Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Staying Grounded: Wants vs. Needs

I just got an e-mail advertisement from J. Crew. The subject line reads: "Necessary Indulgences."

I always have a hard time coming up with an example of an oxymoron when I'm trying to explain the concept to someone, but that phrase might be my new illustration.

ox·y·mo·ron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”

Indulgence are, by definition, not necessary. That's the point. They are wants, not needs.

Leave it to a materialistic, consumeristic society to blur that distinction. According to World Population Balance, our country consumes more energy than Russia and China combined. Even though we're just 5% of the world's population, we consume 23% of its energy.

When TV commercials or magazine advertisements convince us that we absolutely need a consumer good in order to be happier, more satisfied, more appealing to others, or healthier, then we are part of the problem.

Brides-to-be are especially vulnerable. When you're planning a wedding, it's tempting to feel like everything is a need.

I once read about a woman who made decisions using a 10-10-10 rule (apparently it was Suzy Welch in the September 2006 issue of O! Magazine). She made decisions based on the impact her decision would have in ten minutes, ten months, and ten years.

This rule of thumb seems particularly important when trying to distinguish between needs and wants while planning a wedding. When I really, really wanted photo stamps, for example, I could have asked myself:

Will these stamps matter in ten minutes? Yes! I will be so happy! My guests will think they are so cute! We absolutely must get them!

Will these stamps matter in ten months? Um...no. The wedding will be over. Most of the invitations will be in the trash. Guests will have other good memories of the wedding. The invitations will no longer matter.

Will these stamps matter in ten years?

Need I even answer that question?

If I would have indulged in those stamps (because they really did feel necessary at the time!), I would have been more likely to indulge in other areas and exceed our wedding budget. Going over our budget would have forced us to go into credit card debt or postpone buying a house or borrow money from our families (which would have caused us to relinquish some of the decision-making).

Aack!

It's important to turn inward, stay grounded, and reconnect with the true difference between a want and a need.


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2 comments:

Luis said...

I got the same e-mail from J. Crew and I was actually going to blog about it yesterday. I read your blog through "A Practical Wedding", love it, thanks!

Guilty Secret said...

This made me laugh because weirdly I've found myself trying to think of an example of an oxymoron quite a few times too!

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