So here’s the general gist of how the process goes when moving into a new home with little more than your clothes:
You’ve packed up your car (like a tetras master) with the absolute essentials compiled primarily of clothes, sentimental treasures, technology, expensive but small things, and more clothes. You can’t afford a trailer to bring the rest of your belongings because let’s be honest, it’s just too much money to travel so many miles. You convince yourself it will be less expensive just to buy all that stuff at the new location—besides, you won’t need all those material possessions when you’re first getting on your feet, right? Not to mention, new home with new things has a nice ring to it.
You are so excited as you move into your new place, ready to unpack and truly call this a home. All these Pinterest-worthy design ideas can’t develop fast enough in your creative mind! You are motivated and mentally prepared for that epic IKEA trip so you can transform this space of your own to look like Pinterest’s wonderland. And because you feel you have the full capability of being the next best interior designer, that dream home of yours will appear overnight. It’s totally doable, right?
Then you look at your bank account… and all your amazing design dreams come crashing to the ground. Yes, even the Pinterest pins which include the keyword “budget” are suddenly unrealistic. You realize necessities like food, a trash can, and Tupperware (never underestimate the importance of Tupperware), are a little higher up on the list of “things to buy” than wall décor, a jewelry stand, and dog food container.
It’s a danger to your budget to go shopping because all you want is to get those items that make a house/apartment a home, rather than purchasing on an I-actually-need-this basis. Yes, those other things are ultimately needs—but right now, when you are still recovering from that first rent/security deposit check? That’s where the Need vs. Want vs. Wish list comes into play, and I highly recommend a similar organizational system for all new home renters (or owners… though I honestly can’t speak on that behalf yet). It has greatly helped me keep myself in check and centered in the hecticness of settling into a new place.
[Before I go any further, I should preface I am in a very fortunate situation for someone starting out in a new home with the bare essentials. My boyfriend’s family has been so generous and provided us with most of the basics (i.e. towels, glasses, toilet paper, hand soap, pots and pans), which has been tremendously helpful. Additionally, we are “storing” his cousin’s furniture (long story), which is the biggest win-win situation I’ve ever heard of. Our Need vs. Want vs. Wish list would be much different, aka much longer, without their assistance and I am extremely grateful. Nevertheless, the list definitely applies to anyone in a new location, no matter how many basics they begin with.]
As you unpack the moving boxes and go about your daily routine, keep a list close by with three columns: Need, Want, Wish. You know how when you go about your day after just moving into a new place and think, “Oh shoot, I need such-and-such” but then completely forget about it on your next shopping trip? Yeah, this quickly solves that problem—and sorts it into what you should actually purchase on said shopping trip.
The Need List
Ask yourself questions like, “Can I do ___ necessary daily task without this?” and “Do I have already have any possible means to do ___?” If the answer is no, put it on the Needs list.
It will obviously vary for each person depending on your lifestyle and, therefore, the necessities of your home. For instance, I have a dog that sheds a lot, so a vacuum cleaner was on my Needs list. There’s only so many layers of dog hair an apartment’s carpet floor can take.
I asked the boyfriend what was on his Needs list. He said, “A box spring!” I told him that the air mattress under the actual mattress suits us just fine for right now… and that’s the end of that story.
However, we agreed a coffee maker was on the Needs list because we are both huge coffee drinkers and it was ridiculous how much money we were spending at Starbucks, etc. We had an extra small trash can (courtesy of Jake’s family) and needed to take the trash out literally twice a day. So, a good trash can was on our list… although I don’t recommend purchasing one as expensive as ours unless you have some really good Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.
We also felt it was necessary to get a large bath mat [Kohl’s President’s Day Sale plus coupons for $6] because the borrowed small hand towel hardly did anything except get waded up in a bundle and scooted into a corner. Jake and I are both very impressed with our color coordination skills, by the way.
The Want List
Yes, it will make your place homier and yes, it will make your life easier in the long run. Yet if you can’t convince yourself that you need it or when you think of getting it, your mind immediately goes to “It would be really nice to have that” then put it on your Want list.
Don’t worry, these things aren’t too far in the future! After a few paychecks and you feel a little more financially stable, these listed items will come your way. However, if you see a really great sale (like I did on President’s Day), then by all means, go for it. They’ll become Needs soon enough, so might as well get them while they’re at an extra good price (as long as you can afford that wiggle room!).
Our own Want list included a paper towel holder, pantry storage containers, and a door mat that had something to do with dogs. After President’s Day shopping, I got two of the above but at such great prices I couldn’t refuse. I’ve already lined up my next batch of Wants… anybody know of noteworthy sales coming up?
The Wish List
Ah, don’t we all have a Wish list no matter what stage of settling into our home? Seems like this is where the bigger items are because dropping $350 on a dresser right now seems outrageous. Hence these nifty drop-down hanger compartment spaces (I honestly have no idea what they’re called) that are good in the meantime:
This is also where many decorative items fall into because, after all, they don’t assist with the daily functions of home life. That’s not to say they aren’t important, but let’s all be honest—we can live without the stylistic décor hanging on the walls.
For Jake and I, this is where we begin getting our own pots and pans, furniture pieces, that jewelry stand I want so badly, and everything that has the word “patio” in it.
We all start somewhere, right? Ultimately, while these materialistic items make a new space homier… something Mattie of Northwest Native said in a comment truly stuck with me. The memories of the bare minimal living are some of the happiest for couples. Not because of what surrounds them, but for representing where they began and how far they’ve come in the most positive of ways. I may have this Need vs. Want vs. Wish list, though at the end of the day I couldn’t care less about what pots we have, if there’s anything hanging on the walls, or whether our bath mats match our shower curtains. I’m living this with the love of my life and we are whole-heartedly in this together. That’s what truly matters at the end of each day.
I’ve sincerely loved the recent comments in which others relate to my current moving-in situation and your own stories make my day! Please share below and let me know how you organize(d) yourself and what is on your own Need vs. Want vs. Wish list.