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How Do You Determine Need Versus Want?

need-vs-want I just had my first baby shower, at which I was showered with love and presents. Now I’m back home, trying to elbow and squeeze all my new-found baby possessions into my sweet little baby room — which is now looking more like a storage unit. And I have three more showers to go. (Yes, I’m loved and just a little bit spoiled.)

Preparing for a baby can be overwhelming for many reasons, one of which is the tremendous amount of STUFF that seems to accompany it. When you register for gifts you have to make endless choices such as:

And that’s just the decisions surrounding car seats. There is a gadget or gizmo for absolutely everything. Sometimes I wish for the “simpler” days like those I see pictured of moms in rural Africa today whose “car seat” is a baby sling. But then I remember indoor plumbing and quickly change my mind.

And yet, there needs to be some balance between a glut of stuff and unnecessary asceticism. I saw this picture today of two boys racing donkeys. It was taken by a coworker in Colombia. What fun the boys are having (even without indoor plumbing):

I’m not an ascetic; I fully plan to have a car seat with a dangling giraffe toy.

But how do you find the balance between what you want and what you need? Especially when it comes to your kids, whom you and the grandparents and aunts and uncles want to shower with good things?

When it comes to children, how do you decide what is a legitimate expense for the betterment of their lives and what is just more stuff?

How do you help your children find joy in everyday things like a donkey race (or your own local equivalent) rather than in the next game platform?

How do you help your children be thankful for what they have and generous to those who have not?

If you have gained insight with your own family on how to balance what you want with what you need, what is practical with what is wise, and generosity to your own family with generosity to others in need, please share your insights with us!