Needs Vs. Wants

Since we are trying to spend as little money as possible, the difference between needs and wants has come into sharper focus for me than it has ever been before.

For instance, I am a butter lover. In fact, my kids teasingly call me “Paula Deen, the butter queen” because I firmly believe every dish is better with a stick or so of butter in it.

And I am a butter snob, so I mean real, honest to goodness butter, not margarine.

Well, it turns out that butter is a want, not a need, so I have been baking with less butter, or, don’t you judge me, margarine.

I can buy a pound of  margarine for $.89 when the same amount of butter is $2.99. You might be thinking that worrying about such a small amount of money is silly, but it is very serious for us.

We are scrimping to save every little bit of change we can so we can be sure to pay our necessary bills.

Butter is a want. Electricity is a need.

The same is true for baby shampoo.

We have had baby shampoo in our house almost constantly for the last 16 years. I love the way a freshly scrubbed baby smells!

But, it turns out babies are just as kissable and sweet when they are washed with free antibacterial bar soap as when they are washed with baby shampoo.

Baby shampoo is a want. Paying the mortgage is a need.

Please, understand that I am not telling you these things so you will feel sorry for me or send me some baby shampoo. My goal is to encourage those who are in our same situation.

God provides for our needs.

If you are unemployed and you have needs that are not being met, please, contact your local church. There are many Christians who want to help you in the name of Jesus.

What would you consider a want that you once thought was a need?

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Comments

  1. I was just discussing this with my children this morning! We are learning Phil 4:19. I just had my fourth child and we need a bigger vehicle. My car seats 5 and I have a family of 6. That is a NEED, isn’t it? :) So we are praying that God supplies that need.
    I agree with you on the butter……every dish is a little better with butter!
    May the Lord Bless your family!~

    • Lisa — just had to pop in to say I know how that feels! We had our fourth child last year and didn’t have a vehicle to seat the whole family until 4 months later. Not ideal, but if we have food, clothing, and a place to stay, it is enough! :)

      I don’t, however, wish new-baby-no-seat stress on anyone!! :) :)

      • I’m a little late to read this, but I know how that feels too! We have been a family of 6 for over two months now and still have one 5-seat vehicle.

        I keep reminding myself of 2 Peter 1:3. When God determines that a 6-passenger vehicle fits into that category of “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” then I know we will be driving one. =)

        I agree this situation isn’t ideal, but I am learning more about patience (especially as we are creative about scheduling who drives whom and when). And I’m learning to be thankful that we do have “enough”–like you said: food, clothing, and a place to stay. =)

        • We have seven children and maybe one on the way. Haven’t completely confirmed that. We also drive a 7 passenger mini van and my husband has a little pick up truck. We can’t all fit in one vehicle so we just drive two to church and on some occasions we will drive two if it is necessary. I’m thankful that I homeschool and that my husband works 2nd shift so that I can use the vehicle for dr. appointments and things without having to take everyone. I’m thankful that we seem to manage for right now with a smaller vehicle. God knows what we need and if He thinks that we need a bigger vehicle then He will provide one. He will provide one in such a way, that we can see that it only could have come from Him.

  2. i never considered it a need but when we “had money” we spent $15-20 a week on soda! when my dh lost his job we stopped wasting money on it. now we could afford it again but we don’t- i am aghast at the thought that we spent so much on something not even good for you!!!

  3. This is what I have been trying to teach my oldest (almost 4). My biggest need that really is just a want is new clothes. I have clothes, they fit, they aren’t falling apart, they do the job but they aren’t new with tags. Please know I am praying for your family and others in the same and worse position. God does take care of our needs and sometimes throws in a want also!

