Spending Money: Needs vs. Wants

Let’s face it: Most people spend way too much money on things they don’t really need. The more money we make, the more we tend to spend. This endless cycle of materialism has led many people to confuse the word “need” with the word “want.” As in, “we need a big-screen TV for our new home theater.” Or, “I need a new pair of shoes to go with my new outfit.”

The pursuit of material success often is the root cause of burnout at midlife. In fact, a recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that people primarily motivated by the love of their work grow dissatisfied as they begin to make more money.

The first step to breaking free from the materialism trap is to understand the difference between “need” and “want.”

Our needs are relatively few, even from birth. We don’t need a lot of stuff, toys, gadgets, etc. We need shelter from the elements, clothing, food, love and understanding. We need friends and family around us.

We do not need 500 cable TV channels, brand new luxury cars, 5,000-square-foot homes in exclusive neighborhoods, lavish ski vacations, and smart phones that do everything but think for us.

There is nothing wrong with wanting these things. But understand that these things do not make us happy, in and of themselves. And, they are often links in the chains that bind us to jobs we despise.

Studies have shown that the more advertising a person is exposed to, the more they buy and consume. What does this mean to you? The more television you watch, the more magazines you subscribe to or read, the more money you want to spend on things you don’t really need. Marketers are taught that success comes from selling to wants not needs.

One way to notice your wants versus needs is to go through your household, garage and attic and locate all those objects that you really needed to have, and which you bought, but lost interest in a few days later and they have been collecting dust since then.

I don’t suggest being too hard on yourself, because if you forbid yourself of every pleasure, your brain may rebel and send you into a buying binge. Instead, start with a simple observation. Every time you are about to buy something, ask yourself whether you really need it and observe the response. One day this observation will result in your changing your mind and not buying the thing that you don’t need. Then it’ll happen again, and after some time you will be very comfortable at saying ‘No’, because you will feel good about making a better choice.

The amazing thing is that once you learn to live on less, it becomes a habit. The peace of mind that comes from relying less on materialism to define success usually leads to a greater and deeper happiness.

28 thoughts on “Spending Money: Needs vs. Wants

  1. Nice post; a very rational way of looking at things.
    Unfortunately, we fall for instant gratifications really fast and anything rational is thrown out of the window. A trick that works for me is never buy anything the first time to “want” it; sometimes, the urge to buy dies the very next day – meaning you really didn’t need it. If after a few weeks you still “want” it…you probably “need” it.

  2. blablablablablablabla money is too much of a hasle it is way to difficule so blablablablablablabla

  3. Every Dollar You Spend

    Financial planning expert Jonathan Pond has often observed that “your best dollar is the one you don’t spend”. From the point of view of securing your and your family’s futures, there could not be a more accurate statement. Every time you spend a dollar, you give up the future value of that dollar. You lose the power that comes from possessing a sum of money. You also pay a very high price: you pay the “opportunity cost” of using that dollar in a better way. An example, though quite painful, will help you to see this concept in action in a way I assure you that you will not forget.

    Had you invested about $10,000 in stock of chewing gum maker William Wrigley in April, 1986, your investment would have grown to $265,000 by early 2008. You would have been receiving cash dividends of over $7,000 per year. Yes, your annual cash receipts would have been 70% of your original investment. It does not end there. Earlier this year, Warren Buffett and Nestle purchased William Wrigley, Jr. Company for $80 cash per share. Warren and Nestle would have sent you a check for $360,000. This is quite a result from a $10,000 investment in a company that was well known in 1986.

    How did you spend the $10,000 you had during the mid 1980’s? On cars, clothes, lunches, dinners, trips you can’t remember, staying at overpriced hotels and renting cars? Look around your house, in the basement and in the closets. That’s what you spent it on, that is, what’s not already gone to some poor landfill. Neither Buffett nor Nestle would send you a check for any of that.

    To have made the Wrigley score, you needn’t have had the $10,000 all at once. You could have bought $500 worth and made additions through Wrigley’s dividend reinvestment plan. Many great companies had them then and have them now. Wrigley stock returned 16% or more per year for all the years from 1986 through the Buffett/Nestle buyout.

    You don’t lose $1 million by carelessly misplacing it. You lose it $50 and $100 at a time, buying things you don’t really want and certainly don’t really need. You lose that future $1 million (or perhaps much more) with every dollar you spend.

  4. Adults need to be educated on Needs and Wants. Students are taught Needs and Wants at age six in Virgina. Students are given the definition of items need to live, food, shelter and clothing.

  5. money is a good thing to have but dont ever let it get in the way of family and the more important things cause sometimes your wants can pull you away from the things that really bring you happiness

  6. Needs vs. Wants is a Big controversy because someone needs might be considered your wants and vice verses. The important thing in the end is not to be selfish with your money.

  7. Need v.s. want is a tough decision to make. if you dont need something there is no point in buying something if you dont need it,but therefore some people spend money just to be spending it. but i have learned NOT to spend money on something that i really don’t need!

  8. Needs v.s. wants is a difficult decision to make. You need to always keep up with your savings, like putting them in a savings account. You dont need to spend your money on things that you dont need.

  9. Save a part of all you earn money don’t spoil money keep.

    A whole lot of little bit make a big bit.

    A slow crawl beat nothing at all.

    A need or a want

    I rather have 500 in my pocket and overalls on then a suit on and broke.

    The secret Millionaire.

  10. spending help reduce stress and keep the mind happy, spend too much will make it a habit. Spending money is like a reward for yourself for all the hard works and things you done for others.
    I would say once a while go and spend on something you always wanted, thats what keep life interesting.

  11. alot of people think the things they want is what they need their so brain washed till the point their shopping for what they want and not what they need

  12. I personally think that in life your needs come first that way you always have the basic things needed to survive like power, water, food, and shelter. I always make sure I have what I need first rather than worrying about my wants.

  13. I have been blessed with a very wise mother. She has taught me over the past 15 years that everything you want doesn’t mean you need it so she doesn’t let me buy it. So by being taught this just because I think I need it doesn’t mean I really need it so most of the time I just put it back and walk away I’m very glad my mother taught me these things.

  14. i think u should save money because i saved money four a year and i had 1120 dollars and i bout me a good car and i still have to this day in the shape i bought it in brand new almost

  15. Needs v.s. wants is a difficult decision to make. You need to always keep up with your savings, like putting them in a savings account. You dont need to spend your money on things that you dont need.

  16. EXAMPLE:$1000.00
    one man has $1000.00 and thinks going and buying any types of material things is a good investment and then me I try to ask what happens with these things when your gone and your wife & kids are going to want new things and why not use the $1000.00 on anything that has to do with spending time and doing things with family and friends because this is unforgettable unlike a iPhone and would not agree!

  17. I believe that people who really care about a lot know what its like to actually want and need.
    They know that if you need something you have to have it.
    And if they want something they are just dreaming or they go and buy it but in the future it turns around and bites them right in the butt. I understand they want a lot of stuff that just aint what we need but we have stuff we really need.

  18. I got my answer from this website so thanks accumulating money im giving a big thanks.

  19. I got my answer from this website its good that you giving money so i’m giving a good thanks to you

  20. This was very useful more people need to read this. This was so educational the points that they made were so true.

  21. it’s always nice to have what you want,but never put that before your needs.

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