don’t need nearly as much as we think we do.

  15. Happy birthday. I may have missed it. Hope you had a great one. I’m doing a No Buy month challenge and definitely concentrated on needs vs wants. It’s a good conversation to have continually with oneself…if one doesn’t mind talking to ones self. LOL! Enjoy your day.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thank you! It was a lovely day, with lots of conversation and friendship ๐Ÿ™‚ And I talk to myself alllllll the time. It helps me figure things out!

  16. Unless you want to work until you are 65+, save, save, save. Buy what you need, not want.

    and Happy Birthday! 40 will be here soon enough and then 50…

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Uh, thank you, I think ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, I agree with you, it’s definitely time to save.

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