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Minimalism – The difference between Need and Want

School is about to go back here in New Zealand and our family has been discussing covering exercise books. Now I hate covering exercise books with a passion. I’m sure whoever invented contact paper was a sadist. Every year as the holidays end, the reality of covering exercise books looms and this year we have two sets of books to potentially cover as my younger daughter has a set of exercise books this year as well.

My older daughter is super keen for her books to be covered. She is emotionally committed to having her books overlaid with sparkly patterned, difficult to put on without creating bubbles, stick to anything except what you want it to, books.

This year, we have questioned the need to cover the books as the school does not require it and she is not impressed. We’ve told her its expensive, time consuming and frankly unnecessary as her uncovered books she got during the year seemed to come back in good condition. We even offered to buy stickers to make the books uniquely hers. She is not budging on the fact the books need to be covered. When questioned, she is unable to say exactly why the books must be covered so we have concluded this is about appearances, fitting in and other primary school aged kid related culture. This is a want rather than a need.

Since we are the ones that have to buy and cover the books for her we have decided that she needs to have a bit of skin in the game. If she wants to have her books covered this year, she needs to contribute some of her allowance to the buying of the covers. I haven’t decided yet whether I will charge her for the labour (like any good factory manager would) but that may be going a bit far, no matter how satisfying.

What we are hoping to achieve is for her to develop an understanding of how to decide between want and need when its her time and money on the line rather than just ours. We want to teach her that fitting in with a society that is based in consumerism isn’t always the best way forwards.

This story is applicable to all of us. We have to constantly ask ourselves, is this the best use of my time, money, resources? Do I really need this or do I just want it?

1 Comment »

  1. Just an update on this post. We did end up charging our daughter for covering her school books. We charged her two hours of extra math homework, what we felt was a fair but challenging price for a ten year old.


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