  4. Jules green says:

    Some needs that are really wants?
    1.Pads with out wings ( generic brand) versus the much nicer fitting winged wonders…I even considered (and still do) making my own!
    2.Beloved coconut oil versus el cheapo canola oil.
    3.Cheapo mollasses instead of organic mollasses, to make our brown suger, yet another want versus need:)
    4.Hard paper generic TP instead or Royale Cushy TP…. and yes, that is a BIG difference :) Hah!
    5.Baking bread instead of buying from the cheapo rack :) Baking it tastes much better, don’t ya think!(time versus convenience)
    6.Dried beans instead of conveniently canned varieties:( time versus convenience)
    7.Buying the 2 dollar Crocs shoes for our kids instead of regularly priced runners/sandals from the store.
    8.Buying milk by the jug for coffee cream instead of the most deliciously flavoured creamer we’d usually like to get :)

    May your family be blessed abundantly for all your needs, and some of those wants, too :)

    • I used to agree with the TP, though recently I bought some of a cheep-o brand that happened to be in one bathroom, and had some of our favorite in the other at the same time. We went through two and a half rolls of the cheap-o stuff and only half of the one we like better. It has me fairly convinced that even though it is more expensive to buy it is worth it for us. If I had found otherwise I would have changed. Good luck, and God bless.

  5. My hubby is laid off right now too, so this post was a sweet encouragement to me!! It’s been a good thing for my 5 kiddos (well, only 2 are old enough to notice much, I suppose) to live through making these choices. I’m sure it will stick with them just like it stuck with me when my parents went through it. In fact, maybe that’s part of His plan…giving those little ones a memory of God bringing them through hard times so when their own hard times come, they know how well to trust Him? Just a thought. Blessings on you all…hope both our men get jobs soon! :)

    • I really liked what you said about having your children experiencing the challenge you are going through with a layoff so that they can see God get you through it. Not only will that build their faith now, but like you said, it is a foundation for their future. Too many young adults these days could use such experience, knowledge, and faith, instead of expecting life to be handed to them on a silver platter. Thank you for your lovely perspective on this.

  6. I would love to hear more posts from you on frugality and needs vs. wants. Although my husband is currently employed we are trying to dig our way out of debt and have had to make cuts that we would not have considered before. Thank you for continuing to inspire us in spite of your current hardship. I pray your situation will change soon.

  7. We started this road about a year ago when we were convicted that I needed to be home with our children and suddenly was cutting our income in half. It’s amazing when your priorities change so do your ideas of needs vs wants. Yeah I’d love a vacation but it’s not a need… it’s a want. Yeah I’d love a couple new maternity outfits this time around… a want, etc, etc. It’s all about perspective at the time!

    • Courtney says:

      This is so true! Perspective is everything. If you broaden your view a little and think of the people who do with much less, it helps you realize how much we truly are blessed with!

  8. I guess one of our biggest wants is air conditioning. We’re in florida and we do use the a/c but for us, our wants are keeping it at 76 degrees but because we need to save some money – we’ve turned it up to 81. It took some getting used to it. I do consider a/c a need in florida, though some may disagree.

    • I doubt anyone who has actually spent time in Florida would call a/c a want. I am a southern transplant to the PNW where hardly anyone has or needs a/c. We do have it, but I feel like it really never needs to be on (my hubby likes it at 70) because I know what real heat and humidity feels like. Now I wonder how anyone back home even stays alive in the summer!

  9. The needs vs wants thing is so important to understand! I teach a Financial Literacy class to high school juniors and seniors at our local homeschool umbrella school, and we discuss needs vs wants within the first few weeks of school (after what the Bible says about money and our attitude toward it).

    Knowing the difference between needs and wants can be key to mastering your finances. Thank you for your very important post!

  10. Mary Kay says:

    Need: Food to survive.
    Want: Particular foods.

    I continue to order at Amazon through your shopping portal.

    I hope you are back to using butter soon.

  11. It makes me think back to my childhood when my parents were both going to school in hopes for a better life for us. Mom was working hard for money at the same time. I think Dad was too. We grew up so much differently than my own family is. It’s crazy to know my kids don’t understand the difference between a want and a need. It’s sad. I want them to understand this difference and live it.
    Here are a few things we had to do with:
    government commodities, freeze dried eggs, freeze dried veggies, wheat puffs rice puffs, powdered milk, generic cereal
    Yet we were happy and I don’t think we ever complained.

  12. It really depends on the situation! When we were watching our house flood during Tropical Storm Allison and had our boat in the driveway, (we had just picked it up from the shop), we knew we had a way out if it got that bad. We had no way of knowing if the water would stop at 5 inches inside our house (it did) or if we would be on our roof like all the people on the news.
    At first, we were all about saving the wedding pictures, etc. But when my husband said, “Go pack up some stuff in case we need to evacuate in the boat” I knew at that moment all I needed was my husband and daughter. And OK some diapers. NOTHING else mattered at that point. Or for a long time after. I did feel sorry for myself for a few minutes and then found out a family we knew had been evacuated when the water was up to the mom’s chin and they had carried their daughter out on their head. They lost everything. After that, I felt rich. I started packing up clothes and sippy cups and toys for them.
    It’s all in the perspective.

