As I stare at creamy shades of lipstick, the black tubes seem to taunt me through my laptop screen, pressuring me to buy one.

The problem is, the lipstick is too expensive, and I definitely shouldn’t be spending my money on it. I don’t even wear lipstick that often, I’m more of a lip balm kind of girl.

The devil on my shoulder coos that it doesn’t matter. I want the lipstick, and the desire has my fingers tensing on my mousepad, debating whether or not to succumb to the urge.

In that moment, the lipstick seems like something I couldn’t live without, but it doesn’t compare to the happiness I felt when I was able to save up and buy a $52 Urban Decay eyeshadow palette last December.

“Americans today, compared to 55 years ago, own twice as many cars and eat out twice as much per person, but we don’t seem to be any happier because of it,” according to an article in the Huffington Post.

I may want that lipstick right now, but the satisfaction of the purchase won’t compare to the guilt I’ll feel after spending money on it. I don’t need an overly expensive makeup product, but I keep thinking if I buy it, it’ll make me feel better.

I’m not sure if there’s an answer to why people want so many things, mostly because it differs from person to person. Maybe we’ve become materialistic because of what we see on television and in movies. Maybe we need to fill a void in our hearts that desire has created and now seems impossible to fill. We’ve blurred the lines between needs and wants to such a degree that we’ve decided if we want it, we need it.

“We’re convinced that we can buy our way to happiness, that wealth is the path to permanent fulfilment and well-being,” according to an article from Psychology Today.

In our lives, especially as college students, buying unimportant objects has become a false step in discovering the key to our happiness. Finding happiness shouldn’t depend on purchasing something. Your wants shouldn’t come first in your life, and if they do, something is wrong.

If you’ve found yourself in a spending funk, try to create a weekly budget for yourself. This can keep your wants and needs in order and save time at the grocery store when you’re deciding if you need everything in your cart or just a bag of chips. If you follow that budget for a month, treat yourself with something well-deserved rather than spending it on a whim.

If you’re intoxicated self has been spending too much on pizza during the weekends, walk to Clinton or the Sundowner. They both have a variety of foods to choose from, and you’re saving money that could be going toward books or a special trip you have planned with friends.

Distinguishing between wants and needs is hard. We’re college students. We’re lucky to have enough money to buy ramen every week. Our wants buzz around our heads like dreams coercing us into thinking we’ll be better once we have them.

Needs, however, are necessary in achieving happiness in our lives, and without them, frivolous items become useless. I may want that lipstick, but I needed laundry detergent, so that’s what I spent my money on.

You’ll find that if you put needs first, in the long run, you’ll have a better grasp of what’s important in life, instead of having your life revolve around materialistic things.

Email Shania Savastio at shania.savastio@cardinalpointsonline.com

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