How to Tell the Difference Between Needs and Wants

The newest 56” HD flat screen TV you saw on a commercial just convinced you it is everything you ever wanted.  Come to think of it, your brother just bought and told you pretty much the same thing. Now it’s all you can think about when you go to the store, shop online, or watch ESPN on last year’s 45” plasma screen. You need this TV, but your wife tells you that you can’t afford it. You should be happy with the one you bought 9 months ago. You suddenly regret giving her control over the budget.

Actually, letting her have control of the budget was probably the smartest thing you could have done in this case. Without a doubt, THE hardest part about staying within a budget is the temptation to buy what we want. A new 56” HD flat screen TV is not what you need. This is a want. You may disagree and whine and cry and beg, but the truth of the matter is, you could watch team USA kick the world’s trash in basketball on the 45”, just like you could on the flat screen.  You just need to learn how to distinguish the two better and you’ll eventually find your wife saying yes to your request for a new TV.

Needs include things like: food for your family, clothes for their backs and a bed to sleep in. Needs take into consideration functionality before they care how attractive it is. A father who just lost his job should spend more time finding cheaper alternatives for the day-to-day living expenses. He finds things on sale, or seeks out cheaper, off-brand selections. He will drive fewer places to save on gas and may even consider selling an excessive car. He will do what it takes to minimize his expenses to the bare-necessities until he finds work. He’s always surprised what he finds he can live without when it’s all on the line.

This father has learned the needs mentality. He knows what money he needs to spend every month to maintain his current lifestyle. Once he gets another job, he would do well to remember what he learned and save money to take care of it. He is then free to use the remaining money for the family’s wants. Wants are easy to label once your needs are figured out. If what you intend to buy doesn’t legitimately fall into the needs category, then it is by default, a want. You should carefully consider not spending the money.

How to Tell the Difference Between Needs and Wants

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