  13. Most people would strongly disagree with me, but having an AC unit or Central Air is a want, not a need. I live in WI and we have been having some seriously hot and humid days (I lived in VA for every summer of my life, so I know what hot is!). I’m also 37 weeks pregnant, which makes things more uncomfortable, and working with my husband in our catering kitchen with ovens, the stove, the commercial dishwasher, and other condensers going. All with no AC, only fans. Yet we are surviving, a little more wet perhaps, but we’re surviving. You think of all the generations before us who didn’t have a constant coolness in their homes and they survived the summers.

    Another want vs need: generic food vs the brand names. Usually they taste just the same, but the cost is quite different. And soda. No one needs soda! You have to pay for you water anyway, why not just drink that? … Those are just some thoughts.

    • Occasionally A/C qualifies as a need. We live in Houston and have days on end with heat indexes of 110 degrees or higher. Our middle son suffers from asthma and would become very ill if we didn’t have A/C. It costs us dearly to run it but the alternative is spending time in the ER trying to get his breathing under control.

      • Much agreed, CatE. If one is healthy then perhaps AC does not matter so much in the household. However, if you are chronically ill (which I am), have respiratory or asthma problems, AC is a need, not a want. Our car AC was broken all summer until this week. Having a husband with asthma, it was imperative to me to get this repaired.

        Personally, my 4 physical needs in life are food, shelter, transportation, and AC/heat. Anything other than that in life is gravy on top to me. But others may be different in their thinking. :)

  14. Baby wipes!! I now make my own and my cost is about 50 cents per week with two babies in diapers!! It takes me all of five minutes to make a batch .

  15. Menu variety is a want. More specifically meat variety. I’ve discovered I can cook many of our favorite dishes with whatever meat is one sale that week. I don’t need specific/different chicken dishes, I just put chopped chicken into our spaghetti or chili and so on.

  16. It is amazing what we think we need vs what we really need so much is engrained from our luxuriant society.
    When dh was starting his own business someone asked us why we weren’t going on holiday and said “Everyone deserves a holiday”. But why? Where is the Scripture for that?
    In terms of wants vs needs it does vary according to situation. I live in the UK and having air conditioning would certainly be, for most people, an unnecessary luxury.
    One thing that we have moved from need to want is new shoes. I have realised that if one follows on-line fitting instructions very carefully it is possible to use second hand shoes.
    Wipes again-we use old small prefolds.
    Bread-we make our own but use ordinary not strong flour with no adverse consequences.

    • Sarah, my husband and I have talked about the same thing pertaining to retirement. Where does it say that we deserve/require/must retire and spend our days doing whatever we please? I think we should work for the Lord until we aren’t able to do anything at all. I know an 80 something year old woman who can’t go much of anywhere but she still writes cards for people’s birthdays, etc.

  17. With my husband being laid off (but hopefully opening his own business soon!!! :)) we have had this conversation a few times.

    My husband was/is an avid Dr. Pepper drinker. Since he is home all day, we knew that there had to be a cheaper alternative. He still has the occasional DP, but he has been happy with sweet tea or Kool Aid, which is much cheaper. However, before this happened I think he would have said DP was a need (have jockinly of course…)!

    We have also stopped using shampoo, I read about the “no poo” challenge and we have decided to do that! Even when we can afford it again, we’ll never go back!

  18. This is such a good reminder. And I don’t judge you..I love butter, and we buy it only when it’s on sale, then only use it on things that are sooo much better with butter (like popcorn :) ) Otherwise, we use margarine.

    When I was pregnant with our 3rd child, we thought we would NEED a van (we have a compact Kia Rio), thinking that there was no way we could fit 3 carseats in our car.

