Do I really need to pay for that?

We live in a time where it seems we have so many things available for us to spend our money on. Things for the home. Things for our mind. Things for our physical wellbeing. Things to please others. Gadgets and trinkets and doodads you had no idea you "needed" until you saw it in the store or online for the first time. However, I think that in many cases, there's no "need" to spend money. 

I was contemplating this the other day when I got to the end of an e-book sample I downloaded to my e-reader. I had to decide if I wanted to buy the book to keep reading it. 

Things for the home
We all know that we live in a society of over consumption. At least that's true for us in North America. If your home isn't (or wasn't) filled to the brim with stuff, I'm sure you know many people that have overflowing homes. It's easy to get into the trap of buying another piece of furniture, especially if you feel you're running out of storage for all of your stuff. I know I'm guilty of having bought so many bookcases and storage units over the years that I could probably have opened my own furniture store. But nothing ever seemed to really work out quite right. Until I started pursuing a minimalist lifestyle. But this post isn't really about that.

When you feel like you could use more or different furniture, you could go out and buy a new piece. The store owners would love that! Instead, I propose that maybe you could ask to borrow it (or buy it) from someone who has an overflowing home and you know they haven't used that item in a while. They might be happy to have it go to a good home. And if you have something you don't need and you know of someone who could use it, do yourself a favour and pass it on.

Things for the mind
I like music, books, movies, live entertainment and other artwork. I sometimes pay for all of these things, but I don't have to. I can listen to practically anything for free online. Same goes for many books, and I can also get them from the library. There are free shows and productions here and there around town if you're willing to do your research. And in my area, museums have free admission on Thursday nights for the regular exhibits.

When I do choose to pay for something like music, books, movies, live entertainment or other artwork, it's usually because it has moved me and I want to encourage the artist in his or her artistic pursuit. I want the art to continue, so I pay.

Another thing I like doing for my mind is talking with people. Sharing ideas. Making each other laugh. Listening to each other's stories. Trying to figure out life. We could do that over an expensive delicious meal at a restaurant, or we could do it for free walking around the city, or sitting in a park, or sitting on the couch.

Things for our physical wellbeing
I don't really like working out. Not yet anyway. It doesn't come easy for me. But I really do enjoy the effects of working out. I feel stronger. I sleep better. My mind is clearer. My self-esteem is better because I'm taking better care of myself. I could join a gym. I enjoyed my time at the gym. But I can also workout on my own. For example, I can take long walks. I can dance in my living room to music streaming online for free. The internet is also filled with workout videos.

Things to please others
I like making other people happy. I like finding the perfect gift that lights up someone's face. However, that gift doesn't have to be something material. See any of the paragraphs above - I could do many of those things with or for someone.

Obviously, there are some things that you probably will need to spend money on. Food. Clothing. Shelter. But then again, you might be able to find some or all of those things for free, or almost, if push came to shove.

What I'm trying to say is that you may not have to spend any money to get what you really want or need. Sometimes spending money will actually get in the way of what you're really looking for. So before I spend I ask myself, do I really need to pay for that?

In the case of the book I was reading, the answer was yes. I wanted to support the author because she's writing about something that moves me. I thought that her book would serve me in my journey to simplicity. So I payed for that.


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