How Often Do You Really Need New Things?

I’ve long been amazed by how often many people feel they “need” new things when what they have works perfectly fine. New dishes because they’ve been using the old ones for a few years. A new cell phone because the new model came out.

Not only does buying new things when you don’t need them a waste of your money, it’s not that great for the environment.

It doesn’t matter if you buy the eco friendly version if you’re buying something you don’t need. You’re still buying something you didn’t need to buy.

Organic cotton towels are wonderful. But if your old, conventionally produced ones still dry things just fine, you really aren’t doing the environment a big favor by buying new ones of any sort.

I know how tempting new things are. Our dishes are handmedowns from my mother and my husband’s mother. Yes, a mixed set, and they don’t remotely match.

But they work great. They perform the function of allowing us to eat food off of them. As they break, they’re disposed of.

There’s a key in there for when you do want to buy something new. Find a way to make sure the old stuff keeps getting used.

Sometimes that’s giving it to a friend or relative who likes what you’re getting rid of. Sometimes it’s repurposing it, such as when towels develop holes, and you start using them as rags.

Some basic sewing skills can also help you keep from needing to buy new things too often. I have a comforter that needs a little attention now, as some of the seams have separated. That doesn’t mean I need to replace it, just that it needs a few quick stitches. It’s still warm and otherwise looks good.

When it comes to clothes, it’s amazing the quality you can find at a good thrift store. Sometimes even brand new, unworn clothes that someone decided to get rid of. Thrift stores are a significant improvement on buying new clothes, while still allowing yourself to have something new to you.

The big challenge may be in not feeling pressured to have the latest and greatest. It’s gotten to where people assume you’ll have a recent smart phone, flat screen TV, and buy other new things just because you’ve had the old stuff for a while. That you could choose to live differently shocks some people, and that’s sad to me.

Most important to me is handing down these values to my children. They’re kids, they often want new things, especially if their friends have them or they see an ad on TV. But we talk about why not, and it goes beyond just finances. I don’t want them just buying new stuff because they can afford it. I want them to pick up on the lesson that you buy new things when you need them, with a reasonable definition of “need.”