    Turns out, there is one brand of car seat that is narrow enough, designed to fit 3 in a small backseat. They just barely fit, and it’s a bit of a hassle to not have an infant carrier that I can just take out of the car leaving baby strapped in, and even though the seats were expensive, God provided us with a sale on them. Turns out 3 car seats is much cheaper than a van, too. Go figure. We learned that even though we thought a van was a need, God provided for our needs without the van! (The carseat brand is a Radian, if anyone is interested)

    • We have those car seats too! They are amazing! And SO much safer than an infant carrier bc of the steel frame, they also last way longer and actually fit in the backseat of a car! Sounds like you saved lots of $$ :)

  19. I admit it, I am a butter snob. I would send you some, but I don’t think it will be usable after shipping…
    I pray your husband has work soon- and until then, I suppose you are learning a whole lot about leaning on the Lord.

  20. Clothes. I’ve never been a fashionista, but after having grown up “dirt poor,” I spent a lot of money in my 20′s on clothes from department stores. And then we had our first baby, I quit my job to start a private practice and Hubby lost his job, all in a 10 month period. We already had a lot of debt, and we started looking for ways to save.
    One of the things I did was to stop buying shoes to go with every outfit (all mine are now black or brown, so they go with everything) and I started buying clothes from consignment shops and garage sales. I also started doing the same thing for my kid(s).
    By the grace of God, we passed through that difficult time, but I’m still not buying from department stores.

  21. Oh, and I have a tip about the butter! I’m a margarine girl, myself, but for cooking and baking, butter is better than margarine.
    HOWEVER, I’ve started using yogurt in a lot of my recies, and I like it better than anything else. It’s not so great for cookies (they come out a little cake-like), but for pie crust, cupcakes, brownies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles etc. It works great! Everything comes out light and fluffy, and also healthier.
    Yogurt is expensive, so I make my own. It’s really not difficult or time consuming, and I can get up to 6 batches of homemade yogurt from one individual cup bought at the store.

    • Great idea on the yogurt, I have not heard of that before. Sometimes I also use fruit puree – more often applesauce. One can still do baking of sweets with reduced fat along with fruit puree. As a plus, having less fat in the recipe is a help with calories.

      • Mrs. Smockity. If you do get some butter you can stretch it by combining margarine and whipping it together or taking butter and adding some healthy oil and whipping it. Either way, you will stretch your butter $$ a little further. :)

  22. Now this probably would not work well for baking, but I love to make whipped butter from whipping cream. It is not *quite* as inexpensive as margarine (actually it might be…I haven’t done the math) , BUT it is real butter (and quite yummy). I do small batches at a time. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Butter-by-Whipping

  23. Every little bit of scrimping helps. That dollar or two here and there really adds up, and can add up quickly. When my husband was out of work, even the occasional trip to McDonald’s became a want. It’s not easy to choose needs over wants, but the lessons we learned while he was unemployed have stayed with us and still affect the choices we make.

  24. Although we have always been employed, we have been so broke at times. Those times I had to decide my own wants and needs, after 15 years of marriage my hubby and I have never handled money well, and have been praying and asking God for direction. Much of my desire to be better stewards has come from your blog as I am reminded nothing is promised. I am learning to make things myself, such as fabric softener, vanilla, hand soap, brown sugar, just anything I don’t have to run out for. We eat at home more, and I am back to clipping coupons. We plan to see ourselves as good stewards and pleasing to God. Praying for you.

  25. We are learning this too! It turns out that chai tea, blueberries, and a clothes dryer are all wants. That last one may change to a need when winter temps dip below freezing, but I intend to make do as long as possible.

  26. For us, especially since joining Wycliffe and living on missionary support, it’s not just a matter of wants vs. needs but truly being content with just having our needs provided. And we see God provide in such an abundance of ways that we never would have seen Him provide when we had a much better paying job with plenty of money to spend on whatever.

    Now we’re in the habit of when a need comes up, to pray about it, wait and see how God provides. It’s great for our kids to see God provide over and over in such tangible ways!

  27. Your post today really hit home with me. This time last year I was laid off from a job I had been doing for 10 years, and I learned a lot about needs vs. wants for the months that I was without work. I can remember making the switch from chicken broth in the box to bouillon cubes and thinking, “Who am I?” Looking in my pantry at the store brand peanut butter (that was not reduced fat…) and thinking I couldn’t remember EVER buying anything but Peter Pan or JIF for my whole life!

