- Do I really need this?
- Why do I want to buy this?
- Is this practical?
- What purpose does this serve?
- How will this improve my life?
- Will this item damage the environment in any way?
- How many days per year will I use this? Could I rent it instead?
- How will I be able to dispose of it when I am done with it?
- Will it increase the amount of clutter in my house?
- Will I have to clean it? Is it easy to clean?
- Will this item take too much effort to maintain?
- Will this item add joy or pleasure to my life?
- If this is a gift, how will this improve someone else’s life?
For some of my purchases, the answer is clear with the first question. Do I really need to buy new ink for the printer? Unfortunately, yes, that is a purchase that I have to make. There’s no reason to go further with the questioning. With other purchases, I have to figure out if it’s a true need versus something I just want. Sometimes it’s very easy to figure out that it’s just a want and not a need. Other times it’s not so easy. I also have to make sure that the joy or pleasure an item is adding to my life isn’t just a temporary purchase glee that won’t bring me true happiness.
When it comes to gift-giving, I now try to use the same type of philosophy. As I’ve noted in my seasonal stress blog post, I try to give non-tangible gifts whenever possible. This might be the gift of my time and energy. It might be donations to a nonprofit, tickets to events, or memberships at a museum. I also consider gift certificates for meals, delivery services, or grocery stores for those whom that might be the best approach (including teachers who really don’t need any more coffee mugs). With individuals who live in small spaces including the elderly who may have downsized to live in a smaller home, physical objects can become one more thing to have to find a place for. For kids, many of them have more toys than they know what to do with. In all of these cases, giving something that can bring emotional joy or make their lives a bit easier is the better choice than a physical object that will just end up going to Goodwill or Freecycle in a few weeks.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance