Defining Needs vs Wants

Biltmore Estate Mansion

My friend Connie wrote a great post this week about Needs vs Wants. Her husband is currently laid off and they are doing everything they can to keep current on their mortgage and provide the basic necessities.

I found it interesting to read the comments because people were discussing what is a need and what is a want. I think it is easy for “wants” to become needs. With the economy still recovering it never hurts to take a look at your expenses and see if there are some wants you could cut out of your budget.

Have you looked at your budget lately? Have you fallen into the trap of thinking your wants are actually your needs?

A few years ago I wrote out our needs and wants. It’s probably time to do it again.

Photo credit: gennie catastrophe

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  1. One need vs want I always struggle with is internet access. I have it readily available at school, work, and the library, so I have trouble justifying paying for it at home, even if it would make my life easier. For a while, I was splitting the price of internet with a neighbor, but now that they’re moving, I need to make a decision on whether it’s worth paying full price or not. Decisions, decisions…

  2. Kathy Hintz says:

    Today I evaluated my budget and realize I have to cut almost everything. My husband was unemployed for 18 months and recently got a job at one of the large ‘box’ stores. We are making less then we did on his unemployment. We are a family of 4 plus 2 dog living on 275 a week and we are not making it. Since we don’t have a car payment I am cutting the insurance to the bare minimum plus getting rid of internet and directv. I also am cutting the gas budget so I will not have the option of going to the library to use the internet there. My kids are not adjusting well…neither am I…I will miss all the blogs I love to follow.

  3. That’s one benefit of being dirt poor: The needs and wants become very obvious. Internet is a need for us, since that’s how we make money!

  4. dgsandbjsmom says:

    For us internet is split between us and the neighbors. TV is not an option since we live in the sticks even making it to the library more than once a month or so is a trial. We give up clothing and I am not talking about in style clothing I am talking wearing clothes until they dry rot and then cutting them up for rags. Having only one pair of pants (the same pair of pants you mowed the yard in is the pair you attend church in). Skipping meals when needed. Letting our grass get a foot tall before we cut it because of the cost of gas or only mowing the front part of the yard. Taking asthma meds less often or completely not taking them at all.

  5. It’s alot easier when your raised up to the needs vs. wants–But always your trying to negotiate with your self.

  6. You NEED creativity to help you fufill some of your WANTS. I always find the tighter money has been, the more I can seem to stretch what I have. I am praying for all of you that are struggling.

  7. I am constantly looking at our budget to see where I can cut things back. We haven’t paid for cable/direct tv in over 2 years. The apartment that we moved out of back in April had some channels included as part of the rent. Since moving to this duplex we have also given up my cell phone. It didn’t work out here, so there was no point in having it. We’ve talked about getting rid of our internet, but I use the internet as a way to contact my husband during the daytime if we need him and we use it for homeschooling. We will have our car paid off in Oct and our Van paid off sometime next year. When we move next summer we plan to move to a place that is more walkable and sell the van. The car meets our needs for in town errands and if we need to go out of town on a long trip it would be cheaper to just rent a van for that weekend or however long.

  8. I’ve been looking at ways to save money in “the little things.” It’s something that is just in me, like an instinct. Seriously, the little things matter tremendously. Like I read in a book recently (“Tightwad Gazette” series), you only save money by smartly buying a car, house, etc., very rarely–It’s the little things you do every day that you have the most control over. With that in mind, we can save money on the things that are “needs” as well as the the things that are “wants.” It makes it easier to view saving money as a game instead of a burden, too–as in, “How much can I come under budget this week?” vs. “I only have $5 left in this week’s budget…what do I spend it on?” or “How low can we keep our electric bill?” as we try to “beat” last month’s bill. Read library books on frugality to keep stimulate your creativity.

    I have tape on the edge of our thermostat so no one can set the temperature too low or too high–the tape limits the range of temperatures. We use rags (cut up t-shirts from the rag bin, etc.) for our table napkins, although I am looking for a used bed sheet or two to cut and sew into more presentable napkins that can be used with company. We use rags to clean up spills, etc., instead of grabbing a paper towel. I’ve started using a clothes line and haven’t run the dryer in nearly a month now–I’m still a newbie! 🙂 I’ve started trench composting so I can have that to add to our poor soil next year for a garden, and I’m hoping there will be some compost ready in time to plant some late-season vegetables in our extended growing season this year (I’m in Georgia).

    Back when we had a car payment, we decided to short-sell our minivan, quickly pay off the loan we had to take out to cover the shortage, and have only one car until we could afford to pay cash for another minivan. It was hard, but had the added benefit of forcing me to plan trips to run errands in a smart way. Now, even though we have two cars again, I still tend to run errands only once a week. Never make a special trip for anything–work another errand into your route to save gas and time. Use what you have on hand in your pantry for meals–sites where you can search for ingredients you want *and* don’t want ( is one) are great for this purpose.

  9. Our needs are the basics food, shelter {which includes electricity and water!}, clothing, and transportation. Beyond that, everything else is a want! We are confident that God will do as He promises and give us everything we need. Everything above and beyond is a gift and blessing that can easily be taken away!

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