    I guess sometimes the little things make you think pretty hard, but I learned to LOVE the Farmer’s Market (and still do), and other things that seemed foreign to me along the way… like staying home and painting huge pieces of particle boards that I had cut to fit into my car at Lowe’s (MUCH cheaper than canvases) to pass the time between interviews and job hunting…

    Some of these things have stayed with me after my job hunt was (finally ) over, and I’m grateful to have rediscovered them… Others made me appreciate things I took for granted before… I was humbled by the experience but definitely not defeated:)

  28. This is a great post! We should all probably take a look at our “needs” and revise the list so that we can have money to give to others in need or prepare for a rainy day.

  29. I was shocked by the people in my Sunday School class before Christmas. We were sitting there with no money to buy groceries or presents while they talked about NEEDing new iPhones and 4-wheelers. It was certainly a life lesson for me. Sometimes, “needs” can be warped by our perception. We get convinced that we deserve something. It is rightfully ours. But, in reality, we deserve nothing. Everything we have is a gift from God.

  30. Heather Mason says:

    Very good discussion! We couldn’t afford to have one child 15 years ago, but we did anyway, and I stayed home to care for him! Now, 8 children later, I’m still home, and we still can’t afford to have them :) We eat alot of beans and rice, and oatmeal, and not alot of dairy or meat or convenience foods, but we’re generally happy and content with that, and healthier than alot of people who have alot more to spend! Why do people want to spend so much on food that is here today, gone tomorrow? For me, disposable diapers are a “need” since I usually have 3 in diapers, but I’ll sacrifice to pay for them (Aldi brand) and I’m very thankful to be able to buy them.

    • oh, thank you for writing this!! We have six that we can’t afford and I still want to leave my womb open to what the Lord has in store, but some people think that is not using the wisdom God has given us. I say, “He will provide our needs!”

      • Heather Mason says:

        If God is leading you to continue to trust Him with your family planning, He absolutely will provide for your needs. Some of what He’s done for us has been nothing short of miraculous. We moved into our dream home 3 years ago (3600 square foot brick house on 6 acres), even though we didn’t have the down payment! We were living in a tiny ranch 1/3 that size! My husband’s brother whom we barely know took care of the down payment for us! People who have extra stuff or food or money often think of us to bless! I could go on and on. Don’t lean on your own understanding in this area. God always provides when we obey Him!

  31. Coupon Rachael says:

    I thought cable was a need and then we decided to have me stay at home. Our income was cut in half, by our choice. We got rid of cable which was running us about $65 per month. We now have Hulu via the internet for about $8 a month. We do not miss having cable and we watch less TV and get more done around the house. We also read more.
    I also used to shop at the higher end stores, now I rarely do, and if I feel I need something, I search garage sales, Goodwill, Wally and Tar-jay clearance.
    I think part of it is getting over ourselves and not worrying about what other people think. They can have all their high priced, latest and greatest gear for all I care, I am happier than I have ever been without all the ‘extras’.
    I am now looking at our cell plans. We are with Verizon and my hubby’s phone has some bells and whistles that are somewhat of a need for his job, but I barely use any minutes and text a few times a week. I would like to go to a prepay plan through Verizon. Does anyone here have a Verizon pre-pay plan? Tell me what ya think! Thanks in advance….

    • I use AT&T prepaid and love it. I text about 2 times a month (to the babysitter) and then use the phone about 2-3 times a week. I usually pay less than $10 a month. I also don’t give out my cell number without people knowing to use it only for emergencies. It is VERY rare that I need to be reached immediately. most of the time I just call people back when I get home.

      • We use the Walmart Straight-talk plan for my cell phone. It uses the Verizon network (so if you have good verizon coverage, you will have good straight talk coverage). It is 30.00/month for 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and web access or 45/month for unlimited talk/text/web. I have used it for almost two years (after my husbands workplace stopped paying for our cell phones)…and love it. My phone isn’t the ‘newest and fanciest’, but it works for us.

  32. We’re cutting back on our budget for various reasons. I read your blog post this morning, went out grocery shopping this afternoon, and came home with margarine. Can’t believe I bought margarine (I’m also a butter loving snob), but it sure was cheaper. Thanks for your post!

