Needs & Wants: It is, perhaps, the most basic of concepts in consumerism. You already know the difference between needs and wants… and you are aware that it’s responsible – and usually necessary – to meet our needs before we satisfy our wants.
But it’s the first part – knowing the difference – that can actually become a gray area for many over time. Despite my awareness of the difference, I can convince myself that some things are needs when they simply are not, like so many people do.
Research confirms that the number of things Americans identify as can’t-live-without items has increased over time. I surveyed my co-workers and asked them what non-essential things they have claimed to “need” in the past several weeks…
- [I need] a longer computer cord
- [I need] a new travel mug
- [I need] my hair colored
- [I need] a new purse for summer
- [I need] a manicure
- [I need] a new phone
- [I need] coffee
- [I need] to get the air conditioner fixed
No one is claiming these are can’t-live-without items… but at some point, we stated that we needed them. The takeaway: We throw around the word ‘need’ more often than we should! None of these items are actual needs, and we can continue on without them. Even the more practical items on the list are hard to pass as necessities.
While people often have different needs, consider how yours fit into your plan. What is actually needed? If you begin saying that you need something that runs contrary to your goals, you might start thinking of it as a want instead.
Perhaps using the word “need” so casually has us actually forgetting the difference between needs and wants. Blurring the line between them is easy to do, especially for those who have put a spending plan into place that allows some wiggle room.
None of this is to say that if you are making responsible choices and have a little room in your spending plan, you shouldn’t buy some things that aren’t absolutely needed, but if you want to boost savings or reach goals more quickly, you must get serious about the things you truly require and you must be willing to forego some things that you just simply want… even the little things.