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Identifying the Difference Between Need, need, and Want – Project Pocketwatch

Robert Burns Pocket Watch To Be Auctioned
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Welp, one week of Project Pocketwatch, my year of needs-based spending, is under my belt.  It was super easy… of course anything is easy when you’re only doing it for a week.  Don’t worry.  I’m not getting cocky over here. I’m simply admitting there weren’t too many moments that popped up throughout the week that made me want to swipe my debit card.

Even though we are all guilty of saying “I need that,” we’re pretty capable of separating a Need from a Want, right?  A Need, with a capital ‘n’, is anything we need to continue existing; food, water, shelter, clothing, a means to get to a job that pays us the money to acquire food-water-shelter-clothing. A Want is everything else.  But there’s that grey area: the small ‘n’ need, which can get easily confused for a big ‘n’. Here’s an example:

As a big tea drinker, I notice my kettle has seen better days.  It has some rust spots on it, a few dents around the body.  I think “I need a new kettle.” That’s not true, exactly.  Nothing is inherently wrong with the kettle.  It holds water, heats up without falling apart. It’s still a functional vessel. “I Need a new kettle” (big ‘n’) would be if the bottom of the kettle fell off.  Just because my kettle isn’t out-of-the-box beautiful, anymore, doesn’t mean it’s lost its usefulness. We confuse ‘little n’ needs for ‘big n’ needs all the time.  We can justify certain purchases because they fit in to the “Need” category. We established that clothing is a Need; but you don’t Need that skirt in brown when you already have it in black and dark grey.  We do the same thing with technology. You know you Need a phone to stay connected, but do you really NEED to upgrade to the next incarnation of iPhone every year?

I did have a temptation come across my path at the store over the weekend, cleverly disguised as a Need.  I was in the checkout lane, idly scanning the magazine rack, when, at the bottom, like the heavens above opened up and shone a brilliant light, I saw the glossy cover of a cooking magazine.  I love to cook.  It was all slow cooker recipes.  I… I love slow cooker recipes.  “Featuring 25 Paleo Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Will Enjoy!” the cover proclaimed. My mouth dropped open. Before I even had the inkling to bend over and thumb through it, I thought, “Not today, Satan,” and decided I had plenty of recipes at home I had yet to try that were sitting in a binder just waiting to be made. I could have justified that food is a Need, and preparing it is necessary, so instructions on how to prepare said food would be helpful.  See… turning a “need” into a “Need.” But I knew better, and it was far too early in my spending fast to be so easily pulled off the path.

So, how did I keep myself busy/entertained this last money-free week?  Well…

·         I appeared in a play Friday night and Saturday night

·         Meal prepped/cleaned Saturday morning

·         Read a book (“Pivot” by Adam Markel)

·         Knitted four hats for charitable donations

·         Started rehearsals for my next show (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at The Civic – opening in April 2017)

Read More - What is Project Pocketwatch

Bonus Video – Eric Meier has a Different Definition of Need

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