As I stress to my kids the difference between “needs” and “wants,” I’m struck by the incredible array of choices we have in purchasing for our “needs.” Do we need soap? Absolutely! But walk down the “soap” aisle in any discount store and let your senses be assaulted for one moment by the sheer number of choices in front of you. How many brands do you see? How many different choices of soap within each brand are on the shelves? This doesn’t even include the entire stores that are devoted to soaps, lotions, and potions….and remember, this started out as a genuine need. Yes, we need soap, but if we’re honest with ourselves we would admit that we don’t need 500 different choices of soap.
Notice this the next time you shop. I need laundry detergent, (though I realize some people make their own), and when I go to the closest store, they have mostly just one brand. But there are shelves stacked five tall containing the various assortments of that brand. (Ironically, it’s not the brand I use, which is why I buy my detergent elsewhere.) Dish soap, cleaners, lotions, food….the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed with our stuff; we have so many options in front of us for legitimate needs. We haven’t even gotten into “wants”!
How often do you try out a new choice in one of those “need” categories, and immediately decide you don’t like it? What do you do with it? Does it remain in your home, collecting dust, a constant reminder of the mistake you made? Do you wince each time you open the cabinet and remember, “Yeah…I thought I’d really like that…it didn’t work at all.” It is the gradual accumulation of mistakes we don’t get rid of that is part of what is overtaking our homes—and remember, we’re still only talking about “needs.” Our “want” purchases create a whole extra mess.