  33. Mom to 4 says:

    We were a family of 5 when my husband lost his decent paying job and could only find a job paying what we used to make in high school. We quickly reassessed our budget and got down to paying only power, rent, and insurance every month…everything else was a want. We moved into a small house with no central heat or A/C, and that can be REALLY trying sometimes, but we make it work. Now, as a family of 6, we have a $40/wk grocery budget. We eat plain oatmeal in bulk, make our own bread, coupon for toothpaste and other toiletries, and use a lot of rags instead of paper towels. I clean with vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide instead of the pricier cleaning products. We also started raising hogs and growing a garden. It feels SO good to be able to know that we have food stored up for at least a short period of time in case our income is lost for some reason.

    • Mom to 4, I wish you had a blog as I would surely read it. I love to read success stories like yours. It doesn’t mean life is not hard for you I am sure, but I appreciate your positive attitude and can-do spirit!

  34. I remember when my girls were little and playing sports. One year we got on a team with people we didn’t usually play with. At the end of the season the parents wanted to order very large expensive trophies for the kids. I told them we wouldn’t be participating because I had three on the team and I didn’t want to spend that much. I know the moms talked about me and one even said “well my kid deserves the best!” But I definitely don’t think those kind of things are a wise expense. We find abandoned trophies in our empty rental houses all the time!

  35. We live on 3+ acres, so most people would think that a riding mower is a need. We had a riding mower that we bought used, but it broke down a few weeks ago. Since we need to buy school materials and books for 6 children for fall, we decided not to get it repaired at this time, and we are push mowing instead! We borrowed a push mower from a family in our church. It’s not self-propelled which means we get a good workout! My husband feels terrible about it, (because the bigger kids and I are taking turns during the day), but I love it. Mowing is such a relaxing, satisfying job. And I love the “planned” opportunity to exercise and sweat. Our sweet older neighbor across the street came over the other day and mowed about an acre for us on his rider. What a blessing. Instead of accusing my husband of being a slave driver, he said that he and his wife love watching our children working outside and helping each other. He said it “did them good” to see it. I will probably be glad to be done when mowing season is over. But for now, our real need – to mow the grass – is getting met. And, that sweet neighbor allowed us to borrow a second push mower that’s self-propelled!! Talk about abundant provision!

  36. Not judging or being a snob, but I worry about the trans fats in margarine. I’d rather do without than switch to something that is dangerous.

    • Beatrice says:

      I agree but didn’t want to say anything either! I would worry about the Omega 6 content too. I really liked the tip above about yogurt. Also, I wouldn’t use antibacterial soap on anything let alone a baby. I guess in the short term both are ok though.

    • Beatrice says:

      I agree but didn’t want to say anything either! I would worry about the Omega 6 content too. I really liked the tip above about yogurt. Also, I wouldn’t use antibacterial soap on anything let alone a baby. I guess in the short term both are ok though.

    • About the switch to margarine (for – hopefully – a short amount of time because I agree that margarine is bad for the body)…if it’s cookies that you’re baking (with white flour and white sugar), they’re bad for you anyway and should be eaten sparingly. :)

    • I would have to disagree with you here. I grew up where often times margarine was a real treat. When you are struggling to just find the money to put food, any food on the table, trans fats are really not what you are thinking about. Keeping your kids from going hungry is. I am now a butter snob. I like the real thing and agree it is healthy, but I would easily give it up if it meant I could at least provide the basics for my kids.

      • Lynn – I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I also grew up without alot. We had no car (in Phoenix, AZ where the summer temps are always above 100 F.). We pulled a wagon down to the grocery store and laundromat once a week – it was my Christmas present when I was 5 that I couldn’t play with because if anything had happened to it we’d have no way to get groceries to feed 6 kids on my single mom’s income. No phone or TV until I was in Jr. High. Many times wore the same clothes to school for the whole week. Kid’s don’t get a choice in what they eat – they eat what they’re given. If it’s a choice between my kids going hungry or eating margarine – then yes, they can eat margarine. But if it’s a choice between them eating margarine or fruits and vegetables, I’m going to give them fruits and vegetables. I deeply respect what this family is doing. They’re making sacrifices that many people would not. But knowing the adverse affects of the trans fats, I would rather just do without anything requiring margarine until I could afford butter.

