Wants vs. Needs

We  have a lot of choices about what we do with our money.  How much of what you buy every week is a need?  How much is a want?  What about your credit card purchases? What return value are you getting on these items?  In looking back over the choices that you made with money this past month did those choices benefit you long term?  We all have 3 basic needs: Food, Clothing, Shelter.  Transportation is probably a close 4th.  Let’s look at the number of choices you have in these 3 areas.

Food – What do you spend on groceries every month? Do you shop for bargains? Do you keep a sharp eye for items on sale?  Do you use coupons? While food is a basic need, there are many ways to shop wisely and keep costs down.  What do you spend a month on Eating Out?  Is this a need or a want? I say want.  How much money could you save if you only ate out 1/2 as much as you do now?

Clothing – There are lots of choices in regards to clothing.  Does what you buy have to be new? Consignment sales and yard sales can offer slightly used, good clothing at much lower prices.  My two brothers and I spent most of our early years in garage sale clothes and we don’t have any negative repercussions.  You can also get good sales as clothes are going out of season if you keep your eyes open.

Shelter – We all need a place to protect us from the elements.  As I write this my wife and I are building our first home.  The costs of this are coming apparent as we approach the last 6 weeks of this process.  We do want to stay ‘in budget.’  There are lots of choices inthe amount you can spend on your home.  Look at appliances.  TV, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Oven, Computers, Sound systems. The list could go on.  Before you replace that next appliance, ask yourself, “Is there anything wrong with the one I have?”  “Can I repair it cheaper than buying a new one?” “Can I pay cash for the new one?”  “Can I find a good one that is slightly used?” Can you say, Craigslist? 

We all have lots of choices in how we buy the things we need and want.  If you find yourself cash strapped and stretched with your money, it could be time for you to address needs vs. wants.  Distinguishing a need from a want is a valuable skill if you want to move ahead financially.

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