This post is about the very basic concept of need versus want. This is a concept that many people struggle with. Oftentimes, people try to justify spending by saying they “need” whatever it is they are buying, when that is, in fact, not the case. Let’s start by simply looking at definitions of these two words, according to Merriam-Webster.
- require (something) because it is essential or very important.
- expressing necessity or obligation.
- be necessary.
- have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.
- lack or be short of something desirable or essential
Knowing the difference between what you want and what you need is one of the easiest concepts to help you save money. I am not implying that you should never spend money on things that you want if they are not necessary or essential; however, when trying to cut costs, just determining the difference between these two will be very helpful.
For example, let’s say your friends invite you out to dinner on Saturday night. The need is here is the need to eat food to survive. The want in this case is eating dinner out instead of cooking at home, where you will undeniably save money. Simple.
Let’s build onto that example. You have decided that you want to go to dinner badly because you would really like to see your friends and get out of the house. You happen to be at a store picking something up and see a dress that you think is very cute and would be great for dinner. You want this dress. You do not need it. Yes, you need to wear clothes, but it’s safe to say that if you’re able to venture out to the store, you are already wearing clothes, so buying more is not necessary. Again, simple.
As obvious as the examples may seem, this is something that is very often overlooked due to impulse. If you are really trying to minimize expenses, just take a few moments before making purchases to determine if you truly need or want it. This is the first and easiest step to saving money. Again, I am not implying that you should deny yourself of all wants and only spend money on things that you need. I am trying to emphasize that there is a difference between the two and so very often people struggle with saving money because they justify everything as a need.
A good way to think of this is that your wants are splurges, even if the dollar amount isn’t huge. You wouldn’t buy yourself a pair of designer shoes or a brand new HD television without thinking about it first and viewing it as a “splurge” item, or something that you don’t do frequently. If you view you wanting to go out to eat or wanting a new outfit for an occasion or getting your hair or nails done as a splurge, or treat for yourself, you will inevitably find yourself spending less. You will also find that each of these treats make you enjoy these things more and appreciate them. Taking a minute to really think about your purchases this way and being less impulsive is a good way to save a little money and create a little more happiness.