  37. I just wanted to thank you for these posts. Newlyweds with a new house (and mortgage!) My husband lost his job and was unemployed for 7 weeks. We thought his new job was an answer to our prayers. Well 7 weeks later, we are now facing the second bout of unemployment. We are now seeing that we have made some bad decisions (booking an expensive vacation) As well as spending money on wants, like expensive bathing suits, instead of needs like stocking the pantry with staples. Lessons we should have learned the first time are now hitting home a little harder.

    • Erin, the great thing about lessons is that we can either learn from them or not learn from them. Everyone makes mistakes, and the best thing you can do is to move ahead, one step at a time and do better. I’m sure most ladies here would agree that we all have made money mistakes one time or another. Hang in there and God bless. I hope your husband gets another job soon.

  38. We used to think that yogurt was a basic “healthy” need for our family. After doing some math (and reading the labels!) I realized that we were spending as easy $60 a month on just the yogurt!

    We still spend an absurd amount on produce each and every week. It is certainly more of a want than a need though. I do realize that when/if I am tightening our expenses, we can always eat more veg and less fruit. That can immediately cut the bill dramatically!

  39. Great post! Not having money really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? :)

  40. Deanna Roell says:

    Back in the first recession my husband was laid off. We spent 7 months looking for a job in our state and our surrounding states. In the 8th month we knew it would be the last month we would spend in our home. We broadened our search to include the entire country, from Oregon to Texas to New York. At the end of the month we got the call; we had a job in Oklahoma. But we didn’t have enough funds left over to get us there. So we had a garage sale. We sold everything, our beds, clothing, anything that wouldn’t fit in our car. Friends and family donated unwanted items to our sale, and we were able to raise enough for our move. We only took what would fit into our car; clothing, kitchen supplies, the necessaries for our 18 month old, blankets, a pair of pillows, and a small tv (My husband had sold our living room tv, I couldn’t ask him to get rid of the small one too, I just didn’t have the heart). I felt a little like the modern version of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a car instead of a wagon, a truck stop instead of a camp. We found an apartment the week we got to Oklahoma, and filled our new home with what little we had brought with us. We had planned on sleeping on the floor until our first paycheck, but one of my husband’s new co-workers had heard of our ‘adventurous move’ and brought his whole family to our house bearing gifts; an air mattress for us, and toys for our daughter. I have never before seen such kindness among strangers, and I am so thankful for their generosity. Not only did they give Things, they gave friendship. (They also invited us to their home for Christmas, and we spent our first holiday away from home with amazing friends). Our Big Move really showed us how strong we were. We found out how frugal we could be with our food budget, we found out we could actually survive without cable and internet. And that basic necessities really weren’t all that necessary when you really got down to it. We had one towel between the three of us, one pan, one pot, no coffee maker, (this was harder for me even than going without cable). It was nice to not be so connected to everything for once, not It was nice to see the strength and resolve we didn’t know we had in us. In the end, I’m thankful to have this experience, because know we know the true difference between wants and needs, and that we CAN survive tough times.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure it is going to encourage someone else in the same position as you were. I know it encouraged me.

  41. Not to be flip – been there done that. My hubby was laid off in Feb 2010 with no notice. If it hadn’t been for Dave Ramsey and his emergency fund suggestion, we probably would have lost our home.

    Your butter analogy is spot on. We lived on $350/week unemployment for 11 months with a $1000/month mortgage, car payment, etc. and never missed a bill and acquired no new debt. Hang in there! It IS do-able! We’re coming out of the tunnel now and wouldn’t change the lessons we’ve learned and won’t forget the blessings that have been showered on us for a very VERY long time!

    • Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who regularly live on that type of income, not just with unemployment.

      Also, if we stop to consider those on social security or disability alone, it’s even much less.

      We make slightly more than what you stated on a regular basis. We do our best and God makes it all work. We are always thankful for any overtime that comes my husband’s way, because although we don’t rely on it, it is a big help for unexpected expenses.

      Even though we live tightly, I always know there are those who are much worse off than we are. Having thankfulness and gratitude helps a lot.

  42. Hi Connie, I’m new to your site, but I know who you are through twitter and FB. My husband lost his job 2 weeks ago, so this series you’re writing is a blessing to me. It feels like we’re in uncharted territory and I’ve just stumbled on a bit of a road map. Just wanted to say “hi” and I’m so glad I found this today. :)

  43. Hi Connie,
    I just found your blog through Eat at Home, and love reading about your life! This post in particular makes me think twice about what is really a need. I’m putting you on my sidebar so I can check in with you regularly, and hopefully help out your hits for your blog! :)!

