How Want Versus Need Can Easily Impact Your Finances

Want vs Nee. High def tv showing soccer playing about to kick ball mid air

Want versus need boils down to basic economics. The difference should be obvious, but reading articles online about finance, it is apparent that many people can not grasp the meaning of either one or both.

This lack of distinction could be attributed to either one of these two things.

  • Ignorance
  • Defeat

Ignorance: This often means being completely unaware of the effect on their lifestyle on their financial future. They just assume it’s the way everyone lives.

Defeat – being aware of the impact of the reckless lifestyle but feeling powerless to do anything, and therefore resigning themselves to losing.

The end result for both is the same, a big detrimental impact on their financial future. Here is how you can differ between the two and take steps to correct past mistakes.

front view of house with green yard. Want versus need.
Be happy with your house, and don’t compare yourself with others.

Want versus Need: Identify the emotion

A “need” is defined as something that is needed to survive. The first thing I think of is food. You need it to live. Shelter, Water, Air. All these are things you actually depend on for life to go on. Of course, there are many layers to this.

For instance, it’s a fact that food and nutrition are essential necessities for life. One might argue that you need meat (maybe not filet mignon though, because it’s an expensive purchase, and if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t be buying it.). A vegetarian would oppose that as they are living proof that you can exist without meat. This, however, does not take away from the fact that food as a whole is a necessity.

A “want” on the other hand is defined as something one desires. It is not something that is necessary to sustain life. Lusting after things is something that we all experience at one point or the other.

You might want a new car or shoes. They might or might not be attainable, but they are not crucial things. You won’t die if you don’t get them. That might be a bit difficult to make kids understand of course. I’m sure a lot of parents are familiar with kids crying and saying things like:

“I’ll die if l don’t have the new iPhone, X-Box, ” and a million other things.

Related Reading for youngsters to teach them about money management because it’s never too early.

While we are quick to assure the kids that they will not die without those playthings, it’s amazing the number of adults who can not show the same strength when it comes to their own spending. There comes a time when you have to start saying “NO” to yourself when the urge strikes to pull the trigger and spend.

Say no to that phone upgrade and save hundreds of dollars.

Say no to the concert tickets that cost $100 or more.

Say no to a new car. That new car smell goes away pretty quickly and you’re stuck with $ drained out your finances.

Say no to that expensive lunch or dinner with your rich (at least on the outside) friends.

Say no to opening another store charge card. It’s easy to get sucked in. While you’re at it, say no to the “sale” items in the department store. I know it’s a hard one because shopping is a pastime for most people. It’s a trap designed to part you from your money.

Your big screen TV is just fine, there is no need to upgrade to the new 4K. Trust me, you don’t want to see all those actors that clearly. They have zits just like the rest of us, which takes away some of the mystique :-).

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Misconceptions destroyed.

Want versus Need: Compromises

Once you start to differentiate between your needs and wants, it becomes easier to save your hard-earned money. This can only lead to better decisions. Your want versus need might be to spend $300 on a solid washer instead of $950 on a fancy top loader if you consider that a need. This will effectively impact your finances in a very positive way.

You could start a “Fund Jar” with all the extra money and use it to pay down debt like a school or car loan. A friend of mine carries around a picture of her dream house in her wallet. Whenever she feels the need to spend foolishly, she takes a look at it and this helps her focus on the big picture.

There will most likely be a constant internal struggle while you figure things out. The old saying of Rome not being built in a day applies here. This will be a new way of living and will require adjustment. It gets easier to adjust, and before you know it, it becomes second nature.

The most important part is not to blame yourself in case you backslide but to dust yourself off, and get right back into it. It is also important that you pull your family in with you. Not only with the support be helpful when it’s a joint effort, but you also start to see the gains quicker.

money stack on white background, want vs needs post.
Money can disappear just as easily as it appears when you spend foolishly..

Keep notes for motivation:

Sometimes, having a visual prompt can be quite helpful when trying something new. A good idea is to write things down. Have a want versus need itemized list, and utilize it. In one column, write what the desired item is, along with the approximate cost.

On the other side of the column, write down what your essential needs are. Work on your needed list and definitely acquire those first. One of the things you might discover is that the items you actually need are not that much, and everything else is pretty much fluff designed to chain you to work and a lifetime of work.

There is no quick path to wealth unless you’re fortunate enough to build the next must-have (which in reality means just another frivolous time-wasting thing. As if the world didn’t have enough 🙂 ). Most people have to work hard, save, and hopefully retire in comfort.

Have you learned to say “NO” to yourself? How do you handle your want versus need dilemma?

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24 thoughts on “How Want Versus Need Can Easily Impact Your Finances”

    • Haha! As you make fun of me and my iPhone4! One of my Scrabble buddies was just complaining about her 6 version and the need to upgrade and just totally LOL’ed at my version and how l was going to keep it till it explodes. Glad you’ve toned it down some, we can’t hope for perfection at the drop of a hat…slow and steady is good too.

      Reply
  1. This post is so true. I came to the conclusion that I was spending way to much in 2016 on wants instead of needs. I began asking myself if I wanted something or needed it before every purchase. Doing this really helped me curb my spending and save more.

    Reply
    • Awesome! The first step is being aware and then making changes like you did. It really does help. We don’t think it adds up, but it does, the money grows slowly and before you know it, it can make a significant dent in your finances in a positive way. Keep it up! 🙂

      Reply
  2. The store credit cards can get you. I remember when I was younger, and would get so happy to get approval at the counter for a store card. These days I cut off the salesperson before they can even finish asking me if I want one. Those things are the devil. I use cash and save credit for emergencies

    Reply
    • Oh my goodness you have no idea how much l cracked up reading your comment, especially about cutting them off before they start 🙂 :-). I had to turn mean as well as they are relentless when trying to get you. They have insane interest rates and they keep enticing you with discounts etc. I learned the hard way. Thanks for the laugh :-).

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  3. We are just getting back to being a two-income family, but prior to this I had to watch my spending and even now its easy to fall back into bad habits, so I have to watch myself with extra spending!

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    • I know the extra income coming in now makes it tempting. You’ve had so many trials last year and might think you deserve a little treat, but hang in there and keep watching yourself with the extra spending. It’s tough, but so are you 🙂

      Reply
  4. This is so true, if we focused on just our needs, I think we would all be a lot richer. That’s a god idea to have a vision of what you want when you take out the credit card. LOL

    Reply
    • Haha! It certainly works for her :-). The way l see it, whatever works. I feel a change in the wind is coming and don’t who don’t adjust will be left out in the cold. My mindset is so different now.

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  5. I’ve been finding myself saying “no” to myself because saving for my future is more important that some cute shoes I would get bored wearing in a few weeks. I’m a fan of sales and keeping on the wish list. If it goes, I wasn’t meant to have it. lol

    Reply
    • I know. I had to realize that too after so many lovely handbags that l give away and clothes that are buy for when l lose a little weight :-). It’s a hard lesson to learn. I like the way you think. It’s not meant to be if it’s not there at a price you want :-).

      Reply
  6. This is my motto this year! My shopping has definitely got out of hand and it’s time to get my financial business in order so that I can start traveling. Thanks for this reminder….

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    • Great motto to have! It gets much easier when it becomes routine and you start finding other places than the mall to go. I wish you lots of success with it and happy traveling! 🙂

      Reply
    • Haha! You have to be crafty..and sort of read it aloud when he is totally relaxed. I bet though he won’t think it applies to him..haha! 🙂

      Reply

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