Recently I’ve been thinking about the non-essential things that we buy but don’t really need; the possessions that don’t add much value to our daily life or to our level of happiness.
Everyone will have a different list and definition of the non-essentials at different stages of their lives.
When I was single, I used to spend a lot of money on going out, partying and drinking. But once I had children, partying and drinking wasn’t as critical to my lifestyle and my well-being as it once was. Other things became much more pivotal.
When you are in your 70’s, doing up your kitchen may not be on your mind but when you are a young family moving into your new flat, having a nice and fully functional kitchen is a priority.
All those non-essentials that people choose to change/swap and buy lots of often leave a massive environmental footprint behind and mountains of debts, especially for those who try to keep up with the Joneses on credit. I’ve been a victim of that type of social pressure for years and have fallen prey to too many people and situations, where I stupidly wanted to show off to make myself feel better. I addictively spent on the non-essentials, which surprisingly didn’t have a lasting happiness factor attached to it. Who knew, right?
Since I believe that the road to financial independence is full of self-discovery and emotional growth, knowing who you are and where your priorities are, will surely help you resist the social pressure and the need to inflate your lifestyle for the fear of being perceived as having less or being less important. Deciding what non-essentials are for you is a choice, like everything in life. A long time ago I decided that having a huge house wasn’t my priority in life. I’ve seen how my parents struggled, how much money all those houses ate up over the years and decided that I would rather invest in experiences than a new roof or over-priced house insurance. Also, having flashy cars is something I completely don’t care about. As long as my car takes me from a point A to a point B, I’m happy.
However, beauty treatments and cosmetics were essentials for me, even more than buying new clothes. Since the start of 2021, I have seriously gotten into sustainability and minimal waste movement, so my outlook on beauty products have shifted dramatically. I’m very happy with my home-made tonner (that is the only DIY beauty product I can make that works so far) but for instance instead of spending a lot of money, and I mean A LOT, on face masks, I have found alternatives, as good as the ones I used before, which will generate less waste and have a smaller price tag attached to it.
Gadgets and electronics aren’t essential for me either. I have old phones, usually, my hubby gives me his old one when he upgrades. I don’t change my computers that often and if I can I buy refurbished, used equipment. I’m happy to do it.
My non-essential list is constantly changing and evolving. I do have four core components that are constant, but since I started my journey to financial independence and discovered eco-minimalism, I’m constantly on the lookout for expanding my non-essential list with re-usable, sustainable swaps.
I know that buying more doesn’t give me happiness. I also know very well that once I invest in certain sustainable swaps, those purchases will stay with me for years, without needing to be replaced weekly, monthly, or yearly.
Knowing what your essentials and non-essential items in life also reduce stress and anxiety. If instead of focusing on what is important for you in life, you keep buying things you cannot afford while inflating your lifestyle unnecessarily, worrying about how you will pay for those will make your life pretty challenging.
Knowing what your essentials are gives you a peace of mind that no matter what happens in life, you will be happy and able to cover your life essentials without the added pressure of stress, anxiety and the feeling of depravation.
What is your list at this stage of your life? Do you care to share?