    I’ve NEVER known how to make good gravy, thanks so much for the country gravy recipe!

    Sharon

  44. i have let go of all brand preferences – i still prefer secret deodorant, but i have not been able to get a good deal (ie free at rite aid), so i am dabbling in other brands that i have on hand – i think so many of the things we did before my husband took a 70% paycut and we paid someone to buy our big house were for other people to think that we were cool, had it all together, etc. – i could care less anymore – happy, clean, fed children, decent housing, a husband who comes home at night instead of working16 hour days – what more do i need?

  45. I wish I didn’t know what it felt like to agonize over every little finite detail of the grocery bill, but I am well acquainted with it. Luckily, I got my family used to regular meals made with olive oil early on, and replacing some of the butter in baked goods with cooked, pureed white beans (you can’t replace all the butter, it changes the texture too much, but half the butter works!). So that really helped lower the grocery bill and make things a little healthier.

  46. I pray for you on daily. I grew up with a single mom who divorce my dad when I was very young and lets just say the dollar didn’t stretch very far. I have personally learned to stretch my dollar VERY far. One of the big jokes with my friends when the are in tight spots with money is Go Ask Andrea she had to wear Home aid panties she will help you. (I wish I could say that was only a joke but it isn’t we were that poor) Bit those life lessons have taught me you can don’t always need certain things like name brands and other things.
    GOD has blessed me to be able to help others around me and to be honest because of reading your blog I have been helping more than I normally do I just recently went out and bought a friends kids all of their school supplies because they are struggling. The have been out of work like your husband and I want to take the pressure off of them. But I don’t want them to know it is from me. So I am going to drop if off when they are aren’t home. Thank you for sharing your struggles. With out you my friends might not have been getting the extra’s because my eyes might not have been opened enough.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Andrea, I’m so glad you are able to help your friends! We have someone bringing us some this weekend. It is such a relief to know we will have what we need!

  47. My hubby lost his job about 3 weeks ago. Unemployment will barely pay the normal monthly bills. Diapers? Wipes? Toilet Paper? I can toilet train my 21 month old early I guess. That takes off 2. I coupon so I have a stockpile of food and toiletries. Paper products and cleaners are a need right now. I am encouraged with your posts of how your family is surviving and how the Lord is blessing you. It is an ecouragement to me. I know God will provide. He always has. My in laws have offered to pay for homeschooling this year. HUGE blessing! Thank you for a wonderful site!

  48. Brittainny says:

    We recently have found ourselves in the same “much smaller income” position. We have always had to watch our money, but not like this. Before the no job situation, we didn’t go out to eat, get fast food, takeout, go to movies, go on vacations, etc. I also planned our shopping a month at a time. Now, we are even more strict about it. Meat is not a necessity. OJ is not a need. My couponing is getting better by the minute. Free toiletries!! I view coupons as literal free money, not coupons. I make my own cleaning products, my own detergent, use cloth wipes and cloth diapers. ( I have been cloth diapering for almost 6 yrs now with the same diapers) For those who say cloth diapering is not cost effective because of the water used. Not true for us. In 6 yrs, we have never had a water bill over $40 and I was cloth diapering 3 kids at one time for a while. Sewing our clothes and making our own blankets. Using the least amount of electricity as possible. Home school and pay very little for an expensive curriculum. Thank you ebay and used book stores. It is truly amazing to see how God has provided for us over the years. When grandparents ask what to get for Christmas, we encourage money towards home school, movies for the kids, clothes/shoes. Toys are not a need!! Home made toys are much more fun and appreciated. We are currently making a home made hop scotch mat out of an old bed sheet. I am also putting a bullseye and a tic tac toe on the back of the sheet. I am using an old pillowcase to keep it in. We have learned to be more resourceful and spend more time together. What’s wrong with that?

  49. I agree that so many of us are focused on wants not needs. I do have to caution about a couple things though! Please keep eating real food (butter) not fake food (margarine)- the health issues that come with “fake” and processed foods will cost you MUCH more in the long run. :) Many nourishing foods are some of the less expensive options… Check out http://www.westonaprice.org for lots more info including how to do real food on very limited and challenged budgets!

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